London Natural History Society The place for wildlife in London

London Natural History Society - The place for wildlife in London

Essex compiled by Howard Vaughan

RSPB Rainham Marshes

And so another year begins but January was quite hard work on the reserve with the undoubted star of the show being the solitary Waxwing for 12 days from the 20th. The usual winter waders were around with the addition of a healthy flock of up to 28 Avocets, Little Stint (3rd) and occasional Turnstone, Woodcock and Jack Snipe. Golden Plover have been in very short supply though. There has been some good gulling on the Thames with 11 species seen including Kittiwake (7th), Little Gull (31st), at least three different Caspian Gulls, four Meds and two Glaucous Gulls (both on the 26th). Marsh Harriers have been superb, Merlins have been seen occasionally. Brent Geese were seen on the 1st and 30th with a single Barnacle on the 6th. Four Short-eared Owls were regular until the cold snap when they largely disappeared. Many thrushes did arrive though and two Bullfinches were in the woodland and up to three Ravens paid us a visit.

Metropolitan Essex (LHNS area)

The Yellow-browed Warbler on Wanstead Flats did the decent thing and stayed until the 4th while Firecrests were seen there and at Fairlop Waters, Bedfords Park and Grays Gorge. Up to 30 Chiffchafs seem to be wintering around the Beckton STW / Creekmouth area along with two Black Redstarts and at least one Siberian Chiffchaff. Another Sibe was seen at Fairlop on the 6th while a third Black Redstart was at Walthamstow Filter Beds from the 13th. This site held the most surreal sighting of the month with a Swallow hawking for insects from the 25th-28th. Crazy stuff... The Reservoirs there also did quite well with the wintering male Scaup throughout, two Black-necked Grebes (4th), Med Gull (17th), Red Kite (24th) and a high of 44 roosting Little Egrets. A 1st winter Glaucous Gull present there on the 28th and 29th had previously been seen at Barking Bay (20th), Creekmouth (22nd) and then at Rainham on the 26th. A 2nd winter bird was also seen over the Olympic Park on the 21st. Further up the Lee Valley a Bittern continued to be seen at Seventy Acres Lake along with a pair of Smew and several Goosander. A sickly Slavonian Grebe was seen there on the 27th. A Red Kite was over Cornmill Meadows on the 10th and there were several records from the top end of Epping Forest where there were 12 Brambling at High Beech on the 14th. A Slavonian Grebe joined up to six Black-necks on the William Girling Reservoir from the 28th and a single Russian White-front was with Greylags at Netherhall on the 24th. The first Bittern of the season was seen in the Ingrebourne Valley on the 24th and a Great Grey Shrike gave everyone the run around there from the 5th with sightings of Scaup (21st) and Merlin (26th) making for some good birding. Another Red Kite was seen over Fairlop on the 15th and two Short-eared and Little Owls were seen with some regularity. Gulling on the Inner Thames continued to produce results with at least ten different Caspian Gulls being seen between the Thames Barrier and the mouth of the River Lee and the birds here are offering superb views. And then there were the Waxwings. The first was a singleton over Leyton on the 1st followed by a small but increasing flock in Harold Hill that eventually peaked at 35 on the 10th. Similarly, there were 25 in Aveley on the 22nd and at least 75 were roaming Lakeside and Chafford Hundred in several groups on the 27th. Forty-six in Collier Row from the 28th rounded things off nicely.