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.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Cuckoo clocked

Another quick trip out this morning at 5am, this time to Sewardstone Marsh. Still part of the Lee Valley Park, Sewardstone Marsh is a small and relatively productive habitat with woodland, open scrub and marsh. It sits beside the King George V reservoir which makes it a useful spot for migrants.
Sewardstone Marsh at Dawn

The marsh had always been a strong site for the elusive cuckoo and a good site for nightingales. Unfortunately, there were no nightingales here this year but I did hear a cuckoo and kept my fingers crossed that one would at least show in flight.

There were plenty of sedge warblers and whitethroats in the scrub area. Sand martins and swallows wheeled over the meadows by the Navigation canal. Blackcaps, chiffchaffs and one or two willow warblers sang from the trees along the pathways. They would give themselves away but flying short haul from one section of cover to another. Always difficult to focus on – near impossible to photograph. However, as the sun warmed the air (and me), the birds started to settle into song, often perching from a vantage point that suited me.
Male Blackcap

Male Blackcap

One particular male blackcap kindly hung around for a few minutes to let me catch him in song. Other songsters were giving it their all; wrens, chaffinches, greenfinches, song thrushes and robins collectively created a huge sound. This really is a wonderful sensations especially with the sun, warm on your back.

There it was again, a repetitive cuck-oo, cuck-oo but nothing to see. Cuckoos often fly by shortly after calling. It’s always worth pausing for a few minutes once you hear a bird just to see if a hawk-shaped bird wings rapidly by.

I wandered up towards the reservoir. Common terns and herring gulls flew overhead, the terns were in a particularly boisterous mood, calling harshly to each other. Along the way, I found a perching cormorant. This one was an excellent adult bird and it stayed still for ages, which makes a change.

Apart from the cormorant, there was little else to see. I turned back and headed for the marsh again. Once back, I watched lesser whitethroats taking food to their nearby nest and another cuckoo called. I think there must have been at least three birds as calls were coming from different directions in response to each other.

I headed back to the car after 3 hours. You guessed it, a male cuckoo flew across the scrub and deep into heavy foliage. This was the highlight of the day. With this bird seemingly in decline, it would be impossible to say if this park will soon succumb to no longer having the cuckoo call resonate across its land.

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