Saturday, 15 May 2010

On target

From top: this second-summer Yellow-legged Gull was again on Aveley Pools; an adult Peregrine looks on from its pylon vantage point; the colour-ringed albino Herring Gull; and female Yellow Wagtail at Holyfield.

I had unreasonably high hopes of finding something good this morning, largely because it's 16 years to the day since I discovered a singing male Subalpine Warbler on my old local patch of Walthamstow Marsh in east London. But though mid-May is a good time to be looking for vagrants, repeating the feat on the same date is of course a statistical improbability - even if I was momentarily buoyed by an arrival of passerines the previous day which included my first Spotted Flycatcher of the year at Stoke Newington Reservoirs (thanks to Mark Pearson for that one).

That flycatcher was my 175th species for London in 2010, thereby meaning that by mid-May I have already reached the target I set for the whole year. The likelihood is that I will now reach 185-190 species, potentially almost 20 more than I have logged in a year in London previously, but the 200 mark seems beyond reach.

Notwithstanding the lack of vagrants Rainham was still interesting todayup, with Peregrine, Hobby, a late drake Eurasian Wigeon, Little Ringed Plover, three Common Terns, Cuckoo, Northern Wheatear and adult and second-summer Yellow-legged Gulls. I met up briefly with David Callahan, Mark Pearson and John Archer as their team racked up species on the Oystercatcher Bird Race (they went on to win with a total of 90 species recorded in London boroughs using public transport). Down near the dump we had another second-summer Yellow-legged Gull, a stunning albino Herring Gull, excellent views of Grasshopper Warbler and a fly-over Common Buzzard, before I decamped to the Lee Valley in an abortive attempt to see a Temminck's Stint at Holyfield; instead, another Common Buzzard, seven Hobbies, four Little Ringed Plovers, Yellow Wagtail, Garden Warbler and Yellowhammer were the highlights.

And the hunt for Turtle Dove continues ...

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