Thursday, 9 August 2018

Nuthatch and other significant Walthamstow patching.

A patch Nuthatch is rare.

June 26th, meters away from the patch, I heard a Nuthatch call above me in the Springfield Park tree I was under. I used the sound clips on the Collins Bird Guide mobile phone app to lure the bird closer to the patch. I crossed the Horseshoe Bridge and on setting foot on the patch, I heard the Nuthatch and then watched it fly over me into the Horseshoe Thicket. Well and truly patch ticked. I heard it again the next day.

The patch stats have Nuthatch with only one other record since 2010:

And it seems that it may have been there since June, as Stuart F heard it again from the patch on August 5th. So, on August 7th, I went back onto the patch for a bit of a twitch. After half an hour of listening on the Horseshoe Bridge, I heard the Nuthatch. I located its tree in my scope and got some views of it, before some Goldfinches moved it off. 

Like everywhere else, the patch is dry and hot. Bed 18 at the WaterWorks is at the lowest I’ve ever seen it; the Marshes are yellow and the Lockwood Reservoir is low. Even a pit stop in the East Warwick hide was hotter on the inside than on the outside!

There was no real sign of any occupation of the newly installed owl boxes on the Marshes.

On the WaterWorks, a Jersey Tiger moth was great to observe. As were a Holly Blue, a Common Blue and a Green-veined White butterfly.

Common Blue
Green-veined White

Peregrine Falcons are very vocal at this time of year. They can be seen and heard from the Marshes, WaterWorks and the Reservoirs.

Munching on a Parakeet

Common Terns have bred again on the Reservoirs this year, with two chicks. This year their old digs have been replaced with new accommodation courtesy of the LWT.

Familiarity breeds contempt is the phrase that comes to mind when contemplating our Common Sandpipers. When they’re the only wader after a long walk around the Lockwood Reservoir, it’s like they’re rubbing it in; but when they’re not there at all, you miss them.

I often like to torture myself with a big patch day. This usually involves an early rise followed by a 6 hour flogging of the patch from bottom to top, hoping for a treat, but ultimately yielding little or no reward. Lovely. And indeed, if it weren’t for the 15 Mistle/Song Thrush combo right at the start of the day on the ex pitch and putt field or for the Lockwood Dunlin right at the other end of the day, I might have thought it a waste of time. Maybe I should cut this habit out during mid summer.

On July 25th and 27th, two Little Ringed Plovers were welcome visitors to the Lockwood.

Reed Warblers have done extremely well this year. I have never heard and seen them in such numbers across the Marshes and Reservoirs.


Returning back to the WaterWorks:

Sue Huckle (@suzehu) has been patching the WaterWorks like a monster! She and fellow patcher, Mark D observed and recorded the breeding Garden Warbler, Sparrowhawk and Muntjac Deer. The pleasure she draws from watching the natural world is so evident in her images. 

All of the following are Sue’s pics from the WaterWorks Nature Reserve:

The Violet Black-legged Robberfly – a first for the WaterWorks (so probably the patch).

Grass Snake

Garden Warbler

Grey Wagtail -bred in the well head for the 3rd year.

Banded Demoiselle
Smooth Newts
Breeding Sparrowhawk pics:


 Walthamstow Birders

Monday, 6 August 2018

Reservoir Logs - summer update

            Drake Long-tailed Duck - the first for five years on the reservoirs pic @anthonygorst

   The extraordinary arrival of a pair of stunning Long-tailed Ducks was the undoubted highlight of June and July. They are unusual enough at any time of the year - these were the first at Walthamstow since a pair in January 2013 - but to arrive in near full breeding plumage at the end of June was remarkable.
   But there was also good news for breeding birds with the new reed-beds and nest boxes seeing a sharp increase in duck and tit broods while a pair of Peregrine successfully nested just off site. DW and the LWT team confirmed 41 species nesting at the reservoirs this summer with another nine breeding very close to the boundaries. And these figures did not include Common and Lesser Whitethroat, Song Thrush or Sedge Warbler which all were in full song in the Spring within the complex.

   In contrast, wader passage, which begins by the end of June, was lacklustre - and certainly compared to the variety of species recorded just up the valley at KGV. But a large flock by our standards of Black-tailed Godwits on July 20th were the first recorded over the reservoirs this year, with two other new additions to the year list in Garden Warbler and Mandarin. These take the number of species seen at the reservoirs in 2018 to 135, seven more than last year.

