Posts Tagged ‘Tarn’

My weekly wildlife walk takes me across the grounds of the estate where I live to the Tarn, a local park around a small lake. I am very fortunate to live on an estate with really nice grounds adjacent to a golf course and a park and so we see lots of wildlife.

After leaving the estate a short stretch of road leads to the entrance to the Tarn, descending from street level past the old ice well of Eltham House (now the clubhouse of the golf course).

I do this walk once a week and record all the wildlife I can see and hear. The results are then reported back to a number of different schemes set up to monitor the wildlife in the UK.

This week it is rather quiet. The Canada and Greylag Geese flocks are absent, they use a number of different sites in the area. There are good numbers of Mallard, Coot and Moorhens, so they have had good breeding seasons. The resident pair of Egyptian Geese still have 3 young but these are now indistinguishable from their parents. No dragonflies were seen, which is surprising as we usually have Common Darter present during August and only one butterfly, a single Speckled Wood was seen on the whole walk. It seems to have been a poor year for butterflies locally.

Birds of the Tarn

Posted: May 19, 2020 in Birds, London, Natural History, UK
Tags:

I am lucky to have the Tarn next to where we live and so it has become my daily exercise route. I visited this morning hoping to find some spring migrants.

There were good numbers of geese present and a sign that spring has arrived was evident by the noise and the ‘fights’ breaking out between pairs as they seek to establish their own plot within the Tarn. Our Canada / Greylag pair is back, which makes the 4 years at least that this hybrid pair have bred together. The pair of Egyptian Geese, always early breeders, already have young – 3 as best I could see without getting too close.

As I reached the far side of the tarn I saw a small bird on one of the nesting rafts. It was a Grey Wagtail, often a winter visitor on the Tarn, although I haven’t seen one here this winter, so maybe a passage migrant. It flew from the raft over to the weir which is often a good place to see them during the winter.

Grey Wagtail

As I climbed up to the road, I saw a Nuthatch trying to get into a nest box. This is the second time I have seen this behaviour. I don’t think they can be after anything inside as their diet consists of insects, nuts and seeds, so maybe they are trying to make the hole big enough for them to get inside to use the box (the holes are usually too small).

Keith was staying with us for the weekend and so on Saturday, we visited some of our local nature reserves.

DSCN0814-13

Our first stop was at Footscray meadows, a mixture of grassland and woodland along the banks of the river Cray.

One of our first sightings was of a Little Egret fishing in the river, but otherwise, it was fairly quiet – at least as far as wildlife was concerned – Saturday is probably not the best time to visit as it is a favourite place for dog-walkers and families.

DSCN0802-4

We made our way up river towards the five-arch bridge, which forms the head of a lake in the river, where Mallard and Tufted Ducks congregate together with Moorhen, Coot, Mute Swans and Egyptian geese. We also saw a Terrapin basking in the sunlight. These now seem to be a permanent resident of many of our lakes in the area, released by pet owners who no longer want them or who can’t house them when full grown. Walking further upstream from the lake, we heard a couple of Cetti’s warblers calling, but there was little evidence of any small bird migration.

 

Terrapin (left), Mute Swan (top right) and Egyptian Goose (lower right) 

Our next stop was Sutcliffe Park LNR. Here it was evident that the vegetation had grown well this summer as the marsh area was completely covered and impossible to see into. The highlight was a Little Grebe on the Lake.

 

Our final stop was my home patch around the Tarn. here we found 2 Little Grebes, probably an adult and a juvenile along with a Grey Heron. Keith heard a Grey Wagtail, which winters here each year, but we could not locate it.

DSCN0823-17

Little Grebes – adult (left and top right) and probable juvenile (lower right)

Grey Heron (left) and Coot (right)

 

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

A bright Sunny day and so a good opportunity to do this week’s invertebrate survey. Finally, there seems to be some movement towards spring and in the garden, I recorded 4 species of Bee including Tree Bumblebee which as far as I can remember I have never seen here before. I also found a single Comma butterfly.

Tree Bumblebee (left) and Comma Butterfly

Around the Tarn, it was much the same picture with the same 4 species of Bumblebee including another Tree Bumblebee but no butterflies to add to the count. I did see a Slider, an American species of Terrapin which has been introduced into our waterways by pet owners who no longer want to look after them.

Red Slider and Common Moorhen

 

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)

White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum)                                                                             Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestis)                                                                                   Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)                                                                                           Honey Bee

 

The snows of the weekend have vanished and it is something like spring weather again! So week 3 of the invertebrate surveys around the Tarn. I was fortunate to find 2 Queen Buff-tailed Bumblebees. They are usually very active at this time as they search for places to make their nests, but one was so busy exploring a potential site that it allowed me to get some photos.

