Trip reports

Fairlop Waters walk on 12th May 2018

Reed warbler singing in reedbed

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Thanks to Richard for this write up:-

Our last visit to this site was back in November, so returning back for the spring, we were hoping to see and hear some different birds with the new season and we were not disappointed. Here are a few things of note that stood out for us:

Our group made our way up the main path from the car park and a couple of us were discussing the fact we had not yet seen Swallows this year, a few minutes later we heard the lovely twittering song of one above us. We looked up and a pair were showing off their agile flight, swooping and gliding, they must have heard us talking about them!

We reached the boating lake and the main obvious show of spring was that many of the waterfowl now had young. Most notable were the young Canada Geese, a common goose I know, but when you see large groups of goslings busily feeding together on the bank (we counted 25+ in one gang), we all agreed this was a very cute sight. This grouping together happens when several different broods join up as they get more independent from their parents.
As always in nature, whenever there are young around, there will always be predators looking to take advantage of this extra food source and we witnessed a Lesser Black-backed Gull making short work of one of the young Canada goslings, never nice to see at first hand but that's nature in its raw form!

We moved on to the more scrubby area and we just stopped and listened to the various warblers singing around us. We could hear Chiffchaff which sings its name so that was an easy one to tick. We also heard several Blackcaps with their sweet, rich and clear notes. I think personally this is one of the nicest sounds of spring and hearing the first one always brings a smile to my face.
Then a short burst of a very similar song to the Blackcap but sounding less varied and more 'hurried', it was a Garden Warbler. We tried to spot this plain brown warbler but with no luck. Slightly further on with the route we could hear another one of our plain brown warblers, it was a rhythmic, churring chatter like voice, it was the song of the Reed Warbler, again the bird remained elusive.
So in a space of roughly fifteen minutes we were able to compare four of our warblers singing in close succession to one another, which for anyone new to this wonderful hobby is a good way to learn birdsong comparison.

Finally a bird we were really hoping to see as we missed out on it on our last visit back in November - a Little Owl. After patient searching by Neil Twyford (our guide and whose local patch this is), the bird was eventually spotted in one of its favourite trees where it sits and looks out for its prey. This being Britain's smallest owl which more often than not is seen during the daytime was definitely the highlight for everyone on the walk. We had great views on the scopes as we were able to zoom in on those staring eyes fixed in one spot as it looked down at some unsuspecting small mammal or invertebrate on the ground below.

Total Bird count was 52 for this walk.
Thanks as always to Neil and Alan for leading us around the Fairlop site.