               Mandarin should be much commoner at Walthamstow than they appear to be

   Despite being resident as close as Connaught Water and Hampstead Heath, Mandarin are scarcely more than annual on the reservoirs so what looked like a fresh juvenile resting on the bank on Lockwood on July 31 was reward for braving the heat.  The first returning Teal was seen on July 1st and Shoveler on the 7th. Breeding numbers of  Pochard (8 broods) and Tufted Duck (14) were sharply up on the figures for 2016 which were just one and ten. Walthamstow is nationally important for its post-breeding flock of Tufted Ducks which build up in July with a count of 1,222 across all the reservoirs except West Warwick (where there are usually around 150 more birds) on July 30th.

         The Long-tailed Ducks spend much of their day visit to Lockwood fast asleep pic @lolbodini
   The discovery of the Long-tailed Ducks by an astonished TR at the north end of Lockwood on June 21st sparked a mini-twitch by those patch-birders who could make it.  They showed well throughout the day but disappeared overnight. Although they are normally winter visitors to London and have become scarcer all together in recent years, an adult female summered in East London in 2013.

    Little Egrets continue to prosper with around 30 nests compared to 17 just two years ago. Grey Heron numbers have dropped dramatically from the days when Walthamstow had one of the biggest nesting colonies in England but the 42 pairs was again up on the last count of 33 in 2015,.

   Raptor records were few but this is more likely to be down to lack of visits in the heat of the day than a lack of overflying local birds. The only Red Kite was on June 3rd and with just one record of  Buzzard on July 5th. But Peregrines were very obvious with three birds hatching just off the reservoirs and young and adults could be seen regularly hunting or sitting on the pylons.

   Eight species of wader were recorded in the two months but apart from the 21 Black-tailed Godwits - among the biggest flocks recorded at the reservoirs - seen flying south by DW on the evening of July 20th, all were expected. Oystercatchers kept up their good showing this year with birds on June 24th and July 23rd &30th. A high count of 11 Lapwing were on East Warwick on June 21st, with five on July 4th, two on the 26th and singles on the 16th & 19th. Little Ringed Plovers were seen on June 15th, and July 27 & 28th with two on the 25th while a Whimbrel was heard over Lockwood late on July 23rd.

   The first returning Common Sandpiper was on June 22nd, one day earlier than last year. High numbers are often associated with rain so it is no surprise, given the near drought conditions, that 10 across all the reservoirs on July 31 was the maximum count, well down on recent years. The first Green Sandpiper of the autumn was seen on July 30th. Redshank, perhaps also because of the drought conditions, were commoner than usual with singles on July 2nd, 5th, 10th, 22nd, and two on the 14th. By the end of July last year, three separate Turnstone had been seen on the reservoirs but this year it remains one of the most notable misses from the year list.

                       A pair of Redshank braving the gulls on East Warwick island

   Gull enthusiasts compete to find the first juvenile Yellow-legged Gull of the year and Walthamstow had its own entry with an early bird found by RE on July 22nd. Twenty four pair of Lesser Black-backed and 18 pair of Herring Gulls raised young this year. It hadn't looked as if we would have any nesting Common Terns after seven young were raised successfully last year. But a pair, perhaps failed breeders elsewhere, kindly waited until the delayed floating of the new raft on Lockwood to nest. Their two young hatched in mid-July and were so late that they had been joined by several fledged young already brought down to Lockwood by their parents after presumably nesting further up the valley.

     Goldcrests were among the species confirmed breeding in the reservoirs this year as was a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers. The new nest boxes proved so attractive to Great Tits that 14 pairs bred in them and all raising at least six young. Blue Tits did almost as well with at least seven pairs of which five used the boxes. The new reed beds saw as many as 25 pairs of Reed Warbler scattered around the reservoirs with perhaps as many as five pairs of Reed Bunting, of which two definitely raised young.  Breeding by at least three pair of Blackcap and two pair of Chiffchaff was also confirmed. 

  Passerine migration is not normally noticeable until late August at the reservoirs but June and July saw a smattering of failed breeders and early birds. A Nuthatch, a real rarity on the reservoirs, was
recorded just a couple of hundred yards away in Springfield Park and the Marsh on June 26th. There was a Whinchat on July 10th and the first Garden Warbler of the year on July 20th.  Smart young Lesser Whitethroats, presumably having bred locally, had joined the Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Common Whitethroats in the tit flocks by late July. A  Willow Warbler was singing on June 3rd and the first juvenile was seen on July 11th.

DB @porthkillier with many thanks to DW for breeding information