Thursday, May 18, 2006

April 2006 - summary

Osprey - one over ER, 26th
Common Buzzard - three on 22nd
Whinchat - male at ER, 20th
Woodcock - one over ER, 14th

records refer to Stoke Newington Reservoirs unless otherwise stated

Migration in the area was generally light and prolonged in April, with summer visitors arriving in limited numbers throughout the month, for the most part a little later than expected (largely on account of unhelpful weather conditions en route). Firsts of the spring were recorded as follows: Swallow on the 11th, House Martins (two), Reed Warbler and the first of several Common sandpipers on the 14th, Common Swift and Common Whitethroats (two) on the 19th, and Lesser Whitethroat on the 24th.

Counts of spring migrants lacked drama but remained relatively consistent. Two to six Willow Warblers were recorded on most dates, with a peak of 11 on the 11th (five in Clissold Park and at least six at the reservoirs); Chiffchaffs also peaked on the 11th with eight recorded (three in CP and five at SNR); single Northern Wheatears were recorded on three dates; Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins were present on many dates with peaks of 30 on 20th, 20 on 26th and 25 on the 20th respectively; Common Swifts peaked at 60+ on 26th; and Reed Warblers, Common Whitethroats and Blackcaps were omnipresent from the third week onwards.

What the month lacked in quantity was made up for in quality, with several impressive records. A Woodcock flying east over the reservoirs on the 14th was a rare surprise, but a sustained period of raptor watching from the 22nd brought perhaps the most satisfying rewards. Sightings of Common Buzzards, apparently virtually unknown in the area previously, began in earnest with three on the 22nd, a female Peregrine hunted over the West Reservoir on the 26th, and an Osprey circling over the East reservoir on the 26th was perhaps the highlight of the year by then.

April's passerine highlight was provided by a striking male Whinchat at the ER on the 20th, feeding tamely in the reeds, where up to six Reed Buntings were often present. A male Brambling was present on the 24th and 26th, a single Meadow Pipit was recorded on the 19th, and wagtail numbers peaked on the 14th with seven Grey and six Pied.

Wader records (excluding Woodcock) involved exclusively sandpipers. The last of the two wintering Greens was last seen on the 22nd, but not before three (a record count) were present together on the WR on the 14th. Two Commons (with two Greens) were present on the 19th. All birds favoured the exposed concrete 'shores' of the WR.

(Comma, 14th April)

Duck numbers ebbed towards the end of the month as birds returned to breeding sites. Gadwalls, Pochards and Shovelers became less prevalent, while relatively few Tufted Ducks, Mallards and Ruddy Ducks remained but for breeders. Black-headed and Common Gulls were long gone but for a lone immature of the latter on the 14th, but Lesser Black-backs maintained a constant presence of between 10 and 20 birds. Herring Gulls were also recorded on all dates, with three to five on most visits (peaking at eight on the 24th).

Butterflies were evident from the 14th, with Commas, Small Tortoiseshells, Small Whites, an Orange Tip and a Brimstone recorded. Holly Blues, Peacocks, Red Admirals and Speckled Woods and several more Brimstones were all out in force by the 22nd.