April 05, 2010

March 2010 Highlights

Redbridge Birdwatching - March 2010 Round up

March 2010 was possibly the busiest birding month since I started this project in January 2009. Finally the prolonged frozen winter was over (unless you are in Scotland), and our first summer visitors and migrants have begun to arrive pretty consistently with 2009s sightings. By the end of March we had seen 112 species in the borough, which is 5 more than this time last year. On a sad note, conspiracy theories have been thrown around concerning the mysterious deaths of about 100 birds, and an Alsation at Alexandra Lake on Wanstead Flats. Some dead birds were taken for analysis, and details can be found on Wanstead Wildlife, or on the Wantead Birders Blog (google them), It appears that the crisis is now over. I hope that you enjoy the round-up below. Please do not forget to email me or text me 07862 140777 your sightings througout April.

Wildfowl: Due to the cold and prolonged winter there have been no early broods of ducks reported for the 2nd year running, however; Valentines Park's 2nd pair of Mute Swans that have taken up residence on the Ornamental Pond begun nest building on the island raising hopes of 2 pairs breeding there this year. Last year 9 pairs bred in the borough, please let me know if you can confirm any. Also at Valentines Park the pair of Egyptian Geese have been confirmed to be breeding and at the moment only 1 bird is visible as the female is incubating her eggs in a large hole in an Oak. We look forward to finding out how many goslings hatch, and Simon the park manager will be keeping a close eye on them! The first Shelduck sighting of the year was of a single bird flying over Ilford on 4th. It was looking unlikely that last years winter birds would return at all at Fairlop Gravel Works as the last sighting had been in November 2009, and they had remained absent throughout the freeze: However, the first bird appeared on the 9th March, and by the 23rd there were 6 birds (3 pairs) present there. Last year 3 birds remained into June, but made no attempt to breed, perhaps they will this year? Our regular winter duck numbers continue to hold up, with over 50 Shoveler being present at Fairlop Gravel Works (Area D) throughout, with over 20 Teal, Gadwall and Pochard there too. Pochard numbers also peaked at 24 at Valentines Park. Wigeon also hung on until the 23rd, with up to 8 at Fairlop Gravel Works (Area D) and 5 at Fairlop Waters CP: Reports from Knighton Woods have been thin on the ground so I cannot confirm how many Mandarin are present there, but 1 pair of Mandarin showed up on the River Ching in Hatch Forest on the 17th also with a male Wood Duck. The 3 Ruddy Duck remain present in the borough, but for obvious reasons I will not publish where! A female Garganey stopped off at the Gravel Works at Fairlop (Area D) on the 19th, but was not present the following day. The Water Rail in the Dell at Wanstead Park was spotted on 10 dates in March by various birders, and was last seen on the 26th. The male Pheasant on Wanstead Flats also continued to show occasionally. there are 6 pairs of Great Crested Grebe and up to 10 pairs of Little Grebe in the borough at the moment, please let me know if you can confirm any breeding of these species too.

Waders: The Lapwing flock in the Fairlop Gravel Works (Area D) dwindled as the winter visitors left, leaving just a handful present by the end of the month. The Golden Plover flock at Fairlop Gravel Works were last seen on the 11th March, when 24 birds were present. A single bird (presumably a migrant) was present at Fairlop on the 28th. Green Sandpipers remained present throughout at Fairlop Gravel Works, with a peak of 5 being counted on the 25th. Up to 20 Snipe were also present there, although numbers were greatly reduced by the end of the month. A few Snipe were also present in Fairlop Waters CP, and on Wanstead Flats throughout. The first Jack Snipe sighting of the year was at Fairlop Gravel Works on the 16th. Similarly to 2009, a Redshank turned up at Fairlop Gravel Works on the 18th, closely followed by a 2nd bird. The 2 birds remained into April, although there was a 3rd bird present on the 22nd. Last year, the Redshank stayed until mid-may, and I had thought it an unusual addition to the 'reserve', but it seems that a pattern is forming here!. The first Little Ringed Plover of the year was spotted at Fairlop on the 31st. Little Egrets were seen in Wanstead Park on the 18th, and in Roding Valley Park (at Woodford Bridge) on the 19th. Last year, sightings begun to increase from mid-April... so watch dis space!

