9 -19 May, Walthamstow


Still some waders moving through the patch. Mike M found this Turnstone on the Lockwood on the 10th, seems to be a different bird to the previous, very Tame also.


I had a Dunlin on the 11th and Paul and I had 3 Sanderling fly south down the Lockwood on the 16th.



Swallows are still going through and a pair on the Riding stables seem to be back for the thrird year in a row, they must be the most central breeders in London.


Lots of fledglings like the above Long Tailed Tit have appeared recently.   Rain over night on the 14th must have brought down this Spotted Flycatcher, only my second ever in spring it was briefly calling and flycatching in the willows on the path between number 1 and 2 – a spot that also currently hosts 2 singing Garden Warblers.



I watched this Jay burying monkey nuts in the recently planted ‘flower meadows’, not a species that I have really photographed before but great to watch in the open and worth the ‘dead leg’ from crouching behind a make shift hide for 10 mins as it went about its business.


Tomorrow I fly to inverness on the first part of my trip to the Outer Hebs. More to follow!




27 April – 8 May

This period has seen the mass arrival of Common Swifts to Walthamstow as well as a few more waders coming through with Paul Watts finding a Turnstone on the East Warwick island that stayed for a couple of days and I had 3 Greenshank on the morning of the 3rd.  Arctic Terns are being seen also, I had one on the morning of the third and saw six this evening that Lol had found this pm. I also had my first patch Hobby of the year back on the 4th.





A trip to Crossness with Rich Bonser on the 6th got us some wader action with a nice pair of Bar-Tailed Godwits and a small flock of Grey plover headed east.



A couple of Loaves were thrown on the river at Thamesmead and who should appear but X090! An east German ringed Caspian Gull that Dante and I had back in Novemeber at Thames Barrier Park. It looks much much nicer now , a real stunner.




There are certainly many more 2cy Lesser Black-backs about.


Some are totally beautfiul, this 2cy from the 02 on Sunday with some moulted wing coverts.


Yellow-Legged Gulls are still hanging around the Thames, this 3cy was one of 3 seen on Sunday



Also noted were 2 Caspian Gulls. One of which was ‘Ring Piece’ a 2cy bird that I’ve seen here back in Feburary and a new bird. Seemingly German with heavily marked scaps and a dark underwing but otherwise is good. Just about passes the crappy Casp test, this bird was seen at Rainham on the same day by Dante.



Mayday Bank Holiday, Patchwatch and Beachy Head


Saturday was the Walthamstow Annual Patch Watch Day, despite the date and fairly promising weather the count came in at 79, 9 species lower than last year.  Highlights were a female Pied flycather found by Steven Harris , a couple of Arctic terns and this Whinchat that Paul picked out in the bomb crater field.



Sedge Warbler




Little Ringed Plover

I left around lunch and made my way south for another visit to Eastbourne and Beachy Head.


On arrival I birded around the Hollow and towards Shooter’s Bottom where I had 10+ Wheatears (at least one apparent Greenland, below) a couple of Willow Warblers, Lesser Whitethroats, Mediterranean Gulls but little else.



One of Beachy Head’s many Euro looking Stone Chats

Laurence and I started Sunday morning first thing with a sea watch from Birling Gap. I’ve never been really into sea watching but try to do abit at least once a year from Dunge in the spring or Cornwall in the late summer. Today wasn’t bad at all with lots of Poms not too far out, Arctics and a few Bonxies as well as a nice passage of waders.  The rest of the day held little of real interest until our visit to west rise, mainly to look through the hirundines that gather there, especially with the rain. We had 2 Little terns through and a suprise Wryneck, both of which were new birds for Local Kris Gillam and Wryneck new for the site.







16 – 26 April



This period saw a few waders dropping into the drained 4 and 5 reservoirs at Walthamstow. I had two very good looking Islandica Black-tailed Godwits on the morning of the 18th. Only my third ever sighting on the patch and the first I’ve seen on the deck. A Dunlin, 2 Little Ringed Plovers and 2 Common sandpipers were also present. The birds stayed all day and an after work visit turned up a Greenshank to add to the list. Just goes to show that waders drop in during the day, the Greenshank stayed distant and the light was too poor for blog worthy photos. Stu had another Grey Plover on the 17th and Gary J had a Ruff on the Eastwarwick on the 24th I had 2 Oystercatchers too but cant remember when. Work has been completed on 4 and 5 reses and they’re now on they’re way to being full however all is not lost as rumours of the mighty Lockwood being drained untill November are in circulation. This has been one of my dreams and WILL get birds so watch this space.





This obliging Common sand was on the Lockwood on the morning of the 19th, they seem to be coming through now and are present most mornings.



Paul picked up this Whimbrel flying east over the East Warwick on the morning of the 19th. I also had a Rook over North a little later on the same day.


Despite visits every morning I’m not really having much luck, Last April was great in comparison, I had Osprey, Black Tern, Arctic Tern, Whin Chat, Short Eared Owl, several Redstarts, a Singing Sibe Chiff and a fem flava type Wagtail all on the patch, Pete Lambert found a Grasshopper Warbler on tottenham marsh (that stayed all summer) and JW Davies had a male Pied fly and so on… This april hasn’t been quite as exciting so far and i think its mainly due to the good weather giving migrants clear passage.  Good for them I guess. Heres a Lesser and a Common Whitethroat.



