London Wetland Centre – 18/02/2024

Having probably vacated nearby sports fields, a flock of Canada Geese flew across the car park soon after arrival. Four Ring-necked Parakeets then made several raucous flights over mature trees bordering the Wetland Centre. On the lake near the entrance, 14 Tufted Ducks and two Coots were on the water. Two starlings meanwhile were perched in a tree adjacent to the lake.

A pair of parakeets was perched in each of the three silver birch trees in the courtyard. Providing colourful photographic opportunities, they certainly welcomed visitors. 

Checking the main lake from the Observatory revealed the presence of two Oystercatchers on the nearest shingle bar. Some Lapwings, Mute Swans, two Common Gulls and a Grey Heron accompanied Black-headed Gulls.

At Dulverton Hide, a Grey Heron was stood just a few feet from the hide window. Initially two Shelducks and three Gadwalls were seen. Three Egyptian Geese then flew in. Two male Stonechats were seen at distance on an island with a large bramble patch. A Green Sandpiper feeding along the front margins of this island remained in view for quite a while. A female Goldeneye dived frequently close to some distant reeds, the excellent light illuminating the yellow tip to the bill.

Green Sandpiper Tim Hughes(rspb-images.com)

With the discovery of a Bittern, everyone’s attention became concentrated. Creeping slowly along the front of some reeds, the bird turned away from us. Just a rear end remained in view, until it stretched its neck, having stabbed at some unfortunate prey. Good views were enjoyed whilst it kept eyes on passing aircraft bound for Heathrow. Standing side on, partially behind a few stems, this sighting of the day stayed in view for a very long time. Five Common Gulls were counted. Both Herring and Lesser Black- backed Gull were also seen. Two drake Pochards were finally located asleep near the reeds at the Visitor Centre end of the main lake.

From the WWF Hide, four Cormorants, two Grey Herons, two Great Crested Grebes and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls were seen. There was nowhere near the excitement here though that there had been in the previous hide.

The previous night’s heavy rain was responsible for the high water levels on the grazing marsh and wader scrape. From Tower Hide several Teal and Shoveler were observed. A few Wigeon grazed what grass had escaped a covering and Stonechats used the perimeter fencing frequently to perch. 

It was very quiet from Headley Hide so we ended our visit at Wildside. Three Fieldfares and two Redwings were perched in the top of a large oak tree bordering the reserve. Other species seen from this hide had been seen earlier in the day.

There was no Bittern sighting from Reservoir Lagoon, or Water Pipit from the grazing marsh this year. 

A Siskin feeding in alder brought sightings for the day to a close.