Saturday, February 18, 2012

After the Goldrush

After last weekends excitement things have returned to normal. The special birds have moved on and we are left with the usuals. This mornings visit was timed to coincide with high tide and bird numbers were generally low. Teal just about scraped above 200, there was just one Common Sandpiper and 14 Redshanks, though there was a decent count of 21 Shelduck. A Kingfisher graced the basin and a number of Black-headed Gulls were feeding here. A nagging south west wind was blowing which usually is a sign of mundane birding. I must admit my thoughts are turning now to the upcoming spring migration, EIDB does have a reputation for attracting early migrants.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ducks Deluxe

It looks like EIDB area has got its mojo back, the last couple of days have been very eventful. A Woodcock yesterday and a suite of goods birds today. Arrived today to light freezing rain landing on already icy surfaces, and on more than one occasion I did an impromptu audition for the next series of Dancing on Ice. Met up with Nick at the Eco Park but no sign of the Woodcock, but I did add a Meadow Pipit and 10 Redwings flying west, both site year ticks for me. Wandered along Bow Creek to the dock where 6 Lapwings were feeding on the mud, an unusual sighting here. The dock was still mainly frozen so we headed for the Thames where we picked up seven ducks in front of the O2 which turned out to be Wigeon. This is only the third record here and the highest count. Just after this three Fieldfare flew over, another site year tick. We then headed to East India Dock station to meet with the planned LNHS walk to EIDB. The group caught up with the Wigeon again who had moved a short way downstream, we noticed that a number of other wildfowl were with them, Nick thought one of them looked like a Shoveler and a quick look confirmed this, another rare species here and part of an influx on the inner Thames today. A Peregrine was on the Dome and another seven Redwing flew over and one was in the copse. After this things got quiet. The cold weather had worked its magic and its only three weeks until the first spring migrants arrive.. Nick returned to the area at high tide this afternoon and saw the Pintail and an impressive count of 27 Shelduck, making it a total of seven duck species seen today.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


It's funny how thinks turn out, one minute I'm cursing some old dear under my breath for letting her dog off the lead, the next I want to by the mutt a lifetime supply of Bonio, all because it flushed a Woodcock and gave me a patch tick that has been 15 years coming. It is the first record for the ecology park and only the second for the lower Lea following on from one flushed by Gary from the copse at the basin on December 1st 2010. The bird did a leisurely circuit over the Pura Foods peninsula (thus making it onto my Tower Hamlets list) before dropping down into scrub on the western side of the eco park; I left it in peace, hoping it will still be there in the morning. The other highlight of the day was three Lapwing on the deck on the Pura Foods peninsula, they are usually flyovers here. The rest of todays haul included 18 Shelduck, the overwintering female Pintail, 442 Common Teal , a single male Tufted Duck on Bow Creek and eight Redshank and three Common Sandpipers in the high tide roost. It was very quiet on the passerine front with just singles of Grey Wagtail and Song Thrush of note.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The High Numbers

Pintail at East India Dock Basin, 9/2/2012 

An unexpected chance to make a visit to the patch on a weekday paid big dividends, as soon as I got a view of the basin I knew I had a very good chance of breaking the site record count of Common Teal; the 7 metre plus tide had finally put some water in the basin, and it was covered with Teal, I conservatively counted 250 and hurriedly made for Bow Creek where I had in excess of 210, more than 460, then first count of 500 cannot be too far away. Other wildfowl included a pair of Gadwall, (new for the year), the overwintering female Pintail, two Greylag Geese, seven Canada Geese, 16 Shelduck and ten Tufted Duck. On first inspection the wader roost was deserted but I found ten Redshank roosting on the Pura Foods peninsula along with two Common Sandpiper, another two were in the roost on the way back, which led to a return to the peninsula where the original two were still in situ, four is a very good winter count but then I found another three roosting on a pontoon on the last meander, a quick check of the other two roosts confired that they were still occupied. Three Reed Buntings picked up on call flying north over the basin provided some passerine interest but finch numbers at the feeding station seem to have dropped, not a bad return for an ad hoc visit, I should do this more often.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Happy Birthday Charlie, Cold aint it

I have bemoaning the fact that this winter has been so mild. Well the cold has arrived and it has brought mixed fortunes. The basin for the first time was completely frozen shifting all the wildfowl out, the only birds present were a few common passerines. Of course the weather was the cause of the frozen basin, but because of the silting problem, to keep water in the dock the sluices have been raised. It is a tidal basin and at present water flows in when the tide is higher than 6.5 metres. Over the last 10 days the tides have been very low so no water has entered the basin. The lock gates are old and leak so water has been escaping. We could have lowered the sluices but it takes a Herculean effort. In the past the dock has remained largely unfrozen and has attracted birds from other frozen waters. I have to wonder if things conspire against you. Anyway the creek had birds on it, but not the expected increase in numbers, 260 Teal and 17 Redshank and a single Common Sandpiper. The bird of the day a Common Snipe was flushed from the stream in the Ecology Park and flew to Bow Creek where I had good views a few minutes later. There has only been 13 Common Snipe records and all but two have been in freezing conditions, so this was a good sighting.
It is Charles Dickens 200th birthday on the 7th February and Dickens spent a lot of time wandering around the dock areas of London getting ideas for stories and characters. The East India Dock area features in a number of Dickens novels and shorter fiction. The area particularly the Orchard Wharf area still has features that would have been present during Dickens time, narrow streets, cobbled areas, buildings and warehouses and all of this and the Nature Reserve is under threat if the concrete plant gets planning permission, is nothing sacred.