Tag Archives: Redwing

October 2018: Review

Patch Summary:

I made 8 patch visits during October and recorded a total of 70 species of birds. After a disappointing September, the quality in October shone through with some real star birds: I added four birds to my patch year list and three of those were brand new patch lifers (the most successful month for patch life ticks for a few years for me).

Highlights were:

  • Nick’s Rustic Bunting – a true patch ‘mega’ that stayed for a few days (17 October to 21 October), occasionally showing exceptionally well.
  • Tony’s Barn Owl may have been outshone as it showed on a day (20 October)  when the Rustic Bunting was still an attraction, but it was almost as unexpected, locally. A true patch mega.
  • Completing the set as third patch life tick was a flyover Yellowhammer on a day (27 October) when I saw it fly back and forth (or as separate birds) three times in a morning. As Richard and I discussed, it is extraordinary to think that I had seen Rustic Bunting and Ortolan Bunting on the Patch before Yellowhammer.
  • My first prolonged views of Snipe on the Patch with a pair of birds feeding regularly on Shoulder of Mutton and probably more views of them flushed from the Brooms than any other single month.
  • I broke the record with largest patch Teal count with 57 birds, mostly on Heronry, on 6 October, although this was then broken again a few days later.
  • More records were broken with early and late migrants in October. Several of us had Redwing over on 6 October (the patch earliest for returning birds) and a Redstart on 7 October was only a day off our latest, and was also a highlight for me as only the second one for me this year.
  • Having missed out entirely on Ring Ouzel in 2017 and missed several Spring birds, I was pleased to find a first winter bird in the Enclosure on 13 October and an adult male flew low over my head in the Brooms on 20 October.
  • I have enjoyed the October visible migration with thousands of Wood Pigeon seen, hundreds of winter thrushes and plenty of finches including Chaffinch, Brambling, and Common Redpoll.
  • Getting a garden tick of Lapwing with a flock of 29 on 28 October which I watched fly in over the Western Flats and then fly south from my garden.

Lowlights were:

  • Hearing a single Yellow-browed Warbler call by Alex but then questioning my sanity when it didn’t call again, and so not ticking it (this followed chasing after a tantalisingly small, silent warbler on the day Tony had YBW). No year tick there.
  • Not really birding anywhere other than the Patch and one trip to Rainham. I like to mix it up occasionally.

Highlights from elsewhere were:

  • Finally getting Cattle Egret on my London list. I stood in the rain at Rainham on 6 October and watched one hop up and down off a cow’s back. Excellent!
  • I also watched a Common Scoter float down the Thames on the same day; a year tick for me.

My birding month in five pictures:

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Rustic Bunting – surely one of the best birds ever found on the Patch

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Who are all these people on our Patch? The Rustic Bunting twitch

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Snipe on settled on the ground is an unusual patch sighting

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Just occasionally a crow will let you take its portrait

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Nick Croft – the bird-finder general – legend!

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Wanstead Patchwork: Part VI (Fair in field and red of wing, the winter thrushes are the kings)

This weekend has seen some epic birding – it has worn me out, but luckily I have a week in the office to recover 😉

Seriously though, I spent almost 8 hours out on the patch yesterday and drove down for a day at Dungeness today. More on Dungeness later, but now, I wanted to get up-to-date on patch antics.

I have been complaining how long it has taken me to spot the winter thrushes. Then, like buses, they all come at once.

Nick alerted me to a single Fieldfare which was flitting between tree and grass as a flurry of joggers and dog-walkers disturbed its feeding alongside two Mistle Thrush. As per always, I won’t win any photo prizes for this, but I thought I had better show as well as tell:

Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

I also finally saw a Redwing, but was too busy tweeting my delight to get a photograph (if you think that is a bad excuse, wait until you hear my Bittern story from today). Aside from my slight ineptitude, Fieldfare and Redwing really do seem to have been scarce on the Flats this year so far. There certainly seem less of them than there were pre-Christmas, and other birders have confirmed this. Perhaps there are not enough berries. Nevertheless, those winter thrushes have now taken my patch list for the year to 59.

But my long walk around the patch – which included exploring Leyton Flats and the River Roding for the first time – produced more than just thrushes, albeit they were my only birding patch ‘ticks’…

 Velvet Shank (Flammulina velutipes) - I think

Velvet Shank (Flammulina velutipes) – I think

River Roding

River Roding

Red Fox  (Vulpes vulpes)

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Long Wood