19 March 2011

One King Poets and Wheatear hunt

After hosting a gig by the One King Poets (check them out!) with my group Pig7 last night I returned from Lambeth this morning after very little sleep with the intention of going to the flats to find Wheatears but somehow forgot this and got off the train at Wanstead. My first port of call was The Basin, not a great place to look for Wheatears as they are not aquatic, but there were 4 Great-crested Grebe which was very nice but bloody hell it was cold this morning. I then passed the church were I could hear 2 male Goldcrests in a singing competition. Then it was off down the Ornamental Waters which had a thin layer of mist over them like a nice horror film. Near the ruins I was very pleased to hear a singing male Treecreeper on several occasions, finally seeing it go into the Dell, I managed to get a poor recording too. Good sign. Then I had a quick look down the Old Sewage Works area, several Song Thrushes about, but no sign of any Bullfinch which I haven't seen here since 2009, but a male Pheasant called from a copse adjoining the Cemetery, patch tick for the year. I made my way to the Plain and watched a pair of Sparrowhawk circling in the distance (I had previously seen a large female fly over, hearing the change in the bird calls all around before I saw her) and had a probable Rock or Water Pipit over, but the bird remained unseen. Then, coffee and carrot cake at the cafe and a search of the Heronry. Then I heard a drumming male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker from an oak tree and went off to record it... oh hang on I've left my coffee and cake on the bench I remembered, fancy that, so I thought I'd better finish that first. It was whilst I was eating the cake that I noticed a large, strange bird flying over the end of the Heronry, I got on to it... greyish accipiter, huge size, huge barrel chest, broad wings, shorter tail than Sparrowhawk, very relaxed, slow wing beats.... bloody hell a Goshawk (yes a Northern one)... a couple of Crows made a V line towards it but then it went out of view behind the trees heading towards Wanstead Flats. I texted Nick Croft to let him know but he didn't get on to it. You see, if I hadn't gone back for my carrot cake I would have missed it. Then I noticed the LSW was drumming loudly on an old, dead bit of wood so I ran over to the Oak it was in to record it, and even managed to show three passers by the bird in the tree which was showing really well. I've yet to put the recordings on xeno-canto. Anyway these are the best highlights from my day... until next time..... any problems email me at genghisattenborough@yahoo.com. I will be most interested.


  1. Are you sure it was a Gos? They are on territory now in large tracts of woodland

    Anything's possible though I guess.

  2. Didn't see it so can't comment. I will say that Stuart has been birding many years though, and is pretty reliable. Unlikely as it may sound, I suspect it is OK. A shame it didn't come over me.

  3. I think I've seen enough Goshawks in my lifetime to recognise one. I think it's really down to the local recorders/rarity people to vet my description if and when I get round to it. I think people should be able to put down what the think they saw, this is only a blog not a London Rare bird report. But thanks for your concern.