Gulls: Gull numbers were greatly reduced as expected during March, the only noteworthy species is the Great Black Backed Gull that seemed to be communing south over Wanstead Flats at about 8am on several mornings!. Another was also present at Fairlop Gravel Works (Area D) on the 18th.

Birds of Prey: 3 migrant Red Kites were reported during March, over Wanstead Park on the 19th, Valentines Park on the 24th and Wanstead Flats on the 26th. A female Goshawk was present at Fairlop Gravel Works on the 20th, and a female Peregrine was hunting there on the 26th. A male Merlin was hunting over Hainault Farm on the 11th. Buzzards sightings have increased slightly: The Merlin on Hainault Farm on the 11th was also seen mobbing a Buzzard that had been perched on a small tree. This Buzzard was still present on the 17th. Another bird was over Hainault Forest on the 13th. The Red Kite over valentines park on the 24th, was flying over WITH a Buzzard! (mobbing each other), and another bird was over Wanstead on the 28th. Owls also faired well during March. A Tawny Owl was heard in Claybury Park on the 4th, A Barn Owl was seen in Five Oaks Lake near Hainault Forest CP on the 1st, a Short Eared Owl was over Painters Road, Fairlop on the 21st. The pair of Little Owls at Painters Road, Fairlop continued to show well throughout the month, and were seen couplating (or watever you wanna call it) on the 19th, another pair was located in Hainault Forest CP, and a single bird was seen regularly on Wanstead Flats.

The Rest of em: Stock Doves are being spotted all over the place, with 26 still present at Fairlop Gravel Works, 6 in Valentines Park, and up to 14 in Wanstead park with smaller numbers elsewhere. Up to 11 Ring Necked Parakeets were present in Wanstead Park/Flats throughout, and single birds were seen in Hatch Forest on the 14th, and Valentines Park on the 15th. An exceedingly early Swift was spotted over Fairlop Waters on the 26th, and may have been a rarer species? 2 Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers continued to show in Wanstead Park, and a bird was also seen on Wanstead Flats on the 28th. The first Sand Martin was seen over Fairlop Gravel Works on the 23rd (2 days later than last years first sighting). Another was recorded over Fairlop Waters on the 28th. The first Swallows were at Fairlop and Wanstead both on the 30th (same day as last year). 2 Grey Wagtails were present at each of: Hatch Forest, Valentines Park, Wanstead Park and Roding Valley Park. A male Stonechat was on Wanstead Flats on the 21st. The first 7 Wheatear sightings were recorded during March. 2 on Wanstead Flats (20th), 2 more (21st), and another on the 24th, and at Fairlop Gravel Works on the 21st and 25th. Redwings and Fieldfares were both recorded in small numbers to the end of the month. By the end of March up to 30 Chiffchaffs, 10 Blackcaps and 5 Willow Warblers were present. The only Siskin sighting was aof a single bord on Wanstead Flats (6th), on the same day 2 Lesser Redpolls were in Wanstead Park, with 1 still being present on the 9th, and a pair in a Woodford Green garden on the 21st. Linnet numbers increased with the excellent addition of up to 25 in the Old Sewage Works area of Wanstead Park throughout the month, they were also present throughout at Area D (Fairlop Gravel Works) with a peak count of 13 there, and a few in Fairlop Waters CP. Surprisingly a pair of Bullfinch were in Valentines Park on the 24th. There were 2 Ravens flying over the borough (both northward) firstly over Ilford (4th), and secondly over Roding Valley Park at Woodford Bridge (27th). There were no sightings of Raven at all throughout 2009. Lastly 2 Yellowhammers put in a brief appearance on Wanstead Flats on the 29th.

Number of species seen by the end of January: 93
Number of species seen by the end of February: 96
Number of species seen by the end of March: 112 (Shelduck, Garganey, Wood Duck, Redshank, Little Ringed Plover, Jack Snipe, Red Kite, Goshawk, Barn Owl, Short Eared Owl, Swift, Sand Martin, Swallow, Wheatear, Willow Warbler and Raven were added to the total during March)

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