24 August 2011

Finding Migrants on Wanstead Flats - where and when to look

Autumn has started! Time to get out there and look for migrants. Here is a quick guide, and we hope to see more people out there, as the more people there are looking, the more will be found. Today, collectively, three birders found 4+ Yellow Wags, 2-3 Tree Pipit, 2 Common Redstart, 3 Whinchat, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Pied Flycatcher, a Common Sandpiper, 2 Teal, and a host of regular Warblers. Stop reading about it, go and do it. GET. OUT. THERE.

PS Don't bring dogs.

Yellow Wagtail
Where: Any open space, the Flats is often good as you have clear views. Listen out for the distinctive and repetitive "pseeeee" about once every three seconds.
When: Now!

Tree Pipit
Where: As per Yellow Wag, but they do sometimes perch in Hawthorns or on Broom. The best, nay only, way to find them is to listen for the call, which is a buzzy kind of rasp.
When: Now to the end of September. Early mornings when birds are on the move is best.

Common Redstart
Where: The best areas are Long Wood and its environs, and the scrub to the east of Alexandra Lake, though they have also been seen in the SSSI. They love the bottom of Hawthorns, where they will perch and then drop to the ground to feed before popping up again. Look closely at all birds you think are Robins!
When: Now to mid-September.

Where: The Broom fields east of Centre Road is THE area. They also like Hawthorns.
When: Now to the end of September.

Where: Broom fields, football pitches, paths round the Skylark areas.
When: Now to end of September, the odd late bird.

Ring Ouzel
Where: Football pitches around Esso Wood, where they stay close to the margins and pop back into cover when disturbed. Also around Long Wood, particularly near the large clump of semi-burnt gorse. Call a loud chacking. Chack chack chack.
When: Last week in September, first week of October. Early mornings pre-dogs best.

Spotted Flycatcher
Where: Long Wood, scrub east of Alexandra Lake. They particularly like the lower trees between the two bits of Long Wood for some reason, and often shelter in less exposed areas.
When: Now to the end of September

Pied Flycatcher
Where: Long Wood and scrub east of Alex.
When: Previous records have been 21st August, 24th August (both this year!), and 1st September.

Where: The anthills near the Golden Fleece pub and the scrub east of Alex
When: Last year's bird was 16th - 25th September.

Red-backed Shrike
Where: Hawthorn scrub seems most likely.
When: Birds on the move now. Find one and ensure I see it to claim your free beer.

Barred Warbler
Where: They like Elders, so look for those.
When: We don't care, just find one.

Where: In the sky! (just surmising, we don't actually know as we have never seen one), though they do follow watercourses and main roads. A406 and the Roding?
When: mid to end of September, though birds are going over now.

Honey Buzzard
Where: Over the Flats where you have wide horizons is your best bet. Any large raptor here is good, so look out for something that you're not quite sure is a Common Buzzard and make sure you get a photo!
When: Birds are on the move now, one was seen last year on 16th September, though sadly not by me.

Waders in general
All Waders are scarce in Wanstead. For some reason they become even scarcer when people wake up and walk their dogs. The most likely candidates are Snipe, and Common and Green Sandpipers. What we really want are Greenshank and Godwits. Please.
Where: The margins of Alexandra Lake and Jubilee Pond, though sometimes they can be heard flying over the Flats.
When: Wader passage is peaking now, and will continue throughout September.

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