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Friday, May 04, 2012

4th May

Regent’s Park

Common Tern: a pair were again over the lake this morning.

Swallow: two flew through.

House Martin: twenty plus headed north during the day.

Garden Warbler: two birds were in the shrubbery in area 2.

Common Whitethroat: seven birds were present, the most unusual location were 2 birds in one of the Rose beds in area 17.

Reed Warbler: five birds were present, including 2 birds in the same Rose bed as the whitethroats.

Sedge Warbler: one was on the Bandstand Island, area 7 and showing well.

Willow Warbler: 4 birds were present.

Reed Bunting: The pair were in area 2, with the male singing and showing well.

Bushy Park

Common Shelduck: a pair in area 32 and another pair flew west.

Hobby: a female flew past my office window towards the Thames.

Yellow Wagtail: one flew west.

Northern Wheatear: six were present, 3 area 13, 2 area 36 (see maps below) and another in the Paddocks.

Common Whitethroat: twelve birds were present mainly on the western side of the park in area 5 or by the river on Dukes Head Passage area 3.

Garden Warbler: one was by the Iron Bridge, area 3.

Swift: birds were in the skies above the river at lunchtime.

Swallow: 24 birds flew west.

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4 comments:

birdman_euston said...

4 [sic] May: Heavy cloud and light N breeze at dawn, with intermittent drizzle.

Another standout day for migration. A slow-moving, occluded weather front over London the last two days has been forcing migrants to land: the farther north they fly, the more the cold air undercuts the warm air in which they began their journey, and the low cloud ceiling means they can't follow the warm air upwards very far. Luckily for us, the inevitable decision to descend to ground level, owing to the cold, often happened above our heads!

It was 'Dave's day': he found every species I did and more often than not in greater numbers so I've nothing new to add to Tony's totals in the main blog. Here, I'll mention a few personal highlights.

Sedge Warbler 1 - area 11 at 08.30, then area 7 from 10.00 onwards.
A lifer, and the toughest 'tick' of my life! I first heard what sounded like a sedge warbler singing (like a reed warbler but far less repetitive, less harsh and with a few diagnostic sweet, high notes interspersed) from just above water level in the canopy of a weeping willow near York Bridge in area 11. Ten minutes of pure frustration ensued: I got within 3m of the bird at times but two half-second glimpses, one of a silhouette and another of a sandy-brown back, were all I had to show for it. Luckily Dave found it later, independently from me, after it had moved to a flowering dogwood on the W shoreline of Bandstand Island, area 7. After yet another ten minutes of personal failure as it sang away, Dave pitched in and between us we finally got a great view of it, albeit briefly, down at the waterline under the dogwood. Its cream-coloured supercilium was striking even in poor light, and this bird showed rufous above the tail, visible under the wing even while folded. (Ironically I never noticed the one field mark I was originally looking for, the streaked back, but I can't complain.) In conclusion, how one would ever spot a sedge warbler on migration if it weren't vocalising is beyond me!

Garden Warbler 1 - area 2 at 15.10.
Another lifer! Dave told me of two birds of this species he had seen at 7.10 this morning (one originally in area 5 before it flew across the lake to join another bird in area 2 that was singing vociferously, from both the willows near the lake and the oaks behind the path). My bird was silent but curious, having popped up into a tree from the shrubbery at the E end of the fenced-off portion of area 2, to investigate the commotion as a pair of chaffinches began scolding me. As expected, it was the quintessential "little brown job", coloured not unlike a Chiffchaff at first glance but with a distinctive head-profile (a more steeply domed forehead coupled with a stubbier bill) and a more obvious dark eye (set off by the whiter plumage immediately around it). Unfortunately, it wasn't singing so I've yet to convince myself that I can separate this species from its close relative, the Blackcap, by song!

The pair of Whitethroats in the Cricket Pen, area 31, was seen 'courting' this morning (the male chasing the female).

Three Swifts were hawking insects over the Boating Lake above treetop level at 15.10.

(I popped in late yesterday afternoon, 3 May, and the drake Gadwall is still around - I think it's consorting with the Collection birds in the area-1 waterfowl sanctuary.)

Hawthorn and dogwood are beginning to flower. Beech trees are leafing out, the emerging foliage beautifully copper-coloured like that of the 'Norway' maples. (There are surprisingly few mature beech trees in the Park, given they're a dominant native species in mature English deciduous forests.)

glen said...

still not got a swift..... Great blog
Tony, nice pic winchat wheatear....Bank Holiday Monday I'll get my swift.

birdman_euston said...

(A correction to my comment for 4 May, above: the Sedge Warbler was first discovered in the isolated lakeside willow just W of Clarence Bridge (area 12), not York Bridge.)

5 May: The weather front moved away to the south overnight (it began feeling colder as early as yesterday afternoon), the cloud cover lifted significantly and there was no rain so it was a lot quieter* in the Park during my brief visit this morning. (No Reed Warblers or Common Whitethroats dropped into the Rose Wheel of Queen Mary's Gardens, area 17 this morning - unlike yesterday!)

Greylag Goose 12: feeding in the Open Spaces, area 37 at 06.20 (six of the Park's resident pairs, presumably).

Sparrowhawk 1m: hunting over Queen Mary's Gardens, area 18 at 06.40.

Pied Wagtail 2: feeding at lakeside NW of Clarence Gate, opposite area 7 - the female then flew SW over Clarence Terrace carrying food, followed by the male, so their nest with hatchlings is behind the Terrace somewhere, presumably in a hole in a wall.

(I heard what could have been a Linnet flying northwards at 07.30 - a double-noted "chup, chup", neither as sweet-sounding as nor in triplicate like a Greenfinch.)

The deluge of rain this week has sent flowering Cow Parsley shooting to near head-height (!) in places - and the grass too of course is growing thick and fast, keeping the mowers busy.

It dawned on me recently that when April's wet weather arrived, the local murder of Carrion Crows (up to 70 in number at daybreak) switched their feeding location in area 37 from the Cricket Squares to the Open Spaces. In the competition for ground invertebrates, there is currently little overlap with the gulls (Herring and Lesser Black-backed), which favour the Cricket Squares and the (former) rugby pitch near the Leaf Yard Wood, area 41.

* Fear not, peeps! London is still near the battle line between warm and cold air masses; accordingly, a warm front (with accompanying southerly winds and light rain) is forecast to pass through the Park starting on Monday, so birding should pick up again two days' hence.

birdman_euston said...

Sun 6 May: Weather much like yesterday with thick high stratus cloud (above 1000m) and a light NE breeze. As expected, it was quiet in birdland today but the forecast is for light E winds overnight and southerlies tomorrow with showers by mid-morning, so here's hoping for interesting new arrivals starting Monday.

Reed Bunting 2 - male singing in Cricket Pen, area 32 at 05.50; he was later seen with female in area 5 at 07.00.

Reed Warbler 2 - male singing from bamboo thicket at S end of Hanover Island, area 32 at 06.50, moving to reed bed in area 5 at 07.00; another male singing in area 32 at 07.55.

Common Tern 1 - feeding over the boating lake at 07.10.

Swallow 2 - feeding over lake off area 9 at 08.25.

Willow Warbler 2: area 14 at 08.45

A fledgling Dunnock was being fed by its parents in the wildlife garden, area 20 at 10.10.

Horse-chestnuts in full bloom. Golden chain trees (Genus: Laburnum) now blooming. White corymbs of Viburnum shrubs (in area 1 on left side of path that eventually leads to area 42) now coming into bloom.