With the football season over, we can now return to birding for the summer with fewer distractions. Jem and I decided to go to the London Wetland Centre last Sunday. We hadn’t been since September, but as I am a member I try to go several times a year to make it worthwhile (and it’s only a few minutes away from my flat by public transport), but Jem isn’t a member and it’s quite expensive for non-members so that’s why we haven’t been for a while. The weather wasn’t great, but we got a good earful from a Cetti’s Warbler close to the Summer Route path, nice views of a Little Ringed Plover from the Wildside Hide, and the most noticeably huge numbers of Swifts. There were also Swallows and Sand Martins, but the Swifts dominated the skies. There were also some singing Sedge Warblers and a distant Kestrel being mobbed by gulls.
Little Ringed Plover
Kestrel getting a mobbing
Wood Duck (LWC collection)
This past Sunday we met up with my brother Chris, his partner Alanna, and my Mum at Woking Leisure Centre for the Think Parrots Show. It was good fun, and we got a very brief view of a Kingfisher flying down the stream outside. I also got hold of a second-hand copy of Soper and Sparks’s Owls for only £3, a classic ’70s guide for any discerning owl fan, and one that I’ve tried to find for a reasonable price many times in the past.
I’ve taken the week off, and Jem had yesterday off too, so we decided to explore Bushy Park. I’d only ever been through on my bike before, but I knew of recent sightings of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers in a particular part of one of the plantations. Of the five species I desperately wanted to try to find this year, the LSW is the only one I still haven’t managed to find. I have had at least two very brief sightings, but neither were good enough to say I’d really seen them. Anyway, we were welcomed to the park by a nice Treecreeper, some Long-tailed Tits and several Robins (plus plenty of deer). Walking across to the plantation we found the skies full of Swifts again, with the occasional Swallow, plus lots of Skylarks burbling in the grassy tufts. Luckily, some of them were quite showy and I managed to get some shots – I’d only ever photographed them in the air before. We waited for some time, and spoke to a couple of other visitors, but the LSWs didn’t appear. Lots of Green Woodpeckers and at least two Great Spotted Woodpeckers did make themselves known, but I still don’t have my LSW. Interestingly we also found a Long-tailed Tit nest, complete with young family, plus some young Greenfinches. On the way back towards Hampton Wick we saw the strange sight of lots of fish surfacing in one of the ponds, with their mouths open trying to catch flies. Some of them even flung themselves out of the water and plopped back in.
Today I decided to travel back across town to Rainham Marshes, having never been there on a weekday before. It was a quiet day at Rainham (by their usual standards), but I still got great views of the male Kingfisher in between nest visits, heard several manic Sedge Warblers, one Common Redshank, a nice Whitethroat outside the Visitor Centre, Reed Buntings, Goldfinches, Little Egrets, Shelduck, a Water Vole, and lots more Swifts. A walk along the river wall afterwards also brought distant views of Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Turnstone.
Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Turnstone
If the weather’s okay I may go back to the LWC tomorrow, or maybe Kensington Gardens, and then on Thursday Jem and I are off for a three-day trip to the Somerset Levels. Should be fun.