Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Two days, two more ticks

Two of a kind: immature European Shag (standing) and adult Great
Cormorant (swimming) at Walthamstow Reservoirs.
Wikileaks founders Julian Assange has been arrested, United are top of the table, US peacemaker Richard Holbrooke has died, Matt Cardle won the X-Factor and my chest infection is better (thanks for asking). Yes, a lot has happened (of varying degrees of importance) since I was last able to get out into the field, but at last the hunt for new London year birds has resumed - and with some success.

Yesterday there was enough time for a short local diversion to the far side of Tottenham, where the immature European Shag found by Pete Lambert on Sunday continued in residence on East Warwick Reservoir (thanks to Lol Bodini for the update). David Callahan and I were pleased that the bird decided to wake up while we were watching it, and as I was travelling light David lent me his camera to snatch the above record shot.

12 Common Eider, including a few young drakes, head upriver at Grays.
I took this morning off to try and catch up with another target bird, an intermittent Grey Phalarope at Grays. Dave Darrell-Lambert had it first thing, but the bird had absconded by the time I arrived. While scanning the river in case it had ventured further out, however, I picked up a flock of Common Eider on the water. I immediately called Dave who returned to see them, and we both photographed the birds as they took off and headed a short distance back upriver. An impressive number, it was only the third time I had seen the species in London, yet the second in a fortnight. What else will this winter bring?

The Grey Phal gives up playing hard to get and chases around after
slim pickings in the ebbing tide off Grays beach. A class bird.

Eventually, after plenty more scanning in freezing temperatures, I picked up the phalarope to the east of its normal location. It was gone again in a flash, but I finally located it up closer in to the shore, and snatched these record shots. Along with single Eurasian Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit, almost 100 Dunlin and 80 Redshank, four Grey Plover, seven Ringed Plover, numerous Northern Lapwings and three Turnstones, the place was jumping with shorebirds - nine species is excellent going for the Grays foreshore.

One of the four Grey Plovers at Grays today - a good showing locally.
London year-list update:

212. European Shag.
213. Grey Phalarope.

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