News of wildlife and other issues
No Bats and a Little Owl
Tim Harris and I had planned to begin a survey of the bats around the Heronry Pond on 15th September. We began the survey as planned, but aborted half way because of the continuing hard rain that had started just as we did. So - no bats. However an encounter with a Forest Keeper (dry in his vehicle) gave us a report of a Little Owl that he had seen on the main track between the Kiosk and the Temple. As this is the first report I've had of a Little Owl in Wanstead Park - perhaps worth noting.
Paul Ferris, 16th September 2009
Bird report for Saturday 12th September
On Saturday 12th September I met up with Tim Harris and saw the following birds: Up to 4 Spotted Flycatchers, 4 Whitethroat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whinchat, 13 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 1 Garden Warbler, 22+ Dunnocks (there seemed to be some kind of Dunnock passage going on, I saw two lots of six together, 3 other birds flew off high north and I saw another flying high over east later), 8 Skylark, 3 Blackcap, 11 Chiffchaff, 24+ Swallows over and 2 Kingfishers on the Heronry Pond.
On Sunday the highlight was an immature Yellowhammer with 2 Reed Buntings in the open area near Long Wood on Wanstead Flats. Also present were 1 Whinchat, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 36 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 7 Blackcap, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 9 Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and 2 Yellow Wagtails over.
Bird Report - Wanstead Area, 7th September
Counted at least 7 Spotted Flycatchers on my way home this afternoon, also a female or immature Redstart, 8 Blackcap and a Hobby. Yesterday in Wanstead Park had a brief view of a female Garganey on the Heronry Pond before she flew off, and also 5 Teal.
Bird Migration in September 2009
Wanstead Flats continues to provide excitement by providing a host of bird species over the last few weeks. Whilst Whinchats and Wheatear are still around, it seems now to be the turn of Spotted Flycatchers.
Stuart Fisher counted at least 7 Spotted Flycatchers on his way home on 7th September, plus a female or immature Redstart, 8 Blackcap and a Hobby. The previous day (6th) in Wanstead Park he had a brief view of a female Garganey on the Heronry Pond before she flew off, and also 5 Teal.
Before 8am on the 8th, Tim Harris reported just one Wheatear and one Whinchat on Wanstead Flats, so it seems that some change had occurred from the previous week or two. Perhaps the smaller migrants had been ousted by the incredible number of Canada Geese that morning: 324!
Tim Harris captured the photograph below of one of the Spotted Flycatchers near Long Wood.
Repair work at the Heronry Pond
The Heronry Pond is being refilled from the borehole after the recent draining of the lake.
The lake was drained in order for repair work to be carried out on the concrete lining at the east end, where tree-roots had broken through and destroyed parts of the existing lining. Apparently this work was necessary to comply with the Reservoirs Act, for the lakes in Wanstead Park come under that category.
I felt it a shame that millions of gallons of water had to be drained out at this time of year, albeit the water was transferred into the adjacent Perch Pond so was useful in keeping that and the Ornamental Waters topped-up. It was the time of year that dismayed me - a time when many birds, particularly Coots and Moorhens were nesting. The Coot's nests in particular provided a strange sight, left high and dry - really high! Little Grebes did not do so well with their breeding this year, and perhaps this didn't help?
The fish in the lake were stunned and removed to another lake, but of course that is only the larger fish. Smaller ones - of which there would have been many fry at this time - were left to ever-decreasing areas of water and shallows. One positive result of this aspect was the remarkable sight of up to seven Little Egrets at a time having a feast. I suspect the fish and other creatures weren't quite so happy about things, and I suspect that possibly MILLIONS of creatures perished because of the changes in their environment.
It was interesting to be able to observe crayfish in the shallows (unfortunately the invasive North American ones - not our native species) as well as Great Pond Snails, and - distressingly, I thought - Swan Mussels lying high and dry on the drying mud and algae. I even went to the trouble of rescuing one that I thought still may be alive and depositing it in some remaining water.
The repair work is complete - you can see the lighter-coloured cement between the Northumberland Avenue gate and the refreshment Kiosk - but considering the considerable expense that this must have involved and the damage - as I see it - to the wildlife, I have to ask why when the lake was drained was the opportunity not taken at least to clear some of the accumulated debris from the pond - particularly along the east bank? An opportunity missed, I think.
Paul Ferris 4th September 2009