Monday, 16 August 2010

Godwits in focus

Two Black-tailed Godwits engage in a turf war over feeding rights.
Feeding birds often probe the mud with their heads under water; this bird
has just come up for air and the excess water is draining from its bill.

Black-tailed Godwits look their most spectacular in flight.
Back today at Rainham Marshes, where wader diversity has stabilised at its natural autumn level of 13 species. At least godwit numbers are building (as are gulls), and returning Icelandic birds put on a decent show for the camera today.

A moulting adult godwit stalks past a dozing Eurasian Teal. The godwits at
Rainham are subspecies islandica, though nominate limosa has occurred.
Highlights in full: 2 Avocet, 2 Oystercatcher, 30+ Northern Lapwing, 7+ Ringed Plover, 1/2 Ruff, 2 Dunlin, 5 Greenshank, 4 Redshank, Whimbrel, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Green Sandpipers, 2 Common Sandpipers, 39 Yellow-legged Gulls Aveley Bay area and 8 Aveley Pools, leucistic Herring Gull with red ring Aveley Bay, 4 Common Gulls, single Arctic Terns upstream at 12:00, 12:09 and 12:14 (all seen off Belvedere 15-20 mins later), numerous Common Terns, Northern Wheatear.

A brief low-tide side trip to Grays didn't add anything unexpected, with just a few Common Terns on the river and Oystercatcher on the foreshore, but Barking Bay at the end of the day produced the female Common Scoter enjoying the late afternoon sunshine, and three Common Sandpipers.


Triple bird score

Yesterday's early morning visit to Rainham was more successful for year-list additions:
138. Bullfinch.
139. Sandwich Tern.
140. Whinchat.

All the highlights for Sunday: 10 Ringed Plover, 30+ Northern Lapwing, 3 Green Sandpipers, 2 Common Sandpipers, 3 Greenshank, 6 Redshank, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Avocet, 3 Common Snipe, 2 Ruff, 3 Dunlin, 2 Yellow-legged Gulls, 2 Sandwich Terns (one off Coldharbour Point, the other heading upriver with Common Terns), 6 Yellow Wagtails, Whinchat near sea wall at Aveley Bay, and a Bullfinch briefly in scrub at c 6.45 am - my first for the site.

The impressive Wasp Spider: arachnid of the day at Rainham Marshes.
One of these species was also a much-wanted London year-tick:
192. Sandwich Tern.

In contrast to Rainham, Alexandra Park mid-morning was quiet, despite the well-attended guided walk and the nets being up in the scrub. It was just too windy, and nothing better than a single Magpie was caught and ringed. Fingers crossed that the next session in September produces more migrants.

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