|1w/2cy Yellow-legged Gull vs corvids|
Walking down was pleasant in itself - I stopped in Beddington Park for a short while to watch one of the tame Little Egrets, which has spent all winter along the Wandle. All the while, Nuthatches were singing and a Treecreeper burst into song briefly, before calling loudly nearby. It was nice to add this to my Beddington year list, as it was audible from the woodland entrance to Beddington Farmlands. Another bird offering quality views was a single Lesser Redpoll near the same entrance. Given how hard they can be to locate on the deck in the local area, I made the most of the photographic opportunities on offer before leaving it to feed away. My best views to date of the species.
|m Firecrest recordshots|
The exciting start to the day was followed by finally seeing my first (lonely) Little Ringed Plover of the year on the wet grassland. One of my personal highlights of the day however came thanks to Nick Gardiner, who within seconds of arriving at the grassland hide, found us 3 Wheatears hopping around the edge of the banks of the grassland, including 2 males. Wheatears are in my top 3 favourite British birds, alongside Stonechats and Swifts. Whilst also being one of the first birding signs of Spring, they're just all round smart, charismatic birds. Seeing so many locally last Spring was awesome (17 seen in 2 weeks at Little Woodcote in April) but I couldn't have asked for much better than those from Beddington on Saturday. The two males (no words to describe them) had my attention for the large part, even if the female on the whole showed even better, often within 10m in front of the hide. Spending time watching and photographing them without a doubt topped off an already excellent morning.
|male Wheatear - what a smart bird|
|Black and White image|
|LRP and Pied Wagtail|
A Mandarin pair along the Thames towpath at Chertsey, Surrey while on route home from Otmoor. A calling Redshank over towards Queen Mary's Reservoir was also lovely to hear
|pair of Garganey|
Willow Warbler in Beddington Park - a nice pale bird compared to several others. If not singing, I would've been less sure with the ID, and more carefully considered subspecies acredula
Red Kite (1 of 2,) Peregrine (also 1/2.) Also 12 Buzzard seen
|Willow Warbler - recording here|
|Black and White Chiffchaff|
With lockdown restrictions slowly beginning to cease, I was thrilled to catch up with Sam Levy and Calum Mckellar on the 6th, another two mates I'd not seen in 6 and 9 months respectively. After introducing them to Zach at 930ish, the walk started nicely with a few Yellow Wagtail flying through. Despite the freezing cold, warblers continued to be in fine voice throughout. The only year tick of the day was a welcome early Whitethroat in quiet subsong at the northern end. Of the 72 species managed once again by 14:30, there were many clear highlights. Finding another new 1st winter Caspian Gull (in addition to another 1w Caspian, as well as 1w and adult Yellow-legged Gull) left me chuffed especially as it was easily the best bird I'd ever found - even if I grandly messed up pictures. However, alongside Little Ringed Plover, 2 Green Sandpipers and a smart White Wagtail, 3 Yellow Wagtails were strutting around the edges of the wet grassland, showing superbly (one was ringed.) With all 3 birds in pristine plumage, as bright as they come, it made for another excellent half day on patch, where a further return to social birding was most welcome. It's always a little sad seeing close mates I've made from the nature community - I've not seen some of them for 14 months now. Seeing 3 people together again was enough to really lift my spirits, and remind me how much I love and in fact need social birding with those my age, a little sense
|new 1st winter Caspian Gull record shots|
|as with the photo above, where the paler underwings are visible, this bird had a strikingly long bill, white head, isolated eye, long primary projection, long legs, perfectly thumbnailed tertials, grey shawl etc.|
|'White Wagtail' - though I only managed this before it flew, it still shows the cleaner, pale mantle, part of the pale-grey rump and cleaner flanks|
One of the adult Yellow Wagtails - this bird was ringed
|Second Yellow Wagtail|
|Third Yellow Wagtail|
|adult Yellow-legged Gull - darker mantle, red eye-ring etc. Yellow legs were also seen|
All in all, the past 10 days have been exciting, nicely bridging the gap between late winter and spring. I'm looking forward to the next month or two now more than ever - cricket, birding, it's all coming back, and I feel much more alive because of it. Fingers crossed for a much better warmer season than the last...