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.


Monday, 4 March 2013

Baffling Buzzards, Batman.

Hooray! We are now in March but the idea of spending a day at the Bittern Watchpoint is a bittersweet one. On the one hand, we will shortly lose the enigmatic Bittern from the reedbeds but on the other, well actually both hands will now not be frozen solid and painfully numb.

Before I open up the watchpoint I like to get around parts of the park to see what’s about. Yesterday I picked the walk up to Holyfield Hall farm. With a species list for the year of 99, I was hopeful of getting a Green Woodpecker at least but this bird has eluded me since Jan 1st and although I heard a couple, I didn’t see any. Overhead, I saw a Carrion Crow mobbing a Sparrowhawk and the edges of the goosefields had noisy House Sparrows arguing about clearly important matters such was the cacophony  coming from the hedgerows.

In the trees gathered 30+ Redwings and a few Fieldfare, getting ready to leave for the Spring. The Goosefields had as you might expect, a few flocks of geese, including Greylag Geese, Canada Geese and a handful of Egyptian Geese. Behind them, Lapwings, Jackdaws, Carrion Crows and Black-headed Gulls could be seen with a much larger bird. Closer scrutiny showed it to be a Buzzard. Question is, was it a Common or a much scarcer Rough-legged Buzzard?
Buzzard
Buzzard
Now to me, it looks like a Common Buzzard but a number of folk at the park have suggested Rough-legged Buzzard and as I’m no expert on these matters, it may well always have a question mark over it.

I have also filmed the bird and this does look more like a RLB with it’s longish tail and if anyone who reads this knows, I’d be glad to hear from you.

Anyway, moving swiftly on, I walked up past the farm and flushed a Common Snipe. I really wanted it to be a Woodcock to give me 100 but alas, I know my Snipe/woodcock ID better than my Buzzard ID.

The 100 mark did arrive shortly after in the shape of a Yellowhammer. In fact, there were about 7 of these increasingly scarce buntings and I even managed to get a rubbish photo of one to celebrate.

Yellowhammer
A few Chaffinch, Goldfinch and the usual Blackbirds, Robins and Dunnocks were all seen along the pathway.

Returning to the car park to pick up the keys to the Watchpoint, three Great Spotted Woodpeckers chased each other around the tops of the trees – getting a bit frisky in the slight spring air me thinks.

Running the Watchpoint is fun but it has its tricky moments. We have expensive optics for people to use (telescopes and bins) and when you run it alone, you can’t leave to use the toilets. Difficult but not disasterous. You just have to know where the CCTV cameras field of view ends that’s all.

There was no sign of the Bittern today and it could be that we will have to wait until late autumn before we have these birds back. There were still four Goosanders on the lake and a pair of Great Crested Grebes started their courtship display. Closer to the hide, a Cetti’s Warbler showed as well as a Cetti’s Warbler can and the surprise was a fine Lesser Redpoll searching for food in the reeds.

Birds seen:
Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Egyptian Goose, Grey Heron, Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goosander, Coot, Moorhen, Water Rail, Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard (for now), Lapwing, Common Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wren, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare, Starling, Cetti’s Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Lesser Redpoll, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Yellowhammer.