Trip reports

Fairlop Waters Walk on 16th Mar 2019

Long-tailed tit perched on branch

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Thanks to Rich for the write-up:

A very blustery morning greeted us as well as a lovely singing Song Thrush in the car park which soon got us in the mood for some bird watching!

We walked to the boating lake and the first bird we saw was a Little Grebe swimming near the bank, the chestnut colouring on the cheeks and neck starting to show as the bird takes on its summer plumage. We then noted a flock of around 100+ Gulls resting on the lake, including mainly Black-headed but with also several Common Gulls too. A lone Lesser Black-backed Gull flew around circling the lake probably looking to pick off some of the year's first ducklings, its larger size and darker plumage making it stand out against the other two Gull species present.

A pair of Great Crested Grebes in full breeding plumage displayed courtship behaviour, shaking their heads at the same time as they faced each other. We spotted more water birds, including pairs of Gadwall, a pair of Shoveler as well as several pairs of Tufted Duck.
A Cormorant sat on some overhanging branches with outstretched wings, presumably they do this to dry them. A juvenile Grey Heron nearby stood motionless watching for some unsuspecting fish or other aquatic animal to feed on.

We moved away from the pit and came across a mixed flock of tits roving through the trees, mainly made up of Long-tailed with some Great Tits also present. We watched as they excitedly fed and uttered their soft calls, often the first sign that alerts you to the presence of these birds nearby.
Other passerines were tuning up for spring, we watched a Dunnock perched up singing his simple ditty and also heard the soft 'jangling keys' like song of the Goldcrest. A handsome male summer plumaged Reed Bunting now with his black head and bib sat on top of a bush singing in full view for us while a Chiffchaff sang his name but remained frustratingly out of view.

A Kestrel hovered nearby before perching up giving our group nice views, it must have spotted prey as it then dropped to the ground. We made our way to the usual 'haunt' of the Little Owl but we were out of luck on this occasion with just a few rabbits in the field feeding. The weather was starting to deteriorate so perhaps the Owl was tucked up in a cosy tree hole.

We did see a lone Fieldfare, which was probably one of the last sightings we'll see for this species as they'll soon be migrating back to their breeding territories in Northern Europe. It had now started to rain so with that and the windy conditions we decided to return back to the clubhouse. On the way we heard the faint 'seeep' call of a Meadow Pipit as it flew overhead, a Greenfinch sang and a Green Woodpecker 'yaffled'!

Many thanks as always to Neil and Alan for leading this walk.
Number of different bird species seen: 40