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Walton-on-Thames Barn Elms WWT River Lee Country Park

30 January - 1 February 2004

Observers: Alistair Simpson & F. Simpson

Highlights: Ring-necked Parakeet roost (2500+), Corn Bunting, Smew, Bittern, Brambling, Water Rail and Kingfisher.


Friday 30 January 2004
River Ember & Esher Rugby Club, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey
Overcast, damp & mild (after snow and freezing weather).

Took a Woking train from Waterloo Station and alighted at Hersham (TQ 122654). Arrived early afternoon and walked 600m north along Molesy Road to Esher Rugby Club. The high Poplar trees were visible from a fair distance but no Parakeets were present in the trees or surrounding area.

Woodland, river and fields around (TQ 130657)

Wood Pigeon (5+), Goldfinch (3), Starling (10+), Magpie, Lapwing (6), Gadwall (2), Little Grebe (1), Pochard (4), Teal (2), Grey Heron (3), Black-headed Gull (10+), Blue Tit, Herring Gull (5), Canada Goose (10), Greylag Goose (2), Meadow Pipit (1), Goldcrest (1), Treecreeper (1), Siskin (44), Great Spotted Woodpecker (m), Kingfisher (1).

Rest of the footpath and marsh at (TQ 130667)
Mute Swan (2), Wren (2), Robin (5), Blue Tit (10), Mallard (15), Moorhen (2), Long-tailed Tit (12), Goldfinch (4), Snipe (6), Goosander (2), Fieldfare (four flocks of three, 120+, c100 and 90+), Common Gull (2), Redwing (three flocks of c30, c100 and 55+), Corn Bunting (c20), Tufted Duck (2), Mistle Thrush (pr), House Sparrow (6), Blackbird (8+), Magpie (6), Carrion Crow (48), Chaffinch (3), Great Tit (3), Grey Heron (1), Green Woodpecker (2), Cormorant (4), Lapwing (167), Black-headed Gull (74), Pied Wagtail, Redshank (4), Jackdaw (3), Pheasant (1), Lesser Black-backed Gull (1), Dunnock (4), Collared Dove.

Molesey Road & Esher Rugby Club grounds (TQ 122659)
1610h: First Ring-necked Parakeets of the day seen with three groups of two, five and three.
1630h: Small pre-roost gatherings forming with flocks of 15 to 30 birds flying around the housing estate. More birds arriving and converging with the earlier arrivals.
1640h: Hundreds began arriving from the north and north-east along the east bank of Queen Elizabeth 2 storage reservoir. These birds were congregating in trees along the road into Rydens at TQ 122663.
1700h: All these birds had flown the short distance in several large and noisy flocks to the 30 or so tall poplar trees in the rugby club grounds. Difficult to count but estimated to be between 2500 and 3000 birds.

Ring-necked Parakeets (Psittacula krameri) Ring-necked Parakeets (Psittacula krameri)


Saturday 31 January 2004
The Wetlands Centre, Barn Elms WWT
Cloudy, showers, mild & strong westerly winds.

Greenfinch over Sunningfields Road (TQ 230898). Goldcrest and Coal Tit at Hendon Central underground station (TQ 230887).

Quite low numbers of wildfowl for this time of year, Gadwall in particular were scarce.
Main Observatory:
Little Grebe (1), Ruddy Duck (8 imms/ff), Pintail (3), Tufted Duck (39), Mute Swan (1), Lapwing (33), Starling (10+), Pied Wagtail (2), Mallard (20+), Teal (9), Coot (10+), Moorhen (10+), Black-headed Gull (10+), Carrion Crow (6), Cormorant (7), Pochard (2), Shoveler (4), Common Gull (3), Herring Gull (4), Feral Pigeon (o/h), Canada Goose (15), Lesser Black-backed Gull (1), Stock Dove (3).

Headley Hide:
As above, plus Great-Crested Grebe (coming into breeding plumage), Meadow Pipit (1), Sparrowhawk (female shot past), Snipe (4), Gadwall (4), Ruddy Duck (m), Ring-necked Parakeet (2+4+4+2 overhead), Wood Pigeon (2), and Stock Dove (3).

Wildside Hide:
Ruddy Duck (26), Little Grebe (1), Shoveler (12), Grey Heron (2), Water Rail (3), Fieldfare (2), Mute Swan (1), Long-tailed Tit (3), Ring-necked Parakeet (5 o/h), Reed Bunting (1), Greenfinch (o/h), Wren (1). Over on the grazing marsh: Shoveler (50+), Moorhen (c40), Coot (60+), and Lapwing (50+).

