Friday, 11 April 2014

Epping Forest

Epping Forest is virtually on my doorstep but apart from the odd weekend family amble through the woods and brief winter visit in search of ducks at Connaught Water I rarely pay it a visit! But given its size, and the maturity of its ancient woodland, apart from your typical woodland bird species it must also herald many other passage migrants which go vastly undetected. With this in mind, I did a brief circuit around Connaught Water, through the forest and along Chingford Plain, typical early returning summer migrants were plentiful with singing Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps in good numbers but what I was aiming for was something a little more rewarding in the form of a Common Redstart, Pied Flycatcher or Tree Pipit - I guess my timings were probably a week out, or with the amount of cover and trees in full-leaf they can just easily avoid detection!

At least this showy Nuthatch performed well for the camera, I can only imagine I was stood in its territory or near a potential nest hole as it was very vocal, calling and flying with-in just a few metres.


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Patch year ticks

On an overcast and damp morning (potentially great for grounding summer-migrants) the highlight was looking like Jono berating an ignorant dog-walker for traipsing through prime Skylark breeding territory! But somehow I managed to trump that by adding five - yes five Wanstead year ticks, making my current patch total this year a wee-bit more respectable.

 Year List

First up was a solitary calling Willow Warbler in Long Wood, followed by my patch nemesis and the long, long-overdue Collared Dove (I still think the current Wanstead Bird Report is a little out of touch calling these locally common breeders*). I then added a Peregrine Falcon which swiftly crossed the Flats heading towards Forest Gate, before saying au revoir and parting company with my fellow soggy Wanstead birders as I headed to Alexandra Lake for one final sortie before slopping off home for breakfast. Here, a flyover Little Egret lifted the gloom somewhat before finally seeing the patch's first returning Swallows of the year - as a pair quickly zipped past me and out of view, which had me almost skipping back to the car!

It may not have been the migrant-full morning I had wished for and the weather had almost promised, but you see nought by laying in your warm and cosy bed on a Sunday morning.

Coot, not American Coot
Coot - Not America! Just the Eurasion version

*I jest