Monday, August 29, 2011

female/immature/Back from BirdFair

It's that time of year again when half the reports of Redstarts on the news services are of 'female/immature' birds; the implication being they could be an adult female, a first-winter female, or a first-winter male. That would mean first-winter males look like females.
Here's a first-winter female:

And here's a first-winter male:

If it looks like a female, it is a female; if it looks like a male, it's a male (but not necessarily an adult male).

Pied Flycatchers also often get reported as 'female/immature' but there lies another problem. Unlike Redstarts, where males look like males, autumn male Pied Flycatchers are brown. So, unless you're checking the uppertail covert colour and the tertial patterning, that 'female/immature' you're watching could equally as likely be an adult male. But anyway.

A few nice moult limits were on show this weekend:
Here, a 1cy Lesser Whitethroat with one retained juvenile greater covert.
Showing off its diiiiirty outer tail feathers.

And here, a Cetti's Warbler with two retained juvenile greater coverts:

Also some top-level predators:

White-throated Hawk.

Sightings included two Little Stints:

A Black Tern:

And some other stuff.

Last weekend it was the Great British Birdwatching Trade Fair in beautiful but mobile-signal-deficient Rutlandshire. As usual, great to catch up with a host of people; not so great to catch up with the annual pests who appear each year and are impossible to get rid of. [Undoubtably others are saying the same about me when my cheeky grinning face appears around the marquee doors.]

I went for a dawn wander on the Friday; all very pleasant, with a Raven being the best bird seen, though I was regretting it slightly by 17:00.

Look! It's 'im off of telly!

And best of all, my OSME wrist-band that I won playing pin-the-bird-on-the-map-of-the-Middle-East.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Back to Barnes

Another few hours at the Wetland Centre this morning.

The number of Green Sandpipers had doubled since yesterday with six juveniles now on the wader scrape.

Other notables included 5+ Swifts, an adult Common Tern, 5 Stock Doves, a Kestrel and two Sparrowhawks. Also Brown Hawkers, (Migrant?) Hawkers, Common Darters and Blue-tailed Damsels around the pools.

A 1cy male Cetti's Warbler was calling and occasionally attempting to sing next to Headley Hide. Here's a recording I made with my phone:

Background: Moorhen, Tufted Duck, Mallard ducklings, Heathrow flightpath. Or should that say foreground?

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I survived. More than can be said for some of the shop windows and doors below my flat, though thankfully it seems the mob had ran out of lighter fluid by the time they got to Ealing Common and my flat escaped a chargrilling. Anyway, I spent most of late morning/early afternoon today at London Wetland Centre. Shockingly, there were waders on the wader scrape. Three juvenile Green Sandpipers to be precise. Here are two of them:

The only other birds on site of any note were this pair of 'Gyptian Geese. No doubt from the central London not-quite-feral population but relatively exciting to see all the same.

Eclipse drake Red-crested Pochard:

Pretty, even if it is from wrong side of the fence.

Also, apologies to the young lad I ended up stalking. Stalking in that you go into a supermarket at the same time and end up bumping into each other in every aisle sort of way...

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

When in a sticky situation, blog.

It's 02:45 on Tuesday morning. I've got to be up and in work in a few hours but I'm not really in the mood for sleeping. Oh, wait, I'm in the office already; there's a stroke of luck!
From what I can gather, some bad shit happened in north London on Saturday evening. That's OK; north London is miles from here. Then last night bad shit started happening in other areas of London; but again not to worry—I think it's fair enough of me to say that most of what was going on was confined to areas of 'lower economic income' and none too close to here. Way out west, there'd been no sign of the troubles that were going on further into the city. Until this evening, that was. Within half an hour of getting home from work, 25 or so police cars had gone speeding past the road outside my flat. All heading into the city, though, so nothing to indicate that I should be worried about anything there. As the night wore on, the sound of distant sirens filled the air (like literally; I'm not trying to be poetic). In the far distance to the northeast(ish) I could see what looked like a smoky orange glow: presumably one of the fires that's been on the news. Again though, it was all a safe distance away from Ealing.
Then there were reports of looting in Birmingham and then, disappointingly, Liverpool. Then I could smell smoke. And I could hear sirens that were closer than before. Then I heard that looting had sprung up at Ealing Broadway; that Ealing shopping centre was on fire (hence the smell of smoke); and that police were attempting to lock-down the immediate area. At this point it's worth me telling you that Ealing Broadway is about 800 m to the west of my flat, just along the main road. And my flat is on the third floor above a row of shops. I bottled it and bailed.
I grabbed a few essentials and headed for my car; as I drove out at about midnight, there were a suspicious number of people starting to gather around Ealing Common station and several gangs of lads on bikes. Other members of the BirdGuides team were fast asleep so I headed to the office for a night on the sofa there. A gated entrance to the courtyard and metal roller-shutters outside are making me feel a little bit safer here.
I felt a bit of wimp leaving my flat; a sever over-reaction, surly? Perhaps not. I had a feeling that, as people where being pushed out of Ealing Broadway, they'd head east and west along the Uxbridge Road... and from what I've read online that's what appears to have happened. And it doesn't sound pretty.

