News archive

May 2016

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

A Big Day in Croydon 19 May 2016

When Simon picked me up at 4am there was some rain in the air and we were set for an inauspicious start. The following is a summary of the day, but for reasons of sensitivity two potentially breeding Schedule 1 species have been left out.
We arrived at King's Wood and thought that the birds would be kept quiet by the drizzle. True to form the early songsters were Robin, Blackbird and Song Thrush, followed shortly afterwards by Woodpigeon. Earlier in the month Tawny Owls were heard by 4.30, but it wasn't until 4.42 that we added it to our list. I needn't have worried; before much longer we had heard at least five different birds calling (three in the north east cornet spreading in to Selsdon Park GC and the others in two separate locations). Treecreeper gave itself up at 4.58 and Goldcrest at 5.10 (we eventually had at least three birds of both these species here.) At 5.18 we were standing at the junction of two rides when we saw a badger trotting along one of them heading straight towards us. We thought he would quickly see us and change plans, instead it got to within about 8 yards of us before realising we were there and suddenly ran off along another ride. Standing in one area around 6am we added several species that could have evaded us - Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Mistle Thrush and Bullfinch. When we left King's Wood our total stood at a respectable 26 species.
The next stop was Riddlesdown, but we added another three common species while passing Hamsey Green. Even as we walked on to Riddlesdown we heard the first Skylark in song and were surprised to hear the first of our three Whitethroats singing from behind the houses. Checking the school fields added Lesser Black-backed Gull to the Herring Gulls we had already seen. Meadow Pipits were in their usual field and included one carrying food. Linnets and Stock Doves soon followed. There was one hiccup - I saw a Swallow fly over my head and go behind a clump of bushes. I tried to put Simon onto it and hoped he would be able to see it through a gap in the bushes if it carried straight on; unfortunately it must have changed direction to avoid the dog walker who appeared walking along its original line of flight. 48 species and counting.
We hit the school and work traffic as we drove up through Sanderstead (Canada Goose by the pond) and on to Farthing Downs for a pit stop and breakfast. Once refreshed we set off, quickly adding Yellowhammer. Farthing Downs Roman snails don't count as birds, but at one spot we had to avoid treading on them! I had given up on getting Buzzard here, when two suddenly appeared overhead. I was sure I could hear a Garden Warbler singing, but it was disturbed by a dog walker and couldn't be relocated after that. Walking back towards the car park a Swift flew over (a species that didn't count last year as only I saw it) and there were several others around along with a single Swallow. A Sparrowhawk flew across carrying food and that appeared to be a fitting end to our travails here so Simon again took advantage of the facilities. It was at this point that I picked up on a Red Kite flying away from me. My first thought was that this would be one to get away, but luckily Simon re-emerged in time to see it drifting over Cane Hill. 48 species.
We stopped off at The Colonnades to pick up a coffee and had a pair of Dunnocks in one of the flower beds. Just as we drove up to Waddon Ponds our first Collared Dove of the day was at John Lewis. Waddon Ponds quickly added a variety of water birds to our list with Mallard, Moorhen, the nesting pair of Mute Swans, Canada Goose, a pair of Egyptian Geese, Coot, three Little Grebes and a Heron. 56 species in the bag and it was now time for lunch.
We took lunch at Wandle Park, watching a Mistle Thrush collecting food. A walk round after lunch gave us a male Grey Wagtail along the river.
By 1.28pm we had reached South Norwood Country Park where a quick chat with the warden confirmed that some of our targets were definitely around. Two of these, Lesser Whitethroat and Reed Bunting, had evaded us last year but this time went on the list. Several Reed Warblers could be heard singing and Tufted Duck (strangely absent from Waddon Ponds) and a Great Crested Grebe were on the lake. The now resident Cetti's Warbler was heard and seen around the lake and our tally here ended with a Kestrel. We had now beaten our total of 61 from last year with 64 species recorded so far and still more sites to go.
South Norwood Lake was the first location where we failed to add to our total and it was a good job we had the grebe at the country park as we didn't see one here! What we did see was a nesting pair of Coots trying to keep one of the water aerators out of action.
Millers Pond had been included in the hope that one species in particular would be around. Looking directly down from the first platform gave is a pair of Mandarin, amazingly with a duckling, making this a first confirmed breeding in the borough, unless someone else knows better. A 'Grenada' Goose (Greylag x Canada) was also seen, but doesn't go on the list.
As we drove up Lodge Lane towards New Addington the House Martin colony was in residence by Fieldway, making up for their apparent absence from Sanderstead. Walking around the factory area we also added Pied Wagtail and there were two Rooks on a school field.
And so back to the town centre and a well earned pint and a burger at the Dog and Bull. We had not only beaten last year's total, we had found almost everything we could have really hoped for. Yes there were some species around that could have extended our total, but a change of route or timings may have meant missing out on others.

Our final total was 69 species. Now to start planning for next year and persuading others that they could try to beat us!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Report about Dawn Chorus at King's Wood, Sanderstead

Report about Dawn Chorus at King's Wood, Sanderstead

For the second time in 48 hours I was out of the house by 4am on Saturday 7th May and heading down to King's Wood in Sanderstead for the dawn chorus. The first time was for a recce, but now I was going to take a group pf people round and I was a little nervous as to how many would turn up and which birds would perform for us.
A bonus for me was a close encounter with a badger walking along the road towards me as I walked through Sanderstead.
As the group was gathering a bird began singing from the sports field at the edge of King's Wood. Not expecting one to be singing here, it took a short while before I realised it was a Skylark. Having had that unexpected start a dozen of us set off into the woods with the sky just beginning to lighten. Blackbirds and Robins were already singing and Crows and Woodpigeons were also waking up. At the same time there were two different Tawny Owls hooting away before settling down for the day. There was perhaps a bit less bird activity than two days ago, but did include Bullfinch and flyover Canada Goose as well as the regular Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs. Some of the best birds were Goldcrest, Treecreeper and Nuthatch, although the first two were almost drowned out by their noisier neighbours. A Stock Dove also added his voice, albeit seemingly with great indifference. Mammals put in an appearance with a roebuck and a small bat (pipistrelle sp) -and we avoided tripping over the molehills in the dark.
By the time we finished at 6am it was distinctly quieter and 23 bird species had been recorded. Perhaps it was a blessing that the parakeets had not yet joined in the chorus.