Trip reports

Mid-week walk at the London Wetland Centre, Barnes.

Mid-week walk at the London Wetland Centre, Barnes.
Steve Williams

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Weather overcast but surprisingly warm.
Seven of us, six members and one guest, arrived at Barnes having overcome the traffic. As usual we visited the South side first and our first stop was the Dulverton hide, overlooking the main lake. Here we had good views of many of the more common species such as canada geese, mallard, tufted ducks, coots, and lapwings. Closer examination revealed four wigeon (apparently the first of the winter), a snipe and a little grebe with three quite small chicks. Speaking to some of the volunteers it transpired that these were the only little grebe chicks that had hatched this year.
On our way to the WWF hide we visited the feeders and saw three species of tit, blue, great and coal, three species of finch, chaffinch, gold and green and a robin and two dunnocks. From the hide we saw several moorhens, one with an all yellow beak, gadwall and many teal. It was here that we had our first sighting of the garganey which has been at Barnes for some time and for most of us was the highlight of the day. As we watched the wildfowl we noticed lots of house martins and some sand martins flying overhead, feeding on the flying insects.
From the Peacock Tower we had good views of a common sandpiper and very distant views of a peregrine falcon sitting on a balcony of Charing Cross Hospital about a kilometre away and an equally distant great black-backed gull. A passing sparrowhawk caused some panic amongst the waterfowl but did not appear to be hunting. The garganey was again in clear view and those who had not got a good view from the WWF hide now had the chance to see it more clearly. By this time the three little grebe chicks and parent had swum down the main lake to just in front of the Peacock Tower, giving us better views of them. A heron had also noticed them and landed close by. Ron saw the heron swimming away from the bank and the next thing we knew was that it had taken one of the little grebe chicks. The heron landed nearby and took some time to swallow its prey. This event visibly upset some of the volunteers, one of whom said that herons account for much of the predation of young there, especially of the less common species. On our way back to the centre for lunch we came across a very tame juvenile stock dove that posed for us.
After lunch we visited the Headley and Wildside Hides and added great crested grebe, cormorant, pochard, jay, herring gull and lesser black-backed gull to our list. We did try to find some willow emerald damselflies that had been seen on Sunday but without success, possibly because it was not sunny enough. This species is relatively new to the UK and has become established in mainly East Anglia. Overall a very enjoyable day; the weather was better than forecast and my count was 45 species.