Trip reports

Bexley Bird Report January - June 2010

Friday, 24 January 2014

What's been seen in Bexley so far this year? January - June 2010

Can we forget the severe weather we experienced in January? It certainly brought many birds to gardens with some unusual/unexpected species. It also seems to have decimated the Goldcrest population - how many have you seen one in the Borough this year? Two on Crayford Marshes on 15th January, two in Lamorbey Park on 1st February and 1 Hall Place on 17th March are only records received. I referred last time to the three birders who watch the Thames Marshes almost daily. They (Kevin Jarvis, John Archer and Ian Miller) are really turning up some great birds - the Crossness male Hen Harrier (19th-23rd January), March's Alpine Swift and Stone Curlew being the most exciting and rarest examples. Other members - Phillip Cliffe, Steve Carter, Eric Brown, Maurice Ewart, Steve and Sandra Shephard, Stephen Ansell, Jackie Foot and Peter Kite have sent in records of their visits to Crossness and elsewhere in the Borough for which I am most grateful. I do urge anyone with a serious interest in local birding to follow their lead. My own BTO Atlas squares plus research for "where to watch birds in Bexley" are producing some surprises. I have occasionally visited Lesnes Abbey Woods, Shenstone Park, Marten's Grove and Woods, The Warren and found these sites to have enormous potential but I don't have the time to visit regularly. Perhaps others could adopt them as their local patch and get as much interest from them as John Turner does with his regular visits to Danson Park (recent sightings - Bexley Group Website). The River Shuttle along its length has great potential with seemingly resident Little Egret, Grey Wagtail and Kingfisher. Brenda and I have walked it from Bexley to Parish Wood and had the joy of watching Kingfishers at their nest site in April. Eric Brown posts regular sightings from Haddon Grove, Willersley and Marlborough Parks. It would certainly be interesting to know which species are potentially breeding along the Shuttle. If you have a mind to save travel time and fuel, there are many local sites well worth a regular visit.

For more detailed information about sightings I would urge you to visit the Group's own excellent web-site (recent sightings) and the London Birders web-sites

January - For gull aficionados the Thames marshes are the place to go - Yellow-legged Gulls showed many days with 3 on the 9th and 29th at Crossness and 6 along the Crayford Marshes on several dates. Up to 2 Caspian Gull were around at both sites on several dates late month. A juvenile Glaucous Gull was around the landfill site on Crayford Marshes on 24th and 25th. A Great Skua along the Thames on the 1st was most unexpected. Other exceptional records were 5 Whooper Swans on Thamesmead Golf course on 23rd, two drake Goldeneye on Southmere Lake between 11th-14th, 3 Common Scoter off Belvedere 25th and a fly-over of geese (71 Pink-footed, 2 Tundra Bean and 7 Dark-bellied Brent Geese) at the same location on the 21st. I saw five Woodcock at Foots Cray Meadows on the 8th along with 2 Common Snipe but had to rely on records from Crossness for Jack Snipe (max. 3 on 11th). Crossness also had single Woodcock and a maximum count of 17 Snipe on the 14th. Other waders were male Ruff until 9th at Crossness and up to 3 on Crayford Marsh to the 15th - this site also produced Grey (max. 12 on 10th) and Golden Plover (max. 18 on the 10th). Both Green and Common Sandpipers were at both sites. 210 Black-tailed and 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, c850 Dunlin, 155 Redshank, 373 Lapwing; 247 Gadwall, 60 Shoveler, 20 Wigeon, 990 Teal, and 115 Shelduck were impressive, maximum counts from Crossness. Water Rail were seen at Foots Cray Meadows (plus 4 Shoveler and up to 8 Great Spotted Woodpeckers) and in Danson Park (plus 3 Shoveler a max. count of 82 redwing and a single meadow pipit).

February - snow was beginning to be a thing of the past and birdlife returned to something approaching normal though a pair of Scaup at Southmere Lake (18th) were far from the norm. At Crossness two Buzzards (20th) and two Mediterranean Gulls (28th) were amongst the rarest visitors though the Rock and Water Pipits continued to show well all month and 1028 Teal on the river was an exceptional count. Upto 4 Skylarks began singing over Crayford Marshes where Little Owl was regularly seen and six more Brent Geese showed up on the 17th. Over 100 Blackbirds recorded at

Lamorbey Park on the 1st was an exceptional number and four Nuthatches on the 4th were also of note. The Warren produced 4 Great Spotted Woodpeckers and 3 Nuthatch on the 13th, on the 25th 3 Skylarks were singing at Upper College Farm where two flocks of Siskin (30 and 20) flew amongst the riverside trees.

