Monday 23 January 2017

Mid-January patch efforts

It remains cold across much of Britain, particularly the south-east, and such conditions usually mean winter birding is at its most productive in London.

It was grey and misty when I headed out late morning. An impressive flock of Tufted Ducks has formed on the Chiswick-Barnes stretch of the Thames, although the amassed group of 101 failed to throw up anything more interesting.

The wetlands centre was pretty decent - great views of two Bitterns including the below individual, which bizarrely stood more or less motionless on the frozen ice in front of Headley Hide for 10 minutes, before slinking off back in to the reeds. A Jack Snipe was flushed by crows just before Wildside Hide, flying around my head a few times before dropping back in to the reeds. I glimpsed a Water Pipit on the grazing marsh and heard the Bearded Tit pinging in the reeds on one occasion. Nine Pintail included six drakes but wildfowl numbers seemed slightly down on my visit the previous week, presumably because of the freeze. A flock of Fieldfares moved through and both Cetti's Warbler and Water Rail were new for the year for me. About 40 Herring, 10 Lesser Black-backed and a few Great Black-backed made up the gull flock.

You ain't fooling no-one, pal ...

That's more like it.

A check of the Hammersmith-Fulham stretch of the River Thames revealed my first Yellow-legged Gull of the year, a rather smart adult, among just 30 or so Herring Gulls. A Little Egret was at Chiswick Eyot mid-afternoon, another new bird for the year for me.

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Fulham, 23 January 2017

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