Tuesday, 30 December 2008

30 December 2008

I decided to make a detour by the Thames after running some errands. It was eerily quiet on the way there, apart from some whistling starlings. The tide was about half way, and the water almost like a mirror.

I saw:
  • gadwall: 6, including a male chasing a female
  • cormorant: 11
  • mallard: 40
  • parakeet: 2
  • great black-backed gull: 1 adult, 1 first winter
  • black-headed gull: at least 200
  • common gull: 2 adults
  • herring gull: 2 adults 'flirting'
  • shelduck: 1 swimming against the tide, only the second time I see one here
  • Canada goose: 2 (1 had a metal ring but I could only read half of it)
  • sparrows tweeting in their bush
  • lesser black-backed gull: 2 adults
  • pied wagtail: 1 juvenile, then an adult and juvernile
  • moorhen: 2, an adult and a young, swimming against the current and totally losing!

More photos in the Thames Path album (bottom of page and following).

Friday, 26 December 2008

26 December 2008

Usually, I spend Christmas in Normandy, and it is the tradition that, with my parents, we go to the beach (one of the D-Day landing ones) on the 26th, come rain and/or wind. As I am spending it in London this year, I decided to have a walk by the Thames as a sea-shore replacement, not quite the same but it would have to do! It was a lovely day for it, with clear blue sky.
Both peregrines arrived as I was passing by but I left them to whatever they were doing this time. However, as I was in Frank Banfield Park looking at a small flock of goldfinches and chaffinches, I noticed a group of black-headed gulls headed towards central London. A few minutes later I spotted this group or another one flying real fast, I don't think I've seen some flying so fast before (though to be fair they were with the wind), they were followed by a peregrine :) It quickly gave up though and went back to its mate.
Tide was coming in, but still quite low, so numbers were pretty good for some.

  • black-heade gull: 131 by Hammersmith Bridge, then at least 175
  • lesser black-backed gull: 3 adults
  • great black-backed gull: 2 adults
  • herring gull: 1 adult and some younger ones
  • common gull: 2
  • mallard: 74
  • a pigeon collecting twigs on a the shore
  • cormorant: 4
  • some starlings
  • teal: 49
  • tufted duck: 8
  • gadwall: 2
  • pied wagtail: 1 juvenile
  • moorhen
  • sparrows: heard in their usual bush
This black-headed gull still or already has an almost black head, when all the others still 'have their headphones on':
It was sunny, nicely lighting up this teal. Notice also how clear the water is:
More photos in my Thames Path album (bottom of page and following one)

Sunday, 21 December 2008

21 December 2008

On this grey and breezy day, I went to the Thames. On the way there I saw 3 black-headed gulls having a go at crows above the Thames Water buildings near Frank Banfield Park, where 3 magpies were very agitated. Sparrows were in their 'new' usual bush on the edge of the Park, and 1 in a private hedge on Distillery Road. On the same road, I spotted a flock of chaffinches, goldfinches, blue and great tits, with a goldcrest nearby.
Tide was high and I saw at least:
  • mallard: 88 (24+11+53)
  • tufted duck: 4
  • no teal
  • black-headed gull: 100+
  • common gull: 4
  • herring gull: 1 adult (its head white)
  • pied wagtail: 4 (1 stopped by Hammersmith Bridge, another flew by and the first one left, then an adult and juvenile dropped by)
  • grey wagtail
  • Canada goose: 2
  • moorhen: 2 (1 adult and a young)
  • magpie: 2 on the pontoon (not a common sight...)

Moorhen, black-headed gulls, magpie and cormorants, quite an eclectic mix...

More photos in the Thames Path album.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

13 December 2008

Against my better judgement, I decided to go and check my patch this morning. It was wet and windy, a southerly wind which meant that I would have the wind in my face along the river. It was going to be a test of my new jacket and my old hat.
The female peregrine was eating some prey at the start of my journey, she was still eating at the end, but she had moved somewhere protected from the wind. I don't blame her! She spent most of the afternoon in the same spot, leaving just before the night fell. No sign of the male today.
No sign of the sparrows at Frank Banfield Park, nor of the starlings. 2 goldfinches were in the window feeder and a chaffinch in the nearby tree. A fair few gulls seemed to be enjoying themselves over the park.
When I got to the Thames, the tide was really low, and the wind was making waves. There were a lot of black headed gulls, and they were very helpfully orientated against the wind, I counted 113 by Hammersmith Bridge. Further along, I counted another 60 and then another 67, making it at least 240 of them along that stretch (there were a few more isolated ones). I did not see any common gull, at least one adult lesser black backed and one adult and a young great black backed gulls. There was also a grey gull with what appeared to be little markings on its head; unfortunately, the Environment Agency have closed the corresponding part of the path (for ground investigations) so I could not get any closer (and by then I had enough of the rain in my face and my bins...)
Duck wise, there were a few mallards (13), 53 teal (3+24+26), 6 tufted ducks and 3 gadwalls. Few cormorants. A dunnock was singing softly in a bush, and a flock of about 20 chaffinches flew by, near the 'wasteland'. And a few flocks of starlings were going on and off the shore.
My jacket passed the test, I stayed dry and warm. Unfortunately, my hat didn't, it now leaks at the rim, my forehead got wet and cold :(

Friday, 12 December 2008

12 December 2008

On this cold morning, I spotted the two 'lovebirds' and, hoping to finally catch them in flirting action, I quickly got dressed, picked my bins and camera. But when I got there, she was more interested in her breakfast, by the look of the feathers that you can just spot on the photos below a pigeon. I watched them for 30 to 45 minutes but nothing else happened. As I am typing this, many hours later, she is sitting down, probably still digesting it, and he is long gone...