Wanstead Waterbird Survey

The Wren Wildlife and Conservation Group's monthly winter waterbird survey took place on Sunday 13th January. This survey, the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS), is the scheme which monitors non-breeding waterbirds in the UK. The principal aims are to identify population sizes, determine trends in numbers and distribution and to identify important sites for waterbirds. (from RSPB's website at http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/webs)

Tim Harris – who usually co-ordinates this and leads the walk around Wanstead Park's waters – was away and he's asked if I would lead it in conjunction with Jackie Morrison. So it was that on a somewhat cold day, but at least not with the threatened snow, I met with Jackie by the kiosk in Wanstead Park and together with Gill James, Linda and David we proceeded to count the birds.

Gulls and Coots on Heronry PondGull and Coot competition on Heronry Pond...We began with the lake onto which the kiosk faces – the Heronry Pond. Here, as usual, were a largish number of Coot, some Canada Geese and plentiful gulls, almost all of which were Black-headed. There were a dozen Mallard, a few Tufted Duck and Pochard, a scattering of Gadwall and a Cormorant – which was perched across the lake on the branch of a tree. Five still-brown-streaked young Mute Swans flew off, and caused a degree of uncertainty during the course of the counting as they tended to move around a bit. This isn't at all unusual, particularly as the parent birds are becoming territorial at this time of year and are chasing their young – and any new arrivals – off “their” lake. Numbers of the species mentioned, plus Moorhens, mounted as we moved down the north side of the lake towards the Shoulder of Mutton pond.

At the Shoulder of Mutton the predominant species were Gadwall, with 29 counted, plus about the same number of Black-headed Gulls. A new species for the day was a Grey Heron.

Retracing our route past Heronry Pond, we reached Perch pond where – apart from Black-headed Gulls – Gadwall were the the most plentiful species.

Mute Swans...and somewhat territorial Mute SwansFor some reason that I've never fully understood our largest body of water - the Ornamental Waters - is not included in the survey; the numbers of waterbirds that may be found there is not required. As such, and as I was cold, had other things to do and had suffered the mud-slips that would be encountered a couple of weeks ago, I elected not to walk around the lake and count the birds. Linda also chose that lesser (and less muddy!) option. We returned to the kiosk for a warming cuppa before returning to our homes.

However, the others did do a count – although not finding any different species. Whilst we were surveying the waters of Wanstead Park, Debbie was counting the birds on the Eagle Pond and Richard Oakman the Basin. Richard had the pleasure of seeing three of a less common species in our area, Wigeon, plus the only grebe – a Great Crested Grebe – seen that day. Before I met the others in the Park, I'd counted the birds on Alexandra Lake, Wanstead Flats. Here, the only species not seen elsewhere was Greylag Goose, with a count of 30. The overall results are presented in the table below.

These waterbird surveys provide valuable data about the country's wildlife, and can be a pleasant social occasion with the opportunity to learn more about our wildlife. If you would like to attend, you'd be welcome – whatever your level of expertise or knowledge. Look at the Wren Group's website at http://www.wrengroup.org.uk/ for more information.

 

Wanstead area Water-bird Count 13/01/2013

 

Species

Alex

Basin

Eagle

Shoulder

Heronry

Perch

Ornamental

Total

Little Grebe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nil

Great Crested Grebe

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

1

Cormorant

 

 

1

 

1

3

1

6

Grey Heron

 

 

 

1

 

1

 

2

Mute Swan

7

2

6

2

10

5

2

34

Greylag Goose

30

 

 

 

 

 

 

30

Canada Goose

112

2

26

 

15

4

8

167

Wigeon

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

3

Gadwall

12

101

2

29

16

18

19

197

Teal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nil

Mallard

37

3

14

3

27

1

31

116

Shoveler

7

2

3

 

1

 

 

13

Pochard

 

 

4

 

3

 

9

16

Tufted Duck

6

7

47

1

30

3

16

110

Water Rail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nil

Moorhen

18

7

7

 

4

1

5

42

Coot

88

24

56

5

35

10

18

236

Black-headed Gull

30

 

210

26

162

44

57

529

Common Gull

 

 

6

1

4

 

 

11

Lesser Black-back

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

2

Herring  Gull

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

1

Paul Ferris, January 2013