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.

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