Thursday, 15 March 2012

London Wetlands Centre

Back in the eighties one of my favourite birding spots was the the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) centre at Slimbridge. The WWT centre at Barnes in west London is nowhere near the size of Slimbridge but it's an important wetland in the capital.

Greylag geese

There were reasonable numbers of duck, mostly tufted duck but no wild swans and the only geese I saw were greylag goose and canada goose. While sitting in the main hide overlooking a lake I heard the unmistakable song of a Cetti's warbler from the reeds outside. After a 5 minute wait it came into sight and I heard a further two birds during the morning. It's good to see that they are spreading their range from their previous stronghold at Radipole lake RSPB reserve in Weymouth.

Tufted duck

LWT Does not have the meadows and mud flats that Slimbridge has so there were few waders to be seen apart from a couple of northern lapwing and single common snipe and redshank. The trees surrounding the lakes held a few common passerines such as long-tailed tit and a brown rat was foraging beneath one of the feeding stations put out for the birds.


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1 Great crested grebe
10 Cormorant
2 Grey heron
6 Greylag goose
30 Canada goose
50 Mallard
10 Gadwall
30 Shoveler
25 Wigeon
30 Teal
1 Pochard
120 Tufted duck
20 Coot
100 Moorhen
2 Northern lapwing
1 Redshank
1 Common snipe
20 Black-headed gull
10 Lesser black-backed gull
15 Blue tit
3 Great tit
2 Chaffinch
1 Blackbird
10 Jackdaw
30 Carrion crow
30 Feral pigeon
5 Woodpigeon
30 Starling
3 Cetti's warbler
5 Magpie
1 Lomg-tailed tit
2 Robin

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Papercourt Farm, England

The first 'unusual' bird I ever saw on a birding trip was a short-eared owl. I saw one of these majestic birds hunting in the late afternoon gloom in a holiday caravan site on the Severn Estuary near Bristol. One of the larger owl species with a 'facial disc' they are always amazing to watch as they are diurnal and can often offer good day time views.

Papercourt Meadows SSSI is an area of damp meadowland next to the River Wey in Send, Surrey. Over the past winter it has also been home to several short-eared owl with up to five individuals being seen. I arrived about 4 pm and one of the first birds I saw was a short-eared owl hawking busily over the open ground often flopping down to seize prey. In total I saw three individuals although there could have been up to five present.

Along the river bank I had a brief glimpse of a kingfisher as it flashed past.

Also on the meadow were several stonechat, a single sparrowhawk and three common kestrel and as I scanned the meadows for more birds a single buck roe deer raised its head and eyed me nervously.

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6 Mallard
5 Cormorant
1 Ring-necked pheasant
1 Mute swan
2 Black-headed gull
3 Common kestrel
1 Sparrowhawk
3 Short-eared owl
3 European stonechat
25 Feral pigeon
2 Wood pigeon
2 Blackbird
1 Kingfisher
6 Ring-necked parakeet
1 Wren

1 Roe deer
1 Rabbit