It looks like a war zone - I have never seen anything like it in all my life – Christian Potts, Ealing resident

So, there ya go. Don't ever say I don't blog about anything topical!

And finally. Have you seen anyone this evening shouting anything, waving any sort of banner, demanding any sort of reform in the government? No. Protesting to voice one's concerns? Yes, sure, go for it. We know that, regrettably, that occasionally gets a bit over-emotional; it has a purpose, though. But looting for the sake of looting; burning down buildings for the sake of burning them down; pulling people out of their cars to then set the car on fire? No. No, no, no. Bunch of w*nkers.

Monday, August 08, 2011


Yesterday's trip to Dungeness was largely Bombus-focused, though I did sneak a scope into the car and consequently notched up a not-too-terrible list of waders on ARC pit; more species than the last time I was here though considerably fewer long yellow legs on show among them this time around. Two Black-tailed Godwit, a Common Sandpiper, two Dunlin, good numbers of Golden Plovers, a Common Ringed Plover and several Little Ringed Plovers were spread out amongst the Lapwing.

This beasty was in the car park:

Bombus rupestris

And a couple of species of rare carder bee were also seen on a tour guided by the extremely knowledgable Nikki Gammans.

A couple of Turnstones were on the beach by the fishing boats but no sign of the immature Glaucous Gull in a quick look.

TomTom took us back home along the 'scenic route' allowing ample opportunity for a bit of east/central London sightseeing. Notable sights seen included a public toilet with a turnstile entry system to allow only those who had paid their 50p(!) entry fee entry, and a squad of police tanks on their way to north* London.


Welcome to the Blackwall Tunnel.


...And associated 'light railway'.

Tacky sign.

And fresh** fish for supper.

Now I can brush my hair in the morning.

*North London was correct at the time. I guess 'on their way to London' would be more applicable after last night and this afternoon.

**Fresh in the sense that it was recently caught. Not so fresh in that it had spent all afternoon wrapped in newspaper in the back of the car. Now there's a story I'm sure I've heard before...

Saturday, August 06, 2011

London Wetland Centre

A couple of hours at London Wetland Centre this afternoon—quiet (as always?). Half a dozen Swifts passed overhead, flying rather purposefully to the west; all of the Common Terns seems to have buggered off. A couple of Kingfishers, Stock Doves, Great Crested Grebes, Shovelers, a tit flock avec accompanying Chiffchaffs and a juvenile Reed Warbler, and a washed-out Black-headed Gull were the most exciting things on show.

And plenty of these:

Monday, August 01, 2011

A fine example...

...of a 2cy Goldfinch.

It's started primary moult, which means it now has three generations of wing-feathers on display. I've rather crudely coloured in the different feather generations.
green = juv
blue = post-juv
and red = 'first adult', currently restricted to the innermost two primaries and primary covert

N.B. I *think* I'm right with the tertials, not that you can see either way in the picture; I did catch a lovely 2cy bird yesterday with really obvious moult post-juv moult in the tertials (T8 moulted, T7 & 9 old)... but I didn't bother taking any picture of that one.

P.S. Clever OS Lion has a smart spellcheck/autocorrect, except it's a bit too smart; it keeps correcting 2cy (and 3cy and 4cy for that matter) to icy... so if I start blabbering on about icy birds, you know why!