Friday, 9 September 2022

Reservoir Logs - August 2022

                          Two Greenshank spent a fortnight on Lockwood pic @OwlTurbot

      August proved a good birding month with the record hot, dry weather and low level of the reservoirs encouraging a nice array of passage migrants and waders. They included only the third Wood Warbler in the last decade, singing Firecrest as well as the first Common Redstart, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers of the year. 

      The second Black Tern of the year stayed for a day on East Warwick pic @Chris_Farthing

      The month also saw 2022's second Black Tern and an exceptional passage for the reservoirs of Ringed Plover as well as long-staying Greenshank - both attracted by the wide edges around Lockwood. Common Sandpiper and Willow Warbler were two other species seen in higher numbers than usual. But even with the five additions to the year list, the 128 total remains ten behind last year and two behind 2020.   

           Five Ringed Plover is a very high number for the Wetlands pic @Callahanbirder

     The flock of Barnacle Geese which arrived in July stayed well into August with 19 counted on the 9th. But perhaps after completing their moult or in search of food as the drought turned the Wetlands yellow, their numbers dwindled with the last bird seen on the 17th. The number of Shoveler using the Wetlands to moult continues to fall with a maximum count of 12, well below the 50 - itself a low total - seen last August. Ten Teal arrived on the 31st after just ones or twos the rest of the month. 

     Walthamstow's post-breeding flock of Tufted Duck peaked at 2,162 on the 4th which is down on last year's 2,564 but broadly in line with recent years. What has certainly increased is breeding on the site with 55 Tufted Duck broods counted this summer. The total is well above the estimated 40 from last year and a big increase on the 18 found the year before, the last time a determined effort was made to monitor breeding.    

     Despite good soaring conditions, bird of prey sightings were again disappointing particularly with the non-appearance of Osprey. It is now two years since one was seen at the Wetlands following five consecutive years of records. The only Buzzard was on the 9th, the same day as one of just two Red Kites. Peregrines began to be seen more regularly on the pylons but the lack of noisy young suggests breeding may not have been successful. Hunting Hobbies were seen on at least nine days with a strong bias towards the end of the month.  

                  Lapwing were one of ten wader species seen this month pic @Chris_Farthing

     Ten species of waders were seen - two down on last year - but those that did drop in were often encouraged to stay longer than usual by the low water level on Lockwood. The sole Oystercatcher, which continue to be scarce this year, was on the 21st with single Lapwing on the 6th, 18th and 24th. A Ringed Plover on Lockwood on the 19th was the start of an exceptional passage with five on the 24th which stayed until the following morning. There was another on the 27th and five more on the 29th. In contrast, there were no records of Little Ringed Plover, usually the commoner of the pair at the Wetlands. 

                       Ringed Plover took a liking to the beach around Lockwood  pic  @OwlTurbot

     July's good run of Black-tailed Godwits continued with three on the 1st, two on the 11th and a single on the 27th.  Four Dunlin flew through on the 8th with another feeding on Lockwood where there was one more on the 22nd. The first Common Snipe of the autumn was out in the open on East Warwick on the 15th, four days earlier than last year.                                           

                           It has been a very good year for Black-tailed Godwits   pic @AMP

      Common Sandpipers were seen in excellent numbers throughout the month with high single figures most days increasing to 15 on the 16th when the drought broke and 20 on the 25th after a heavy downpour overnight. That is double last August's low peak count. Green Sandpipers were also seen more regularly with sightings on at least seven days with three on the 22nd. 

                                Common Sandpipers had a very strong passage   pic @OwlTurbot

     Two Redshank were seen on the 6th with another on the 16th. The second Greenshank of the year was found on the 14th and was joined by another next day. They clearly enjoyed the stony beach around Lockwood as they remained, with the odd short excursion to Banbury reservoir, until the 27th.  

The Greenshank on Lockwood allowed an unusually close approach pic @OwlTurbot
     The third Yellow-legged Gull of the year was found on the 21st. Unlike last year, when the last Common Tern departed on the 17th, birds remained throughout the month with one family of two young still being fed on Lockwood on the 31st. CF got his reward for birding in the torrential rain on the 25th by finding a juvenile Black Tern on East Warwick. In contrast to the very brief visit of the Spring adult, this stayed around all day to be enjoyed by the more fair-weathered birders among us. 

          Common Terns were busy feeding young throughout the month pic @ rudraskh9

    The Wetlands is usually a major feeding station for passage Swifts in late August and into September but not this year. While 150 were counted last year on the 31st, none were seen on the same date this month with very low counts in the preceding few days. This decrease could be explained by benign weather conditions allowing birds to move south without stopping or, more disturbingly, an indication of poor breeding success.  

 Kingfishers put on an enchanting display this month pic @AR

     There has, however, rarely been a better time to see Kingfishers at the Wetlands than this month. There seemed to be family parties on both north and south sides with the pair nesting on the No 5 island fledging three young which could be seen regularly on the Coppermill.  August also saw a better showing by Garden Warblers with a third bird caught during the ringing session on the 6th with singles seen on several dates from mid-month and two on the 22nd. Lesser Whitethroats also continued to be seen in reasonable numbers. 

         Willow Warblers appeared in unusually high numbers this August pic @ rudraksh9
     Unlike this Spring when passage was limited both in numbers and time and last August, Willow Warblers were seen and heard throughout the month. They were a frequent member of mixed feeding flocks with double figure counts on several days including 15+ on the 27th when five were rung. It was while sifting through the feeding flocks on the 24th that DC found a Wood Warbler, the star bird of the monthIt is only the third record in the last decade following a singing Spring bird in 2016 and another autumn passage bird in 2020.  DC pulled off an impressive double on the same day when he heard a singing Firecrest, again the first of the year. 

    Pied (above) pic @ rudraksh9 and Spotted Flycatchers @IvorHewstone were new for the year  

     The predominantly light easterly winds saw high numbers of Pied Flycatchers across London. For a long time it looked as if the Wetlands would miss out on the party until T&PR found the first on the 1/2/3 path on the 16th. Perhaps the same bird was re-found next day with another on the north side on the 21st. The first Spotted Flycatcher of the year was found by DC on the 17th - three days earlier than last year - with two seen next day and another on the 26th. 

          Torrential rain saw a high daily count of six Wheatear this month pic @AMP

     LB added Common Redstart, another species seen widely in London this month, to the annual list with a bird at the top of the Lockwood on the 5th while there is an Ebird record of two together at the bottom of No 3 on the 14th. AR found a Black Redstart on the 27th in the Coppermill bridge area   

     Walthamstow Marsh was the place to catch up with Whinchats but the Wetlands did have singles on the 5th and 10th and two on the 26th. Wheatear were seen on at least ten days with two on the 13th, 26th and 31st, three on the 5th and six after the torrential rain on the 25th - double the peak August count last year. Yellow Wagtails were scarce with singles on the 23rd, 24th and 26th and three on the 31st but it has clearly been an excellent breeding year for Grey Wagtails at the Wetlands with family parties on both sides of the site. 

     The next three months could help reduce the gap with previous years with some glaring omissions in the year list. Rock Pipit - very much a late autumn migrant at the Wetlands - has been seen annually since 2010 while Black-necked Grebe and Short-eared Owl are among those which have been missed just once over this period.  

DB @porthkillier

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