Monday, 10 May 2010

April 2010 - bird news

April is traditionally the peak migrant month in London, but while the park produced some goodies they were few and far between.

One of the undoubted highlights of the month included a Firecrest seen well and heard by Andrew Gardener mid morning on 16th, near the birches just behind the café in Top Field. It showed for less than a minute before flying towards the deer enclosure, and could not be relocated;.it is a typical date for a bird on passage.

Two Ring Ouzels later in the month was a return to the form of previous springs, 2009 having provided a blank. The first was a very elusive bird found early on the morning of 20th by Bob Watts, in the north-east corner of the playing fields. It was photographed within the next hour before showing again mid afternoon and again briefly a couple of times the following day. The second individual was a female found by Andrew Gardener mid morning on 27th near the "Lonesome Pine" and thence near the monkey puzzle tree adjacent to the Pitch n Putt fence. In contrast to the male it was a very showy individual. The only Common Redstart of the month was a stunning male seen flying low upslope from the obs while Bob Watts was 'viz migging' and seeing no raptors on the evening of the 9th. It alighted briefly before the backfiring of a vehicle sent it flying into the fence and thence towards the Boating Lake.

The obs again provided stunning views of a Red Kite on the morning of 11th as it flew south in the close company of three Carrion Crows. That day also provided the first Little Egret of the year flying north-west from New River Village - a welcome addition to the site life-lists of Messrs Gibson and Richards who were alerted by Bob Watts as they stood in the Cricket Pavilion car park. The day also provided two of the month's four Common Buzzards and one of the month's five Rooks, with three on the day of the guided walk on 18th.

The best of the rest included a rather smart male Brambling that showed sporadically on the mornings of 5th and 6th, close to the owl box in the NE corner of Top Field, and found by visiting birder Donal Gardener. Northern Wheatears were a bit thin on the ground but four individuals towards the end of the month included two Greenlands on the Pitch 'n Putt on 24th. Two spring Garden Warblers in the Cricket Scrub on 21st and 28th were atypical compared with recent years, when the species has only been observed in the autumn.

Returning spring firsts included Sand Martin (2) on 4th, Lesser Whitethroat on 20th, Common Whitethroat on 21st, Common Sandpiper and Common Swift (4) on 23rd, Reed Warbler on 25th and Hobby on 28th. Hirundine numbers were poor, with a maxima of 20+ Swallows on 24th, and the first House Martins (4) were as late as 24th. Common Swifts built up to 100+ on 30th. Wintering birds departed; the last Water Rail was seen at the Conservation Pond on 6th and Siskin and Shoveler on 4th.

Also of note during the month was an Egyptian Goose on 2nd, the smart drake Tufted Duck x Pochard hybrid at the Boating Lake early in the month, and 5 Greylag Geese on Wood Green Reservoir on 12th.