Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Black and Blue

A mid-week jaunt in almost spring like weather, was in great contrast to the rain of near biblical ammounts, the prevoius day. Just the usual wildfowl were on the Basin, but I was alerted by a flash of electric blue, a Kingfisher, the first record this year. It landed very conveniently on a tree at the back of the reeds, where excellent views were had. There were many Finches present, Greenfinch and Goldfinch in song, 3 Linnets, and a few Chaffinch in the copse. A single adult Yellow-legged Gull roamed the mud in front of the Dome. The Thames was quiet, so had a stroll along Bow Creek, just one Redshank and about 50 Teal were present. On the way back to the Dock I encountered a male Black Redstart flitting among the buildings at Orchard Place, it was also calling. Back at the Dock the Tufted Duck had increased to 30. There was one very interesting sighting of an Isopod, a Sea Slater, only the second record here of this mainly marine invertebrate.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

High Tide and Teal

A short morning visit to check the high tide roosts, on Bow Creek and EIDB. The wind was blowing from the NE wih snow flurries, and it was raw. Very few birds were around the dock, though seven Shelduck were on the islands. At high tide on Bow Creek only 4 Redshank were present with a Common Sandpiper. The Teal were strung out all over the area, making counting difficult, until a boat appeared, chugging along Bow Creek towards the Thames. This had the happenstance to flush all the Teal along the Creek into EIDB. A few minutes later and I was counting 310 Teal on the site, a very good count for February. Another circuit of the site only yielded a single Jay.

Gary A James

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Black gold: February 7th birding

Unless it's really cold, February can be one of the most unrewarding months in the patchwatchers calender; nothing is on the move, you've already seen all you're likely to see and the first spring migrants seem an age away on the other side of the Ides of March, for the shortest month of the year February can seem to go on forever, so it was more with hope than expectation that I headed out this morning. I arrived at the Lower Lea on an ebbing tide which meant the wader roost was empty and no Redshank were feeding on the mud, I did a quick circuit of EIDB but the only birds of interest were six Shelduck and 19 Tufted Duck so I decided to do a Teal count of the entire site which produced c190 birds, mostly strung out on the Lea with the majority of them paired up, numbers will start to drop of rapidly as the month progresses with maybe one or two pairs hanging on into early April. Two Grey Wagtail were feeding by the Blue Bridge along with a pair of Linnet and a flighty Redwing was in the Eco Park. I headed back to EIDB meeting Gary on the way, we hung around the pier hoping for something to come upriver but the only thing of interest was a Peregrine that flew in and landed on the Millennium Dome, we were lamenting the loss of our Black Redstart when I noticed a bird fly out of the old gravel works and land in a hawthorn in the copse, I got my bins on it and it was a Black Redstart, a cracking adult male and almost certainly the bird Gary found last year, we watched it for a few minutes before it flew down into the dock mouth to feed, along with another Grey Wagtail, the 4th of the day as Gary had earlier had one flying downriver. Gary found a Great-crested Grebe on Bow Creek and we added single Redshank, Jay and Song Thrush to the day list which added up to a rather average 36 species.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Off to a good start: January 2010 summary

Common Teal at EIDB (Mark James Pearson)

January was an excellent month both in terms of quality and quantity, News Years Day was fairly quiet with a flock of 28 Fieldfares the highlight. On the 2nd a male Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the copse at EIDB, a Stock Dove flew north and an adult Yellow-legged Gull was on the Millennium Dome mudflats. The elusive adult male Black Redstart put in his only appearance of the month on the 3rd along with 31 Redwings (a distant flock of c130 thrushes was almost certainly this species but was too far away for a positive identification), a drake Gadwall at EIDB, and Chiffchaff at the Eco Park while six Song Thrushes flying north-east were almost certainly migrants, also on the 3rd a Common Sandpiper was in the wader roost along with a monthly maxima of 45 Redshank. The first Peregrine of the year put in an appearance on the 5th, six Reed Buntings were in the north-western reedbed at Bow Creek and 24 Fieldfares flew south-west. Overnight snow delivered two drake Pochards to EIDB on the 6th with the freezing weather prevailing until the weekend when it really paid dividends; four Common Snipe were flushed from the feeder stream in the Eco Park on the 9th and a Lapwing was roosting on the island at EIDB; the 10th was even better, along with three Common Snipe, two Jack Snipe (first site record), were flushed from the Eco Park, a Lapwing was in the wader roost, a Great Crested Grebe and a female Wigeon (second site record) were on the Thames off EIDB and a site record count of six Scaup flew upriver, the thaw set in on the 11th and predictably all the good stuff disappeared. A very good count of 402 Common Teal was made on the 12th along with an excellent local count of 26 Linnets, things then became very quiet until the 31st when a Collared Dove flew north, another Great Crested Grebe was on the Thames off EIDB and a monthly maxima of 13 Shelduck flew in to roost at dusk ; all in all an excellent start to the year with 59 species recorded. Finally, on a botanical note, the first Snowdrops of the year were beginning to flower in the copse at EIDB on the 31st.