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- Epping Forest: Its birds. Edward North Buxton (192...
24 August 2013
Quail pie and crake conundrum
It all started off quiet enough, constant drizzle, nothing much to get excited about. Then I picked up a Pied Fly midway down Long Wood, showing well in the gloom, after a while it was replaced by a Spotted Flycatcher and things were on the up.
Met up with Bob just south of the "enclosure" east of Long Wood, and we chatted. Not five minutes after we met up a strange bird appeared to fly up from the path he had just taken and pitched down in the brambles. Obviously a crake from its legs hanging out the back, not too large (smaller that a Moorhen) with no discernible white on its rear end. Unfortunately no discernible markings on its back or obvious rufus in its wings. Uniform brown with darker primaries. Shortish bill again no colour was stand out. Well that set us talking. Mostly about how to flush the bird from the largest, deepest and most impenetrable bramble patch around. On reflection I think we should have got some blackberry pickers in, as they manage to trash even the most formidable of brambles.
Within 10 minutes Steve and Tony had arrived and we surrounded the patch. Pretending to be singing Corn Crakes didn't work and flushing the bird seemed highly unlikely so after awhile we gave it up as a lost cause. It will of course hoof it over night. I think we al knew what it was, bloody mega! Bloody disappointing.
I wandered off into the brooms while Tony and the others went to look for the flycatchers. A sodden Wheatear was the only new bird back that way so I made my way back to Long Wood. Tony had found a Tree Pipit in the same oak as mine on Thursday, odds on its the same bird. As we discussed ISO settings and excitable Bob was seen by the vis-mig point. Tony rushed off, his marathon training coming in useful, while I with several gallons of water in my wellies could only squelch after him. He had flushed a bird from the path in the grassland between Centre Copse and the brooms. I assumed it was our crake, did it have a streaky back. On an affirmative answer I tweeted out that we'd flushed the crake again. Wrong!
With the four of us strung out in a line we waded through the grass in the hope of flushing the bird again. I was still under the impression it was a crake we were looking for, so a bit of crexing went on down my end. It was only when Dominic Mitchell phoned to buy any exclusive snaps we might have and he asked for a description of the bird we were currently after that I had to hand the phone over to Bob. He then began describing Quail, which I thought odd.
It finally dawned on me he was talking about another bird, but by this time we had walked through the grass several times with only a couple of bemused Skylark, one with no tail, to show for it. Arse.
We then split up, Tony to Centre Copse where he got yesterday's Cuckoo, Me to Alex where I got nada, and Bob home to check his books, Steve just evaporated!
After a quick pit stop at the Costa, I hid in the Esso Copse while it literally pissed down. Shouldn't have bothered as I was a drowned rat by that stage. There I saw Marco checking the "enclosure" so I went to meet him. Together we found a second, this time juvenile, Pied Fly and a couple of Spotties, on a rain interrupted tour of the SSSI and Long Wood. No Wryneck, yet!