I haven’t posted a Gull pic for months so heres a 3cy Great Black-Backed Gull, there have been up to 25 on the East Warwick of late, feeding on the tens of dead rainbow trout. A pair bred last year, fingers crossed they will again, the fresh Juvs are such good lookers.


Peak District Pied Flycatchers


A site that I try to get to each spring, and one of the first places I went “out birdwatching” Near Grindleford in the Peak District.




Situated just outside my Hometown of Sheffield an ancient oak and birch woodland set in a gritstone gorge thats nicely sheltered and summer home to good numbers of our scarcer breeding and most beautiful woodland birds.  Todays visit was really about Pied Flys which were in good numbers. I had probably 10-12 singing males and a single female.









Scores of Willow Warblers and two or three Redstarts were also singing high in the mostly bare trees and it was nice to see Treecreepers, Nuthatch and coal tits. Dippers and Grey wags patrolled the deep gorge itself.

Previously around the first weekend of May I have seen and heard Wood warbler in this spot and later in season it’s great for Spotted Flycatchers.



The open moorland above the gorge can hold Whinchats, Cuckoo, Tree pipits, Curlews and scores of Stonechats and Meadow pipits (below) Except for Whinchat I had all of the above on this occasion as well as a singing Ring Ousel.


Sunday night I made my escape back down to London. Hopefully I can come across something on its way here this week before the window closes until autumn.

Beachy Head, Easter Weekend

Another visit down south to see m’old mate Laurence Pitcher on Beachy Head was just the spring birdy injection I needed! We did the whole site on foot and tallied up 36km back and fourth over the 2 days.


On the Sunday we counted around 25 Willow Warblers (below), 7 Wheatears, 3 Common Redstarts, a Yellow Wagtail and single siskin over, a Black Redstart (above)…


… as well as many Black caps and Chiffies, a Lesser White throat and a few Common White throats (below). A firecrest was in the pines on Birling lane and over at West rise a drake Garganey and a couple of Water pipits were seen as well as fairly good numbers of all 3 Hirundines hawking insects over the water.


The highlight of the day was a female Pied Flycatcher that Laurence picked up in a dense and sheltered group trees at Went Hill. We spent a good while watching and photographing this welcome little beauty.



A female Merlin (below) was seen on both days.


The Monday saw winds turning more northerly and similar numbers of birds were counted, another 7/8 Wheatear, a Redstart etc , A white Wag (below) was hanging around the light house at Belle Tout…


… The highlight of today was an adult male Hen Harrier (below) that I picked up thermaling over the headland. It gained height and headed north, an apparently scarce passage migrant and a good bird for the area.

V87A1904 (1)

Other than 20 or so Yellow Wags in off that flew over our heads that was about it for migrants, I managed a some shots of a local Corn bunting singing from the side of the road in nice light.  Great birds and other than my visits down here I don’t see them this well very often.





We checked west rise again on the way to the train station and saw the long staying Long Tailed Duck (below), the drake Garganey as well as the many Hirundines again.


Great couple of days, Cheers Laurence.

3 – 15 April

Its been fairly slow going, with my pre-work walks turning up the odd migrant or two. Handfuls of Willow Warbler, a few each of White Throat, Sedge and Reed Warbler and in the last couple of days the rattle of Lesser White throat has been noted. Sand Martins are on breeding grounds at the bottom of Lockwood and though I’m yet to see a House Martin I’ve probably seen close to 50 swallows go North over the week.


My first Yellow Wagtail of the year was on the East Warwick also a few White Wagtails have been noted including a small flock of 6 on the Lockwood on the 14th these are a particular favourite of mine and come through in small numbers most noticeably in spring.



The grassy banks of the aforementioned Reservoir held this Skylark for a few days, only the second I’ve ever seen grounded at this site. It was nice to take it in,



A Wheatear on East Warwick on the 13th came close enough to reveal several features of Leucorhoa or Greenland Wheatear, a likely much under counted sub species in Britain.


Leucorhoa  Wheatears migrate alot further and are longer winged showing 7/8 primary tips in the closed wing (Our native birds showing 5/6). 7 were counted on the East Warwick bird as well as warm buff tones reaching right down to the vent, brown marks in the Ear coverts and mask as well as a ‘dun brown’ in the mid mantle apparently fitting of a Greenland Male in spring.  Traditionally Greenland Wheatears were thought to come through later in the season but ringing records have proved this not always to be the case.  I tried to note size, structure and stance and although it was alone it did seem quite a thick set bird and when first picked up seemed very upright in posture,to be honest I think any wheatear in longer grass is likely to adopt this kind of posture so i dont think its of use really. I think my presence was noted and whilst photographing it stayed in a fairly similar ground hugging pose.


Our Local raptors are all present and correct. Displaying Sparrow hawks and mating Kestrels in their nest tree. Peregrines have been active and are seen most visits as well as flyover Red Kites and Common Buzzards. 


Rain over night on the 14th meant I was down on the Waterworks first thing this morning and brief but close views of a Male Redstart were the reward. no pics unfortunately but Its a good feeling to get the Redstart find out of the way and set hopes a little higher before the end of spring. 

This Weasel was compensation for missing out on Redstart shots.