Historic records and present status of Birds in the Wanstead Area

These notes are compiled from personal observations since 1973 , and records of the Wren Conservation Group from 1974. The Group published reports on the birds of Southern Epping Forest from 1975 until 1985. At present I do not have detailed records from the 1975 report, and these are only noted as being present in the area in that year.

Some reports are included (in inverted commas) from prior to 1974 that came to light after publication of the bird reports.

In 2008 the Group began again doing monthly water-bird counts in the winter months. (see Wren Group website)


Little Grebe : Recorded in all years from 1973 to the present time. In 1974 "at least 4" were recorded in Wanstead Park. These are resident breeding birds, with a good breeding success rate and sometimes up to a few pairs on each of the larger ponds. They are present on Alexandra Lake on Wanstead Flats, and on all lakes in Wanstead Park.

Great Crested Grebe : In 1974 these were uncommon, only recorded as a breeding pair on the Basin in Wanstead. In April 1975 one was reported from Heronry Pond. 1976 had a few more reports from various local waters, and on 29th March 1977 a pair were nest-building on Perch Pond. In 1978 the maximum number of birds known were three in Wanstead Park, but there were no records of breeding. In the same year a pair unsuccessfully nested on the Eagle Pond.

In more recent years pairs have bred on Alexandra Lake, and on Perch Pond, the Heronry Pond, the Ornamental Water in Wanstead Park as well as Eagle Pond in Snaresbrook. In 2008, however, this species was less frequently seen, and in 2009 there were no breeding records.

Red-necked Grebe: There is a record from the Wren Group reports of a single bird on Eagle Pond from 18th February to 19th March 1979

Black-necked Grebe : One was present on the Shoulder of Mutton Pond from 24th to 28th April 1981, after storms and on the same day as a Gannet.

Gannet : One on Shoulder of Mutton Pond on 24th April 1981 after storms; it was exhausted and rescued, but did not survive. On the same day, a Black-necked Grebe was also present.

Cormorant : These used to be seen more usually flying over than on the lakes, but now are a common sight, particularly on the Perch Pond, the Ornamental Water, Heronry Pond and Alexandra Lake. They do also visit Jubilee Pond. A regular daily flight of Cormorants between Walthamstow Reservoirs and the Thames near Barking can be observed on most morning and evenings.

Little Egret : The first record is of an individual by Heronry Pond in Wanstead Park disturbed by dog-walkers early morning on 28 July 2005. Subsequently one was present in the gap between Lincoln and Rook Islands, Wanstead Park on 2nd September 2005. Subsequently there have been irregular occurrences over the years of either one or two birds, usually in Wanstead Park but also at Alexandra Lake on Wanstead Flats.

As this species has been seen increasingly just further north up the Roding, it may be assumed that birds are moving along the river to discover new habitats. Up to seven were present on Heronry Pond during August 2009, and these were taking advantage of low water-levels at the time. Heronry Pond was probably fished-out by about 15th, but the fact that up to seven birds had found it and were using the facilities shows the value of suitable habitats. Three Egrets were seen on the Ornamental Waters on 23rd.

Grey Heron : Long associated with Wanstead Park, and particularly with Lincoln Island and Rook Island. In 1974 it was reported that they were becoming increasingly frequent in Wanstead Park, and it was suggested that breeding might occur. This has so far not happened For some years a woman was feeding herons daily in Wanstead Park (with fish); maybe this is part of the reason why they have become distinctly more tolerant of humans in recent years? They may be seen on all of the larger lakes, and indeed in peoples gardens (fish ponds!)

Black Swan : One on Heronry Pond and then Ornamental Water from 5th November, 2006 for a week or two.

Mute Swan : In 1973, Mute Swans suffered badly from egg-robbers. Now most of the lakes have a breeding pair, those on Ornamental Waters doing particularly well. The numbers of birds on Eagle Pond has dropped considerably.

Bewick's Swan : "Basin, winter of 1947". There is a record of three on the Holllow Ponds on 7th January from the 1979 Wren Group reports.

White-fronted Goose : There is a record of a flock of 50-60 flying over Wanstead Flats on 28th January 1979 from Wren Group reports.

