31 December 2012

Staines Moor highlights 2012

2012 was a good year for me at Staines Moor, with some reasonable vis mig witnessed during both spring and autumn passage, some decent decked migrants for such a small urban inland site, and some excellent insects. Cold weather movements at the start of the year produced 2 Dunlin, 2 Pintail, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Water Rail and 3 Water Pipit all along the ice-free Colne, along with Woodcock and Goosander.

The spring saw another superb passage of Northern Wheatear, with the first, a pair, seen on 16 March, and numbers peaking at an amazing 18 on 2 May. From late April most birds showed characteristics of the Greenland/North American race leucorhoa. Amazing to think that just a few years back Wheatear was much less frequent at the Moor.

Male Northern Wheatear, probably leucorhoa

Other spring highlights included Ring Ouzel, Common Redstart, lots of Whinchats, Spotted Flycatcher, Yellow Wagtail, several Red Kites and a Little Owl.

Adult male Ring Ouzel

Whinchat mini-fall - at least 5 birds present 2 May

Male Common Redstart. I swear there's something about these anthills that draw
scarce migrants at the Moor, in much the same way those pathetically tiny grassy
clumps on Fair Isle attract crippling rare sibes (oh the analogies us rare-deprived
inland birders come up with to keep our motivation up)!

Also, during the spring and summer months at least 5 Redshank were present and I stumbled upon a single nest, which I think is the first confirmed breeding for several years.

Common Redshank nest. Given the number of dogs running around at the Moor
it's amazing that any ground nesters can successfully raise young here.

The summer months produced some excellent insect sightings, although the wet weather had noticeably and dramatically reduced butterfly numbers.

Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas

Male Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens

Female Banded Demoiselle Calopteryx splendens

Autumn passage, produced Staines Moor's first Northern Gannet, a couple of flocks of Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 1 Ring Ouzel (with another 2 also seen by other observers), 2 Red Kites, 2 Golden Plover and Brambling.

Staines Moor's first Northern Gannet flew over on 7 November

27 Dark-bellied Brent Geese over on 25 October

1st winter male Ring Ouzel. At least 3 were seen at the Moor during the autumn.

Three (four reported by other observers) wintering Short-eared Owls have provided a great finish to the year.

Good birds I missed at the patch this year include Osprey, Firecrest, Treecreeper, Yellowhammer and Little Ringed Plover. National rarities and scarcities seen tantalisingly close to the Moor include London's first 2 Buff-bellied Pipits (less than two miles away), Black Kite, White-winged Black Tern, White Stork, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Roseate Tern, Spoonbill, Tundra Bean Goose, Avocet, Wood Sandpiper, Oystercatcher and Iceland Gull. I can't wait to see what 2013 brings.


  1. A patch watcher deserves something from their efforts, either rarity, extreme enjoyment, or both! I wish you both for 2013 Lee.

    1. I second Steve's comments, Lee - well done on some splendid results from the moor this year. Long may you continue to enjoy it; long may it thrive as a special place for wildlife.

      I am collating 2012 bird records for the Staines Res/Moor area to put together an annual report (in pdf format). I'll certainly include your records (attributed, of course) and will email you a copy of the report when it's ready. Can you post your current email address when convenient?

      I notice you mention a report of Honey Buzzard at Staines Moor in 2012. That one got under my radar; do you have any details?

      All best for 2013,

      Rob Innes

  2. Excellent stuff as always Lee - you almost make me miss London birding. Almost..... Happy new year, and good hunting,


  3. Many thanks for all your comments and I wish you all great birding for 2013! Rob, I was told about the Honey Buzzard from a birder I met on site but I haven't got any more details. I'd be very interested in your report - my email address is lee.dingain@gmail.com.

  4. That spring Ring Ouzel was a real beauty. Actually managed to see it a couple of times. Hope I bump into you on your patch this year! I go to the Moor more than my own patch, to be honest!