Sunday, 13 January 2013

Patch of the Day, Lee Valley, Graham Howie

First Patching Entry
June the 4th 2012 was the first time I started recording my visits to my patch, Walthamstow Marsh, Leyton Marsh, Waterworks Nature Reserve, Middlesex Filterbeds, Old River Lee and Wick Community Woodland. I have already made my last patch visit of 2012, so it's time to choose my top 5 patch birds of the year. I've chosen them based on the enjoyable experiences I had when I was observing them.

#5  Swifts
A Scream of Swifts.
As my favourite bird, I'm pretty sure they'll feature amongst my favourite patch experiences every year. This year, I spent many times at the patch, marveling at the squadrons of swifts, acrobatically zooming and screaming in the skies. 

#4 Stonechat
I saw this little guy and his lady on two visits, in the Bomb Crater Pond, dashing and bobbing like nobodies business among the reeds. The nature of a Stonechat is that it's always on the move and it took me quite a while to id it, which was the fun of the experience. He's a smart looking chap too!

#3 Green Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker
I chose this bird purely for the randomness of finding it and then for the prolonged and good views it gave. I flushed it out by accident when I was quietly approaching the front left paddock of the Lee Valley Riding Centre. He just flew up out of from the grass as I unwittingly got near him and landed in the tree in front of me. Staying there for ages, pecking at insects on the tree. It later flew down onto the paddock and spent a good time pecking at insects on the pasture floor. Quite a skulky, secretive bird and a lot bigger than I expected.

#2 Kestrel
There's always a Kestrel knocking about around Walthamstow Marsh and often you can catch two or three hover hunting over the marsh at the same time. On the 22nd of September I spent half an hour watching five Kestrels switching between roosting and hover hunting over Bomb Crater Pond. It was a lovely sunny day with clear skies. I had pitched my fold up chair by the scrubby boundary in the north marsh and just watched them hunt. They often swooped down onto the marsh floor a few meters from where I was sat. And now and then, they curiously checked me out too.

#1 Sand Martins
Juvenile Sand Martins
What was that noise?
The drain pipe nest.

Before I started this blog and recording the birds I saw at my patch, I had the most exciting birding experience I've had this year. Around May, while walking along the footpath in between the river and Leyton Marsh, I saw for the first time, Sand Martins. They were zipping up and down the river, catching insects for breakfast. Incredibly acrobatic and graceful birds. Great fun to watch. But it got better. I became aware that they were visiting a drain pipe and I could just make out two grey things at the entrance of the pipe. I guessed these were chicks. I was right. I made my way over the bridge, walked along the bank to where the pipe entrance was and peered over the edge. There they were; two tiny grey heads, screaming for food. The parents obviously had seen me and started to swoop near me to try and warn me off. They made louder noises, probably to signal to their chicks to retreat into the pipe. Which they did. So, I got on my belly and with camera in hand, reached down to the pipe entrance and took a few snaps. I got a great picture (above) of the wee guys. It seems as though there were three of them. The drain pipes along the river bank are perfect replicas of a Sand Martins natural sand bank nest tunnels. I look forward to seeing them again next Spring.

Sand Martin
That was my most memorable and enjoyable patching experience of 2012.

The North Walthamstow Marsh
Here is my patch list for my first year on the patch, 2012

1       Chaffinch
2       Common Tern
3       Lesser Whitethroat
4       Grey Heron
5       Blackcap
6       Long-Tailed Tit
7       Greenfinch
8       Mistle Thrush
9       Blackbird
10     Cormorant
11     Wren
12     Whitethroat
13     Swift
14     Magpie
15     Dunnock
16     Mallard
17     Woodpigeon
18     Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon
19     Robin
20     Reed Bunting
21     Goldfinch
22     Herring Gull
23     Great Black-backed Gull
24     Lesser Black-backed Gull
25     Blue Tit
26     Great Tit
27     Sedge Warbler
28     Tree Sparrow
29     Pied Wagtail
30     Ring-necked Parakeet
31     Starling
32     Sand Martin
33     Carrion Crow
34     Moorhen
35     Coot
36     Garden Warbler
37     Canada Goose
38     Kestrel
39     Egyptian Goose
40     Corn Bunting
41     Willow Warbler
42     Jay
43     Teal
44     Black-headed Gull
45     Stonechat
46     Green Woodpecker
47     Great Spotted Woodpecker
48     Redwing
49     Goldcrest
50     Pheasant
51     Fieldfare
52     Mute Swan
53     Tufted Duck
54     Shoveler
55     House Sparrow
56     Little Grebe
57     Wood Duck

The Patch 2012

1 comment:

  1. A lovely post Graeme, I hope 2013 is even better for you.