In 2008 one was on the Jubilee Pond, Wanstead Flats on December 3rd and December 11th. Reported by Jonathan Lethbridge as "a juvenile, un-ringed, flying freely, probable vagrant rather than escaped bird as it appeared after bad storms, plus not many females in captivity in the UK".

Greylag Goose : There are records of a single bird being present in the aea from 1978 - 1981 in Wren Group reports. In more recent years, one or two birds can often be seen at Alexandra Lake on Wanstead Flats, and occasionally on Heronry Pond in the Park. These associate with the Canada Geese for feeding.

In late 2009 and early 2010 numbers seemed to build up in the vicinity of Alexandra Lake, where up to 9 were seen. Subsequently, numbers have built up quite considerably. There have been numbers of instances of hybrids between this species and Canada Geese.

Canada Goose : In 1974 the report was that two were irregularly seen on Perch Pond and the Shoulder of Mutton. In 1976 just two were reported during the summer; these attempted to breed but their eggs were stolen. During that year the highest number reported was 45, in 1977, 60 and in 1978, 63. In a report in the Wren Group's 1984/5 Bird Report on waterbird counts carried out by the Group, a distinct trend was noted: it had been seen that in 1981 the only Canada Goose seen away from their "traditional" site on Eagle Pond was a single bird which stayed on the Ornamental Waters from October to December. In subsequent years it was noted that gradually the population on the Eagle Pond diminished as numbers on other local waters grew.

Nowadays, a large flock of up to around 250 birds is often present on Wanstead Flats, splitting up and moving between Alexandra Lake, Jubilee Pond the Wanstead Park lakes, and others in the local and greater area.

Barnacle Goose : Records of this species in 1982 and three on Eagle Pond on 15th December 1985 in Wren Group reports.

Egyptian Goose : First recorded on Alexandra Lake in 1972 where there were two, thought to be males. These were occasionally also seen in Wanstead Park, and were last reported on 27 June 1976.

A single bird with indistinct face-patterns (apparently the results of inbreeding within the London population) was by Heronry Pond between 21st October and 27th October 2008. In 2009 the following were recorded: Five on Heronry Pond at 14.00 on 23rd January (photo); these were still present on 24th January in early morning but had gone later. Two (one light, one dark) on Heronry Pond on 16th April at 15.30; and the same two on Alexandra Lake at 18.00 on 16th April. The same two were grazing on Wanstead Flats near Alexandra Lake on 15th May.

: A single drake on the Eagle Pond on 13th January 1981.

Wigeon : This species is not regular or common in the area, with just occasional sightings of individuals. Records from Wren Group reports in of being present in 1976; a pair on the Eagle Pond on 16th March 1977; and each year from 1979-82. Occasional sightings have occured since.

Chiloe Wigeon : One - presumably an escape - on Perch Pond on 25th December 1977.

Gadwall : One in Wanstead Park on 12th March 1971. The Wren Group's annual report records a solitary female on the Basin on 13th March 1975.

This species has become much more common in the last 10 years or so. Now, 30 or 40 birds may easily be present in the winters, scattered over Wanstead Park ponds and smaller numbers on other waters such as Alexandra Lake. These seem to gradually be arriving earlier in the Autumn, and tend to leave later, though the bulk are in the colder months.

Teal : Another mainly winter visitor, favouring the Ornamental Waters, but enjoy the island-margins of Alexandra Lake when water levels are low. Between 1974 and 1978 the maximum number of birds reported in the whole area in one year was four. On 19th November and 15th December 1985 a single drake was seen on the Hollow Ponds, and on the latter day, another drake was reported on the Ornamental Water.

Numbers have grown in more recent years and Teal may be seen much more readily, particularly on the Ornamental Waters and Alexandra Lake.

Mallard : A common bird on all lakes. In the 1970's there were a number of domestic white ducks on Alexandra Lake, and some interbreeding with the wild stock took place. Only occasional domestic ducks are now seen. As well as the Mallards, there was also a Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata), but this and the domestic ducks died when the lake became polluted after drought in 1992.

: Wren Group records report a female on the Ornamental Water on 1st February 1975.

