Trip reports

Mid-week walk around Staines Moor, Wednesday 11th September 2019.

Mid-week walk around Staines Moor, Wednesday 11th September 2019.
Red Kite seen during our walk. (Steve Williams)

Monday, 23 September 2019

Weather: Clear, warm with a stiff breeze.
Staines Moor is a Site of Special Scientific Interest bordered by the M25 to the west and by King George VI reservoir to the east. It is a site that is often used by migrating birds and in previous years we have seen whinchat, wheatear and yellow wagtail here. Nine of us arrived in good time for this walk although parking was tricky for the later arrivals. We set off over the railway line and then under the A30 to reach the moor.

At first, the moor seemed very quiet but we soon spotted a kestrel to the east and then realised that there were many house martins flying over the reservoir. As we watched the martins a heron and a cormorant flew overhead. We walked north, over the River Colne, and then followed the river northwards. Peter spotted a kingfisher which we all got good views of. The first of several little egrets was seen on the river bank, along with black-headed gulls, wood pigeons, crows and magpies, a reed bunting and a meadow pipit. The insects flying over the river attracted lots of swallows and house martins, and a few sand martins.
Further upstream we stopped again to watch a flock of linnets feeding on the ground and goldfinches feeding on the thistle seed heads. A buzzard appeared from over the M25 and Simon spotted a snipe flying fast towards Heathrow airport. Here we saw a group of four stock doves and lots of jackdaws.

At the northern limit of the moor is a path which leads to Stanwell Moor. As we climbed over the stile Anthony spotted a sparrow hawk and then a jay. The footpath leads between trees and is usually quite boggy but this year was dry. We added blue tit and robin to our list. We heard a few chiffchaff but were unable to get a positive sighting. Those at the front of the group had a brief view of a green woodpecker.

On our return to the moor we spotted a red kite. We made our way back to the car park via the path closest to the M25. On our way we saw a mute swan, a great spotted woodpecker and a blackbird. We noticed a large numbers of a blue dragonflies feeding at the edge of the trees. They were not evenly distributed along the path but in only three of four areas. Presumably their prey species were concentrated there due to local climatic conditions or specific vegetation.

As we approached the exit from the moor we saw a flock of around 60 starlings with one larger paler bird flying with them. After some time we decided that the pale bird was a leucistic (lacking pigment) starling which appeared larger because it was paler.

Thanks to those who came on what was a pleasant, if not exciting, walk.

STEVE WILLIAMS