Monday, 10 October 2016

London calling

Just a short update on our jaunt to London which was not all I hoped it would be as I dragged Tanya round some of my favourite haunts. We first visited Kensington Gardens and failed to see the little owls or attract any birds down to feed on the plentiful supply of pine nuts we had with us. We did however take a boat trip along the Regent's Canal to Camden Market where we were treated to very close views of starlings looking for easy pickings. Apart from that it has a wide variety of stalls and food outlets plus the bonus of watching barges use the locks, a very relaxed way of therapy.
Camden Locks

Waterbus on the Canal

Sturnus Vulgaris

Summary of Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park is as follows:
First visit May 2010
Last visit October 2016
Total visits 12
Best total was in April 2015 with 37 species
Worst total was in May 2015 with 18 species
Average species seen per visit was 23
Total species seen was 53

Rainham Marshes has just suffered its driest summer on record. Where there were once vast pools teeming with waders, ducks and gulls there was only hard brown mud. In fact my total for the visit was the worst ever and there was little to see. There are normally three large water areas and two were bone dry. The third had some water so most of the birds concentrated there - the only one with no hide overlooking it. We did see a flyby kingfisher, a little egret, stonechat, buzzard, kestrel and finally after nine visits and multiple disappointments I finally set eyes on a pair of bearded tits. Much bigger than I imagined, and thanks to the couple ahead of me who stopped and looked. I did the same and there they were in the tops of the reeds. No photos I am afraid, I just enjoyed the birds. Tanya dipped out as she did not fancy a second walk.

Grey heron hunting

Summary of Rainham Marshes is as follows:
First visit January  2010
Last visit October 2016
Total visits 9
Best total was in  December 2014 with 49 species
Worst total was in October 2016 with 36 species
Average species seen per visit was 43
Total species seen 81

 Last stop the Wetland Centre at Barnes which did have water. Highlights were good views of cetti's warbler and young, peregrine on the hospital, chiffchaff and a few late swallows. I was using the travel scope and was getting a bit of vignetting as I had not used it for a while, sorry about that, I think I have sorted it now.
Little grebe
Shoveler, lapwing and black-headed gulls

I don't normally photograph captive birds but as it was my last visit hear are a couple of photogenic specimens.

Southern screamer
Puna teal

Summary of Barnes Wetland Centre is as follows:
First visit July 2009
Last visit October 2016
Total visits 36
Best total was in November 2012 with 47 species
Worst total was in November 2009 with 28 species
Average species seen per visit was39
Total species seen was 97

 Back home to Belfast WOW on Thursday and a quiet day until a female sparrowhawk went looking for a meal and put everything up in the air. No photos,  as my charging cable finally gave up the ghost and I have no way of recharging the batteries. I am working on it via Amazon, but might invest in an attachment which will clamp my i pod to the scope. Highlights were returning shelduck, 280+ teal, 3 curlew sandpiper, over 700 black-tailed godwit, 20+ bar-tailed godwit, 100+ knot and 2 meadow pipit. Sandwich and common terns were noted at Kinnegar by one of our four visitors. Water levels are dropping and are good for waders hence the large numbers.

Phone photo of dropping water levels

WOW patch list:    
95 Little stint
West Bangor patch list:
67 Manx shearwater

2016 list 

186 Bearded tit


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