Trip reports

King George V Reservoir walk on 18th Feb 2018

King George V Reservoir walk on 18th Feb 2018

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Special thanks to Richard for gaining access to the KGV reservoir for us as normally it is permit access only. Here's his write up:-

"The weather was perfect for reservoir watching, very little wind and a lovely bright morning. As we waited for everyone to arrive in the car park, a small flock of Meadow Pipits rose up from one of the sloping banks betrayed by their soft calls only to settle again and melt away within the grass.

We all made our way to the top of the ramp to see the vast Southern Basin glistening in the sun, where big flocks of Coots and Tufted Ducks were congregating, the numbers swelled by birds that have joined from more northern parts of Europe during the winter months. Scanning through the Tufted Duck flock we picked out the smart drake Scaup that has been here for a while now, separated from the smaller tufties by its grey back, lack of 'tuft' and with the light being so good, we could clearly see the black nail tipped bill which is diagnostic to Scaup.

Soon after, we spotted the very handsome drake Smew feeding in amongst some Goldeneye with its lovely black and white plumage visible to us even without looking through our optics.

A Green Sandpiper was picked up feeding along the edge of the concrete bank, the bird was very 'skittish' and soon took off with its characteristic stiff winged flight to move further round the basin. We continued to walk along the bank watching a pair of Pied Wagtails fluttering up and down chasing small insects, we also heard a Grey Wagtail flying overhead with its similar but more 'metallic' call compared to the pied.

A Sparrowhawk flew over towards Gilwell Park with a Carrion Crow flying very close, they both seemed to alternate in front of each other and it appeared they were taking it in turns to actually mob each other. Staying with the raptor theme, the weather conditions being ideal, two Buzzards were circling over Epping Forest to the east.
We had also been tipped off to keep an eye over on the west side of the water towards the distant pylons for Peregrines, by chance after training the scope in that area we picked one up a flying fast heading north bird but unfortunately it did not settle and disappeared before everyone could see it.

Back to the water we moved up to the start of the North Basin where more large mixed flocks of wintering wildfowl were gathered, a pair of Goosander waddled down from the middle causeway separating the two basins and began diving for fish, this large sawbill couple so different looking to each other with the drake having the attractive green head, black back and the rest of its body white and the female having the 'redhead' and overall darker body, always a treat to see these ducks down south before they move back up to more northern waters to breed in the spring.

Lots of Great Crested Grebes were fishing with some starting to develop the fine head plumages ready for courtship. One other grebe species was a single Little Grebe still in its drab brown winter colours.
Another nice sight were the male Goldeneyes displaying by tossing their head back while the females looked on with that amazing 'golden eye'.
Unusually a single male Wigeon was spotted , where normally for this time of year we would have expected bigger numbers on a site such as this.

One other sighting of note was a Kingfisher seen making its way up the River Lee relief channel running adjacent to the reservoir. As our walk came to an end a Green Woodpecker was seen feeding in one of the scrubby areas next to the car park before taking off in the direction of the other Chingford Reservoir, the William Girling, while finally a Fieldfare was also spotted as we were leaving.

A total of 45 bird species were seen on this walk"

Although there are no facilities at KGV, a group of us headed off to a nearby cafe at the end to enjoy a chat and hot drinks. Some even treated themselves to a fry up - an excellent end to a very productive morning's birding!