Trip reports

Wanstead Flats walk

Male blackcap in hawthorn bush

Sunday, 19 April 2015

"A group of 20 of us set off from Jubilee pond car park at 8.30 am led by Tim Harris. The weather was overcast and chilly with a light breeze, but with good visibility. We set off in a northerly direction looping round to Centre car park. We had high hopes of seeing a range of migratory birds as Tim had seen numerous species yesterday and he had said the weather conditions were similar to today.

Almost immediately we located a Wren and a Chiffchaff in a mature tree surrounded by bushes. We could hear Robins, but could not see them. He said there was a high density of these territorial birds. The call of a Sparrowhawk made us double back a couple of times. As we went, Tim was explaining about the general environment and management of this SSSI site.

We crossed the road at Central car park towards an area where 3 Ring Ouzels had been seen earlier in the week and en route saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker in a tree and a Green Woodpecker in the distance. A Grey Heron flew over in one direction and a Little Egret in the other, probably heading to the river Roding. The Ring Ouzels were not present - there were, however, many crows and a Jackdaw - so we headed off looking for the Red-legged Partridge that had been seen on Monday and Tuesday. We did see a Song Thrush.

We continued towards the 'brick pits' copse hoping to see the Willow Warbler that has been singing from there for a couple of days. After passing the brick pits field [clay was dug out from there in the past causing the 'pit'], high up in a mature tree silhouetted against the sky, we did well to spot a pair of Blackcaps. There were only snatches of their lovely song - the weather was not encouraging the birds to sing! At the copse, a few were lucky enough to hear the lilting, descending song of the Willow Warbler but it too was keeping tucked away from the wind.
3 Ring-necked Parakeets (or Rose-ringed as listed in bird guides!) were also seen squawking in the distance. Canadian Geese and Mute Swans flew over.

After an hour and a half as we were returning back to our cars, feeling a little disappointed, we were treated to a display of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. The Skylarks climbed high into the sky, singing all the time, before dropping back to earth. Luckily for us we could follow their flight into the grass and as the vegetation has not yet grown tall we could see them clearly on the ground. The Meadow Pipits also displayed nicely on branches of broom. These two species of birds have managed to hold breeding sites on Wanstead Flats - unusual for such an urban site so close to the centre of London.

It was now 10.30 am and the number of dog walkers was increasing, the football players were out and the temperature was dropping so we headed home."

Many thanks to Nadine for her above report (with a few additions from me) - we were unlucky with the weather on the day of our walk. I returned the next weekend on a gorgeous, sunny day and heard and saw a lovely Wood Warbler, a very unusual bird for London - but that's the nature of bird watching!