Skip to main content

London Calling

Being an old Clash fan, I've always wanted to have an excuse for a post tittle like this! And though Joe Strummer has left us now, I am sure he would have enjoyed the trails around this unique piece of habitat! The London Wetland Centre, owned and run by The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, is located close to our capital city, next to the River Thames and is renowned as being the best urban wildlife areas in Europe. Today was my second visit, the first being in 2003, when I visited with my birding and ringing friend Susan Frost. Luckily, the 26 mile drive went smoothly this morning, taking just 40 minutes from my home town of Woking. I would not want try it on a week day though....traffic!

Mandarin Duck
On arrival my first bird as I got of the car was Ring-necked Parakeet. These birds have now colonized many areas in the south-east of England. The entrance fee for an adult is £10.55, so for anyone living local or wanting multiple visits should just pay the £36.00 annual membership; which allows free entry everyday to all the WWT reserves. Good to join anyway, and support their great work. After ogling some of the native and not so native permanent residents, such as Red-breasted Goose, Brent Goose, Barnacle Goose, Hooded Merganser and Eider, I made my way around the Wildside area of the main lake. Moorhen and Coot were abundant and still feeding young. Other species such as Tufted Duck, Little Grebe and Grey Heron were also in good numbers. Some Mandarin Duck got me excited and though unlikely to be tickable at this location, I did get some really good looks.

Spotted Flycatcher
On a small trail between the Field Lab and the Wildside hide, I got my first year tick of the day: Cetti's Warbler. Its explosive and unique song chorused from the reeds and though I didn't see the bird, which is par for the course, I did get to listen for a good five minutes. My next tick of the day came about ten minutes later when I bumped into another birder who had just found a Spotted Flycatcher. We both watched for a while and located a second bird. With the decline of this species over the last ten years, any sighting is good but this was a great bird for the location. Once I had scanned and had my fill of the Wildside, I headed back toward the visitor centre and out around the east side. There is no loop trail, so once you have birded one side you need to back track. There are five hides around this side and I made a visit at each, finishing up at Peacock Tower which looks over both the Main Lake and Wader Scrape. Waders themselves were in short supply, with only Lapwing and Ruff being present. There was a good selection of gulls to look through with Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull (year tick), Great Black-backed Gull and a single Yellow-legged Gull. Ducks seen from the hides included Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Mallard and Tufted Duck. My total for the site was 37 species, of which 3 were year ticks. All in all a pleasant mornings birding and I look forward to returning in the winter; in search of a Bittern!


Popular posts from this blog

Pied-billed Grebe

Silly o'clock and a drive to Summerset + a 2 1/2 hour watch at Ham Wall RSPB Reserve produced good looks at my first British P ied-billed Grebe. We turned up just after eight and just in time to miss this North American mega by  minutes! Little Grebes kept us on our toes but we had to wait it out until about 10:40 am when it appeared from the corner where it had disappeared. There was a nice crowd here, all remaining hopeful and humorous during this very cold vigil. This little beauty made a b-line to open water, affording all great views. Bonus bird at this site was a  Great White Egret .

Stains Moor

Today I checked the Staines Reservoir for some reported birds including Black Turn and Ruff. My target birds were not relocated but I did get another year bird: Wheatear . This was across the road; perched on a fence post. After an hour I headed to Staines Moor , a site I have never been to before. Good directional signs were non existent and I ended up asking the locals. It takes about 25 minutes from parking to actually getting onto the moor. This route is basically two public footpaths. It is definitely worth it and is a fantastic site with good visibility in all directions.The River Colne meanders through; making it very attractive and good for wildlife.  One of the features here that really stands out is the amount of yellow meadow ant hills; a favored perching spot for Wheatear I here. Birds seen included Coot, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Linnet, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Robin, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Black-headed Gull, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Kestrel, Hobby, Green

Kefalonia -Greece 2015

K efalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands, (700 sq km) and is located off the west coast of Greece. Though, in recent times, it is most notably known as the location for Captain Corellis Mandolin; it also has lots of history, interesting geography and endangered fauna.  As it sits in the earthquake zone it has seen lots of changes, especially the 1953 earthquake which badly affected all but the northern town of Fiskado. Mount Ainos dominates the landscape and at 1628 meters can be seen from most areas. One of the most famous residents is the endangered Loggerhead Turtle which breed on the southern beaches.   What follows is a short trip report highlighting my casual observations from 23rd August – 30th August 2015. Though this was not a birding holiday, I did manage a few morning sorties in various areas and hope that this will give some indication of what to expect. Kephalonia is not a ‘birding destination’ but for those of you who visit, a little effort will afford