Sunday, August 08, 2010

High Summer: June and July 2010 summaries

Gadwall at East India Dock Basin, June 2010

June and July are usually fairly quiet months in the birdwatching calendar with many observers switching off until the autumn, but a few surprises can be had for those optimistic enough to venture into the field. The undoubted highlight of June was the first Red Kite for the Lower Lea which flew south-west over East India Dock Basin on the 12th; the rest of the month was fairly uneventful with a Hobby just east of the basin on the 6th the only other notable sighting. Two pairs of Little Ringed Plovers were hanging on but apart from a few song flights and the odd territorial dispute it seems unlikely that breeding was successful; the only other wader noted in June was an Oystercatcher flying up the Lea on the 6th. Two pairs of Common Terns were nesting on the basin rafts, it seems that the combination of silt and oversummering Black-headed Gulls is making East India Dock Basin an unattractive prospect for this species. Three pairs of Sand Martins were nesting in the basin with another pair seen regularly at the ecology park, at least nine were seen on the 6th and two House Martins were noted on the 12th. An eclipse drake Gadwall was at East India Dock Basin on the 20th along with 39 Tufted Duck, a good count for June; two Sparrowhawks were in the eco park on the 23rd and a Mistle Thrush, just about annual at the Lower Lea, was seen on the 30th.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was noted on July 9th along with ten Common Terns and a Common Swift. The first Yellow-legged Gull of the "autumn" was seen on the 14th, with two Peregrines, probably the resident pair from the Isle of Dogs, and two Common Swifts. Five House Martins passed through on the 18th when two Common Swifts, two Peregrines and an Oystercatcher were also seen. Eight Great Black-backed Gulls were noted on the 23rd with two Little Ringed Plovers, and single Sparrowhawk and Peregrine. A Little Egret on the 29th was the highlight of the month with the first passage Common Sandpiper also noted on this date along with two Peregrines an Oystercatcher and a local high count of ten Goldfinches.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Peregrine Pandemonium

Early August at EIDB is usually quiet, but can throw up a few good birds. Today was just like that. The first circuit of the site produced just a few Common Terns (only one young was raised this year at EIDB) and a number of juvenile Reed Warblers. A watch of the Thames at high tide also produced very litte, until an adult Mediterranean flew past going west. Late July/early August is good for this species at the dock. The copse contained just a Blackbird. A Garden Warbler was feeding in the NW scrub, the first migrant Warbler of the Autumn. Over 10 juvenile Reed Warblers were in this area, mainly in the reeds, but two birds flew sorties into the scrub to buzz 2 Greenfinches. This went on for a couple of minutes until the Greenfinches had had enough and moved off. Searching through the loafing Mallards on the island produced 2 Teal, the first since April. It was at this point that a female Peregrine swooped over the island, probably after the young Mallards. The Peregrine tried another twice to grab some prey, but failed. Pandemonium broke out amongst the birds present on the dock, Coots and Moorhens made for the reeds, Gulls and Terns on mass attacked the Peregrine, ducks hid in vegetation on the island, and Crows and Magpies just made a lot noise. The Peregrine circled over the dock for about 5 minutes finally flying away west towards Canary Wharf. Life settled down again and all was quiet in the August sunshine.