Trip reports

Wanstead Flats/Park Walk on 13th Apr 2019

Wheatear in spring
Wheatear (rspb-images)

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Thanks to Rich for the write-up:

This walk is always traditionally well attended and this one was no exception. We had very mixed weather with sunshine and even hailstones at one point, thankfully they fell towards the end of the walk!

A Blackcap was the first bird we noted as it sung deep within some bushes near the car park, I think this is one of the nicest bird song to hear on a spring, sunny morning. We moved towards Jubilee Pond, 12 Mute Swans were gathered on the far bank, these are most likely non-breeding birds and simply gather in large flocks (30+ birds were reported the week after we did this walk). We also saw a handsome Lesser Black-backed Gull perched up on a post, quite often it's this species that is seen more commonly inland rather than the slightly larger Herring Gull.

We then made our way to the open heath areas of the Flats and found a small flock of Ring-necked Parakeets (now renamed to Rose-ringed Parakeets...), strangely they were all on the ground. Presumably they had found some food source there that they were foraging, they did look rather awkward as they waddled around .
Nearby a lovely male Wheatear was spotted with its blue-grey back and orange flush to its breast as well as the black cheeks. This bird would have recently arrived from Africa and would be using Wanstead Flats as a stop-off before carrying on to its breeding territory further north.

Several Skylarks were singing and we watched as one bird displayed, rising higher and higher before 'parachuting' back down and disappearing behind a grassy tussock. We were also treated to a great view through the scopes as another bird sung nearby on top of a tree stump. We like to note that the Skylarks present here are said to be the closest breeding population to London.

In the small copse a little further on, we patiently waited for a bird that is regularly reported here, the Little Owl. Several of these that is Britain's smallest owl, are sometimes noted here at any one time. Suddenly one was spotted, the distinctive bounding flight from a bird that then perched up much to the delight of the group. We were close enough to see that 'cross' looking impression given off by the large white eyebrows as it stared at us.
We left the copse and made our way to Alexandra Pond, several Greenfinches flew past us which was a nice spot as apparently this species is not an over common bird here around the Flats. A pair of Little Grebes was present and were courting, sounding their 'whinny' like call to each other. A pair of Teal quietly swam around together while a Song Thrush was spotted feeding near the water's edge.

A quick visit onto Wanstead Park and we walked via the locally famous Bluebell covered wood, a stunning sight throughout spring and well worth a visit just for that! This is when the hail started to come down, so bird wise became fairly quiet. We did note a pair of Shoveler on one of the Park ponds as well as some Gadwall. We decided to call it a day as the weather was deteriorating, walking back to the car park we briefly saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker flying between the trees and also heard a Green Woodpecker calling 'yaffle.

Thanks as always to Tim Harris who led this walk, sharing his very interesting knowledge of the local wildlife in this area!

Total number of different bird species seen: 52