Walthamstow 3rd – 16th August

From about the 3rd onwards Ive been doing the odd morning at Walthamstow before work. Its been quiet with very little in the way of waders beyond a handful of Common Sandpipers. Passerines fairly quiet too with again handfuls of Willow warblers (below), one or two Garden warblers but otherwise good numbers of Reed, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff seen daily. Numbers (in the 100s) of Martins are using the site daily and still between 30-60 swifts


The Bomb crater field on the Marsh is well known for its propensity to attract Chats, particularly Whinchats (and Wheatear ) in August and later in the year Stone Chats. There are currently 2 Whinchat on in the field and Im sure this number will rise before the end of the month, They are really a highlight for me locally.



Im still waiting to see: Wheatear, Spotted flycatchers, yellow wagtails etc  this autumn, these can all be expected in my brief ‘mind clearing’ walks before work often accompanied by Walthamstow’s most vigorous and intrepid local David Bradshaw. He and I bumped into the 2 Garganey that were found the evening before on the Lockwood by RE on the 14th.


Strong SW winds are waylaying plans i had made to be looking for passerines on the south coast this weekend so it will be the London Gulls i’d imagine.

Juvenile Caspian Gulls from Erith.

This blog has been a little quiet of late. Fear not however! with last weeks arrival of a handful of juvenile Caspian Gulls (found by Rich Dante and Josh down Erith pier) I have snapped out of my june/july lack of inspiration and caught up with a couple of them over the weekend.


Above and below, a nice pale bird that was present on saturday to an audience of Rich, Richard, Josh and I. A striking bird that I really hope sticks around to see what it looks like in a month or so.


This next bird showed well for Rich and I on Sunday, a small, dark a delicate bird with a nice deep tail band.





Besides the Casp today there was a particular theme to some of the YLGs: White headed and pale underwinged, slightly gingery.  







Now that its almost mid August I will be posting with more regularity. expect trips from the south coast for the next few weeks untill I go back to Shanghai for the first 9 days of September!

The first Juvenile Yellow-Legged gulls of 2019

The arrival of juvenile Yellow legged gulls in early July is a nice snap out of birdless june for me and something I look forward to immensely.  This year it was old Laurence P who struck gold on July the 1st with a juv down in east Sussex (the first uk record of a juv ylg in 2019) I went to visit him on the first weekend of July, as is out custom for the past few years and we notched up another different bird (below) in the same spot aswell as a flyover along the coast abit.


Since returning to London Ive been far too busy to check the river until this weekend where Thames Barrier park revealed my first London Juvenile YLG of the year in the form of a distant bird on the water edge. Generally there are more other aged birds around during this late summer period and a first summer (below) 2 second summers and an adult were also lined up among the local herrings and Lesser black backs.


I had more free time today and ventured down to Erith where I was greeted by a greedy juvenile Yellow leg almost instantly . It was very excited by the bread and dominated the melee as they often do.




As per there were a couple of other YLGs about aswell as 1 first summer and 1 juvenile (below) Mediterranean Gulls. 


Nice to properly kick off the summer gull season with a showy couple of birds, I will however really be keeping my eyes peeled for the first juvenile Caspian gulls to turn up in the Thames in the next few weeks.

Spring at Long Point, Ontario. Part 4- …and the rest

The time has come to wrap all this Long point business up.

No more living in the past.

That was then this is now.

A post for the remaining birds, with much missed off as usual but highlights etc. Please excuse the hair-brained jumping between taxa in no particular order but thats how things come and go and maybe this post can reflect that truth.

Swallows were an enigmatic presence with huge movements on some days and very little on others. Almost every local tree hole or garden nest box had a Tree Swallow within and Barn swallow flocks harboured the odd feeding Cliff Swallow particularly towards the end of the trip. Local Purple martins with their gaudy looking man made abodes were great to watch and listen to and both Bank swallow and Northern Roughwing were seen most days in smaller numbers.



Cliff Swallow


Tree Swallow


f Purple Martin

We’d hoped out daily topping up of bird feed at our garden feeder would attract a migrant Redheaded Woodpecker but alas the birds We saw were away from the house. Some on territory in a small patch of older trees aswell as one or two migrants. Our visits to Backus Woods and the Wilson tract were occasionlly soundtracked by the drumming and calls of Hairy and the mighty Pileated Woodpeckers.


Red-headed Woodpecker


Solitary Sandpiper

Our encounters with Wading birds were few and far between with no real number of birds but ones and twos of things like Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs. Kildeers were in every carpark puddle or gravel driveway and a couple of fly over semipalmated plovers. I ticked Hudsonian Godwit on our final morning with a flyover and a flock of 16 Shortbilled Dowitchers flew around a waterbody in the rain a few times before continuing on their journey. Woodcocks were heard every evening and a we visited a local bird on several occasions who would call and display as the light disappeared.


Lesser yellowlegs

Heres a few random Passerines;


Eastern Kingbird


Eastern Bluebird



Ruby-throated Humming birds were a daily occurrence at our feeders.


Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Herons, egrets and bitterns were well represented with American Bitterns supplying a daily soundtrack.


Green Heron


Least bittern


American Bittern

Raptors were a little quiet, lots of Turkey Vultures and a good few Ospreys and Bald Eagles, Broadwinged and Red –tailed Hawks, Sharp Shinned and Coopers hawks aswell as one or two Kestrels and a single Merlin. Northern Harriers were seen every so often.


