16 – 26 April

 

 

This period saw a few waders dropping into the drained 4 and 5 reservoirs at Walthamstow. I had two very good looking Islandica Black-tailed Godwits on the morning of the 18th. Only my third ever sighting on the patch and the first I’ve seen on the deck. A Dunlin, 2 Little Ringed Plovers and 2 Common sandpipers were also present. The birds stayed all day and an after work visit turned up a Greenshank to add to the list. Just goes to show that waders drop in during the day, the Greenshank stayed distant and the light was too poor for blog worthy photos. Stu had another Grey Plover on the 17th and Gary J had a Ruff on the Eastwarwick on the 24th I had 2 Oystercatchers too but cant remember when. Work has been completed on 4 and 5 reses and they’re now on they’re way to being full however all is not lost as rumours of the mighty Lockwood being drained untill November are in circulation. This has been one of my dreams and WILL get birds so watch this space.

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This obliging Common sand was on the Lockwood on the morning of the 19th, they seem to be coming through now and are present most mornings.

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Paul picked up this Whimbrel flying east over the East Warwick on the morning of the 19th. I also had a Rook over North a little later on the same day.

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Despite visits every morning I’m not really having much luck, Last April was great in comparison, I had Osprey, Black Tern, Arctic Tern, Whin Chat, Short Eared Owl, several Redstarts, a Singing Sibe Chiff and a fem flava type Wagtail all on the patch, Pete Lambert found a Grasshopper Warbler on tottenham marsh (that stayed all summer) and JW Davies had a male Pied fly and so on… This april hasn’t been quite as exciting so far and i think its mainly due to the good weather giving migrants clear passage.  Good for them I guess. Heres a Lesser and a Common Whitethroat.

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I haven’t posted a Gull pic for months so heres a 3cy Great Black-Backed Gull, there have been up to 25 on the East Warwick of late, feeding on the tens of dead rainbow trout. A pair bred last year, fingers crossed they will again, the fresh Juvs are such good lookers.

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Peak District Pied Flycatchers

 

A site that I try to get to each spring, and one of the first places I went “out birdwatching” Near Grindleford in the Peak District.

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Situated just outside my Hometown of Sheffield an ancient oak and birch woodland set in a gritstone gorge thats nicely sheltered and summer home to good numbers of our scarcer breeding and most beautiful woodland birds.  Todays visit was really about Pied Flys which were in good numbers. I had probably 10-12 singing males and a single female.

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Scores of Willow Warblers and two or three Redstarts were also singing high in the mostly bare trees and it was nice to see Treecreepers, Nuthatch and coal tits. Dippers and Grey wags patrolled the deep gorge itself.

Previously around the first weekend of May I have seen and heard Wood warbler in this spot and later in season it’s great for Spotted Flycatchers.

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The open moorland above the gorge can hold Whinchats, Cuckoo, Tree pipits, Curlews and scores of Stonechats and Meadow pipits (below) Except for Whinchat I had all of the above on this occasion as well as a singing Ring Ousel.

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Sunday night I made my escape back down to London. Hopefully I can come across something on its way here this week before the window closes until autumn.

Beachy Head, Easter Weekend

Another visit down south to see m’old mate Laurence Pitcher on Beachy Head was just the spring birdy injection I needed! We did the whole site on foot and tallied up 36km back and fourth over the 2 days.

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On the Sunday we counted around 25 Willow Warblers (below), 7 Wheatears, 3 Common Redstarts, a Yellow Wagtail and single siskin over, a Black Redstart (above)…

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… as well as many Black caps and Chiffies, a Lesser White throat and a few Common White throats (below). A firecrest was in the pines on Birling lane and over at West rise a drake Garganey and a couple of Water pipits were seen as well as fairly good numbers of all 3 Hirundines hawking insects over the water.

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The highlight of the day was a female Pied Flycatcher that Laurence picked up in a dense and sheltered group trees at Went Hill. We spent a good while watching and photographing this welcome little beauty.

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A female Merlin (below) was seen on both days.

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The Monday saw winds turning more northerly and similar numbers of birds were counted, another 7/8 Wheatear, a Redstart etc , A white Wag (below) was hanging around the light house at Belle Tout…

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… The highlight of today was an adult male Hen Harrier (below) that I picked up thermaling over the headland. It gained height and headed north, an apparently scarce passage migrant and a good bird for the area.

