News archive

March 2015

Monday, 16 March 2015

Male blackcap in hawthorn bush

Breeding Bird Survey - can you help? CORRECTION

Wanstead Flats and Park is a big area to cover so the Wren Group would be grateful if anyone would like to help out.

My previous version of this News item described how the BTO carry out their Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) which has a much more formal approach as it is designed to give consistent comparisons year after year.

The Wren Group survey is being undertaken this year to record birds holding territories so they can breed (not all birds are recorded e.g. it doesn't include crows, birds flying over etc.) so it is simpler and can be valuable even if you can only manage a handful of visits.
Just needs a simple sketch of the agreed area and you mark where you heard/saw breeding activity on each visit. The early visits will be dependent on hearing birdsong or seeing nest building activity, later visits may see food being carried to a nest.

I was surprised to discover that Blue Tits were not included but after a walk through my area, I realised that Blue Tits just chase around everywhere and it would be impossible to pin down a specific territory for them!

Hope I didn't put anyone off volunteering.

Please contact Tim Harris of the Wren Group Tel - 07505 482328
email -

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

DAVID LINDO: The Birds of the Scrubs

DAVID LINDO: The Birds of the Scrubs

On this evening, David Lindo was released from the TV cameras and from his own patch of the Scrubs to come and tell us about what he sees there.

We had an excellent evening with David three years ago in March 2012 (see the News Archive for that date to read a report of the evening) when we had our highest ever attendance and gave our Group's first official donation to the RSPB. It was so good that David promised to come back and give us another talk. This was scheduled for November 2013 but David had to pull out then at short notice so to fulfil his promise, he returned on Tuesday 10th March.

In 2012, David's talk was entitled 'Birds About Town' - this time he concentrated on an area he is passionate about, his own local patch of Wormwood Scrubs.

As we expected, there was an excellent turnout for David's talk so for the first time we used the main area downstairs in the church for the presentation - the pews have recently been upholstered so were very comfy!

David showed us some maps of the area around Wormwood Scrubs - there is no water on the site but there is a canal close by to the north and due south lies the London WWT reserve at Barnes on the way to the Thames. So any birds moving between these areas may well be seen at the Scrubs giving it a very impressive patch list.

The feel of the area was conveyed by some of David's photographs showing various habitats of small stands of trees, open grasslands and shrubby areas including a very interesting bank. One of the main landmarks is, of course, the prison and David entertained us by recalling his experience when he visited the prison to talk to prisoners about urban birds.

There's a group of birders (called The Scrubbers, what else!) who regularly watch the patch and all want to see all the birds recorded for the patch. David is often away with his Urban Birder hat on, visiting foreign cities and just hopes the tweet doesn't come through about a new bird that he's missed. Often a new bird is just seen going over the patch so it's just luck whether you were there or not. Other times it may stay around for a day or two giving all the Scrubbers a chance to see it.

David took us through the seasons at the Scrubs showing the changing landscape and birds that have been seen - an impressive variety, including birds that are only rarely seen in urban areas. One record shot (i.e. not a brilliant photo but proof the bird was there) was not recognised by anyone in the audience but was a first winter Black Redstart, a very unusual find.

We ran over our time but no-one wanted to go so it was definitely an evening enjoyed by all.

[Post meeting note: a couple of days after David's talk, I saw a tweet from TheScrubs - a male Yellowhammer had been seen, their 3rd in 24 years...]

If you click on the 'Download file' link, then you will see the striking poster that David (our Publicity officer) produced to advertise this talk.

Download file