Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fourth Quarter: October to December 2012 summary

Shelduck at East India Dock Basin: numbers peaked at 16 in mid December

The first Shelduck of the winter arrived on November 12th with two on  the 26th and four on the 30th; numbers picked up during December with ten on the 3rd and 6th and a peak monthly count of 16 on the 8th and 14th. A juvenile Wigeon was at the basin on October 23rd and a pair were on Bow Creek on December 12rh; these two sightings represent the fourth and fifth records respectively which, following on from the flock of seven on the Thames on February 12th, made 2012 easily the best year ever for this species. Other good dabblers included a record-equalling count of six Gadwall on December 12th and two immature male Shoveler from  December 12th to 16th. Common Teal numbers gradually built up during October with 84 on the 9th, 175 on the 18th and 280 on the 29th; numbers dropped a little during November with a monthly maximum of 244 on the 26th before recovering in December with a peak count of 300 on the 14th. Overall it was a very poor period for Tufted Duck with monthly maxima of 12 on October 23rd and November 19th and 21 on December 3rd. with the red-saddled female from Portugal recorded on four dates between November 12th and 18th. Little Grebe has become something of a rarity recently, the only records were of a single at the basin on four dates between October 16th to 28th and two on Bow Creek on December 9th. It was a very poor period for raptors with just single Sparrowhawk on October 24th and Peregrine Falcon on October 25th the only records. Common Sandpiper numbers remained high with monthly maxima of six on October 14th and four on November 5th, December 9th and 15th; Redshank counts remained stable but a little on the low side with no really cold weather to boost numbers; the first autumn record was of eight on October 14th, this built to a monthly maximum of 12 in the high tide roost on the 24th, numbers dropped slightly during November with a peak count of ten on the 5th before picking up in December with a maximum of 20 on the  2nd and 9th. It was a very quiet period for larids with a 3rd-winter Yellow-legged Gull on November 9th the only record of note. A Kingfisher was seen on October 22nd and 23rd but these were the only records for the period, Great Spotted Woodpecker was equally scarce with just singles on October 23rd and December 9th. A rather late Swallow flew south on October 9th, it was the vanguard of what proved to be a very poor period for visible migration, other notables included a Meadow Pipit flying south on October 29th and a record count of 15 Lesser Redpolls flying north-west on November 12th. The two winter thrushes had a very poor showing, a single Fieldfare on December 12th and a single Redwing on October 22nd with three flying west on November 12th were the only records whilst six Song Thrushes on October 22nd were probably migrants. The only record of Blackcap was on October 22nd, Chiffchaffs fared much better with singles on six dates between October 9th and December 7th, two on December 9th and three on October 14th and December 16th; it was also a good period for Goldcrests with singles on October 9th, 11th and 29th and two on October 22nd and December 9th. A site record count of 30 Chaffinch was made on October 22nd, 14 Linnets were noted on October 24th and finally, a Brambling, only the third site record, was found on November 26th