latest sightings

Pete Lambert Wrote today:

Tuesday 29 March 2011
More singing blackcaps today.  After two on Saturday (although George had three), I recorded birds singing in 11 different places.  Could be fewer than this different birds just moving around, but a definite increase.  Decreasing numbers of smaller gulls though, only one Common Gull recorded and only four sightings of Black-headed Gulls.  Both these usually mover off now to bred elsewhere, while the Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls remain to breed.  There are several pairs of these on Walthamstow Res, but I think they also breed on factory roofs around Tottenham Marshes.  Any records of these from people living in Tottenham would be very welcome.

More sightings of Little Egrets with three sightings of single birds flying over and a fourth in the channel between Green and Sandpiper Bridges.  These are probably birds from the breeding colony at Walthamstow Res, as birds have just returned to nests there.Three calling Pheasants this morning and there may be five males on the Marshes this year.  Sightings of these would also be welcome.

Carrion Crows were quite active taking nesting material to trees and pylons, including an odd bird at Clendish Marsh that I saw for the first time on 24 March.  S/he is building a nest on the pylon at Lockwood Res opposite Clendish Marsh.  When seen on the ground, it seemed to have a grey nape (like a large Jackdaw).  There are some grey feathers on the left shoulder and on to the breast, but also a lot of feathers missing at the nape.  Not sure if this is a disease of the feathers /skin or result of an accident.  Keep an eye out for her/him, photos would be nice.

Otherwise, a male House Sparrow cheeping from brambles at Wi;ld Marsh East was unusual; a few more Sand Martins around at the channels and two Shelducks south over Wild Marsh East.  Also three Jackdaws high East over Clendish Marsh at 8.08am (found as part of my ‘watch all high flying birds’ policy).

Counting my singing Song Thrushes today, I reached a count of 14.  Could we try counting these on our survey day?


Latest reports from the Marshes

 Pete Lambert wrote yesterday:

 I met George today over Walthamstow Res and felt guilty after he said I’d not sent out any Marsh news lately, so hears a brief bit to catch up.

Saturday 19 March  My first sand martins of the year, with two flying over Pymmes Brook at Stonebridge Lock briefly, also saw a skylark flying over calling and a similar siskin.

Tuesday 22 March  My first blackcap of the year, a male singing at Wild Marsh East.  Two kestrels flying around over Clendish Marsh, with that fluttery wing effect they seem to do when displaying.  But then, the female shot down like a stone to the plane trees at the south end and landed at an old crow’s nest there!  The male perched nearbye her.  Haven’t seen them at this nest on the two visits since, but worth keeping an eye out for.  (On our last survey day Ray said kestrels have bred iin old crows nests before – psychic Ray?)

Thursday 24 March  Woke up early, saw it was foggy, but thought I’d go out anyway, with memories of 14 November 1997 when I walked round Wild Marsh East as the fog lifted to find a great grey shrike sitting on top of a tree.  Today was not quite so dramatic, but was a first for the Marsh.

I came in from the East Bridge, walked by the poplars at the north on my way to the Sandpiper Bridge.  Looked in the poplars as I walked by but only saw a few wood pigeons.  Had gone on a few yards when I heard waxwing calls.  Looked back to find a waxwing sitting near the top of the poplars and found two more nearbye!  After sending out text messages I walked on to the bridge and down the channel and six minutes after I first saw them, lots more calls of waxwings and FOUR waxwings flew out of the poplars and went SE towards Walthamstow.

Another surprise when I was at the SW corner of Clendish Marsh.  Trying to work out how many song thrushes were singing there, I hung around for a few minutes, looked at a group of greenfinch, then put my bins on three other birds in the trees.  First one was a female brambling!  The other were a pair of chaffinch, and the male chaffinch kept chasing the brambling away.  Very rare for me to see a brambling sitting, usually just pick them up on call when they fly over.

Saturday 26 March  Comparatively quiet, although two singing blackcaps (George had 3 later) and some more sand martins.  George and Terry have both seen the albino starling since our survey date, but not me.

Waxwings in the Garden

 Being a creature of habit, most Monday mornings at 9am see me walking round Tottenham Marshes.  But Monday 14 March 2011 was different.  As I was doing other things later on in the day, at 9am I was at home (Gloucester Road, Walthamstow) having tea and toast while looking out of my widow at birds.  Suddenly at 9.40am a Waxwing flew into the tree in front of me!  I looked in amazement for a moment or two, then moved slowly away to get my camera.  By the time I returned there were 3 Waxwings looking at me from the tree, and by the time they flew off (8 minutes after the first arrived) there were seven birds there.  Photos (not up to any of the David’s standard) attached.

Belated news from the Marshes on Thursday 10 March 2011.  At last, at last, at last, at last…my months of scanning the tops of the vegetation on Clendish Marsh produced a Stonechat!  A smart looking male, and presumably a passage bird that’s been wintering somewhere else.



Pete Lambert spotted a male stonechat on Clendish Marsh yesterday. This species, once a regular winter resident on the marshes, has proved elusive this winter.


Today on the Marshes – Coal tit

Pete Lambert Wrote today:

Sorry I haven’t been able to circulate details of all my walks lately.

Today was (for a change) lovely weather for a walk round Tottenham Marshes, with sun and blue sky, and the birdwatching was good too!  Highlight was a coal tit at Clendish Marsh, the first record I’ve ever had here.  I was walking from Stonebridge Lock towards the Car Park, when I heard what sounded like a coal tit calling.  Stopped walking and saw a bird in the trees at the NE of the Car Park which looked the right shape and size, but it was behind twigs and branches and I couldn’t be sure.  Moved nearer and the bird flew, but fortunately perched on top of a tree at the SW of the Car Park and called.  Only got my bins on it briefly before it flew, but enough to see white nape, black bib and pale wing bar of a definite coal tit.  Flew west towards trees at road, but couldn’t relocate it. There’s only been one record before as far as I know, on Feb 20 this year when Ray saw one briefly near the cafe.  Two records so close together suggest this was the same bird.  Given how unsuitable the habitat is here for coal tits, as my David suggested to me, this could be a continental bird rather than a ‘British’ bird.  Collin’s Guide suggests continental birds are more blue on the mantle and less buff on the flanks.  Need more sightings!  Or even photos.

Two other birds seen this morning were firsts for the year.  A great crested grebe seen from the East Bridge fishing in the channel north of the weir, and four redpolls in the trees at the north of Wild Marsh East.  As well, there was passage of single jackdaws NE twice, and siskin and skylark heard calling although not seen.  What with cetti’s warbler singing, little egret south down the Lee Navigation, two greylag geese flying north and two male pheasants, it was a morning to remember.