March - often a quieter month with some expectation of early spring migrants. Once again Crossness didn't disappoint with the first Wheatear (17th), singing Cetti's Warbler (20th), Swallows (3 on 23rd, 30th, 2 on 31st), Willow Warbler (25th-28th), Common Tern (28th and 31st) and Sand Martin (3 on 31st). It was also a month of rarities for this site - an Osprey flew over on 20th beginning a long weekend of extraordinary movement. A Spoonbill flying downriver (21st) contrasting amazingly with 30 Waxwings over the Incinerator seen by John Archer the same day. On the 22nd a Red Kite flew west at 8.40am. The month ended with a big "twitch" when Kevin Jarvis found an Alpine Swift flying over Thamesmead Golf Course - it hung around for a couple of hours, enough time for a few dozen lucky birders to see it. Two Buzzards were also seen whilst they were sky watching. Kevin located a Stone Curlew in the Paddocks on the 30th. No Redwing records occurred after 75 on the 9th. Another Red Kite went over the same site on the 26th.

April - the classic migration month when some birds leave but many arrive. The last Wigeon were seen at Crossness on 7th, and Fieldfares on Crayford Marsh on the 19th. A late Goosander drake and a Grey Plover were on the river on the 11th. At Crossness Common Terns were becoming regular, peaking at c20 on the 24th, Blackcaps peaked at 14 on the 7th, an adult Little Gull on the 6th. Sedge warblers were first heard on the 6th peaking at five on the 24th, Reed Warblers arrived over a week later peaking at 11 on the 24th. Three records each of Cuckoo (first on 15th), Yellow Wagtail (first on 6th) Lesser Whitethroat (3 on 22nd, 5 on 24th), Little Ringed Plover (2 on 23rd and 25th). Other welcome sightings were Whimbrel (max 4 on 25th), male Ring Ouzel, Arctic Tern (21 on 25th), Garganey and Greenshank (25th), six Whinchat (30th) plus Redstart and Hobby. Unexpected were Short-eared Owl on the 16th and Marsh Harrier on the 22nd. Down river at Crayford Marshes much the same was happening plus Cetti's Warbler seemingly taking up residence: a Tree Pipit flew over on the 23rd, more Greenshanks, Wheatears (4 on the 20th), a second Ring Ouzel, a trickle of House Martins arriving from the 19th - has anyone seen many House Martins?

After a report in February of Tawny Owl calling from Marten's Grove/Wood I made a visit on the 8th April - had no luck with the owl but did locate 10 singing Blackcap and five Nuthatch along with a good selection of woodland species. A similar list including Song Thrush and the two common woodpeckers was made in close by Shenstone Park. Another Red Kite, this time over the garden in Mayplace Road East on the 19th.

An Egyptian Goose made an appearance at Southmere Lake (possibly the same bird as Graham Nichols found on Danson Park on the last day of March) but one soon became two and took up residence in a tree close to the Park's boat house and photographed by one lucky couple. John Turner confirmed later the geese had bred. The month ended on a high note for Phillip Cliffe (amongst others) who caught up with a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker at Chalk Wood and Stephen Gatley who recorded both Raven (27th) and a Golden Oriole (30th) at Foots Cray Meadows.

May - Phillip had an even better start to May when, on the 4th, he spotted two Cranes flying NW over Morrison's car park in Sidcup (they were seen 35 minutes later over East India Dock). Turtle Dove is something of a rarity these days so we should be grateful for singles on 5th and 8th at Crayford Marsh/Crossness respectively. Seven Black Terns at Crossness on 2nd May are probably now less unusual. Wood Sandpipers passed through on five dates peaking at 4 on 9th at Crossness and the last at Crayford Marshes on the 18th. Female Black Redstart in the Crossness Paddocks on the 9th was a nice find for Steve Carter who is another regular at this site.

Another scarce bird locally is the Corn Bunting but appears to be breeding on the Marshes with up to 3 singing throughout the month. Odd wader records included a Knot on the 8th, 2 Turnstone and 3 Sanderling on th13th and two more on the 23rd.

Nightingale was heard singing opposite Erith Library at 05.20 on the 13th and another adjacent to the River Cray near University Way on the 11th where 13 Lapwing were also seen displaying. Red Kite and Common Buzzard were seen on at least one day each including an inland sighting of the latter over Birkbeck Road Sidcup on the 24th.

June -Hobby seen over Longlands Road Sidcup (1st) and a Quail on Crayford Marsh (14th) were of interest otherwise most species seem to have settled down to breeding with good numbers of Reed Warbler (peak 16), Sedge Warbler (peak 11), Lesser Whitethroats, Common Whitethroat (max. 25), Corn Buntings and skylark - all very positive. It is heartening to see that Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker and Long-tailed Tit are doing well across the Borough and Water Rail might be breeding in at least 3 locations. Sadly it appears Great Crested Grebe might not have bred this year.

Thanks to all who have submitted records and apologies to those I haven't named - happy birding watching.

Ralph Todd June2010