Sunday, March 21, 2010

An unexpected bonus

I met up with Gary at EIDB this morning with no great expectation of adding anything new to my year list let alone getting a lower Lea lifer, in the event I got two; the first a flock of nine Lesser Redpolls (also a patch tick for Gary) including a stunning male feeding in birches in the Eco Park along with at least ten Goldfinch, itself a local high count, and the second a group of four Jackdaws heading north at EIDB. On top of this Gary found two Wheatears on the Pura foods peninsula which soon turned into three along with a Black Redstart, thought to be a migrant and not the semi-resident adult male. Other highlights included a soaring Peregrine over the basin, at least one adult Yellow-legged Gull, a confiding pair of Reed Buntings, two Sand Martins busily feeding on a hatch of midges over Bow Creek and three Chiffchaffs including one singing bird. I made a second visit later in the day to coincide with high tide in order to check the wader roost, it held two each of Redshank and Common Sandpiper and the bulk of the 75 Common Teal still present in the area. As the light began to fade Greenfinches started to arrive at the roost in trees behind the Esso garage and I made a new high count of 72+ birds, several of the males were singing and display flying before settling down for the night; all in all a very satisfying day which initially seemed a little unpromising.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Early birds

Another post work visit this evening and another migrant in the shape of two Sand Martins found by Marco Johnson, which is as far as I can ascertain, the earliest date for this species in the lower Lea; these birds are almost certainly one of the breeding pairs from last year or their offspring, as at least one of them went to roost in the breeding pipe in the lock wall (LVRP has provided a multi-storey purpose-built des-res Sand Martin wall at Bow Creek but these idiotic creatures prefer to raise their children in an overflow pipe how ungrateful is that?). The two Little Ringed Plovers were still on the basin, six Shelduck were scattered throughout the site with single Redshank and Common Sandpiper at Bow Creek; Teal numbers seem to have dropped dramatically overnight with an extensive search producing just 27 birds.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St Patrick's Day plovers

An ad hoc visit after work today paid a dividend in the form of two Little Ringed Plovers on the island at EIBD, the first migrants of the year for the lower Lea; also noted were nine Shelduck including four pairs display flighting over the basin, 72 Common Teal and 22 Tufted Duck. On the passerine front a pair of Long-tailed Tits were carrying nesting material in the copse at EIDB and a Song Thrush was singing in the Eco Park.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Business as usual: February 2010 summary

The north shore at EIDB looking east, February 2010.

Apart from a short-lived cold snap early in the month February was generally mild with lots of rain; it was a fairly quiet month with just two new species recorded for the year; an elusive Kingfisher at EIDB on the 17th and a skein of four Greylag Geese flying east on the 27th, otherwise it was pretty much business as usual, the male Black Redstart was in the copse at EIDB on the 6th but generally seemed to prefer to spend his time 200 metres west of the basin in the Virginia Quay area, Common Teal peaked at c190 on the 6th but had dwindled to 65 by the 28th, the only Redwing was also on the 6th along with a good count of four Grey Wagtails and a Peregrine; a Chiffchaff was in the copse on the 14th but was only seen on one other date, the 21st; an adult Yellow-legged Gull was on the Thames on the 17th; Shelduck numbers built up during the month and reached a record site count of 18 birds on the 21st including 16 together at EIDB along with 41 Tufted Duck and 86 Mallard; the high tide roost held 18 Redshank and a Common Sandpiper on the 21st, with a Lapwing flying north-west on the same date the only other wader recorded; perhaps the biggest surprise of the month was the discovery of a Greenfinch roost in trees behind the Esso garage, where at least 42 birds flew in to roost at dusk on the 28th; finally a Sea Slater was found on the 17th, only the second time this marine invertebrate has been recorded at the lower Lea.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Muddy Waters

Arrived at low tide, and it was extremely low. I cannot remember so much exposed mud on the Thames for a number of years. No Viking longboats though. The River Lea at Bow Creek was in places, just a muddy trickle of water a few feet wide. Would these conditions lead to a change in the birdlife present. well not really. Gulls were more numerous, with a movement of Black- headeds up the Lea Valley, and it was crowded on the Dome mud. I counted 24 Great Black- Backs, which I think is a site record. Wildfowl and waders were usual in number for the time of year and a few birds were singing in the sunshine. A pair Of Reed Buntings chased each other in the north-east reedbed on the Dock, and a Black Redstart was at Virginia Quay. But on the whole it was quiet. An unwelcome sighting was the diggers on the old works at Orchard Wharf. They were clearing rubble and vegetation from the rear of the site. Lets hope the work is minor, and does not lead to a wholesale clearence of the site.