London Wetland Centre (15 April 2024)

The weather forecast was for early rain followed by sunshine. 17 turned up in the most horrendous rain squalls. However, the rain soon stopped, and the sun came out for some excellent birding. We were pleased to welcome 4 visitors and a new member.

Photo by Debbie Williams

First, we went to the Observatory to keep out of the rain and see what was about. A swan has made its nest on the closest island but no eggs yet. Cleverly, she is just behind some rushes so as they grow, she will be totally out of sight. It was raining so hard that all but one of the usual Lapwings had disappeared. One of the pair of Oystercatcher in residence was seen. Not so many ducks are around now but it is great to see so many Sand Martins. We also saw the early arrivals of Swallows and House Martins. The Sand Martins were not investigating the artificial nest bank but have been seen to do so already this year.

The rain now stopped in line with the forecast, and we had a lovely sunny walk around the West Route. On the way to the Headley Hide we had a quick look at some of the captive birds including three White Storks. The ducks are quite beautiful, and it is amazing to see them so close. In the Headley Hide there were reports of Wheatear, but it had moved on.

Next, we wandered through the reedbeds on the Summer Route and were rewarded with Cetti and Reed Warblers singing very loudly. The Cettis were seen flying about, but we never actually saw a Reed Warbler. Later on, we thought we heard a Garden Warbler near the Sand Martin bank.

Photo by Debbie Williams

In the Wildside Hide there was a great commotion as a Sparrowhawk flew by very fast then perched in a tree. A pair of Great Crested Grebes have built a nest very close to the hide to give very easy viewing. No eggs yet. We wish them every success.

There are now four cows at the reserve to encourage flies and churn up the Grazing Marsh. They are doing a good job judging by the number of Starlings following them around.

After viewing a few gulls from the Dulverton and WWF Hides we climbed up into the Peacock Tower. There was not much about but at last those with telescopes found two Wheatears. They were a long way off and sitting very tight on the ground keeping out of the wind which was still gusting wildly. Never have we seen such white horses across the Main Lake. It was great to see the Wheatears and wonder how far North they will travel before settling down to breed. Isn’t it just great that they choose to travel right through the centre of London on their way North.

After a quick snack in the café, we totted up our lists to 45 and dispersed after enjoying such a good morning’s birding.

By Christo Impey