17 – 22 Oct

With the days only really being birdable from 7.45 onwards my pre work patch visits have been brief, few and far between. however a group of 4 Black-necked Grebes were feeding around the big pipe at the NE of the Lockwood on the 20th. This equals the highest count here with 4 summer plumaged birds last may on the same reservoir. They were fairly close and Paul W and I got nice views. A Wheatear was also present that morning and Pete L had a Ring Ousel on Tottenham Marsh.



Other birding news is more of the same really. I ‘braved’ the 45 mph winds and bright sunlight at Thames Barrier park on saturday 21st and was rewarded with A new German Ringed 1w Caspian Gull at Thames Barrier Park – X574.  Not a bad looker and will look great in a month or so i reckon.




Lesser Black Backed Gull numbers are fluctuating between dates, Saturday saw probably 50+ whereas sunday there were less than half that, This surely reflects the fact that they are passing through.  The presence of one or two small, longer winged 1st years and a dark mantled adult was also noted including this midget (below). Nothing really to build a decent case for Fuscus for but surely continental birds from that direction.


As per around 7 or 8 Yellow legs were present, heres a couple of birds showing different levels of wing covert moult with the top bird having moulted c40% and the lower bird only including 3 inner median coverts (on its right wing at least) in its post juvenile moult so far.



Saturday I was joined by Dante. Despite him being very much in the frame of mind for what might turn up during his jaunt to Spurn this coming week he still got on both of the days Casps first.


The above bird was seen in September by Josh Jones over in Fulham. A straight swap as he reported having X574 (the Casp I had the day previous) amounsgt his bread mele on the Sunday.


I’ll leave you with the above bird. A real nice 1st winter Caspian Gull, on the roof at Creekmouth – a site I will be checking more often as my own dear patch becomes another park/running track/coffee hotspot. Thats the 2nd patch in 12 yrs in London that its happened to. (the first being Stoke Newington Reservoirs) I wont go into the horror now…

Back to Reality… 10 – 16 Oct


With the Scillies just behind me, I struggled to motivate myself on the patch, despite the fact that I enjoy vis-migging and there are Hawfinches everywhere, even in London, I just haven’t got it together before work.


I spent from midday Saturday till practically dusk on the River, 7 Yellow Legged Gulls were present at Thames Barrier park.



at around 3pm Dante and Rich arrived after successfully twitching the Rock Thrush in Wales and before too long a 1st winter Caspian Gull appeared right in front of us in the bread mele (as they sometimes just do!)


X841 was ringed in may this year in the same site as previous east German birds we’ve seen here and at Dungeness; X307 , x090 , x309  X319 and is one of the better looking birds especially the greater coverts and Scapulars, perhap the high forecrown lets it down abit but im being picky. see below for info.



Earlier in the week I had a pair of Stones Chats in the bomb-crater field on Walthamstow Marsh, probably here for the winter, a welcome addition to the patch year list and were photogenic in the warm sun of Sunday.



Sunday’s Gulls drew abit of a blank bar a handful of Yellow Legs at the O2, in cluding this fairly subtle bird. The headstreaking resembles Herring at this time of year, but all else points to Yellow-Legged.



The crowds that came to oggle at a sunbathing seal didnt take too well to my throwing bread all over the place.


Scillies 2017

My third Autumn Scillies trip in a row, 2 weeks on st Agnes in beloved Roseveer Cottage with Lee Amery, Graham Gordon and Laurence Pitcher and for me at least, the best trip yet.  2 weeks earlier than last year with the last week of September and the first week of October was, luckily, a great period; a mix of genuine rarities, scarcities, lots of common migrants, met some new people,and spent time with friends, good food, drink and the best scenery.


 1cy Bee-eater

After mixed weather for our first few days the winds settled in the West and South West with fronts moving through and clearing with rain over night and some very wet days. A blast of south in the wind on our first full day and a Bee-eater and Red-eyed Vireo were found within 20 minutes of each other. The Bee-eater (found by Lee) was seen and heard by most birders on the island eventually but the Vireo proved very elusive.


Red-Eyed Vireo

Next, my personal highlight: The Scillies dream is really finding north American passerines and on the morning of the 29th of September a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak flew out of cover infront of me.  You can read finder’s account here . The moments surrounding the initial find will be with me for ever and the below image gives me the shivers, seeing it there on the granite looking like a real vagrant. Stoked!


1cy f   Rose-Breasted Grosbeak


The bird went from wingletang (where i originally found it, to a a field along Barnaby lane and then ended up opposite the post office where it was seen by most who came and twitched it over the 4 days it was present. By the end of its stay it was seriously tame and would hop around near bags of fertiliser and sit in a low bramble feeding, all under the watchful eye of the local cats….



This was a great ‘warmer upper’ for the following American rarities. Another Red-Eyed Vireo in the parsonage, a Cliff Swallow, found on Tresco on the 2nd of Oct, which eventually gave LP and I great views and shared air space with 2 of the Bee-eaters whilst a Yellow Browed Warbler called behind – very memorable bit of birding.


Cliff Swallow (above and below)


Whilst we relaxed with a bonkers overpriced coffee moments after viewing the Cliff Swallow LP recived a text “Who found the Waxwing?”… excitement and frustration ensued but we decided not to get on the charter back to Agnes, where the bird had been found, and remained on Tresco to kick about and see what else was lurking there until our boat returned later in the afternoon. nothing really was the answer.  


juv Cedar Waxwing

We got back just before the Cedar Waxwing was re-located and eventually saw it a few times away from the crowds and even in our little garden. (below)


Other highlights were a day trip to st Mary’s to see the Isabelline Wheatear, which was a success with the bird showing down to 10 meters or so and although both distant the American Golden Plover and Pectoral Sandpiper were present around Porth Hellick.


1cy Isabeline Wheatear


Besides the Bee-eaters, Scarcities and less common migrants were reasonably well  represented however there were a few obvious things missing but between a couple of Wrynecks on Gugh, a Marsh Warbler that GG picked up, a migrant Hawfinch, couple of Lapland Buntings, Yellow –Browed Warblers (which were only really apparent towards the end of the trip) there were plenty of Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, a Turtle dove and whinchats etc to keep us entertained.   




m Hawfinch


Lapland Buntings


Yellow Browed Warbler


Pied Fly-catcher


1cy Mediterranean Gull


The original site of the Grosbeak find, a granite formation I’ve always loved aesthetically 


Looking West from Perigilis beach st Agnes

The return crossing on the Scillonian wasnt bad either and thanks to the help of a group of young(er) birders who were doing a count the following numbers were recorded. 100+ Balerics, 10+ Sooties, 1 Pomerine, 5 Arctic, and 10 Great Skua. thanks to Jake G/Micheal M for figures.

Added bonus – a finders report in the back of the 2016 Scillies Bird Report for the Caspian Gull last year, 1st for Scillies (hence the fuss!)