Sunday, January 01, 2012

Fourth quarter: October to December 2011 summary

The first Shelduck of the autumn turned up on October 26th with numbers building up to a peak of six on December 17th and 18th with one pair already showing territorial aggression towards another pair. Common Teal numbers continued to rise with monthly maxima of 177 on October 26th, 303 on November 22nd and 358 on December 10th, but by the end of the year numbers had dropped to around 150 due to the mild weather. A Gadwall was a good find on November 6th and the female Pintail returned for its second winter on December 11th. Water level problems at the basin kept Tufted Duck numbers low in the early part of the period with none recorded in October and only two in November, both on the 11th; things picked up in December with seven on  the 10th and a peak of 16 on the 15th and 17th. Water level problems also affected Little Grebe with singles on December 10th and 18th and two on December 17th the only records, likewise Great Crested Grebe was scarce, the only record was of two flyovers on October 15th. The only record of Little Egret was of three flying down the Thames on October 21st, the largest flock recorded at the lower Lea. Two Sparrowhawks were noted on October 29th, 30th and December 18th, with singles on November 22nd and 27th. A Common Buzzard flew west on October 14th, a good date for a migrant and two Peregrine Falcons that drifted slowly east on October 22nd looked like migrants rather than local birds; singles Peregrines were also seen on October 29th, November 22nd and December 6th, with three indulging in a territorial dispute over Bow Creek on October 30th; but somewhat worryingly no Kestrels were reported this period. The first Redshank of the autumn was recorded on October 16th with monthly maxima of seven on October 22nd and 23rd, 12 on November 22nd and 27th and 22 on December 11th. It was an excellent period for Common Sandpipers with an October peak count of seven in a roost on the Pura Foods peninsula on the 1st, three on October 9th. November 22nd and December 10th and 17th, four on October 23rd and December 30th and five on October 30th, November 5th and 27th, ones and twos were recorded on five other dates; the only other wader recorded was Lapwing, a flock of 35 flying west on November 6th. On the larid front there was a good count of 45 Common Gulls on October 15th, most of the birds were in 1st-winter plumage; adult Yellow-legged Gulls were noted on November 2nd and 4th and December 6th, a 2nd-winter was also present on the later date. There was a small movement of terns in mid October involving two Arctic Terns on the 15th and one on the 16th, all flying west, and a Common Tern, the latest record for the lower Lea, on the 15th. There was a small movement of Woodpigeon on October 16th totalling 138 birds including 78 moving north-west and 41 south-west but this was just the precurser for a massive passage of 1,400 flying south-west on October 29th; in contrast there was just a single record of Stock Dove on October 1st. The only Ring-necked Parakeet was recorded on October 9th, Great Spotted Woodpecker fared a little better with singles on October 15th and 23rd; two Kingfishers were seen on October 5th, the only multiple count of the year with singles on December 4th, 17th and 18th. There was a passage of Meadow Pipits during October including 22 flying south on the 7th, a record count for the lower Lea. Black Redstart remained scarce with just a single record on October 13th. The first Fieldfare of the autumn was in the ecology park on October 22nd with three flying north-west the following day and 11 through on October 29th the only other records, at least 251 Redwing passed through on October 23rd with two smaller movements of 43 on October 29th and 22 on November 6th the only others noted; a single Mistle Thrush was seen on October 13th and six Song Thrushes on October 9th were almost certainly migrants. Two Blackcaps were noted on October 5th and 9th, single Chiffchaffs on October 1st and December 17th with two on October 5th and November 20th and three on October 22nd. Single Jays put in an appearance on October 22nd and December 18th and 21st, around 45 Carrion Crows were present in the ecology park on October 22nd and a very good local count of over 500 Starlings was made on November 6th.It was a good period for passage finches, good numbers of Goldfinch during October included 69 on the 15th, 44 on the 23rd and 60 on the 26th; 55 Linnets on October 13th was a record count for the lower Lea, with another good count of 50 recorded on December 23rd; two Lesser Redpoll flew south at the basin on October 23rd and finally a Reed Bunting was at the basin on December 15th with three there feeding on phragmites on December 18th.

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