Tuesday, August 21, 2007

21st August 2007

Walthamstow Marshes 0900-1040 MJP
o/c, intermittent drizzle, dull. light NNE.

Stone Curlew - 1
Northern Wheatear - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
House Martin - 12
Swift - 5
Stock Dove - 13
Starling - c250
Goldfinch - 30
Linnet - 5

What was turning out to be a good week from a local birding perspective (Hobby, Yellow-legged Gull and Common Buzzard are all uncommon in the area) just got a great deal better, with a surprise find to say the least - a Stone Curlew quietly sheltering from the drizzle in a patch of weed in the Horse Field.

Happy enough with flushing a Wheatear from the path, I decided to try and get a few photos, and so scanned the Horse Field from the main raised track, which runs immediately alongside it. Pausing briefly at a tussock in the centre of the field (the rest of the field is closely cropped by horses), a strangely familiar head protruded from the weeds.... a comedy eye-rubbing moment followed before the bird briefly came into full view, allowing a few passable digi-binned photos before scuttling back into the tussock. An unexpected and memorable treat, and a clear frontrunner for bird of the year at a local level.

I left at 0945, when the bird was still sheltering in the same spot, although how long it would remain in the area is questionable, with so much disturbance close by.

For those who want to try and see the bird, the horse field is immediately north and adjoining the riding centre, and best viewed from the central raised track. Grid Ref: TQ 3548 / BNG 8720

(click on photos to enlarge)

Otherwise, the Wheatear was a pleasure, if a little more expected, the finch flock is back up to a healthy level, and the sole warbler of the day was an immature Lesser Whitethroat at the southern end of the marshes.

Back at the other local patches, Tony Butler saw 2 Whimbrel at SN Reservoirs this morning (like last year's Black-tailed Godwit, they circled and attempted to put down, but the water levels are too high), and the autumn's first Spotted Flycatcher was reported from Clissold Park.