Northern Harrier

Last but not least the gulls! Not my focus for the trip but a nice bonus. We saw small flocks of Bonapartes Gulls flying around aswell as a close up handful of them at a local pier. Accompanied by Ring Billed Gulls. I probably saw 2 American Herring Gulls per day but never very close.


Bonapartes Gulls


So thats that. an immense trip with so much new information and birds for me. I really loved it and will be visiting again .



Spring at Long Point, Ontario. Part 3-Vireos, Grosbeaks, Tanagers and Cuckoos


I keep thinking Im almost done with Long Point images and then I remember something like Scarlet Tanager or Philly Vireo, how could I leave them out? Im trying to be brief for my own sake (although I know i’ll look back at these posts fondly) THE VIREOS were excellent birds to watch, with most encounters providing prolonged views of birds sometimes stationary for lengths of time.  The most common were Blueheaded and Warbling Vireos, followed by smaller numbers of Philadelphia  and smaller still (perhaps only 5)  Redeyed and Yellow Throated, Whiteeyed were seen by others but not me.  Again a great range of personality, colour, subtlety and expressions aswell as both bizarre calls and sweet tuneful songs.


Blue-headed Vireo


Warbling Vireo


Yellow throated Vireo


Philadelphia Vireo

alas, no shots of Red-eyed Vireos but they were probably the most exciting to watch. There was very little on the trip that didnt get me going and the OTHER PASSERINES, were no exception. It was very nice to catch up with Rosebreasted Grosbeaks, particularly the females, and I certainly appreciated seeing them in context, made me like them even more, their ‘squeaky shoe’ call was often heard.


Scarlet Tanagers were shocking things to look at, I had a high count of 15 one day and some were very approachable.


We had both Black and Yellow-billed Cuckoos within 20 mins of each other and that was pretty much all we saw of them.



Expect the next post to be everything else in a ‘last but no least’ style.




Spring at Long Point, Ontario. Part 2 – Thrushes and Sparrows

A post detailing some of the comparatively subtle north American passerines that we encountered at Long point.


Graham talked about the north American avifauna providing these birds to perfectly compliment the bright and gaudy warblers, and he’s right with THE THRUSHES in particular; Their appearance, tentative movements and the dappled light you often see them in go perfectly together, add something like Wood thrush song to the equation makes such a good birding experience. In fact the whole suite of Catharus thrushes are definitely something I focused on and enjoyed, and managed to see 5 species thereof. Swainson’s and Veerys were the most common throughout the 10 days, with Hermits in better numbers towards the beginning and only one Grey-cheeked briefly towards the end.  Wood thrush were consistently present in small numbers throughout our time there.


Swainson’s thrushes






Hermit thrushes



Wood thrushes



Gray-cheeked thrush

THE SPARROWS were something I’d lazily neglected to really study up on before hand but a very enjoyable group of birds with fluxes in numbers throughout the trip but often high numbers of Whitethroated, Chipping and Whitecrowned present. We also Saw Swamp, Field, Lincolns, Song and Savannah fairly regularly around Long point itself and both Grasshopper and Vesper Sparrows at a local farm nearby.


White Throated Sparrow


White crowned Sparrow


Chipping Sparrow


Lincolns Sparrow


Savannah Sparrow


Field Sparrow


Song Sparrow


Grasshopper sparrow


Spring at Long Point, Ontario. Part 1- Warblers

Its almost 2 weeks since I came home from 10 days in birding in Ontario, southern Canada. Staying a stones throw from Long Point Bird observatory as the base of Long Point national park –  a spit of land some 40km long jutting out into lake Erie.  Graham Gordon, Fred Fearn, Laurence Pitcher and myself slowly walked round and round a small area staring at the *worlds best migratory birds in varying numbers and varieties as the eb and flow of their north bound migration was helped and hindered by weather, timing and their need to feed up. Basically the best birding trip I’ve ever done abroad and something I’ll be doing again.  The place we stayed in was owned by local birder Adam Timpf. Its a perfect spot for 4 people to stay and concentrate on the birding around Old cut and in the park. Heres the link to it on Air b&b if you’re interested in staying there yourself


Graham has written a nice run down of the trip, including details of the fall days for Birdguides have a look here.  

I took something like 1500 images and have edited them down to a lot less but heres the first of a few posts – So Warblers first! All together we saw 26 Species of Warbler. Things like Blackpoll warbler were probably missed as a result of the dates rather than regularity but the following were more than enough and many were new to me completely and the main focus of the trip.


Black & White Warbler


 Northern Parula


 Blackburnian Warblers



Cape May Warblers



Yellow warblers



Canada Warblers




Nashville Warbler


Tennesse Warbler


Chesnut-sided Warbler


American Redstart


Palm Warbler


Northern Waterthrush


Black-throated Green Warbler


Magnolia Warblers





Common Yellowthroat


Prothonotary Warbler


Bay-breasted Warblers



Yellow Rumped Warbler


Hooded Warbler


Golden Winged Warbler


Black-throated Blue Warblers


I think I went without getting decent shots of the following: Pine, Orangecrowned, Bluewinged, Wilsons

Next up thrushes…