Saturday 8 December 2012


Or, for those that still speak proper, “Oh, my goodness! A Red-necked Grebe on the King George V Reservoir!”

The grebe was a pleasant surprise this morning on the first scan across the south basin, initially out towards the middle, but then later on significantly closer in towards the south bank once the sailing club had got themselves mobile. I think it’s only the third I’ve seen in London (after Wraysbury in May 2004, and then Staines in October 2009), and about the 20th in the UK. In the scope, views were superb and although the photos don’t really show it, the bird still has a little bit of colour on the neck. Hopefully this one won’t be troubling the local records committee for long!


This Grey Wagtail was also really smart and confiding, though by the time I reached its favoured shore on the north basin, the light had taken a turn for the worse, and I didn’t quite nail the crisp shot I’d hoped for.


KGV is a funny old place, two enormous concrete sided basins surrounded by industrial estates on one side, a main road on another, and relatively open countryside on the remainder. It’s not watched all that much these days (or, at least, that’s my impression), but has turned up plenty of good birds. Despite the somewhat gritty suburban location, once you’re on there it’s pretty quiet and pleasant, and to be honest I should probably get over there more. Gotta be a chance of something like a Ring-necked Duck or a Lesser Scaup one of these days…


Anyway, just after the wagtail had bombed off ahead of me, I got a call from H at Rainham to let me know about 3 Bewicks Swans that had arrived on Purfleet Scrape. I’d been wondering about somewhere to grab a coffee, so that sounded perfect and off I went. After fighting my way through ridiculous traffic in Woodford, I eventually arrived to find the swans still present, coffee, sandwich and cake available, and Messrs Vaughan, Croft and Harvey loitering for a chat. All good!

I finished up the day down at the west end of the site, where two Short-eared Owls showed rather poorly – though the peace and quiet, and the sunset were more than good enough for me.


Before I sign off, just one more quick photo – the female Long-tailed Duck from Grange Waters at South Ockendon last week. An excellent find by Paul H, and well worth negotiating the commando-style obstacle course I faced to get access… birders laugh in the faces of ploughed fields, watery ditches, barbed wire, hawthorn scrub and trail bikers!



Gavin Haig said...

Nice going David. Your London RNG tally surprised me. Are they getting scarcer? Just checked some old notebooks at random, and seemingly got average of 2 or 3 each winter in the 80s, plus the odd spring migrant. Mostly on the usual Staines/Wraysbury area Res's and GPs, but also Island Barn, Barn Elms, as well as Broadwater and even 2 on Stockers Lake some time in the 90s. I don't have any accurate numbers, but I would hazard a guess at 25-30 in total over about 12 or so years?

Dbradnum said...

I think they probably are getting a bit scarcer in the south east generally, though maybe not as much as my paucity of London records suggests! I don't get round to the west side of town very much at all, so I'm probably missing most that turn up there.

It would be interesting to see if the official record in the LBR suggests a decline. Anyone have all the back issues to hand? If only there was a professor of lists nearby to carry out the research...

Gavin Haig said...

Ooh, ooh! I know someone! :o)