Naturelog: Tuesday 17th February

Posted: February 18, 2015 in Birds, London, Natural History, UK
Tags: , , , , ,

This morning saw Keith and I on our way to Staines Reservoir on the western edge of London. The reservoir, a large body of water divided by a central causeway, lies adjacent to Heathrow Airport. Our targets were wintering Great Northern Diver and Black-necked Grebes for which this is the only regular site in the London area.

Staines Reservoir (North)

Staines Reservoir (North)

Arriving at the eastern end of the causeway we begin to scan the large expanse of water and soon begin to get the common species. We have good views of Goldeneye and Wigeon which seem to be present in good numbers.

Goldeneye

Goldeneye

Wigeon and Coot on side of Reservoir

Wigeon and Coot on side of Reservoir


From about half-way along the causeway Keith locates the diver on the western shore-line moving towards the causeway. Hopefully by the time we get to the western end it will have come closer to us. Our attempts at finding the Black-necked Grebe are fruitless and after a while we can no longer locate the diver either. Some other birders say they may have seen it fly off, perhaps disturbed by the workmen on the reservoir edge.

We make it to the western end of the causeway and scan the Little Grebes which tend to congregate here in case a Black-necked is amongst them but with no luck. We decide that rather than returning back across the causeway we will take a walk around the adjacent King George VI reservoir to an area known as Staines Moor. Although you can not enter the reservoir area a footpath runs around the base of the bank giving access to the land which lies between the reservoir and the M25 London orbital motorway.

Staines Moor

Staines Moor

As we approach the northern end of the Reservoirs, I see a bird of prey circling above the road. Imagining it to be a Common Buzzard, I am surprised when I get my binoculars on it and find it is in fact a Red Kite (A London first sighting for me). Keith is quicker off the mark with the camera and manages to get a shot of it before it drifts off out of sight over the reservoir edge.

Red Kite

Red Kite

Our walk around the north and down the west-side of the reservoir adds a number of woodland and grassland species including Redwing, Song Thrush, Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tit.

Staines Moor

Staines Moor

We turn to retrace our steps back to Staines Reservoir and one last look as we re-cross the causeway to make our way home. Keith quickly re-locates the diver, now in the middle of the reservoir and giving much closer views (although still too far for photographs). We continue to observe it from a number of points as we cross.

Great Northern Diver (taken at Staines 2012)

Great Northern Diver (taken at Staines 2012)

Just before we reach the eastern end, Keith finds 2 Black-necked Grebes mid-way between the causeway and the southern edge of the reservoir and we watch them for a while.

Zampullin cuellinegro - Podiceps nigricollis - Black-necked Grebe - Cabussó coll-negre
Black-necked Grebe in winter plumage
Photo by Ferran Pestana (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ferranp/)

Then it is time to head back to Stanwall to begin our journey home.

Once again an excellent days birdwatching!

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Goldeneye [sp] (Bucephala clangula)
Great Northern Loon (Gavia immer)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Black-necked Grebe [sp] (Podiceps nigricollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Goldcrest [sp] (Regulus regulus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Redwing [sp] (Turdus iliacus)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Eurasian Rock Pipit [sp] (Anthus petrosus)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

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