Saturday, 17 December 2016

London Wetland Centre, 17th December 2016

Harry, George, Mike, Dan and I made landfall back from Thailand last night after a mind-, bum- and nose-numbing 12-hour flight. Over the coming days and weeks I'll post occasional pictures and accounts from this unforgettable trip which was made by the fantastic and lively company just as much as the c.380 species that we collectively gathered up.

Despite feeling thoroughly grotty and jetlagged with my ears still ringing from hours of watching trashy films about men stuck in cat bodies over the hum of the airbus engine, I dragged myself out and went birding today. It looked like a right pea-souper outside, rubbish for the patch, so I stayed in for a while and caught up on the final episode of The Missing. Once the convoluted drama surrounding the Webster family had drawn to a close, I peered out to the window to see that it still hadn't cleared so opted to go to the London Wetland Centre instead as I hadn't visited the reserve for years and figured it really ought to be clearer there.

Distracted by an unusual amount of activity in my car park, it took a while before I fired the car up. The single fruit-bearing tree had attracted hordes, by its standards, with many birds feasting including two Fieldfares, 15 Redwings and a similar number of Rose-ringed Parakeets.

The clouds were still on the ground when I got to the WWT but I shuffled around a few of the hides and allowed myself to be diverted by some displays, the captive wildfowl collection and the LEGO birds. It was truly nice to be reminded of the positive influence a place such as the London Wetland Centre has on a great many people and on conservation as I shared hides with groups on outings and parents with kids enjoyed the trails and the green space on offer. Some birders may find the noisy families an unbearable hindrance but I find it greatly warming to see such a variety and number of people benefiting from, valuing and supporting such a refuge. Through the mist I managed to pick out the wintering Water Pipit and a single Bittern, while three Cetti's Warblers and a Water Rail were heard and three Pintail were also on the main lake.

Water Pipit

Great Crested Grebes