Trip reports

Mid-week Walk at the London Wetland Centre, Barnes on 15 August 2019

Mid-week Walk at the London Wetland Centre, Barnes on 15 August 2019
Common Sandpiper at Barnes 15AUG19 (Steve Williams)

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Weather: Fair and dry, warm in afternoon.
Just three of us arrived at Barnes for this walk, summer holidays having diverted some of the regulars. From the car park we saw the usual corvids and wood pigeons and a few swifts overhead. As usual we visited the South side first and our first stop was the Dulverton hide. As we entered we heard a Cetti's warbler and, as usual, it was a case of heard but not seen. On the main lake we saw most of the more common species including, cormorant, Canada goose, mallard, tufted duck, shoveller, gadwall, mute swan, pochard and coot. Over the lake were a good number of sand martins feeding on the insects. Ron spotted two lapwings and Ken alerted us to a ringed plover on one of the small islands. It was busy feeding on the shoreline and provided very good views for some time.

Our next stop was the feeders on the way to the WWF hide. Here we saw only blue, and great tits but none of the usual finches. From the WWF hide we quickly added moorhen, greylag goose, and several gull species; black headed, herring and lesser black-backed. The adult gulls were easily identified but the immature herring and lesser black backed proved much more difficult. From pictures I took from the hide I was able to identify immature birds of both species. In the air we saw a few house martins, with their characteristic white rumps, amongst the large number of sand martins. The highlight from this hide was a common sandpiper that flew onto one of the shingle islands and then spent some time hopping from island to island, giving us all very good views of it.

On our way to the Peacock Tower we saw several mandarin ducks. From the top of the tower we added grey heron, little grebe, stock dove and Egyptian goose to our list. On the railings of the hospital building we could make out a distant peregrine falcon.

On the walk back to the centre we popped into the sand martin bank to look at the image on the cctv screen of one of the nests and could see at least one sand martin chick in the mouth of its burrow waiting to be fed. This was one of the 300 sand martins that have fledged this year at Barnes! As we walked back to the centre the only new bird we saw was a robin.

After lunch we set off to the North (wild) side. There was not a lot of activity in front of the Headley hide but we did see a solitary greenfinch on the feeder. Our final point of call for the day was the Wildside hide. Garganey had been reported the previous day on the reservoir lagoon and we spent some time searching for them without success. As we were looking for the garganey Ken saw a peregrine falcon in front of the hide. As we watched it was joined by two more, one much larger than the others, presumably the adult female. For the next fifteen minutes the three falcons dived, weaved and soared in front of us. One would climb high and then plummet down close to another, and then two would chase each other across the sky. It appeared to me as if the adult female was teaching the other two how to hunt. One of the falcons flew just over the hide so we had incredible, close-up, views of the bird. For all of us this was our best ever views of peregrine falcons.

We eventually left the hide and returned to the centre. On the way we heard and then saw a family of long-tailed tits. It had been a pleasant walk with good views of ringed plover and common sandpiper but the highlight was, without question, the display by the peregrine falcons.
Steve Williams