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Other than 20 or so Yellow Wags in off that flew over our heads that was about it for migrants, I managed a some shots of a local Corn bunting singing from the side of the road in nice light.  Great birds and other than my visits down here I don’t see them this well very often.

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We checked west rise again on the way to the train station and saw the long staying Long Tailed Duck (below), the drake Garganey as well as the many Hirundines again.

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Great couple of days, Cheers Laurence.

3 – 15 April

 

Its been fairly slow going, with my pre-work walks turning up the odd migrant or two. Handfuls of Willow Warbler, a few each of White Throat, Sedge and Reed Warbler and in the last couple of days the rattle of Lesser White throat has been noted. Sand Martins are on breeding grounds at the bottom of Lockwood and though I’m yet to see a House Martin I’ve probably seen close to 50 swallows go North over the week.

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My first Yellow Wagtail of the year was on the East Warwick also a few White Wagtails have been noted including a small flock of 6 on the Lockwood on the 14th these are a particular favourite of mine and come through in small numbers most noticeably in spring.

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The grassy banks of the aforementioned Reservoir held this Skylark for a few days, only the second I’ve ever seen grounded at this site. It was nice to take it in,

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A Wheatear on East Warwick on the 13th came close enough to reveal several features of Leucorhoa or Greenland Wheatear, a likely much under counted sub species in Britain.

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Leucorhoa  Wheatears migrate alot further and are longer winged showing 7/8 primary tips in the closed wing (Our native birds showing 5/6). 7 were counted on the East Warwick bird as well as warm buff tones reaching right down to the vent, brown marks in the Ear coverts and mask as well as a ‘dun brown’ in the mid mantle apparently fitting of a Greenland Male in spring.  Traditionally Greenland Wheatears were thought to come through later in the season but ringing records have proved this not always to be the case.  I tried to note size, structure and stance and although it was alone it did seem quite a thick set bird and when first picked up seemed very upright in posture,to be honest I think any wheatear in longer grass is likely to adopt this kind of posture so i dont think its of use really. I think my presence was noted and whilst photographing it stayed in a fairly similar ground hugging pose.

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Our Local raptors are all present and correct. Displaying Sparrow hawks and mating Kestrels in their nest tree. Peregrines have been active and are seen most visits as well as flyover Red Kites and Common Buzzards. 

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Rain over night on the 14th meant I was down on the Waterworks first thing this morning and brief but close views of a Male Redstart were the reward. no pics unfortunately but Its a good feeling to get the Redstart find out of the way and set hopes a little higher before the end of spring. 

This Weasel was compensation for missing out on Redstart shots.

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29 March – 3 April

 

A quick round-up from the patches. I’m hoping its the calm before the storm… with probably one of my last visits to the River for a few months and spring stuff arriving at Walthamstow.

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I saw a nice Male Wheatear and some Sand Martins before leaving for Hong Kong on the 17th of March and since returning have had more of the latter, a couple of Swallows, lots of singing Chiff Chaffs, Black caps and a few Willow Warblers at Walthamstow on my pre-work morning walks, The above female Wheatear was one of two on the Lockwood on the 29th.

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ChiffChaff

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Little Ringed Plovers (above) are being seen regularly on the drained number 4 and 5 reservoirs which have also held Ruff, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and Black-Tailed Godwit amoung a few more regularly seen local waders like Redshank and Common  and Green Sandpipers over the past couple of weeks. A walk round with DB, PW, LC, SW and LB produced a drake Gargeney on the West Warwick also on the 29th.

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Fast forward to this weekend and sunday mid morning was spent at the O2. Myself RB,DS, DJ and MH enjoyed a single adult Yellow Leg (above) and some nice Lesser Black Backs but thats about it. the lack of Black-Heads meant the large gulls were resistant to come to the bread, so stayed pretty distant.

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2cy Lesser Black-backed Gull

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Bright adult Lesser Black- Backed

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Very broadly notched wing coverts on this Great Black-Backed Gull. Striking bird in flight and on the deck.

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Dante and I spent the afternoon walking around Walthamstow, only to have a Red Kite and 2 White Wags on the Lockwood (above).

This Morning I had a 2 singing Willow Warblers and very little else. However there were two Cettis Warblers singing in close proximity to one another. Often at the same time overlapping in phrases one of which was very showy and allowed me to get quite close.

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