Wader Scrape Hide:
Shelduck (1), Shoveler (9), Lesser Black-backed Gull (1), Tufted Duck (5), Black-headed Gull (100+), Wood Pigeon (29), Ring-necked Parakeet (7 o/h), Lapwing (3), Cormorant (24), Canada Goose (17 increasing to 72 as birds arrived to roost).

Peacock Tower:
Wigeon (15) on the grazing marsh along with Gadwall (4), Grey Heron (3), Pied Wagtail (1), Pochard (1), Greylag x Canada Goose hybrid (2). Group of (25) Shoveler on the main lagoon. Canada Goose (100+) on nearby playing fields. Two Robins singing near the entrance.

Gadwall (Anas strepera) Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)


Sunday 1 February 2004
Fishers Green, River Lee Country Park, Essex
Blue sky > partly cloudy, mild, strong W wind, cooler later & heavy rain at dusk.

Sunny Gardens Road (TQ 231897)
Dunnock (2 singing mm), Song Thrush (singing m), Mistle Thrush (1), Robin (2 singing mm), Blackbird, Magpie (2), Blue Tit (singing m) and Great Tit (singing m). Hendon Park (TQ 233887): Grey Heron at the ornamental fish pond, Fieldfare (2 o/h), and Blackbird.

Cheshunt Lake (TL 368027)
Pochard (19+), Grey Wagtail (o/h), Mute Swan (pr), Gadwall (2), Goldeneye (pr), Goldcrest, Collared Dove (4) and Treecreeper.

North Met Pit (TL 368031)
Black-headed Gull (100+), Canada Goose, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Goldeneye (4), Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Cormorant and Grey Heron. Usual congregation of tamer birds at the south-west corner.

Seventy Acres Lake (TL 373028)
Two groups of Smew (2mm/2ff + 5mm/5ff) joined up near the Long-eared Owl roost islands. Some of the males were displaying, kicking their heads back. Another male nearby heading towards the Bittern Hide. A bizarre sight was a pair of Great Crested Grebes with two chicks approximately three weeks old. Another grebe nearby appeared to be incubating. Great Spotted Woodpecker calling. Group of three Moorhens displaying. Territorial behaviour also noted between Coots. Lapwing (20) in flight over the lake and two on one of the flattened islands being converted to reedbed. Shoveler, Pochard, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Gull, Cormorant, and Grey Heron.

Bittern Watchpoint (TL 375031)
A single Bittern appeared at the near edge of the reedbed after about 20 minutes. It didn't venture out any further but it could be seen fishing in the flooded reeds. Little Grebe (3) and Reed Bunting (1).

Hayes Hill Farm (TL 383033)
Jay (3), Kestrel (o/h), Redwing (c70), Fieldfare (c45), Song Thrush (2), House Sparrow (c25).

Hide looking out to Holyfield Hill Farm (TL 382034)
Brambling (2mm + 1f) in hedgerow either side of the hide, occasionally flying down to a seed hopper situated on the ground at the edge of the field.  Stock Dove (65) feeding in a stubble field with (200+) Wood Pigeons, Rook (20+), Long-tailed Tit (2), Wren (1), Robin (2), Carrion Crow (200+), Moorhen (4), Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Dunnock (4) and Magpie (c30).

Holyfield Goosefield from the Crannum Hide (TL 379039)
Barnacle Goose (5) of unknown origin, unringed and behaved like wild birds - probably feral though. Wigeon (55), Fieldfare (51), Jay calling, Pied Wagtail (4), Canada Goose (57), Greylag Goose (1), Gadwall (c15), Shoveler (c10), Teal (c40), Linnet (2 o/h), Reed Bunting (3) in hedgerow nearby, Shelduck (3) flew in, Yellowhammer (1), and Meadow Pipit (1).

Grand Weir Hide (TL 377042)
Great Crested Grebe (3 pairs visible), Goldeneye (2), Cormorant (14), and Black-headed Gull (70+).

Bittern Hide, 1610h:
Water Rail showing in the pool below the hide. Great Crested Grebe caught a small Perch in the same pool. Reed Bunting (2) and Long-tailed Tit. Kingfisher along the Horsemill Stream at Seventy Acres Lake just before dusk.

Bittern (Botaurus stellaris) Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)


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