Wednesday 8 March 2023

Reservoir Logs - February 2023

                                                     Barnacle Geese were regular visitors pic @AMP

      Highlight of the month - and of the year so far - was a flying visit by the the reservoirs' second ever Iceland Gull. February also saw Barnacle Goose, Oystercatcher, Common Snipe, Red Kite, Coal Tit, Blackcap and Siskin added to the year list while the drake Scaup and Great White Egret - two genuine London scarcities - remained in residence. The eight additions take the Wetlands' year list so far to 81, three ahead of last year but two behind 2021.     

                 Great Egret getting to know its neighbours on East Warwick pic @magnusphotog 

       Despite the cold weather at the month's end, the Wetlands saw welcome signs that Spring is on the way with the first Grey Heron chicks, Black-headed Gulls massing around their nesting raft on Lockwood and passages of both Stonechats and Pied Wagtails.    

                      The Lea Valley Barnacle flock spent the month at the Wetlands pic @rudraksh9

        Barnacle Geese, which bred for the first time last year, are no longer rare visitors to the reservoirs as the feral population in the UK increases. The first record for the year came when a flock flew in on the 3rd just in time to mark World Wetlands Day. As many as 21, along with the hybrid, were then regularly found on No 5 and the neighbouring playing fields for much of the month. There was no sign of any on the 27th with the all birds having presumably returned to their home base at Holyfield Farm at Cheshunt.   

                   The drake Scaup remained faithful to No 4 pic @ AMP
       The drake Scaup remained all month on No 4 which was also favoured, along with No 5, Lockwood and High Maynard by wintering Goldeneye with six still present on the 25th. Goosander were seen slightly more regularly than in January with records on six days but never more than two. One that got away was an intriguing report of a White-headed or Ruddy Duck on High Maynard on the 15th which disappeared before its identity could be confirmed. 

                                    A Goldeneye pair showing how they got their name pic @ Elliott81758817        
       Four species of wader were seen in February with the first Oystercatcher of the year on Lockwood on the 13th, almost a month earlier than last year. Frost saw single Common Snipe pushed off the marsh onto the reservoirs on the 14th and 27th. January's run of Green Sandpipers continued with one on the 1st while Lapwing were seen on four days with three on the 13th the highest total. Water Rails are more often heard than seen at the Wetlands but they did perform occasionally on the Coppermill stream and more regularly - for those with permits - on West Warwick. 

                                             Water Rail making a dash for cover along the Coppermill pic @MLP

       Iceland Gull is a truly rare bird at the Wetlands with the only previous record an adult seen in the distance from Lockwood in 2012. So MM's find of a juvenile on the 20th is the first actually over the reservoirs themselves and seems almost certain to have been the similarly plumaged bird seen on the Thames two days before and in Edmonton in January. It circled over No 4 slowly enough to clinch identification before heading west. By the end of February, the Great White Egret had been resident at the Wetlands for 99 days and could usually be found around the beached raft on.East Warwick.

                                     Formation flying from the first two Red Kites of the year  @magnusphotog

       Common Buzzards were seen on the 13th & 19th while the first two Red Kite of the year passed low over No 4 on the 23rd with another five days later.  Coal Tit remain a rarity at the Wetlands - despite the impression given by eBird lists for the site - with just one certain record in each of the last two years. Both of those were in June so the bird MH heard on the 6th was well ahead of schedule.  

                                                            Meadow Pipit numbers began to build @AMP

            The first Blackcap of the year was also early with one seen in a tit flock on the 24th. Small numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare continued around the Wetlands, often at the Engine House. The end of the month saw Stonechats moving through with at least six seen on the 23rd with the number of Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail also building up. Siskins have become much less common at the Wetlands in recent years but five were seen on the 27th in the alders by the Coppermill Tower which used to be a regular haunt.  

DB @porthkillier


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