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Friday, 27 November 2015

On The Thames

November 22nd

The morning started at Barking Outfall, at last it seems as if all the riverside major works are now complete, this will hopefully give bird numbers a chance to return.

It’s no coincidence that wader/wildfowl numbers have, over the last 2- 3 winters, declined at the Outfall due to the major disturbance.

Redshanks are back in position and I recorded 21 on the rocks, no other waders as yet and I still await Black Tailed Godwit for the year list. Before the construction work, they were pretty regular, however numbers in the Inner Thames are still low compared to previous winters.

Being a bright morning small birds were pretty prominent, at least 4 Chiffchaffs were seen along with good numbers of Grey Wagtails, Goldcrest and a solitary Rock Pipit graced the sewage works.

The sewage works also produced a wintering Green Sandpiper.

From here I headed downriver to catch up on the roost at Dagenham Riverside, however the tide had turned and the roosting occupants were already down on the exposed mud.

A count produced 6 Curlew, 101 Black Tailed Godwits, 54 Redshank and 76 Lapwing, the numbers are light compared to this time last year, much of this is due to the recent mild weather.

However still pretty good figures, next week I have a high tide boat survey so will get a more accurate count of the true numbers of waders in the Inner Thames.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Hoo Peninsula

November 8th

The first one for the month started off very well with an unexpected very late Whinchat for me and Paul seen on the entrance track, a very good start to the morning.

Starting our respective transects, Bearded Tits half way round were obvious by their absence and this seemed to be the case for many passerines compared to last month.

However I then got very lucky whilst scoping the Golden Plover picking up a superb Water Pipit feeding in the floods.
Eventually arriving at the River produced good numbers of Wigeon for the first time this winter, the weather is incredibly mild so usual numbers are down compared to last year.

Raptors as ever were in evidence with wintering Marsh Harrier numbers probably getting up around double figures and up to 3 Common Buzzards dotted around site.

In regard to the outright speed merchants, the annual pair of wintering Peregrines was occasionally visible bunching the Wader flocks up, mostly Lapwing.
Both myself and Paul connected with Merlin and we estimated that there were possibly 3 to 4 using the site, this included 2 females sparring over the River Wall.
They are tenacious and agile hunters, more so than a Peregrine, watching one hunting along the river wall flicking over from side to side trying to flush something I suspect is regular behaviour.

Without doubt the best seen bird went to a Short Eared Owl as we walked off site; I suspect I had seen the same bird earlier crossing from Essex to Kent.

Coming over from Essex being mobbed

Excellent views of the bird were had as it flushed and sat close by on a post for us.