Friday 29 April 2022

KGV Reservoir and Lee Valley Glossy Ibis

I've recently made a couple of brief local excursions hoping to connect with some returning migrants. An early morning trip to the KGV Reservoir proved rewarding when a Black Tern was found flying along the West side of the South Basin. Hirundines were spotted flying overhead, mainly Swallows and Sand Martins but among them were several Swifts, another welcome addition to the year list.

The Red-necked Grebe, now in its smart summer plumage was still present but remained distant in the middle of the South Basin.

A Turnstone was an unexpected but welcome addition to my London list while searching for Common Sandpipers, and soon the Sandpiper was spotted further along the reservoir edge. The walk to the causeway added a further two Common Sandpipers. 

The hirundine numbers had slowly been building during the morning and we soon had several groups flying between the South and North Basins. House Martins were now present in good numbers and several were perching on the wires.

3rd May

Late morning a Glossy Ibis was reported at Lee Valley. Brian was busy with family duties, but Robert was keen to go, so we headed over there and after a quick scan we found the Ibis busily feeding at the back of the scrape. It was soon being harassed by Coots and took flight serval times, each time it didn't go far but it never landed close.

Glossy Ibis

Although I had seen a Glossy Ibis already this year, this was a new addition to my London list. 

There had been reports of a Greenshank on the small pool near the "Goose Fields". Needing it for a year tick we headed that way and after walking the length of the track down to the sailing club, we eventually found an area to view the pool. Thankfully the Greenshank was still present. Also, present along the edge of the same pool, we found a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Spotted Redshank. Both were needed for my Lee Valley list.

Thursday 28 April 2022

RSPB Lakenheath, Cranes

Having arrived shortly after 6am, we had the reserve to ourselves for the first couple of hours. We decided to walk the grass bank alongside the River Little Ouse. Beginning with a scan of the  Washland.  A drake Garganey was soon found along with several Ruff in various colours. An almost completely black individual and a brilliant white bird really stood out. We continued along the bank and enjoyed the sight and sounds of several Whitethroats, Reed and Sedge Warblers, and also a distant Grasshopper Warbler reeling. Cuckoos were calling from various locations and two were seen perched in nearby bushes and trees. 

We arrived at Joist Fen viewpoint and enjoyed several sightings of Cranes and Bitterns. A Kingfisher flashed through on a number of occasions but never settled. We saw our first House Martins of the year but Hirundines were only present in very small numbers. Grey overcast skies and low temperatures weren't ideal for seeing any Hobby and none were seen either flying or perched in nearby trees.

Bearded Tits were heard "pinging" and we eventually had several views as they flitted among the reeds from Mere Hide. 

A final stop at New Fen viewpoint produced more flight views of a Crane and another Bittern.

Saturday 16 April 2022

Abberton Reservoir, Essex

Another visit to Abberton today, hoping to find some recently returned migrants. We started along the entrance track to the reserve and soon heard the first of several Nightingales singing. We then spotted one individual perched up in the open allowing us some super prolonged views of a species that can be very difficult to see. Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were numerous and very vocal and a Great White Egret flew past.


We headed back down to the causeway and watched several Common Terns flying across the reservoir. We had heard that two Ring Ouzels had been seen again this morning, so we headed round to the viewpoint at Lodge Lane and began the search. A frustrating search produced Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings, Whitethroats, Skylarks, and a Marsh Harrier before our target birds suddenly flew out from behind a bramble bush. We also watched several more Common Terns over the water and among them were five Little Gulls. 

Common tern

As headed back up the track we spotted a yellow wagtail sitting high up in a tall Oak Tree. A bonus year tick as I had missed one earlier in the day when we had spotted at the layby to Wigborough Bay.

The track down to the viewpoint at Lodge lane

Yellow Wagtail

Saturday 9 April 2022

Temminck's Stint: East Tilbury, Essex

A Temminck's Stint had been present at Cliffe Pools in Kent since the 26th March and had remained faithful to that site until it decided to make a brief flight across the Thames to the new scrape at Tilbury. It then returned to Cliffe the same day and wasn't reported again until it was found back at Tilbury on the 8th of April. 

I've seen Temminck's Stint in Essex before, back in 2010 when I self-found one at my local patch in the Lee Valley, but with Brian still needing it for his county list and all of us needing it for the year list, we made the short trip this morning. 

We parked at Coal House Fort and walked downstream along the sea wall footpath for about a mile until we reached the scrape. We split up, each scanning different sections of the scrape for any sign of the Stint. Eventually, Brian found it at the far end, feeding among the shingle with two Linnets. The Stint showed well in the scope as it fed along the edge of the shingle island. The only other birds of note seen were four Little Ringed Plovers on the scrape and a single Med Gull flying overhead. 

The scrape looks really good and will surely attract plenty of good birds in the future.

Temminck's Stint

Wednesday 6 April 2022

Lesser Scaup, Abberton Reservoir

On Sunday news broke of a drake Lesser Scaup at Abberton Reservoir. I've seen two of these North American visitors previously, but neither has been in my home county of Essex. Unable to make the trip yesterday we were left hoping the duck would spend at least another day on site. 

We headed along the A12 this morning towards Colchester picking out the Cattle Egrets at Garr House farm on route. Parking up in the layby we walked along Lodge Lane, through the gate, and turned right to the viewing area. We scanned the large raft of Tufted Ducks and thought we had picked out the Lesser Scaup among them. The ducks were drifting away from us, so we headed back up the hill and down the track to the other viewing area. Soon we had the Lesser Scaup in the scope, right in front of us. There were three Greater Scaup in the same flock allowing some nice comparisons between the two species. Also found among the raft of Tufted Ducks were several Goldeneye, Pochard, and two interesting hybrids. 

The Lesser Scaup is only the third record for Essex, the others being a drake at Seventy Acres lake in Waltham Abbey 23rd-25th March 2003 and a 1st-winter drake at Abberton Reservoir 11th-31st December 2004.

Record shot of Lesser Scaup

View of pumping station from Lodge Lane screen 

We went in search of yellow Wagtails around Billet's Farm and Wigborough Bay areas and although we failed to see any we did have nice views of two Spoonbill overhead as they flew towards Layer Breton Causeway. We headed to the causeway but failed to relocate them. We did however pick out a couple of Great Egrets a Green Sandpiper and two new additions to the year list when three Swallows and a single Sand Martin were seen.

We then drove round to Layer de la haye causeway in search of Little Ringed Plovers and quickly found two birds busily feeding along the reservoir banks.

Little Ringed Ploveer