Welcome to the Buteo Wildlife blog, a record of some of the wildlife that we have been seeing and occasional identification articles that will hopefully be useful for those trying to learn about wildlife.

If you enjoy reading this blog, join us on one of our tours - days and weekends looking for wildlife. Visit our website for details: www.buteowildlife.co.uk
Note that tours with clients may not always feature prominently on this blog because we are unlikely to have time for photography when out with clients - and walls of text don't tend to make the most interesting posts. If there is time for a few snatched photos they may not always be of the highest quality - but we'll use them anyway!

To try and keep posts in chronological order they may sometimes be given earlier dates/times than when they are actually posted. Apologies, for this - it's not meant to mislead anyone (and we will try to avoid this happening too often).

6 January 2013

Lee Valley (16th December 2012).

The middle part of the day was spent at the ‘Chingford Reservoirs’ (the monthly WeBS cout day had come around again!), where the drake Long-tailed Duck was still present. Unfortunately the Long-tailed Duck stayed right out in the middle of the widest part of the reservoir, which is where it has tended to prefer to be, because today I had actually taken my camera along with me.

Black-necked Grebes, although present in lower numbers than we have become used to at this time of year, are usually closer in, tending to prefer to stay near to the reservoir banks, and I did manage to get a couple of shots of them. 
Black-necked Grebe (top) and it's larger cousin the Great Crested Grebe - both in winter plumage and photographed on the William Girling Reservoir

 In winter plumage Black-necked Grebes are similar to Slavonian Grebe in appearance, but differ structurally with a higher forehead, and an upturned appearance to the bill. The cheeks are also darker, with the black cap extending down below the eye.

 As is expected by December, the numbers of wintering duck species like Goldeneye and Goosander had now increased to typical numbers. Generally neither species is especially numerous here, but up to 50 Goldeneye and 10-20 Goosander are fairly typical mid winter counts – today we saw a total of 40 Goldeneye and 17 Goosander, with most of the latter feeding in the channels at the sides of the reservoirs. Numbers of other waterbirds had built up considerable, especially on the KGV Reservoir, where there were 544 Coots, and 436 Tufted Duck, along with a good selection of other species, including Shoveler and Gadwall (which winter in the Lee Valley in internationally important numbers), and a few Wigeon

On the reservoir banks were the usual Pied & Grey Wagtails and Meadow Pipits which can be expected at this time of year. 
Grey Wagtail - quite colourful, although the name doesn't suggest this!

After several hours at the reservoirs Dave and I spent a while at the end of the day in the Bittern Information Point hide in the River Lee Country Park further up the Lee Valley – which is often a good place to spend the evening. A Bittern was on show, skulking at the back of the small reedbed immediately in front of the hide, and giving good views to everyone present - once they ‘got their eye in’ and were able to pick it out from the brown reeds! The best feature to look for tends to be the black markings on the head, the cap and moustachial stripes, although it can be difficult to pick out the bird at all until you see movement. True to form, Water Rails also showed well as the evening began to draw in, and Reed Buntings dropped into the reedbed a few at a time to roost, announching their arrival with thin “Tse-eeeep” calls.

Water Rail

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