Trip reports

Copped Hall Walk on 14th Sep 2019

Copped Hall Walk on 14th Sep 2019
Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Thanks to Rich for the write-up:

It was a lovely bright September morning as we set off leaving Long Running car park, a mixed flock of tits were busy feeding all around us and a Wren began its 'tic-tic-tic' alarm call, obviously irritated as we passed nearby. Crossing over the Epping New Road and back into the forest we heard a Nuthatch calling and then also the high pitched song of the Goldcrest somewhere high up in one of the ancient trees.
Walking along the old disused Lodge Road, we then entered the Copped Hall Estate and walked along the main drive through what's called the 'Warren Plantation' which has some 60 different species of trees planted here. We crossed the bridge that took us over the M25 and into the Copped Hall Park.

Two tiny Goldcrests very close to us started to fight in mid-air, tumbling to the ground whilst still locked in combat but they soon both dusted themselves down and flew off back into the wood. This was also a great spot to scan across the open countryside for birds of prey and it was not long before we picked up a family of juvenile Kestrels hunting. Two birds watched as a third flew around hovering from time to time before dropping to the ground on some un-suspecting prey item. These three young birds will stay together for a while before dispersing separately to find their own individual territories.
A Buzzard flew into view also and was mobbed by several Carrion Crows before settling into a tree allowing our group some nice views through the scopes.

We continued walking along the drive past the Copped Hall mansion itself and stopped by a Holm Oak tree, very different to our native English Oak in that it is an evergreen species, with holly like leaves. Introduced in the 1500s from the Eastern Mediterranean region its catkins provide a source of pollen for bees and other insects and offers shelter to birds all year round.
Nearby on one of the many old crumbling walls to the side of the great house, a small bird caught our eye, it was a Black Redstart with its dusky grey plumage and red tail pointing towards it being either a female or perhaps even an immature male. Away from coastal areas these species are quite often associated with old buildings and ruins or it could well have been just passing through, either way we were very pleased to have seen this uncommon bird.

Moving on out to the more open land surrounding the estate we skirted around the edge of some farmland, a Kestrel flew low forcing up another bird of prey from the ground, it was a Sparrowhawk which had just caught some prey. We watched as the Kestrel chased and harassed the hawk in the hope it would drop its meal!
We then spotted a handsome male Blackcap on top of the hedgerow while a Chiffchaff sung its name in the distance.

We made our way past some stables and we stopped and watched a pair of Swallows flying in and out of one of the barns. This surprised us as there could only be one real reason for this - that they were still feeding young in a nest and it being September thought this rather late, their second or even maybe a third brood this year we would assume.
Next we came to an area of woodland called 'The Selvage' which was part of the old estate containing Hazel coppice and conifers. We spotted some small birds foraging at the top of one of the trees, this flock was made up of Long-tailed Tits and also a Spotted Flycatcher! We watched as several times the bird flew from its branch chasing an insect before returning to the same spot, this behaviour is very characteristic and it was a joy to see this declining species locally.

On our return route, we made our way under the M25 this time! Yes under, through a specially constructed tunnel to allow the deer safe passage backwards and forwards, unfortunately we did not see any on this occasion which was unusual as Fallow are quite often seen in this area during the day. This was an enjoyable walk and we plan to return to this site in the spring of 2020

Total different bird species seen: 32