Garganey : "One in park on 6/4/72." ; one on Heronry Pond, Wanstead Park on 3rd April 2002.; 2 in Heronry Pond, evening 23/4/09

Shoveler : Records from 1976 show a single male on Alexandra Lake on 1st and another on 15th of February; On 20th November there were 4 males and 2 females on the Basin, and these stayed for a few days only. There was a single male on the Ornamental Water on 22nd December. Similar numbers recorded during 1977 and 1978.

Nowadays during the winter there are sometimes plenty of birds on the Ornamental Waters and Heronry Pond during the winters, but they tend to move around a bit and may be plentiful one day on a lake and will be elsewhere the next. Quite commonly seen on Alexandra Lake, and has also occurred on Jubilee Pond on Wanstead Flats.

Red-crested Pochard : A female stayed on Perch Pond from 15th January 1976 and was still present on 29 March 1977. Presumably the same one was seen on Ornamental Water on 15th May and was still present on 12th June. This was very tame and obviously an escape. Wren Group records show the species as being present in the area from 1979-85.

In 2009, with ice on many of the local ponds, a pair were on Heronry Pond from 9th - 13th January.

Pochard : Reports from Wanstead Park in 1973 and 1974 stated that there were "a few, mainly in Winter". In 1978 it was noted in the Wren Group's Bird Report that "it is clear that numbers wintering in the area are increasing".

There are variable numbers during the winter with about 50 birds in Wanstead Park during January 2009. There may well be more on other lakes in the area at the same time; there were a few on Alexandra Lake on 13th January. Small numbers may be present during the summer.

Tufted Duck : Another common duck throughout the year, but only breed in small numbers.

Goldeneye : A female was first seen on Alexandra Lake on 20 November 1977 and stayed until 24 December. Wren Group records report one on the Perch Pond on 9th January 1982. In 1985 there were two records - a duck on the Hollow Pond on 17th November and another duck on Eagle Pond on 9th January. A female was on the Heronry Pond during a morning and after a night of extreme winds on 14 November 2009, and was still present the following day. Three males and a female were on Perch Pond on February 20th 2013, and there was some indication of display activity.

Goosander : A duck flying over the Perch Pond on 31st January 1981 and another duck on the Basin on 2nd and 3rd January, also in 1981.

A pair on Perch Pond (which was nearly iced-over) on December 30th 2008 is typical of this scarce visitor. It has been seen in years past in similar weather conditions.

Smew : one female on Ornamental Waters at 1pm on 13th November 2006

Ruddy Duck : This species was first recorded in the area in 2000 in Wanstead Park, and in 2001 a pair on Alexandra Lake produced three young. By 2004 they were a common sight either in Wanstead Park or Alexandra Lake, Wanstead Flats, although not in large numbers - similarly in 2005. In 2006 on 7 May there were a pair on Heronry Pond and a male on 20 May. There are no records since 2007.

Sparrowhawk : In the 1970's this was not a common bird; one seen occasionally in Wanstead Park in 1976 belonged to a local falconer.

Quite a common sight in the area, and until the last couple of years was more common than Kestrel.

Buzzard : May be seen occasionally soaring high overhead.

Kestrel : In 1974 were reported as being present all year, but with probably only one pair in Wanstead Park. In 1976 it was reported that two pairs hunt the Park. It would not have been unusual to see a Kestrel on Wanstead Flats, however.

In more recent years there has been a marked decline in sightings, although there seems to be signs of a recovery.

Hobby : Probably a few pairs locally; one pair is known to breed annually in Wanstead Park.

Peregrine : One noticed flying east over Wanstead Park on February 16th 2008. Not a common sight, although more sightings are occuring. Two were reported from the City of London Cemetery in early 2013(?), and one was seen circling over Wanstead Park on 3rd March, 2013.

Red-legged Partridge : A pair present in the City of London Cemetery and Sewage Works area all of 1977 hatched at least ten young. An adult bird was found exhausted in Manor Park on 7th April 1977 and was released into the Sewage Works. Two near Lake House Road on Wanstead Flats on 16 March 2006 (Fred Wanless)

Grey Partridge : "Present in park during 1950". Wren Group records report this species as being present in 1979 and 1981.

Pheasant : One bird reported in the area of Wanstead Park in the Spring of 1974, but unconfirmed. In 1976 it was stated that there was no change in the status. A pair was present all of 1977 in the general area of the Sewage Works; thought to have bred but there was no definite proof. In 1978 pheasants were still present "in small numbers" in the area of the Sewage Works and the Cemetery, but with still no proof of breeding. One was heard in the City of London Cemetery near the Aldersbrook Bridle Path on 22 April 2009.

