Sunday, 8 February 2009

Diving on a Sunday afternoon

Other commitments unfortunately meant little time for birding this weekend, but en route to Islington this afternoon I made time for a brief stop at Stoke Newington Reservoirs. Continuing his run of good form at the site, Mark Pearson had recently found a Great Northern Diver on the west basin - an excellent bird to turn up this far into urban London, and perhaps the same individual that was reported until recently at Walthamstow Reservoirs in the 'wrong' end of the Lea Valley..

There was no sign of it on the west basin today, with just a summer-plumaged Great Crested Grebe and a few gulls on view, so I drove round to Lordship Lane to check the east basin from the bridge - and sure enough, it had moved across the road. Although distant, it was just about possible to make out through binoculars the pale 'scaly' edges to the upperpart feathering, indicating juvenile plumage. In 'rolling preen' mode, the bird was drifting further away when I grabbed this poor record shot with a 300 mm lens and 1.4x converter. Better images can be seen on Mark's excellent website,

Also on the east basin were another Great Crested Grebe, this time in non-breeding plumage, and five gull species - Black-headed and Common were the most numerous, along with eight or so Herring Gulls, a single adult graellsii Lesser Black-backed Gull and even a second-winter Great Black-backed Gull, a species I have rarely seen here in the past.


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