Wednesday, 25 October 2017

GWE and Hawfinch!

The 18th October was a bit overcast and grey, almost on the verge of mist for most of the day.  I popped in to the lake first thing before work but in a brief visit didn't see much out of the ordinary.  I decided to take a late lunch break and made another quick visit.

Arriving at 2:30pm, the first thing I noticed was a large white bird on the back of the spit in front of the island.  I don't get too excited on seeing large white birds, as more often than not they are feral geese.  However, it didn't take long to lift the bins and see that this time the white bird was in fact a Great White Egret!  Pretty pleased with that and only my second on patch following a bird seen in March 2015, which in itself was the first verified record.  So although they are becoming more and more regular, this is still a rare bird on patch.  The egret spent much of the time I watched it just standing and doing the odd bit of preening.  The ever excitable geese didn't help in calming it down either and after just fifteen minutes of watching it, it took off, circled around the back of the island and flew over the trees on the southern bank and on over the Thames into Berkshire and over Cock Marsh.

Some of the locals had made a start in twitching it, but had not had time to make it, so we surmised where it might pitch up.  In fact, we all got it wrong, as about an hour later, what surely must have been the same bird arrived at Staines Reservoirs.  Not the first time birds have moved between these two sites, presumably linked by the Thames, I have also had Sandwich Terns move from here to Staines and had a male Hen Harrier move from Staines Moor to here.

Record shots in poor light and about 200 yards distance:

On Oct 19th, I was able to make the gull roost, and it was nice to see plenty of large gulls on site too.  There were in excess of 600 Herring Gulls, usually the most numerous of the large gulls here, about 70 LBBG, 7 GBBG (all adults), c20 Common Gulls (building up) and c300 Black-headed Gulls.  A very nice 1st winter Caspian Gull arrived at c6pm, only my second this year following a brief bird at a roost back in January and there were also three Yellow-legged Gulls present (2 adults, including the regular bird, and a 1st winter that decided to fly off soon after I spotted it).

A fantastic feature of this autumn has been the phenomenal arrival of Hawfinches from the continent.  Birds are being logged at all sorts of sites, not just the usual vismig localities.  In fact, I had seen two birds on the 16th fly over my garden that looked to be landing in trees in the adjacent woodland.  With so many birds about, I was hopeful of seeing one on patch.  On the 17th, whilst standing and watching on the south bank, I was pretty sure I could hear one calling as it flew over, but try as I might I just couldn't pick it up even though it sounded very close.  However, on the 20th, I hadn't been on site too long when again I heard a distinctive call coming from my left (the north).  It didn't take long before a Hawfinch came into view, calling as it flew.  It flew over the spit, banked slightly and then continued south over the trees - fantastic! Hopefully there will be more if I get time to look, as I had five more birds this morning (25th) from the garden.  This is just my second Hawfinch on patch following a bird that spent some time around the church in the early part of 2006.

There have also been a few waders on patch this last week (makes a change!).  A Green Sandpiper flew south over the west side, calling as it went, on the 17th, a Ringed Plover arrived on the 19th and was still present on the 22nd (unusual for October) and a Dunlin joined the Ringed Plover for the day on the 20th.

A fly through Marsh Harrier was reported on the 13th, as too was a Firecrest with a tit flock on the north side.  My attempt at the Firecrest brought me three Lesser Redpolls in trees before flying off, another species that has been much in evidence over the past few weeks, mainly flying over but with the occasional bird landing.

So I've now reached 142 species for the year out of 147 species, missing Goldeneye, Goosander, Crane, Marsh Harrier and Jack Snipe.  I'm sure there's still more to come!

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