Trip reports

London Wetland Centre Saturday 9th January 2016

London Wetland Centre Saturday 9th January 2016
Ian Parker

Saturday, 9 January 2016

It was our lucky day, well at least in one way for all of us! Despite the poor weather forecast, we all had a dry and mostly sunny day, only starting to rain as we left for home.
On arrival in the car park we were greeted by the screeching calls of the resident parakeets, as they wheeled around the sky, settling on nearby trees. Next to the car park a sparrow hawk briefly perched on a wooden fence, although it didn't hang around long enough for all to get good views.

The undoubted highlight for most of us was seeing a bittern from the Wildside Hide, albeit at some distance across the water, in the front edge of a reed bed. After watching the bittern for ages, clambering around the reeds and occasionally looking skywards, it suddenly took off. It flew passed in front of our hide, before quickly descending out of sight into reed beds just behind the hide.
A second highlight for a few of us, was at the very end of the day when we saw a second bittern from the Peacock Tower, and only some 30 yards away! It was spotted in cut reeds at the water's edge, a short distance in front of the hide. However, it still took many attempts for others to locate it because of its superb camouflage. It again clambered around, whilst occasionally looking skywards. Suddenly, it took off and flew a short distance across the open water in front of the hide, landing in reeds on the other side before disappearing out of sight. What an end to the day this was for the three of us still there to see it!
Not to be outdone, several members had earlier seen a few goldcrests at close quarters, flitting around in the pine trees, when visiting the otter sanctuary area. Also, several cetti's warblers were heard at various locations around the reserve, with at least one seen before quickly disappearing back into the reeds. Furthermore, a group of 3 or 4 stonechats were seen for a short while from the Peacock Tower later in the day, flying to and from a wire fence.

Apart from the captive birds, around the reserve were large numbers of wild birds, including an abundance of black headed gull, many shoveler, moorhen and lapwing. Also, gadwall, teal, tufted duck, widgeon, canada geese, little grebe, great crested grebe, coot, grey heron and cormorant. It was notable how few waders there were, other than the lapwing. Few small birds were seen in the hedgerows, mainly great tits, blue tits, chaffinches and robins.

The day was rounded off by most of the group 'taking' tea and cake in the comfortable restaurant.
Overall, a great day for those of us who were lucky enough to see at least one of these rarer species.