27 March 2010

A quiet day at Barnes

A day of light westerlies at the London Wetland Centre revealed few migrants, only 5 Sand Martin, 5 Redshank, 2 Willow Warbler and 3 Chiffchaff, all previously reported. A summer plumage Water Pipit brightened things up a bit and 4+ Common Snipe, 20 Lapwing, 3 Cetti's Warbler and a Reed Bunting were the best of the rest. Duck numbers are dropping but 12 Wigeon, 20 Gadwall, 15 Pochard, 96 Shoveler, 50+ Teal and 180 Tufted Duck were noted. Many of the Lapwing are paired up and aggressively defending their territories against passing Carrion Crows. Had a double choc cookie from the cafe - it was naff! Stick to the Choc Muffins, which are ace.

26 March 2010

Tower 42 Bird Study Group launch

Attended the launch of the Tower 42 Bird Study Group in London this afternoon with Pete Alfrey. This exciting project has been set up by David Lindo in collaboration with the BTO, RSPB, London Bird Club, London Wildlife Trust, Tower 42 and Opticron and is the first study of its kind. During the spring and autumn, bird migration will be recorded from the roof of the 183 metre high Tower 42 - the second tallest building in central London (middle of photo below). Any dedicated London patch worker will be aware of just how much migration goes on over the capital, but by using Tower 42 as a platform for observation, it is hoped that a greater number of migrants will be recorded and migration flyways identified. The first watch is on the 7 April. For more infomation see The Urban Birder and this BBC news report.

23 March 2010

Beddington Farmlands

Met up with Pete Alfrey today to sort through the gulls at Beddington Farmlands. We had a few interesting birds including a possible 2nd cycle Yellow-legged Gull and some very bleached 2nd cycle Herring Gulls, but no hoped-for Caspian. Migrants were thin on the ground, but a singing male Firecrest showed well (record shot below) and 8+ Sand Martin and 1+ Chiffchaff were seen and 2 Blackcaps heard. 3 Common Snipe, 36 Shoveler, 22 Tufted Duck, 15 Teal and a few Tree Sparrows completed the tally. Beddington has changed a lot since my last visit and Pete is working tirelessly with the Beddington Farm Bird Group to develop the site into a major urban nature reserve. To find out more see the Beddington Farmlands website or visit Pete's blog.

16 March 2010

Iberian Lynx trip report

I have finally managed to finish the trip report I have been writing on our trip to Spain last month for Iberian Lynx. To download a copy click here.

13 March 2010

More of the same

After the rain of the last few days, water levels at the London Wetland Centre have risen again, covering the fresh mud recently exposed on the Wader Scrape. 2 Dunlin on the Main Lake were a sign of movement but other than that it was business as usual. Duck numbers remain about the same with 3 Pintail, 20 Gadwall, 31 Wigeon, 24 Pochard, 118 Shoveler, 130+ Teal and 186 Tufted Duck counted. 1 Bittern showed well on the Reservoir Lagoon and 21 Common Snipe (photo), 32 Lapwing, 1 Water Rail, 10 Fieldfare and 6 Redwing were the only other notables.

5 March 2010

The end of winter?

Another spring-like day and another scout around the London Wetland Centre. Since Monday the water level on the Wader Scrape has been lowered revealing a good expanse of fresh mud that is really pulling in the birds (top photo). This pool alone produced 2 Jack Snipe, 6 Common Snipe, 1 Water Pipit, 5 Pintail (second photo), 102 Shoveler, 110 Teal, 6 Gadwall and a Shelduck. Surely an LRP is due here any day now? Other birds seen around the reserve include 33 Wigeon, 10 Pochard, 127 Tufted Duck, another 20 Shoveler, 3 more Common Snipe, 37 Lapwing, 1 Redwing, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Reed Bunting and 1 redpoll sp. over. With reports of a Willow Warbler heard singing from the car park over the last few days, it feels like spring is finally here, but maybe the pair of nest-building Long-tailed Tits seen today were getting just a little overexcited - surely they are forgetting the late winter freeze that's just around the corner?

1 March 2010

Sun is shinin' in the sky...

Woke up today to some freak weather conditions - blue sky, sun and no wind - so I quickly forgot any ideas about working and rushed off to the London Wetland Centre. No hoped for early migrants materialized (a Little Ringed Plover was at Staines Reservoir two days ago), but a Bittern showed well for a minute or so on the Main Lake and 1 Water Pipit, 8+ Common Snipe, 24 Lapwing and a single Redwing were also seen (and a Cetti's Warbler heard). Duck numbers were about the same, with 2 Pintail, 29 Wigeon, 15 Gadwall, 54 Shoveler, 20 Pochard, 130 Tufted Duck and at least 100 Teal counted.

I'm really getting to like this place, despite the fact that there are usually screaming kids everywhere and during half-term it's like being at a mother and child social gathering in Starbucks. Still, if its a choice between dog walkers and kids, I'd choose the kids any day. This Grey Heron fishing right next the path certainly didn't mind em!