15 April 2012

Northerly winds slow migration

Very quiet on the moor today with little evidence of movement in strong north-easterlies. The male Common Redstart found yesterday was still around, ranging widely around the hawthorns and anthills in the north-west corner. Unfortunately it was very flighty and not at all co-operative for photos (as you can see from the cracking shots below).

The male Common Redstart occasionally ventured out onto the anthills in the
north-west corner, but always kept its distance.

The male Common Redstart doing what it does best - flying off.

10+ Northern Wheatears (8 males, including 1 Greenland type, and 2 females including a possible Greenland bird - below) also in the north-west corner were a little more approachable (as you can also see below).

Male Northern Wheatear on it's obligatory anthill.

Above and below: Female Northern Wheatear. This bird is quite dark, rich buff
above and below, and long winged (8 primary tips visible) - oenanthe
or leucorhoa?

2 House Martin over N and a female Common Whitethroat were my first of the year. Best of the rest was 1 Little Owl (patch tick) along the hedgerow in the north-west corner early morning, 1-2 Common Buzzard over, 1 Little Egret along the Colne, large numbers of Linnet and Meadow Pipit and quite a lot of Robins. Also a Red Fox. On Stanwell Moor 1 Swallow, 6 Blackcap (5H), 2 Willow Warbler (1H), 5 Chiffchaff (2H) and 2 Shelduck was about it.


  1. Not a bad haul, Lee, even though you did consider it a bit quiet!

    It's pleasing to get a report of Little Owl, which have been very scarce in the past year or so. Redstart is a good 'un, not nearly so regular here as at other comparable sites around London. And ten Wheatears - well, might seem unremarkable, but they are now far more numerous here than say ten years ago, when double figures would have been unheard of. Why the area seems to have grown more attractive to Wheatears I can't imagine.

    Shame about the absence of livestock on the moor currently: bad news for Yellow Wagtails, among others.

    One snippet that might be of interest: over the past fortnight there have been two sightings of Treecreeper in the large streamside willows near the north end of the boardwalk. Two on one occasion, one on the other. As far as I know an extreme rarity on this patch.


    Rob Innes

  2. Hi Rob,

    Just seems to be not much new in at the moment, probably due to the persistent low pressure systems. You're definitely right about the increase in Wheatear numbers. Can't imagine the reason for the increase, except maybe a national increase? Many thanks for the tip-off about the Treecreepers, I'll make sure I check on my next visit. Yeah, really missing the cattle. They really draw the wagtails. Hopefully they'll be back soon.