Compiled by Howard Vaughan
RSPB Rainham Marshes
April is probably the busiest month of the year with comings and goings and this year was no exception with wildfowl lingering late and species like Jack Snipe (16th), Brent Geese (13th), Merlin (12th), Siskin (23rd), Rock Pipit (22nd) and Water Pipit (9th) recorded further into the month being normal.
A full summer plumaged Razorbill that was found on the path on the 9th was the biggest draw being the first twitchable one in the London recording area since the Fairlop bird of 1988. It eluded capture and unfortunately died on the 11th.
Most of the regular migrants put in an appearance with Tree Pipits (4th and 22nd), Redstarts (20th, 23rd & 30th), Black Redstart (3rd), at least five Grasshopper Warblers (from 12th), Firecrest and Hobby (from 13th), a good smattering of Whinchats (from 14th) and Wheatears, Ring Ouzels on five dates from 11th, a ‘Channel Wagtail’ with Yellow and White Wagtails (26th) and Swifts and Cuckoo (from 16th). A Crossbill on the 7th was a good spring record while a Coal Tit on the 13th was only about the 5th record. A female Serin was heard on the 7th before being seen again a couple of times on the 9th while a Wryneck on the 30th was a superb find out on Rainham West. There was a good passage of Common Terns and over 40 Arctic Terns, eight Sandwich Terns and a several Little and Med Gulls were seen on the river while a Caspian Gull was seen on the 23rd. Common Scoters were seen on several dates and Red-breasted Merganser were noted on the 23rd and 24th which tied in with the traditional late April wader passage with a record 23 Knot, Sanderling, Turnstone and Bar-tailed Godwits on the latter date. Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Ringed Plover and Green Sandpipers were also noted but the wader highlight was undoubtedly the Stone Curlew found on the 12th and seen again the next day. The Ravens made occasional visits and four were noted on the 26th suggesting that they already had two young in tow. A Great Egret headed through on the 20th and eyes to the skies reaped rewards with a male Montagu’s Harrier and Osprey (17th), three Red Kites, female Hen Harrier (29th) and regular Hobbies, Buzzards and Marsh Harrier action. At least three Short-eared Owls made it to May so who knows...
Metropolitan Essex (LHNS recording area)
Red Kites were once again a key feature of the region’s skies with 25 sightings from various areas and things are even looking promising in one location. Migrant passage was fairly normal other than Common Redstart which probably experienced the best ever spring influx into the area from the 3rd with Wanstead Flats recording on nine days including eight on the 9th and four on the 12th, Beckton with a single on the 3rd and 30th and three on the 9th, five days and six birds from Dagenham Chase, four days from Sewardstone, two at Waterworks NR and on the KGV Reservoir and singles in the Ingrebourne Valley, West Thurrock Marshes, Fairlop Waters CP, North Weald giving a unprecedented total of at least 40.
Siberian Chiffchaffs were last seen in the Lee Valley at Waterworks NR (8th) and Walthamstow Marsh (10th) and the Yellow-browed Warbler reappeared in Gidea Park on the 12th while a Brambling lingered around Seventy Acres on the 13th. A male Pied Flycatcher was a great find at Low Hall, Walthamstow on the 19th and a Wood Warbler sang at the nearby reservoirs on the 27th. The latter site did quite well in April with Arctic Tern (15th) two Black Terns and the first area Swifts (16th) and Whinchats on the 18th and 22nd. The drake Scaup lingered till at least the 20th on the KGV and the site also held two Sandwich Terns (2nd), Ring Ouzel (13th), Little Gull (13th) and two Common Scoter (14th) while just north of there, a Black Kite went through Gunpowder Park on the 9th and the first Spotted Flycatcher was at Fishers Green Island on the 29th where six Nightingales had set up territory. Back down the Lee Valley there was a female Black Redstart at Waterworks NR (20th-23rd) and a male was found in the Olympic Park on the 30th. Little Ringed Plovers and Cetti’s Warblers are breeding here now and a Whinchat was seen on the 24th. Other Whinchats were seen at Fairlop Waters CP (23rd and three on 29th) and a Ring Ouzel was seen there on the 8th. Firecrests lingered on Leyton Flats and Dagenham Chase LNR and the latter also notched up three Ring Ouzels (15th-16th), Grasshopper Warbler (from 27th) and an Osprey (27th). Three more Grasshopper Warblers were in the Ingrebourne Valley with two Red-crested Pochards also there on the 30th. Ouzels were also seen on Wanstead Flats on the 11th and 26th with a Whinchat on the 30th and an early Osprey on the 3rd. Back down on the Thames other Ospreys were seen over Gallions Reach (11th and 30th) with a Great Egret there the day before, Goshawk (13th) and a Roseate Tern with 50 Arctic Terns on the 24th.