Jus and I left in good time and in stark contrast to our other visit the American Horned Lark (nominate form alpestris/hoyti/praticola) was showing well on arrival right beside the Staines Reservoir causeway! It went on to behave superbly for us in between short flights between both sides of the causeway. A very distinctive bird and also very educational (and of course a potential armchair tick of the future). The main differences between this race and the Shorelarks we're used to seeing are:
- Sharp contrast between white supercilia and yellow throat
- Much more extensive dark streaking below wider black breast band
- More rufous on breast sides and flanks
- The call also seemed higher and not very lark-like
American Horned Lark
After an abortive pop in to Bedfont Lakes where the drake Smew was absent we headed further into the London traffic to Richmond. Finding the alleyway behind the houses in Selwyn Avenue we began a wait of an hour and a half trying not to be seen by all the residents having their Sunday lunches! 2 Redwings popped in briefly, then 2 Ring-necked Parakeets did the same and just as they appeared so did the wintering 'Eastern' Lesser Whitethroat. It called a couple of times and then showed well but briefly under a feeder before disappearing again. Quite a pale brown backed individual, most likely a 'blythi' . We also had both Red Admiral and Peacock around the gardens proving just how mild it was!
We then returned to Bedfont where we still drew a blank, as we did at a Mandarin site we'd been given near Staines. There were 3 Egyptian Geese there plus 15+ Ring-necked Parakeets. A couple of Red Kites from the M25 on the way home rounded things off.
Yearlist = 124