Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On the Crest of a wave

With a slight change in the weather and a few things turning up elsewhere, and I had a few hours to spare. I decided to give EIDB a visit. The last few visits has been fairly mundane with barely a migrant to be seen, so when I arrived to clear skies and a brisk NW wind, it did not look promising. But almost immediately I heard the welcome call of Common Terns, as two birds flew around the dock for about 10 minutes, before moving off. I then watched the Thames for awhile, but it was quiet. The Ecology Park was also quiet with just a Blackcap. Back at the Basin I noticed some bird movement in the NW scrub, the first two birds were Long-tailed Tits, the third a Blackcap, and the fourth a Whitethroat. I then checked the NE scrub, where i found another Whitethroat, neither were singing. A Lesser Whitethroat sang briefly in the NE corner, and was difficult to see. I heard a Willow Warbler singing in the copse, and searching the copse saw a small bird feeding activly in the middle of the woodland. A Firecrest, the first recorded since June 2008. Excellant views were had, and I also had great views of a very bright Willow Warbler. Another circuit of the Basin and a count of 40 Tufted ducks ended the visit. On the way out I checked the copse again, the Firecrest was in the same area at 12.20pm.
Gary A James

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rave on, birding off

Conditions were overcast with an easterly wind blowing this morning so I headed to East India Dock Basin with a view to a spot of river watching hoping that the conditions would produce some tern passage. By the time I arrived at the DLR station it was obvious that something odd was going on, lots of people were milling around and a throbbing headache-inducing bass beat was coming from the direction of the Lea. I suspected that something was happening on the Pura foods peninsula so I headed for the north end of Bow Creek Eco Park to get an elevated vantage point. The southern end of the peninsula was a mass of people breaking up wooden fences to fuel the several fires that had been started, the three storey glass building was full of people and practically every pane of glass was covered in grafitti. Fortunately most of the people were staying close to the building and not venturing onto the flat gravel area where the Little Ringed Plovers are suspected of breeding. I immediately phoned the Lea Valley Regional Park emergency number and advised them to lock the gates on both reserves as the people attending this event clearly had no respect for property and no consideration for the local residents. The most worrying aspect of this affair is that whoever organised this event clearly broke into the site ignoring the notices of "rapid response security protection" posted on the gate, once news gets out that this is an easily accessable site I'm afraid that "travellers" will get wind of it and set up camp there with the attendent problems of fly-tipping, vandalism and anti-social behavior they will inevitably bring; watch this space.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Spring arrives: March 2010 summary

Blackthorn in blossom and Hawthorn in leaf,
East India Dock Basin March 2010.

March got off to a bit of a slow start as blocking north-westerly winds prevented any migrants pushing through until quite late in the month; the adult male Black Redstart was seen on the 2nd along with 24 Great Black-backed Gulls, a local high count; 20 Shelduck on EIDB at dusk and another two on Bow Creek constituted the highest ever count for the lower Lea on the 4th, also on the 4th, 18 Redshank were in the high tide roost and 31 Tufted Duck were on EIDB, both monthly peak counts; Common Teal peaked at 155 and five Greylag Geese flew west on the 14th; two Little Ringed Plovers arrived on the 17th followed by two Sand Martins on the 18th and an Oystercatcher and Yellow-legged Gull on the 20th; a flock of nine Lesser Redpolls was feeding in birches in the Eco Park on the 21st, which turned into something of a red letter day with three Northern Wheatear and a different Black Redstart on the Pura Foods peninsula and a flock of four Jackdaws flying north at EIDB; the 21st also saw 72+ Greenfinch in the Esso garage roost and three Chiffchaffs in the Eco Park, both monthly peak counts; the first Blackcap was in the copse at EIDB on the 24th. with the first Willow Warbler in the Eco Park on the 27th when another Northern Wheatear was on the Pura Foods peninsula; an unexpected bonus came on the 28th when an Egyptian Goose was seen briefly at EIDB, the first record for the lower Lea; and finally, also on the 28th, a site record count of four Peregrines in the air together over EIDB were probably two pairs involved in territorial display.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter Sunday birding

a nagging north-westerly wind was blowing today sending scudding clouds that threatened rain across an otherwise clear and sunny sky,absolutely useless for migration but still I ventured out, as did Gary whom I met at EIDB. We strolled down to the river comparing notes (or lack thereof) and chatted about our favourite topic, why quality raptors avoid the lower Lea like the plague, on arriving at the water Gary instantly called out a dark duck drifting downriver about halfway out, a fine drake Common Scoter, a new bird for me and Gary's second record for the area; a passing Thames Clipper flushed it and it flew away towards central London landing a couple of times before we lost it around a bend in the river, a superb record and solid proof why it's so important to get out in seemingly unpromising conditions. The rest of the haul was rather pedestrian; four Shelduck, 30 Teal, Common Sandpiper, Kestrel, three Sand Martin and a singing Chiffchaff the highlights.