Trip reports

Hainault Country Park walk on 22nd Oct 2017

Male green woodpecker feeding on ground

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Many thanks to Richard for organising this walk and providing the following write-up.

A blustery morning at Hainault Country Park - as we started our walk a Sparrowhawk was soon spotted soaring overhead and the distant singing of a Skylark could be heard which is always a pleasure to hear on a chilly autumnal morning!

We then headed to the lake and found a group of male and female Shovelors feeding, with the males back in their handsome plumages after their annual eclipse stage. Also on the lake were a group of Black Headed Gulls noisily calling and feeding and amongst them a single Common Gull, slightly larger than the Black Heads and with a plainer head which best identified it.
Our attention was then drawn to the group of Tufted Ducks with both males and females present - with them was a duck, which looked like a larger female Tufted but the overall shape/structure was different to the Tufted and with the head lacking a tuft. After some deliberation we believed it to be a female Scaup, a duck seen on coastal sites typically but these birds do also turn up on inland lakes.

We moved on to the open grassland area where we were hoping to see Stonechat which had been spotted there a week before but remained elusive from us this day. Green Woodpeckers were calling their 'yaffle' and it was not long before we spotted several birds flying to and from the cover of the wooded areas and then we were eventually lucky enough to watch a pair feeding on the ground.
Meadow Pipits with their soft calls were flying up around us struggling in the wind before dropping down again and disappearing back down in the long grass. As we scanned over the distance we spotted what we first thought to be more Meadow Pipits flying low but then white outer tails were noted on the birds which revealed them to be Skylarks which was nice to see after hearing one at the start.

Another raptor was spotted above us, larger than the Sparrowhawk, it was a Buzzard hunting. This bird was also battling the strong winds and it was soon carried off out of our view. As we were about to enter the wooded area a tiny bird was spotted just in front of us foraging low down in a small tree, a Goldcrest, always a treat to see this close rather than staring up in the canopies of trees which quite often is the typical view of this species.
The last part of the walk proved to be rather quiet for birds with the weather seemingly keeping a lot of birds down. A small mixed flock of tits were on the move busily feeding in the trees around us. We finished the walk scanning the open fields surrounding the car park for winter thrushes that may have arrived but none were present - hopefully we will have more luck for Redwing/Fieldfares on our next walk to Fairlop Waters. So with that we ended up in the cafe for a warm welcome cuppa!