Welcome to my birdwatching blog. This blog will contain stories about my bird watching trips, interesting bird news and other tales that may or may not be bird related. I want to make it useful to the avid birder as well as those who may only have a passing interest in bird watching. I enjoy photographing bird life, common and rare through a spotting scope, not that they always sit still long enough for me. Being on the outskirts of North East London, my reports will not only cover my local patch of Redbridge/Waltham Forest, but also dip into deepest Essex, Suffolk, Kent and Norfolk.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Fairlop in February

Nipped over to Fairlop Waters by tube for a couple of hours of fresh air and wet socks today. With no breeze and a clearing sky, it was perfect conditions for a bit of digiscoping. It is still incredibly wet underfoot and difficult to negotiate some areas due to waterlogging and mud. Must remember to wear boots without any holes in them next time.

Still, the birds seem to like the soggy bits. A pied wagtail particularly enjoyed it and didn’t appear bothered at my presence at the start of the walk.

Other birds including a green woodpecker, blackbird and great tit were seen along the path leading to the boathouse. There is a lot of work going on at Fairlop Waters right now to improve the site but the ground is very muddy and the earth machines are probably freaking some species out. On the other hand though, with disruption to the landscape comes opportunity. many small mammals are being flushed out from their protective shelters and birds such as kestrels are enjoying a much easier task of finding food. I watched this kestrel hunting for 20 minutes right by the boathouse.

On the main lake there were, tufted duck, lesser black-backed gull, a pair of little grebes, good numbers of coot and moorhen. On the island, I counted 140 black-headed gulls, 10 common gulls but unfortunately, no lapwing.

I worked my way clockwise around the perimeter of the reserve with only magpies, carrion crows, wood pigeon and a few blue tit to add to my list. There was a skylark singing up above somewhere but I couldn't locate it. By now, the sun had started to burn through the grey canvas of a sky and at times, it felt irresistibly like spring. On the smaller lake, there were more common gulls and tufted ducks. The gulls numbered close to 30 and seem to like the seclusion of this tree lined lake.

I carried on up towards Painters Road and although the pathway was virtually impassable, I did manage to circumnavigate the worst bits to get views of the growing flock of fieldfare and redwing. These winter thrushes are notoriously difficult to get close to and the machine gun call of the fieldfare is a precursor to the flocks flying up and away to the next field. I really wanted to get some shots of these birds and had failed on previous missions. This time, I managed to get into a position behind some small trees to get this shot.

Another small lake provided a pair of wigeon and gadwall and a walk back across the golf course produced a flyover skylark and a wren. On the way back to the entrance, greylag geese and Canada geese had now appeared on the main lake.

With 30 species and my feet had now turned to what felt like clumps of cold over-cooked pasta, I decided to call it a day. I guess my next trips needs to be to a decent bootmaker.

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