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- Epping Forest: Its birds. Edward North Buxton (192...
6 May 2011
April started with crowds descending on the patch to get their Lesser Spotted Woodpecker ticks for the year, before the canopy closed in.
The last of the Snipe was flushed and the first of a sadly disappointing spring influx of Redstarts occurred on the 2nd; with that male were the only other 2 Ring Ouzels to be seen on the flats (the other being seen in the park by Mike Messenger). Grebe sex was happening on Heronry, which brought about two eggs by the end of the month and amusing Google searches. Wheatear numbers held up throughout the month with only a few days lacking the preferred bird of spring. By the end of the month well over 30 birds had been noted.
By the 4th the last Fieldfare (a bird in the old sewage works) had fled north, soon to be followed by the remaining Redpoll and Siskin. The morning of the 5th was pretty nasty wet and cold and brilliant for birds. First a Brent Goose toying with the idea of joining the Canadas on Alex but then deciding the better of it, and the first patch mega this year: a Stone Curlew flew south straight up the central pathway. Well that was it, presumably, but remarkably the same bird did a repeat performance the next day allowing JL to get it on his patch list as well. We'll ignore the fact that he had us standing looking at a log for hours well after the bird had presumably left the field. Consolation came in the form of the first Common Whitethroat singing in the SSSI and a circling Peregrine (a daily event at the time).
The 8th brought the first of the troublesome Tree Pipits, a record of a Nuthatch calling in the park and another sighting of the Coat-hanger Goose and a (not a) Nightjar nightmare for ST.
A single Lapwing over the flats on the 9th made Jono's day and was the last of the spring passage (currently), by this stage of the month gull numbers had so declined that small flocks of Black-headed Gull were an "event". By the 18th Lesser Whitethroat had joined their nosier and commoner cousins and the first Yellow Wagtails were not seen, just heard, as usual! Meanwhile in the SSSI the Willow Warbler had stayed for longer than any previous bird raising hopes that perhaps it would again breed in the birches.
The 19th brought the year's second mega, if it can be called that, in the form of a very showy and confiding Wood Sandpiper on of all places the rapidly evaporating bandstand pond. I've said it before and I'll say it again, best views I've ever had. To make a good day better, I was on holiday and there was a female Redstart at the east end of Long Wood (bringing my ton up for Wanstead, yay!).
Things were bound to disappoint after virtually all our returning birds had been ticked off, but the arrival back of the Reed Warbler on Shoulder of Mutton put a smile on faces, especially as by the end of the month he'd pulled. Go on my son!
The first Whinchat, and in fact the only Whinchat, appeared on the 24th, stayed for the 25th and then departed. At the same time the first Garden Warbler had me and then Jono wandering around bushes for longer than is seemingly decent on the flats, before giving brief but telling views.
A few days later and Hobby had joined the list, first a pair of the garden of one J Lethbridge, and then later singles over the flats and in the park. Meanwhile House Sparrows had taken a liking to the broom fields, with dozens to be found foraging in and on the flowering plants. And finally when it seemed that everywhere else was getting Swifts and not us, they finally squeaked in by the end of the month.
Conclusion: a good month, perhaps May will bring Whinchat numbers and some viewable Tripits, but there's a nagging feeling that June might be starting early!