Brent Reservoir Birdwalk Report 14 January 2024

Brent Reservoir Birdwalk Report Sunday 14 January 2024 (Webs count day)

On a chilly 3c Sunday morning, eleven RSPB members gathered on the Cool Oak Lane footbridge, West Hendon, NW9, for the regular second Sunday of the month Brent Reservoir Birdwalk. With the north marsh mainly dry, 19 Mute Swans, 24 (of 30 Webs count) Canada Geese and 64 (of 470 Webs count) Black-headed Gulls were now mainly confined to the winding Silk Stream. About 100 Feral Pigeons eagerly awaited feeding, while an adult male (tercel) Peregrine Falcon looked on from its perch atop the closest tower block.

A tercel is Medieval English from Old French based on Latin ‘tertius’ a third. Male Peregrine Falcons are smaller than females, but it may also derive from the belief that the third egg of a clutch produced a male.

Just like the north marsh, most of the main reservoir was now a large expanse of black mud. Essential repairs to the sluice necessitated removing the water. Consequently, most of the birds congregated along the now well-defined Brent River, particularly nearer the western end, which still held open water.

Yesterday’s report of a Mediterranean Gull took us along the north bank towards the dam, as four Redwings flew NW. Passing the heronry we counted five nests each attended by a pair of adult Grey Herons. Checking the Owl Ash Tree (Tagged 35/F) produced a Goldcrest and a very vocal Nuthatch (uncommon at Brent but known to favour this patch of Oak woodland). A calling female Great Spotted Woodpecker was ‘scoped and a Song Thrush sang nearby. Later on, a Sparrowhawk flew overhead.

Further on, a chattering of 19 Magpies, all in one tree, apparently mobbing a Carrion Crow was a notable sight. The collective noun for Magpies is a ‘Tittering’ or ‘Mischief’ also ‘Conventicle’, ‘Gulp’ or ‘Tidings’.

We carefully scrutinised the numerous Black-headed Gulls for signs of the Med Gull, but to no avail. Intermingled were 14 (of 48) Common Gulls, 3 (of 6) Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 4 (of 38) Herring Gulls, plus 2 Great Black-backed Gulls with the 112 roosting Great Cormorants.

In the main river, we counted 25 Great Crested Grebe, 25 (of 45) Gadwall, 16 (of 25) Teal,18 Mallard plus Moorhens and Coots.

From the Main Hide we spied 5 Water Rail (a species usually hard to see when the reservoir is full), 18 Common Snipe and a Little Egret.

A visit to the smaller Heron Hide yielded a Siskin (possibly 2 or 3) and a male Chaffinch in the Alders but very little else. Apart from the quick bursts of song from a typically unseen Cetti’s Warbler.

Species List: Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Gadwall, Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Water Rail, Common Moorhen, Eurasian / Common Coot, Common Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, European Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Cormorant, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Peregrine Falcon, Feral / Rock Dove, Common Wood Pigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Ring-necked Parakeet, Eurasian Jay, Eurasian Magpie, Eurasian / Western Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Eurasian Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Cetti’s Warbler, Eurasian Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Eurasian Wren, Common Starling, Eurasian Blackbird, Redwing, Song Thrush, European Robin, Pied Wagtail, Common Chaffinch, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Siskin. Total = 44.
Also reported: 4 Tufted Duck, Grey Wagtail, 2 Common Reed Buntings, 3 Dunnock (Ben Watt. Webs count).
Blackcap (Marcus Hunt)

Next RSPB Birdwalk: 10.00 Sunday 11 February 2024 (names to Bob: 020 8441 8742)
R. A. (Bob) Husband, RSPB Group Leader