Posts Tagged ‘Staines Reservoir’

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)

Off this morning to Staines Reservoir in West London

Staines Reservoir looking north to Heathrow Airport

Staines Reservoir looking north to Heathrow Airport


This seems to have been a magnet for wintering species this past week with a number of rare wintering species for London turning up. Staines reservoir is actually two large reservoirs separated by a causeway which runs between them. On arrival I am quickly put onto the Great Northern Diver a long way out on the northern basin and although over the course of the morning it was to come closer to the causeway it was never close enough to photograph unlike the one seen here in Feb 2013 which was very close to us.
Great Northern Diver (Staines Feb 2013)

Great Northern Diver (Staines Feb 2013)

Further along the causeway I stop to chat to another birdwatcher and we look for a male Red-Breasted Merganser that was seen earlier this morning. After 10 minutes of searching we locate it and are able to put others onto it using Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport as a usual location marker for its position on the water.

Red-Breasted Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser (male)
Photo by Steven Severinghaus (https://www.flickr.com/photos/horsepunchkid/)

At the western end of the causeway there are 2 Black-Necked Grebes which are present with 2 Little Grebes allowing a nice comparison of these 2 small Grebe species, but alas no good photographs could be got of them.

Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) ♀
Black-necked Grebe in winter plumage
Photo by Ian White (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ian_white/)

Apart from these star species there are a selection of winter ducks together with Coot and a number of Pied Wagtails.

Coot

Coot

Pied wagtail

Pied wagtail

Wigeon

Wigeon

Goldeneye

Goldeneye

A great mornings birdwatching with some good, if distant views of three rare wintering species for London.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Goldeneye [sp] (Bucephala clangula)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Great Northern Loon (Gavia immer)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Black-necked Grebe [sp] (Podiceps nigricollis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)