Sunday, April 01, 2012

First quarter: January to March 2012 summary

It was a good period for Shelduck, four were present on January 1st but numbers built up to a maximum of 24 on the 19th, February produced a site record count of 27 on the 12th, thereafter numbers dropped off with 14 the maximum for March on the 1st, 8th &14th,  with at least one  pair prospecting nest sites on the 31st. A pair of Mandarin on the Thames on March 31st was only the second site record whilst a flock of seven Wigeon also on the Thames on February 12th was the third site record and the first multiple count, a Shoveler  was on the Thames on the same date. Common Teal numbers were comparatively low at the beginning of January with 132 on the 1st, cold weather ensured that numbers rose quickly with 257 on the 9th and a monthly maximum of 340 on the 14th, numbers continued to increase during February with a site record count of over 460 on the 9th, the maximum count for March was 170 on the 8th but this had dropped to 36 by the end of the month. The overwintering female Pintail was seen on January 1st and on a total of 22 dates until the last sighting on February 28th; a pair of Gadwall was present on February 9th and 10th with a male on March 17th and two males on March 18th. The silt problem meant that Tufted Duck numbers fluctuated but only really built up when high spring tides in mid January put some water in the basin, monthly maxima were 56 on January 17th, 36 on February 27th and 52 on March 29th; a female fitted with a red nasal saddle on March 28th & 29th was presumably the bird of Portuguese origin noted last year. Single Sparrowhawks were noted on January 6th, February 5th & 6th and March 31st with two on March 8th, two Kestrels were seen on January 7th with singles on February 28th and March 31st the only other sightings; singles Peregrines were recorded on January 1st & 4th and February 12th with two on January 10th. the first Oystercatchers of the spring were two on March 25th, a Little Ringed Plover reported on March 29th was at least a week overdue, the only other record was of two on March 31st. A flock of around 70  Lapwing flying east on February 5th was a record site count, three on the Pura Foods peninsula on February 11th and six flushed from Bow Creek on February 12th were the only other records with singles of Common Snipe on January 4th, Woodcock on February 11th and Curlew on February 27th helping to bost the wader count to an excellent eight species. Redshank numbers remained low throughout with monthly maxima of 19 on January 6th, 17 on February 4th and ten on March 4th, 6th & 7th with the last of the winter noted on March 17th; by comparison Common Sandpipers had their best ever winter with monthly maxima of four on January 2nd & 7th, a site record winter count of seven on February 9th & 26th and six on March 26th. At least three different Yellow-legged Gulls were recorded on seven dates; an adult on January 1st, a 2nd-winter on January 6th, a 3rd-winter on January 8th, an adult on January 18th, a 2nd-winter and an adult on February 14th and a 2nd-winter on February 27th and March 16th; other interesting larid records included a Scandinavian Herring Gull on January 1st and a movement of 65 Common Gulls  flying west on January 8th. The first Stock Doves of the year were a group of four on February 29th, followed by two on March 1st, three on March 4th and two on March 22nd, 25th & 31st; single Kingfishers were noted on 12 dates between January 1st and March 31st with two on January 2nd and possibly three on January 4th; single Great Spotted Woodpeckers put in an appearance on January 9th, 15th & 19th. Passage Meadow Pipits included six north on January 10th, one on January 14th, four west on February 12th, three on March 7th and two north on March 29th. Both Grey Wagtail and Pied Wagtail were noted on numerous dates with a singing Grey on January 24th and a singing Pied on March 31st. A flock of around 50 Fieldfare on February 6th was a site record count, the only other record was of three fling west on February 12th, Redwings fared a little better with at least ten on February 6th, 35 flying west and one in the copse on February 10 and 18 flying mainly west on February 12th. There were no wintering warbler records, the only  Blackcap was singing in the copse on March 31st with singing Chiffchaffs noted on March 18th, 19th, 20th & 22nd. A sizable Linnet flock frequented Orchard Wharf during January, 45 were present on the 1st with around 80 noted on the 8th, a site record count; at least two pairs were holding territories in late March; other finch counts included at least ten Chaffinch on February 15th with up to three singing males present into late March and at least 11 Goldfinch on March 16th; Reed Buntings were noted on several dates with a peak count of nine on February 5th. Finally two pairs of Long-tailed Tits attempted to breed but both nests failed, at least one as a direct result of human disturbance. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi, have you tried to talk to the Lee Valley Authority people about the damage they're causing to the habitat and bird nests?

    I'm just thinking that if it's pointed out that they don't need to spend time and money on strimming and hacking away at areas that don't need tidying up, plus some suggestions about discussing with local birders about where the nests are and what should be left alone for ecological reasons, they may possibly listen.

    Some photos may help if it can be done tactfully, plus it's good to remind authorities that they are being observed and it might make them wary of getting caught breaking the law (eg by destroying bird nests), so they may calm down a bit. Sounds like they are treating the place as a park rather than a nature reserve.

    These are just my thoughts after the Long-Tailed Tit nest ridiculousness and I don't know the situation.

    Recently and by luck I stopped the felling of a dead tree with three (blatantly obvious) nest-holes, at least one occupied, by approaching the tree surgeons and very politely explaining/standing there, and taking a couple of photos, then emailing the park authorities so there'd be no excuse that they weren't aware. It worked - they'll postpone until the autumn, which is what they should have done to start with.
    Anyway, I hope something can be worked out.