Water Rail : One by Perch Pond, Wanstead Park in winter 1972; one at west end of Perch Pond in the evening, 9 December 1973 and on 2 March 1974 in the Dell. Seen again on the Perch Pond in December 1974. A bird near the kiosk in Wanstead Park on 1st January 1975.

A single Water Rail has been seen in the Park during the winter of many years; in the last few years this has been particularly at the west end of the Perch Pond from October through to early Spring. Up to four individuals were reported from the area in 2012, being seen on the Shoulder of Mutton Pond, Perch Pond, the Dell and the Ornamental Waters in Wanstead Park, and by the Alders Brook in Manor Park. In 2013, however, there was a pre-Christmas report of one in Wanstead Park and then no records until one was spotted in February in the Reservoir Stream by the Shoulder of Mutton.

Moorhen : as with the coot, very successful breeding and common on all lakes.

Coot : a very successful breeding species, common on all lakes. They are particularly prevalent on Heronry Pond.

Golden Plover : Wren Group records report a single bird flying over Wanstead Flats on 23rd November 1983.

Lapwing : Occasionally seen flying overhead, particularly across Wanstead Flats. Have been seen to land briefly, for example in the Sewage Works on 31st March 1974 and on 24th June 1977 on Wanstead Flats.

Dunlin : One seen near Dames Road Pond on 6th February 1979; one stayed by Alexandra Lake from 31st August to 3rd September also in 1980.

Ruff : A male and female on the frozen Alexandra Lake on 1st February 1976, and these remained in the area including Wanstead Flats and the Sewage Works until about 7th. Wren Group records report this species also on 31st August 1980 when one was seen on the dry bed of the Heronry Pond.

Jack Snipe : Wren Group records has a report of a single bird watched near the Heronry Pond on 26th October 1979.

Common Snipe : "Regular along Roding in winter up to the mid sixties". Three birds reported as being present in the Sewage Works in February 1976. One bird by Heronry Pond on 5th November and one near the Bund in Wanstead Park in 1977. Occasional birds have been flushed in mornings from Wanstead Flats - particularly in the area north of the fairground site; also the City of London Cemetery and Wanstead Park.

Woodcock : "Wanstead Park, November 1971". Has also been disturbed from the Birches in the City of London Cemetery. Wren Group records have reports of this species in 1980, 1981 and one flushed from bracken in Gilbert's Slade on 25th March 1984.

Curlew : "12 flew over park on 21/8/71". Two birds thought to be Curlew were flushed from Wanstead Flats at 6am on 12 July 1978.

Redshank : A single bird flew over Hollow Ponds and Leyton Flats on 3rd April 1983.

Greenshank : The first record is from the morning of 15th September 1985 when one was flushed from the edge of Heronry Pond. It flew to the Shoulder of Mutton Pond and was last seen flying off across Wanstead Golf Course.

Green Sandpiper : A bird flew into Wanstead Sewage Works from Ilford Golf Course, touched down briefly and then flew off down the Roding Valley on 8th November 1981. A bird was seen again that month, on the 25th, by Aldersbrook in the late afternoon.

Common Sandpiper : The first record is one by the Roding in Wanstead Park in July 1973. In 1976 a total of 7 birds passed through the Park or Sewage Works between 12th and 29th August, with two stopping off for day on 12th.

Single birds are sometimes seen in the early morning by Alexandra Lake or Heronry Pond, before being disturbed. However, a flock of six flew up and down Heronry Pond for some time from about 16.00 after heavy storms on 20th July 2007.

Grey Phalarope : "One bird was present on the Heronry Pond in Wanstead Park on 14th November" (R.W.Peters: LBR 1963)

Mediterranean Gull : The first record of this species in the area is from Wren Group records which reportan immarure bird seen flying around the Shoulder of Mutton Pond with a flock of Black-headed Gulls on 16th September 1984.

One on Heronry Pond, 1st February, 2008.

Black-headed Gull : In 1977, 800 birds were reported to have been in the area in February, largely on Wanstead Flats and in the Park. In 1978, 1020 were counted in February.

