Trip reports

Lea Valley 12 February 2017

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Seven of us set off for the RSPB Croydon Local Group's outing to the Lea Valley. We parked at the car park near the Bittern watch point and met up with an eighth member. The weather left a lot to be desired with a chill easterly wind blowing and we heard, rather than saw, Redwing and Great Spotted Woodpecker before we set off. As we entered the picnic area a Goldcrest was performing in one of the trees, occasionally flying out and hovering like a flycatcher. The viewpoint near the Bittern hide gave us the opportunity to compare and contrast Lesser and Great black-backed Gulls. One of the Mute Swans here was sporting some bling in the form of a red ring bearing the code 4BBU. Sadly, a stop in the hide provided no sign of a Bittern. After a while we headed off to Holyfield Weir and Lake. Small birds were in short supply and even at the weir there were few wildfowl around; probably due to a combination of weather and yacht racing. There were a few Gadwall (under the weir) and Pochards (on the main lake). Walking round to the main hide up here we came across some bigger flocks of Gadwall, Shoveler and Pochard, but nothing out of the ordinary. On the way back to the car park we came across several small groups of Long-tailed Tits (always good to see) and a female Bullfinch. A Green Woodpecker was calling nearby, but remained unseen. We took our lunch over to the hide by Lea Valley Park farm. We had hoped to have Siskin and Redpoll here, but no joy with them although a Red Kite had provided an interlude and we even had a few rare birds in=n the form of House Sparrows on the feeders!

After lunch we checked again for Bittern and then walked south. At Friday Lake we were treated to great views of three Smew (two redheads and a superb white nun) with a Little Egret adding to the day's variety. The next stop was the viewing screen at Hall Marsh where we found a few Teal, a male Stonechat and a black Pheasant. At least one of the Group managed to see a Muntjac at the rear of the scrape, but it eluded most of us. A Cetti's Warbler announced its presence by singing briefly. It was now time to head back to the cars and on the way we saw small groups of Fieldfares flying over and then had a species for us here; two Ring-necked Parakeets flew in to one of the trees. And so back to the Bittern Hide; no Bittern, but at least a Water Rail came out into the open as the light faded. A Kingfisher had been seen at various times by several people on the river nearby; I didn't see it, but heard it calling. The final bird of the day was a Kestrel that flew by the car park in the gloom as we packed up ready to leave. I finished the day with 56 species and probably missed a couple of others.