Monday, December 20, 2010

Five Waders,from a Jack to a Lapwing. Sunday 19th December

This visit was timed to coincide with the co-ordinated wader counts on the Inner Thames. The Basin was 80% frozen and only held a few Teal and some Gulls. The copse was empty but a 1st winter Black Redstart was foraging around the lock gates. Had a spell watching the Thames, but this too was quiet. Time to check the Creek for waders and wildfowl. Plenty of Teal were present spread out along the river, on checking the reed-bed I leaned over the railings, and was confronted by a Jack Snipe on the edge of the mud, 5 Common Snipe were also here and 3 more were across the river. Five Meadow Pipits were feeding on the wet grass at Bow Eco Park, this area remains unfrozen due to the water being fed by a pump. The snow was quite deep in this area. Snow can change the look of an area, make quite ugly places seem inviting, like a new coat of paint, but in the East India dock area its just bleak.
On the way back to the Basin a female Pintail was feeding on the mud. The tide was flowing into Basin when I returned and 2 Common Snipe were feeding out in the open on the mud. Met up with Nick and it was time to check the wader roost at Bow Creek as the tide was almost full. A Common Sandpiper was roosting on the river wall, and
8 Redshanks were in the roost with a number of Teal and a Common Snipe. The Redshank are considerably down in number, at this time of year the roost usually holds as many as 50 individuals. It is likely that the severe weather has moved the birds on to other areas, probably to the south west or perhaps the Emerald Isle. Some years ago I did a survey of bird corpses in coastal Essex, after a week of sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow. Redhanks were by far the most commonest casualty.
A small number Lapwings flew over, making it 5 wader species for the day. Another check of the Thames and the Basin revealed her majesty the Pintail on the Basin, after flying in from up the Thames. This is a wary and flighty bird, but Nick did manage to get some pictures, which may appear on this blog. Nick then went off to work and I made my way home, for thawing out bowl of soup and some crumpets.

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