Common on Wanstead Flats and in Wanstead Park. Numbers fall of slowly until about April, whence numbers drop sharply for a few months. In 2008, a peak of 300 or so were reported from Wanstead Flats.

Common Gull : Common on all lakes in the area, with large flocks on Wanstead Flats in winter. In 1977, 20-30 birds were reported from January to March and again from August to December. In 1978 the peak, in December, was 155.

In more recent years, the numbers of Common Gulls may have overtaken those of Black-headed Gulls; in early January 2008 there were around 165 just near Jubilee Pond. A peak of about 480 birds - on 13th January - were reported on the Flats in 2008.

Lesser Black-backed Gull : Occasionally seen on Wanstead Flats and Heronry Pond. In 1977, up to four birds were seen in the area, usually around the Eagle Pond or on Wanstead Flats. Otherwise in that year, occasional reports with a peak of 9 on 23rd October. In 1978 there were 17 on 13th July.

This still seems to be the pattern, of variable small numbers from year to year, although it is suggested that they may be getting more common, with double figures on the Flats near Bush Wood on some mornings in winter 2008/9 (Jonathan Lethbridge); Two birds were regular in the area of the playing fields and Alexandra Lake during April 2009 and it has become increasingly common to see this species during the summer on Heronry Pond.

Herring Gull : Two second-winter birds on Ornamental Water reported on 29 December 1974; in 1977, up to three birds were seen in the area from January to March, and in August to September, usually on Wanstead Flats.

Juvenile on Perch Pond (?), 12 October 2008. In more recent years Herring Gulls have been sighted in small numbers from time to time on Wanstead Flats.

Great Black-backed Gull : Four birds on Wanstead Flats on 3rd October 1976; One on 25th February 1977; In 1978, single birds were seen on four separate day in January, February and December.

These few records indicate that it is an uncommon visitor to this area. One on playing fields on Wanstead Flats, January 1st 2009. One on Wanstead Flats on 1st November 2009.

Common Tern : A record of two Common or Arctic Terns over Alexandra Lake in April 1973. The next record is of two seen over the Basin for a short time on 4th July 1981.

In more recent years (1990's onwards), ones or twos have been seen occasionally, mainly over the Ornamental Waters, in most years. Two feeding at Heronry Pond in early August 2009.

Little Auk : "1 found dead in Wanstead Park during 1962"

Feral Pigeon : These are quite common in the general area, and some may often be seen in Wanstead Park near the refreshment kiosk. 200 plus birds may often be seen by Alexandra Lake, where they are offered an incredible amount and variety of foods. Some of these birds are frequently seen bathing in the lake, spending a lot of time in the water. Perhaps they are becoming an aqautic curry-eating sub-species?

Stock Dove
: First available reports are from 1974: "heard and seen 31/3 and occasinaly subsequently". In 1976 it was reported that there were two pairs resident in Wanstead Park.

This is still a common resident bird in Wanstead Park, albeit in low numbers, although often overlooked. Also heard in the City of London Cemetary in April 2009.

: Very common throughout the area with a large increase during the winter months, particularly favouring the Birches area of the City of London Cemetery.

Collared Dove : "First recorded as present in study are in 1962". Record of a bird in the Sewage Works on 21st February 1973 and another on 27th August 1973; One heard in City of London Cemetery on 29 March and one (in Wanstead Park?) on 10th April 1974, two records in 1975. In 1976 there were two pairs in the Sewage Works, one pair in the Cemetery, and birds seen in other parts of the area.

Numbers have built up slowly so that now they are a common bird, but not in large numbers.

Turtle Dove : One record of a bird on 15th September 1974. On 8th May 1977, heard all day long in the Sewage Works. From then on up to four birds heard usually in the Cemetery, the last being seen on 23rd September. In 1978 there were records of three, perhaps four individual birds during May and June. Between then and 1984 there were no reports. A single bird was seen in Wanstead Park on 8th June 1985.

There are no recent records.

Ring-Necked Parakeet (Rose-ringed Parakeet) Psittacula krameri : One seen flying over Wanstead Flats on 7thOctober 1977. Wren Group records report that after an absence of 5 years, this species was recorded on 4th March 1985 flying into a tree on Lincoln Island. A single bird was known to fly in to roost in Wanstead Park for many years after.

