News archive

August 2010

Monday, 30 August 2010

Hobby chasing dragonflies

The Day of the Hobby

Wanstead Flats is the local patch of Tim Harris and he kindly agreed to introduce us to the best birding parts of the area. He also had a friend scouting around for us as you never know what might drop in at this time of year - this was how we had brilliant views of a Whinchat [my personal favourite of the day as I have failed to see this in London before].

As if this wasn't enough, Tim was also persuaded to provide a write-up of our walk which I've copied below [thanks from a grateful website editor!].
Blessed with wonderful sunshine, though at times the breeze was rather chilly, about 20 participants set off from the Jubilee Lake car park, at the western end of Wanstead Flats in search of - well, pretty much anything they could find. After a quick look at the small patch of heather in the SSSI, the advance party had the first real excitement of the day when they saw a Weasel stop, stare, and scamper for cover just east of Centre Road.
Shortly after, we could be forgiven for thinking we were in Falsterbo [Ed:- from which Daniel had just returned - not really jealous!] as a Hobby and a Kestrel jousted high over our heads as a Sparrowhawk soared nearby.

The previous night had been clear, and maybe this explained the absence of Wheatears, presumably having taken another step on their journey south. However, there was a very obliging first-winter Whinchat near Alexandra Lake and three or four Spotted Flycatchers in the vicinity.

Overhead there were two more Hobbies. News of a Pied Flycatcher by the riding school adjacent to Wanstead Park meant we made a slight diversion but to no avail: there was no sign of the bird.
Tit flocks were checked for warblers and flycatchers; one flock by Perch Pond did contain two Spotted Flycatchers.

Then a welcome break for a cuppa and cake at the refreshment kiosk, while watching the ducks and Little Grebes on Heronry Lake, was enlivened by - yes, you've guessed it - two more Hobbies.

The final leg of the walk involved admiring the Mute Swans and their seven cygnets on Shoulder of Mutton Pond and a breeze through Reservoir Wood before we said our goodbyes.

Thanks for Tajinder and Daniel for organising and assisting.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Update on Kestrel at Rye Meads

Update on Kestrel at Rye Meads

The RSPB has just released the following news item. Earlier this month our Local Group had a walk at Rye Meads, and last Saturday Roy led a walk there for ELBF so a number of you may have seen these kestrels.
A male kestrel has been returned to his home at Rye Meads nature reserve, near Hoddesdon, after three months at the vets!

The kestrel was looked after by the Raptor Foundation, based in St Ives near Cambridge, after injuring his wing and was released back at Rye Meads on Saturday 14 August.

The male was part of a pair that had started nesting at the reserve in April, but at the beginning of May staff and visitors noticed he couldn't fly very well. The Rye Meads Ringing Group managed to catch the kestrel and take him to the Raptor Foundation, who found an old injury under his wing that had started to heal but had become infected, stopping him from flying. The vet put him on a course on antibiotics and the centre looked after him through his rehabilitation.

While this male was away, the female found herself a new mate, and successfully raised three young.

Louise Moss, RSPB Information Officer said, "We're thrilled that the kestrel has recovered and is back at Rye Meads once again!"

Not sure how thrilled the new male will be now the original male has returned?!

The link below takes you to 'Recent Sightings' at Rye Meads

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Kingfishers and Kestrels at Rye Meads RSPB reserve

Kingfishers and Kestrels at Rye Meads RSPB reserve

For years I have been trying to get good views of Kingfishers for my (non-birding) friend - it was always a case of 'See, there, flying over the water' but she never saw them. I promised her I would take her to Rye Meads when the Kingfishers were feeding their young in the nest before they fledged i.e. guaranteed views!

I went in mid-July and was lucky enough to see the three young kestrels from the nest box in the car park pylon taking some of their first steps and fluttering flights.
When we went to the Kingfisher hide, we had great views of the adults flying regularly into their hole in the kingfisher bank with fish for their young.

I told my friend this but unfortunately I couldn't go the next weekend so was very impressed when she took herself off to Rye Meads, with camera and tripod, and sent me this photo. At last!

Walk on 1st August 2010:-

I arrived at Rye Meads reserve to find a queue of cars outside the gates. The rumour was that there had been a rather good volunteers' party the previous night and someone had slept in! However, while we waited for someone to arrive with the key we examined some of the settling pools outside and had good views of a young Grey Wagtail and somewhat harder views of a Green Sandpiper and Kestrel.

Not only did we have Tajinder (armed with her new Gall book) and Ian Woodward to lead the walk but we also had two experienced Rye Meads volunteers, Nathalie and Carol, to add their knowledge to our walk.

We were not disappointed at the Kingfisher hide as a Kingfisher was perched on a branch near the bank when we arrived. After a few minutes, it flew into its hole in the bank. They are now sitting on eggs for their third brood and it may be 4 hours before the adults swap over so we were lucky. (Check the link below for up to date information.)

Other highlights were two Green Sandpipers at Drapers Hide, some very feisty Little Grebes (with very tiny, stripey headed chicks) who swam at each other as if they meant business, and a wasp nest (I'd never seen one before).

My thanks to Nathalie for a new mnemonic for remembering bird calls - a Green Woodpecker flew past in front of us and was apparently saying "You must see me"!

The link below takes you to 'Recent Sightings' at Rye Meads