Birding London

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Birding London trip report, 31 July

Staines Reservoirs and Stanwell Moor, Surrey; Magna Carta Lane, Wraysbury, Berkshire; Stocker's Farm meadow and Stocker's Lake, Courser's Road, Tyttenhanger Gravel Pits and Hilfield Park Reservoir, Hertfordshire with Ben Martin – led by Gary Elton, aided by Paul Davies


Gary and Paul met Ben from his flight arriving at Terminal 3, Heathrow Airport at 8.20am, then headed for our first stop at nearby Staines Reservoirs. The weather started cloudy but became brighter through the day and warmed up considerably. The birds, especially woodland species, were very quiet and inactive at this post-breeding/moulting time and this, coupled with heavy foliage on the trees, meant that the 'small brown jobs' were more difficult to see. We returned Ben to Heathrow to catch his onward flight at about 6.00pm.

66 species were seen or heard during the trip.

Species list

Little Grebe – One was seen on a small pond at Stanwell Moor, with further birds seen at Hilfield Park Reservoir.

Great Crested Grebe – Seen at Staines Reservoirs, Stocker's Lake and Hilfield Park Reservoir.

Great Cormorant – Initially seen on the tern rafts at Staines Reservoirs, further birds were seen at Stocker's Lake and Hilfield Park Reservoir.

Grey Heron – Several birds were seen around the banks at Staines Reservoirs with further birds encountered one other wetland site.

Mute Swan – Family groups were seen at Staines Reservoirs, Stocker's lake and Hilfield Park Reservoir.

Black Swan – One at Stocker's Lake was an escapee from a local collection. Not a tick!

Greylag Goose – A group of 10 birds were with the Canada Geese at Stocker's Farm meadow.

Canada Goose – A flock of c40 birds were at Stocker's Farm meadow.

Barnacle Goose – A lone bird was with the geese at Stocker's meadow.

Gadwall – Three were noted at Hilfield Park Reservoir.

Mallard — Present at all water bodies.

Northern Shoveler – Three were seen in the distance at Staines Reservoirs but their distinctive bills were easily noted.

Common Pochard – Initially seen at Staines Reservoirs, more birds were noted at Stocker's Lake and Hilfield Park Reservoir.

Tufted Duck – Noted at Staines and Hilfield Park Reservoirs.

Ruddy Duck – A long way to come to see a North American duck. It is on the British List although, as it now seen as a threat to the gene pool of the White-headed Duck of mainland Europe, its days may be numbered. Small numbers were seen at Staines and Hilfield Park Reservoirs.

Common Kestrel – First seen on the pylons at Staines Reservoirs, further birds were seen at Stanwell Moor and Stocker's Farm (3).

Eurasian Hobby – A bird appeared briefly at Stanwell Moor, upsetting the House Martins.

Common Pheasant – The last bird to be added to the day list, a skulking female at Hilfield Park Reservoir.

Common Moorhen – Noted at Stanwell Moor, Stocker's farm and Hilfield Park Reservoir.

Eurasian Coot – Common at all water bodies.

Little Ringed Plover – Three juveniles were at Stocker's Farm meadow.

Ringed Plover – A single bird was on the old causeway at Tyttenhanger Gravel Pits.

Northern Lapwing – Seen at Staines Reservoirs, Stanwell Moor, Stocker's Farm meadow and Tyttenhanger Gravel Pits – an impressive species and always a favourite.

Ruff – A single bird on the back pit at Tyttenhanger Gravel Pits was a good find.

Common Redshank – Four were seen together at Stanwell Moor.

Green Sandpiper – Four were with the Ruff at Tyttenhanger Gravel Pits.

Wood Sandpiper – Three at Stanwell Moor were an unexpected find.

Black-headed Gull – Initially seen at Staines Reservoirs, more were noted throughout the day.

Common (Mew) Gull – One was amongst the Black-headed Gulls at Tyttenhanger Gravel Pits. This is a potential future split from the North American Mew Gull.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – Noted at Staines and Hilfield Park Reservoirs.

Herring Gull – Three were seen at Staines Reservoirs.

Common Tern – Although primarily a seabird, this species now breeds inland on purpose-built rafts, enabling us to add it to the list at Staines Reservoirs, Stocker's Lake and meadow and Hilfield Park Reservoir.

Feral Pigeon – Seen in flight at most sites.

Stock Dove – Good views were had of several birds at Stanwell Moor.

Woodpigeon – Common at all sites.

Eurasian Collared Dove – Seen well around the houses on the outskirts of Stanwell Moor.

Eurasian Kingfisher – One seen by Gary as it flew low from one of the small ponds at Stanwell Moor.

Green Woodpecker – Good views of a bird on Stanwell Moor, with another seen at Hilfield Park Reservoir feeding around the base of the dam.

Great Spotted Woodpecker – A male was seen well at Stocker's Lake.

Sand Martin (Bank Swallow) – Noted at Tyttenhanger Gravel Pits where small numbers breed in holes in the sandy banks of the pits.

Barn Swallow – Noted flying over throughout the day.

House Martin – Birds were seen at Staines Reservoirs with better views at Stanwell Moor.

Yellow Wagtail – We had good views of several juvenile birds at Courser's Road.

Pied Wagtail – Seen well at Staines Reservoirs, Stocker's Farm and Hilfield Park Reservoir, with all sightings appearing to be of family parties. This subspecies may be split from the White Wagtail of mainland Europe and Asia in the future.

Eurasian Wren – Heard more often than seen, although good views were obtained of one on Stanwell Moor.

Dunnock – Heard on numerous occasions, especially at Stanwell Moor, but the heavy undergrowth meant no conclusive views were had.

European Robin – Several were seen at Stanwell Moor including birds moulting from juvenile plumage and gaining their red breasts.

Common Blackbird – Seen at Stanwell Moor and Stocker's Lake.

Song Thrush – A brief views were had of flying birds at Stanwell Moor and Stocker's Lake, finally followed by good views of a perched bird singing at Tyttenhanger Gravel Pits.

Reed Warbler – Brief views of a single bird as it moved around the finges of the reed bed at Hilfield Park Reservoir.

Common Whitethroat – Several juvenile birds were seen well at Stanwell Moor.

Blackcap – A male at Stocker's Lake was the only bird seen well.

Chiffchaff – Several were located at Stanwell Moor, calling along the edge of the path.

Blue Tit – Several birds were seen at Stanwell Moor.

Great Tit – Many were noted during the day.

Eurasian Jay – A calling bird at Hilfield Park Reservoir was unfortunately not seen.

Common Magpie – Seen throughout the day. Now split from the Black-billed Magpie of North America (see 45th supplement of the AOU).

Rook – A single bird was located at Courser's Road, with more noted in fields adjacent to the M25.

Carrion Crow – Seen at every site.

Common Starling – Seen at all sites.

House Sparrow – A large group were seen feeding/drinking at the stream edge at Stanwell Moor.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow – At least 20 were seen well at Courser's Road.

Common Chaffinch – Most sightings involved juvenile birds, though a male was noted at Stanwell Moor.

European Greenfinch – Around 20 were noted with the Tree Sparrows at Courser's Road. Several others were seen at Stocker's Lake.

European Goldfinch – Good views of adults and juveniles at Stanwell Moor.

Common Linnet – Noted along the causeway at Staines Reservoirs and at Stanwell Moor. Both sightings included bright red-breasted males.

Reed Bunting – A male perched on a bush at Hilfield Park Reservoir gave good views.