A surprise visitor

A trip to the London Wetland Centre last week to search for the first winter visitors to the city. My first stop was Dulverton Hide on the main lake was immediately rewarded with a sighting of a Bittern in the reeds on the far side. This was the same area where Keith and I saw one last winter. I wonder if it is the same bird?

The hide was packed with birders and photographers such that you couldn’t sit down, so I decided to move on to the next hide. From here I could see the usual residents but a drake Pintail on a distant island was a welcome sighting. They always look so elegant.

Pintail (middle bird)

Moving onto the Peacock Tower hide, there was an obvious sense of excitement in the hide. A Dartford Warbler had been found on the vegetation in the scrape area. It had first been seen 4 days ago but not since and had been presumed to have moved on. But it is a very skulking bird and can easily hide in the vegetation. For about 10 minutes it briefly perched on a bush and then would fly to another bush. Then it disappeared back into the dense vegetation and was not seen again in the time I remained in the hide. This species of heathlands is not usually seen in London, but there have been a number of records over the previous week suggesting there had been a movement of birds from the heaths further south. Someone said this was the first record for the centre.

Dartford Warbler (photo by James West [https://www.flickr.com/photos/ejwwest/])

I was glad I had not spent more time watching the Bittern as I would have missed seeing the Dartford Warbler.

The Eurasian Teal were particularly attractive in the sunlight and there were good numbers of Grey Heron along with the first returning Wigeon and a Common Gull. all signs that we are moving into winter.

A good couple of hours with the highlight being the unexpected visitor, the Dartford Warbler.


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