Friday, December 25, 2009

Festive fayre

After a week of near Arctic conditions in London, this morning was my first opportunity to visit the patch for two weeks, reading of hard weather movements of Golden Plover, Lapwing and Fieldfare and a good showing of Woodcock and Jack Snipe at various other localities had me straining at the leash to get out and do some birding, but as I left home just before dawn in almost balmy conditions my disappointment was palpable. After a quick circuit of East India Dock Basin it was obvious that no Woodcock or Jack Snipe were there to be flushed and the somewhat gloomy skies were not to be darkened further by squadrons of Fieldfare chacking overhead so I turned my attention to the more prosaic business of counting wildfowl with the following results: Mute Swan 1 on the Lea, Canada Goose 6 on EIDB, Shelduck, 1 on EIDB, my first here since April and unaccountably scarce this winter, Common Teal c250 throughout the site, a somewhat low count given the recent conditions, Mallard 118 throughout the site, Tufted Duck 26 on EIDB; also present was a single Little Grebe and at least 21 Cormorant including one in breeding plumage. Plenty of gulls were about including at least 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls on the Millennium Dome mudflats, 3 Great Black-backs, c25 Lesser Black-backs, a few Herrings and c180 Black-headed, at least 8 Redshank were on the Lea and I flushed 5 from the north shore of EIDB. On the passerine front a flock of 18 Linnet was a good local count, at least 5 Reed Bunting were in the western Lea reedbed, two Chiffchaff, one each at EIDB and the Eco Park, and a small movement of Redwing mid morning with 11 north-west, 8 west and 1 south; all told 36 species in a three hour visit.

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