 

I had not seen the Grey Wagtail in the garden recently but I found one by the Tarn

DSCN9134-6

As I approached the eastern end an adult Grey Heron took to flight but I was surprised to find a juvenile fishing near the reed-bed.

Tufted Duck (Top) Greylag Geese (bottom left) and Eurasian Coot (bottom right)

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris)

The second week of the Spring / Summer surveys and the weather is better than last week, so hope springs eternal for some Queen Bees out prospecting for nests. In the far corner of the Garden, I am lucky as a queen White-tailed  Bumblebee flies past and heads out towards the Tarn.

20213617908_9b9b6bc778_z

White-tailed Bumblebee. Photo by Siaron James (https://www.flickr.com/photos/59489479@N08/)

Unfortunately was rather a false dawn as that was the only Bumblebee I would see on the whole walk.

Still, there was plenty of action down at the Tarn where the Geese and Ducks are starting to stake out territories and much squabbling and chasing were evident as they sort out the pecking order for choosing their nesting sites. Another good sighting was a House Sparrow, once the commonest garden bird, but not at all common here in recent years – I can probably count on one hand the number I have seen around the Tarn in 17 years of recording.

 Mallard (top left); Greylag Goose (top right); Moorhen (centre right); Tufted Duck (bottom left) and Coot (bottom right)

 

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Nuthatch [sp] (Sitta europaea)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)

White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum)

Looking at the week’s weather forecast, today seemed the best bet for this week’s natural history survey on my patch. This year I am recording Butterflies, Dragonflies and after a couple of years training and practice Bumblebees. The first couple of weeks are usually blank returns and set a baseline for emergence later in the spring so I wasn’t very optimistic about actually finding anything to record, but I can still watch the birds as I follow my route and after the inactivity forced by the snow last week it was good to get out.

DSCN9016-3

The earliest emerging insects are usually the Queen Bees as they awake from their over-wintering and start to seek out a nest for the coming year. These can be as early as February but given the recent weather, things may have been delayed a few weeks. On my patch, I usually see Butterflies from the end of March and Dragonflies from May so it was really just to record any Queen Bees that might be in flight. Regrettably, but perhaps not surprisingly, none were recorded.

There was some evidence of the oncoming spring, however.

The usual birds were present although the small party of Gadwall which had wintered on the Tarn appear to have moved on, probably when it froze last week. There were good numbers of geese present with 23 Greylags. This winter has seen record numbers for the site as last year was a very successful breeding season for the flock with 16 young raised. It will be interesting to see if they ‘thin out’ when it comes closer to breeding time. Our mixed pairing of a Greylag and a Canada were present as was one of their rather strange looking youngsters.

Mallard (top left), Greylag Geese (top right), Moorhen (centre right) and Coot (bottom)

A Grey Heron flew into the pool by the reedbed and proceeded to look for lunch.

 

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

A bright sunny day and a chance to do the weekly butterfly and dragonfly survey on my home patch. It has been a somewhat slow start to the year with sporadic butterflies and just two records so far of Large Red Damselfly (two weeks ago – which was an early date for this site) and nothing since. As I made my way down to the Tarn I found a female Brimstone and then by the pool a Holly Blue.

Holly Blue

 

Approx 6-8 Large Red Damselflies were on the pool and 2 pairs were busily laying eggs. A single Azure damselfly was also present.

Large Red Damselfly

Azure damselfly

 

 

 

 

 

This was to be the highlight as the remainder of the walk only yielded a single Green-veined White and a second Brimstone.

Green-veined White (1st brood Female)

The nesting season for birds is well underway and today there were young Coots, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese and Mallard around the Tarn.

Coot and young

Greylag Geese and young

Canada Goose and young

Mallard and young

 

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)

Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)

Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)
Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)

 

 

 

Some interesting finds on this week’s recording walk at the Tarn. The bright sunny day had brought out lots of insects.

4 species of Butterfly were seen including the first Blue of the year, a single Holly Blue along with Small White, Orange Tip and Speckled Wood.

Speckled Wood

A couple of other interesting finds were a number of Bee-flys (Bombylius Major) and a hover-fly which is a Bumblebee mimic (Eristalis Inricarius). Thanks to the Insect facebook community for rapidly confirming ID  on these.

Bee-fly

 

Eristalis Intricarius

Eristalis Intricarius

The usual resident birds were present. The Coot are nesting and one pair of Greylag Geese already has 5 goslings. One visitor stopped me to say he had seen 2 Carp in the water at the western end of the Lake, which must be another good sign that water quality is improving and this may be related to a Grey Heron fishing in the shallows at the eastern end, although he is probably after smaller fish.

Coot nesting

Grey Heron fishing

Good specimen of fungi on a fallen tree

 

 

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Common Carder-Bee