Trip reports

Mid-week walk at the London Wetland Centre, Barnes. Tuesday 19th February 2019

Mid-week walk at the London Wetland Centre, Barnes. Tuesday 19th February 2019
Egyptian geese and moorhen (John Meale)

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Weather: Bright, sunny and quite warm for February
Nine of us arrived at Barnes in good time for this walk, half-term traffic being quieter than usual. As usual we visited the South side first and our first stop was the Dulverton hide, overlooking the main lake. Here we saw most of the usual suspects including great crested grebe, cormorant, Canada geese, mallard, tufted duck, shoveller, gadwall, black-headed gull and coot. In addition there were several very smart looking pintails and a few, well camouflaged, snipe on one of the islands.

Our next stop was the feeders on the way to the WWF hide, where there were blue and great tits, chaffinches and green finches. Feeding on the spilled feed were dunnock and wood pigeon and some enterprising squirrels that had managed to squeeze through the wire mesh cage that encloses the feeding area. The wire mesh was about 30mm square which shows just how much fur and how little meat there is on a squirrel. In the trees above the feeders there was a great spotted woodpecker which stayed around long enough for us all to get a good view.

From the WWF hide we quickly added wigeon, teal, Egyptian goose, moorhen, lapwing and mute swan to our list. On one of the shingle islands there was a collection of gulls. The adult gulls were easily identified as black-headed, common, herring and lesser black-backed. The sub-adult gulls proved slightly more difficult but we were able to identify a second winter great black backed on the basis of its size and its dull-pink legs.
On our way to the Peacock Tower we saw three mandarin duck and a green woodpecker. From the top of the tower we searched for the water pipit that had been seen earlier that morning. Initially we were not successful but we did find several more snipe dotted about scrape. After about 20 minutes in the hide the water pipit landed on one of the little islands just in front of us and we all got good views of the bird.
On the walk back to the centre we saw robins, long-tailed tits, two jays and a wren and, as we approached the centre, there were sparrows feeding on the food dropped from the well populated picnic tables.

After a well earned lunch we reconvened to explore the North (wild) side. There was not a lot of activity in front of the Headley hide but we did see a solitary pochard and a shelduck and a flock of starlings. As we were about to leave a small warbler was seen in a tree nearby which, when it paused long enough for us to identify it, turned out to be a chiffchaff.

Our final point of call for the day was the Wildside hide. A bittern had been reported earlier but it was not visible on our arrival. After an initial scan of the reeds we looked over the grazing marsh and saw crows, magpies and jackdaws amongst the geese and wigeon. Further scans of the reed beds finally revealed the bittern. Although it refused to come to the very edge of the reeds we did get good clear views of it head, neck and upper body.

The bittern and the water pipit were the highlights of the day which was enhanced by the unseasonal very warm and sunny weather.
STEVE WILLIAMS