Sunday, July 10, 2011

Second quarter: April to June 2011 summary

At least two pairs of Shelduck were present throughout and showed signs of breeding but as in previous years no conclusive evidence was found. The last wintering Common Teal lingered into early April with nine on the 10th, a small spring passage was then noted from the end of April with a pair on the 25th and a male on the 29th and two males on May 7th with one still present next day. A Gadwall on May 1st was the only record of the period and a male Pochard was noted at East India Dock Basin on April 24th & 27th and June 13th. Tufted Duck numbers peaked at 63 on April 20th and a male marked with a red saddle of Portuguese origin was present on April 17th and, remarkably, it was joined by a female on May 1st with both birds then seen intermittently until May 9th. Single Sparrowhawks were noted on May 1st & 30th with two on June 1st, Common Buzzards were logged flying south-west on April 27th and north on May 7th, there were only two records of Kestrel, singles on April 30th and June 19th and two of Peregrine, on April 10th and June 1st. The first Oystercatcher of the spring was noted on April 2nd with two seen on many dates from April 17th and a peak count of four on May 6th. Two pairs of Little Ringed Plover were holding territory with song flighting observed on several dates. Common Sandpiper passage commenced with a single on April 5th then two on April 10th, four on April 17th & 24th, three on April 25th and a single flock of six down the Thames on May 1st. A 2nd-summer Mediterranean Gull was found on June 1st with a 1st-summer bird noted on June 3rd & 4th; non-breeding mainly 1st-summer Black-headed Gulls began to build up during June with a peak count of circa 190 on the 19th. The only Arctic Tern of the period was on the Thames on April 17th along with five Common Terns, the first of the year; the peak spring count was just seven on May 7th, whilst two pairs attempted to breed but were both unsuccessful. A pair of Stock Doves was noted on several dates until May 7th and a Collared Dove passed through on April 2nd with a Ring-necked Parakeet on May 30th. Common Swifts were elusive with singles noted on May 14th & 30th and June 4th and then a good local count of 42 heading south during inclement weather on June 12th. The first Sand Martins of the year were two on April 10th, numbers peaked at nine on April 17th and two pairs bred successfully. Swallow passage was very poor with just two west on April 24th, five on April 27th and one north on May 1st. It was a very good period for House Martins with the first of the year on April 17th followed by two on April 24th, one on April 25th, five on April 27th, two on May 1st, four on May 14th, one on May 19th, two on May 30th, four on June 1st, two on June 3rd and two on June 19th, such a continuous series of sightings suggest that breeding has taken place locally. The only Meadow Pipit passed through on April 17th, Northern Wheatears enjoyed a good spring passage with singles on April 2nd, 6th, 20th & 19th and May 1st with a site record count of four on April 5th whilst a Whinchat on May 8th constituted the first spring record of this migrant at the Lower Lea. The first singing Reed Warbler was logged on April 10th and numbers gradually built up to a minimum of 16 singing on May 8th with at least six pairs staying on to breed. A Sedge Warbler was singing in the northern scrub on April 17th followed by single singers nearby on April 25th & 29th. The first probable migrant Blackcap was noted on April 5th with at least six singing by April 10th, one pair definately bred in the copse and at least two other pairs probably bred, the only Garden Warbler of the period was a showy non-singer in the copse on May 12th. The first Common Whitethroats appeared on April 17th with five present by April 24th, Two Lesser Whitethroats appeared on April 23rd and one or two were noted singing until May 8th. The first singing Chiffchaffs were noted on April 2nd and passage continued throughout the month but there was no evidence of breeding; the first singing Willow Warbler was also on April 2nd with singles on April 5th & 6th and two on April 17th the only other records in a poor spring for this species. An elusive Spotted Flycatcher was in the copse from May 12th to 17th, a species usually associated with autumn passage in the Lower Lea and the second site record of Rook involved a singleton flying east at the ecology park on April 17th. After a good showing last year the only record of House Sparrow was a singleton in the ecology park on May 6th. A singing Chaffinch was noted on May 1st but not thereafter and a singing Reed Bunting on April 10th with a pair seen on May 19th. Finally an escaped male Chestnut Teal, an Australian species, was noted intermittently from June 13th and a Common Seal was in the Thames off the basin on May 6th.

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