Trip reports

Copped Hall & Buffer Lands Walk on 17th Apr 2021

Copped Hall & Buffer Lands Walk on 17th Apr 2021
Jackdaw by Ivor Hewstone

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Thanks to Rich for this write-up:

Our first walk in just over a year (!) and it was clear that everyone was very pleased to be out again with other folk. It was a chilly but sunny morning with clear blue skies and various woodland birds were singing around us so this was the perfect start as we set off from the car park.

Our first bird we saw was a Chiffchaff foraging for insects, carefully picking its way through the leaves of a Birch tree. A Song Thrush sang in the distance as we made our way through the forest passing the open heathland and over the Epping New Road. We made our way along the disused Lodge Road, which cuts through two springs either side. A track has been here since the Neolithic times!

We entered the Copped Hall Estate and we soon spotted several small birds feeding in the pines trees above us which turned out to be Goldcrest and Coal Tit, both of which are quite often associated with these kinds of trees as they search for their prey amongst the needles. Several Goldcrest were also singing their high pitched song nearby.
We were then treated to a nice view of a Great Spotted Woodpecker as it sat quite still out in the open on top of a dead tree.

We crossed the bridge over the M25 and stopped adjacent to another small wood called Trafalgar Plantation where we heard a bit of a commotion. Two Mistle Thrush seemed very 'agitated' and were calling their loud 'rattle' like alarm calls, we soon realised the cause when we saw them mobbing a Magpie and trying to chase it away, clearly this pair had a nest nearby!

Moving on we stopped in front of the Copped Hall Mansion where several Jackdaw were perched on the chimneys. Jackdaw are often seen in these small flocks and within these they will also be in their own pairs.

As the morning drew on and the air warmed we watched Red Kite and Buzzards soaring, it's rare to come over to this area and not see at least one of these two birds of prey species. Another creature taking advantage of the warming sun was a Peacock Butterfly as it 'sunbathed' on one of the old wall remains which was a good opportunity for those with cameras to take some snaps.
As we walked on we spotted a Muntjac deer running in full view over in the opposite fields and then another species of butterfly fluttered by, this time an Orange Tip - spring has surely arrived!

Leaving the main estate we made our way across the next field where we were surrounded by colourful Cowslips (the county flower of Essex) and yet another reminder of the new season. We scanned some distant trees on the edge of the field and to our delight stood a herd of up to 30 Fallow deer amongst them, they were quite motionless as they watched us cautiously. Most were does but we also noted several bucks also present.
Then a distant 'Kronk, Kronk' call caught our attention and we picked up a Raven being mobbed by a couple of Carrion Crows which gave our group a good opportunity to compare the size difference between these two species of crow.

We then stopped by some local horse stables where we saw our first Swallows of the year swooping in low for the insects attracted to these sites. These birds will also use the various outbuildings here to nest.

The return walk back took us through an area called the 'The Selvage' which forms part of the old Copped Hall Estate and consists of Hazel and Conifer trees. The wood seemed absolutely alive with bird song, as we listened to the rich, flutey song of Blackcap and also Wren and Chiffchaff. Another bird also began to sing albeit not as loud but the 'thin' high pitched song of the Treecreeper, where we eventually saw it creeping along a high up branch. We arrived back at the carpark to see a Buzzard overhead being mobbed by some Carrion Crows. It was good to be back !

Total different bird species seen: 37

If you click on the link below (, it should take you to the Facebook post for this walk where you can see additional photos of the wildlife seen.