Sunday, July 14, 2013

Second Quarter: April to June 2013 summary

Egyptian Goose at East India Dock Basin

Burnet Companion at East India Dock Basin

Following on from the two records from the last period Egyptian Goose has consolidated its status at the Lower Lea with two on April 14th and 24th, May 17th and 31st and June 5th, singles were noted on April 30th and June 17th, 20th and 23rd, a total of 12 records in 2013 with just two prior to this year. Shelduck numbers remained high during April with a monthly maximun of 24 on the 3rd, numbers dropped off during May with a high count of just nine on the 2nd with the same monthly maximum on June 2nd; as usual and despite lots of territorial behavior, no  firm evidence of breeding was noted. Following on from an exceptional first quarter Common Teal numbers remained very high during early April with a peak count of 412 on the 1st, this number dropped to a singleton by the 24th, which was the last winter record; a male from  May 15th to 22nd and another male on June 21st and 23rd were the only spring migrants; the only other notable dabbling duck was a male Gadwall on May 25th and 27th. Tufted Duck numbers were also on the high side with monthly maxima of 71 on April 13th, 66 on May 8th and 50 on June 12th, the Portuguese red-saddled. female was noted on 15 dates between April 7th and May 28th. Despite a healthy breeding population in the nearby docks Great Crested Grebe can be very difficult to find at the Lower Lea so an adult in breeding plumage at the basin from May 10th to June 5th was very welcome, a second bird was noted on the Thames on the latter date. Sparrowhawk continued to be elusive with singles noted on April 19th and 24th the only records, Kestrel fared much better with singles recorded on 12 dates between April 1st and June 24th. There were no reports of Oystercatcher during April, usually the best month of the year for this species at the Lower Lea with just singles on June 6th and 15th the only records. Common Sandpiper numbers remained high during April with a peak count of seven on the 16th, spring passage continued into early May with five on the 2nd and two on the 8th the last of the season. Redshank numbers dropped off during April with five on the 1st, four on the 3rd and two on the 7th, thereafter one or two were noted until the last on April 20th. A feature of recent summers has been the build-up of Black-headed Gulls, mostly non-breeding bitds in 1st-summer plumage, ten were at the basin on June 17th, 102 on June 23rd and about 200 on June 24th. An early breeding pair Common Terns had three chicks by June 12th and at least three more pairs were incubating by the end of the month, a welcome return to form for this species. One or two Stock Doves were noteed in their usual haunt on Limmo's Peninsula between April 7th and June 20th but as in previous years no breeding has taken place, a Collared Dove on May 20th was the only record for the period.  There was a good passage of Common Swift during May, 20 flew south on the 17th and 30 were recorded on the 20th with two the following day, the only other record was of five on June 17th. Sand Martins were late back this year, the first record of two birds was on April 15th followed by singles on April 24th and May 6th and then no more until two on June 4th and 5th followed by at least four on June 12th, six on June 16th, nine on June 17th and 21st with a peak count of 14+ on June 23rd, no evidence of breeding was noted by the end of June. Swallow passage was fairly light, the first record was of at least four flying north west on April 19th followed by one north on April 24th, two north east on May 20th with one on May 31st the last record. Passage House Martins were in short supply, three on April 16th was the only record for that month, things picked up in June with five on the 5th, ten on the 20th and the last report of two on the 23rd, the only Meadow Pipit of the period flew south on April 14th. Passage Black Redstarts were noted on April 1st and 4th and May 15th, better still was the female Common Redstart in the northern scrub at the basin, only the second record for the Lower Lea; it was a very poor spring for Northern Wheatear with singles on April 13th, 16th and 23rd the only records; Mistle Thrush continued its recent good form with singles on April 7th, May 15th and June 5th. The first Sedge Warbler turned up on April 24th followed by a very good count of three on April 27th and one on April 28th; the first Reed Warbler also turned up on April 24th with numbers building up to a peak of six on May 31st. A fall of at least four Blackcaps on April 15th were the first of the spring with a peak count of six singing on April 28th and May 6th, Lesser Whitethroat passage was restricted to a single singing bird on April 26th and 27th; two Common Whitethroats on April 15th were the first of the spring with numbers building up to a peak count of a least eight on April 27th. Chiffchaffs were noted on five dates in April with a peak count of at least four on the 15th,  it was the vest sping on record for Willow Warbler, two on April 14th, including one singing, were the first arrivals followed by at least 12 the following day, the largest fall ever at the Lower Lea, at least seven were present on the 16th, six on the 19th, seven on the 20th and two on the 24th with at least one on april 26th the last of the spring.A male House Sparrow on June 7th was the only record of the period and a single male Reed Bunting was holding territory until the end of May at least. Lepidoptera sightings included single Holly Blues on April 24th and June 2nd, four male Common Blues on June 17th, two Peacocks and a Comma on April 24th, a Speckled Wood on May 6th, single male Brimstones on May 27th and June 2nd and several Burnet Companion moths on June 17th.

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