One flew south-east over Wanstead Flats in the early morning of April 3rd 2008; four on Wanstead Flats on 23rd October 2008; at least two, sometimes apparently investigating nesting holes, in Wanstead Park from 2nd March and through at least into April 2009. Three were seen flying south over Manor Park Flats on 22nd April 2009. Increasing numbers were seen mainly in Wanstead Park during the latter part of 2009, with about 30 birds were seen flying through Chalet Wood on 23rd October. This number is bound to increase, and their noisy cries are now a common sound in Wanstead Park.

There is a regular flight of groups of these birds at at just after daybreak every morning across the eastern end of Wanstead Flats. These are flying from the south and heading almost due north. A return flight (north-south) takes place each evening. It would be interesting to know where these birds are roosting overnight.

Cuckoo : Heard in Wanstead Park on 6th May 1973. In 1977 was reported as being present in the area from 24th April to 27th June, and was heard in Manor Park Cemetery on 10th, 11th and 13th of May. In 1978 occasional records of birds between March and - unusually for this area - as late as 10th July.

Once briefly heard as a passage migrant each year, in the last few years since there have been hardly any reports.

Little Owl : "Present in park up to 1968, nesting in some years. Seen on Wanstead GC (Golf Course) during 1970". Wren Group records report that the only record is of a bird calling in flight over the Aldersbrook Estate during the night of 10/11th May 1975.

Some birds were present on Wanstead Flats from at least 2005, and young have been reported. In 2009 at least three birds could be sighted, seemingly having their own sites in individual copses. In late 2009 none were seen on Wanstead Flats, but occasional reports were heard of one being seen in Wanstead Park, between the kiosk and the Temple.

Barn Owl : "Seen in park, 1948". In 1976 a bird was reported from Ilford, and seen occasionally near Wanstead Park Road. Wren Group records report that the species was only recorded in 1976 and 1977, and those records involved one or two birds on the borders of the area.

Tawny Owl : Reported as becoming less common in 1974. In 1976 a pair raised two young in Wanstead Park and another pair nested in St. Mary's Churchyard, Wanstead. It was thought that there might be as many as a dozen pairs in the area.

Numbers have dropped considerably, although in 2008 Tawny Owls were heard occasionally in Bush Wood and in Wanstead Park near the Riding School. In 2009, occasional birds were heard from Wanstead Flats and in Wanstead Park. In 2012/13, there were reports of them being heard in Bush Wood and also Reservoir Wood.

Short-eared Owl : A record of a bird in the allotments east of the Roding on 22nd December 1980. Two birds seen over Leyton Flats on 30th October 1984. One seen passing through Bush Wood on 12th May 1985.

Swift : Small numbers were reported to be feeding in the area in 1976. Now it is a common summer visitor, usually in high numbers; has been seen to enter houses in Wanstead Park Avenue, for example on 15th June 1975.

Hoopoe : In 1976 "One bird was seen in the park on 30th April, at 3pm. ".....first noticed by its call, then seen on grass north of HP.....flew up and crossed into the GC, and not heard or seen again". Only one observer, but the record does fit with with a sighting of one bird a few days earlier in Epping Forest".

Kingfisher : "Regular in Park until 1962/3 winter, after which not seen for some years".

Kingfishers have attempted to breed - sometimes successfully - in most years since 1974, in Wanstead Park and also in a number of places along the Roding . Also reported from the Alders Brook. They are occasionally seen at Alexandra Lake.

Green Woodpecker : In 1974 only two reported, and a pair in 1976. Occasional records from Wanstead Park in 1978. The species was thought to be decreasing according to the Wren Group Bird Report of 1984/85.

Now common in Wanstead Park; perhaps increasingly so on Wanstead Flats, Bush Wood, the City of London Cemetery and Manor Park Cemetery.

Great Spotted Woodpecker : A common bird in Wanstead Park; also seen on Wanstead Flats and in Manor Park and City of London Cemeteries

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker : Small numbers reported through the years from Wanstead Park, Bush Wood and the City of London Cemetery. In the last ten years, numbers have declined until they were almost never reported. However, in 2009 there were signs of a possible recovery, and breeding appears to have taken place in Wanstead Park and certainly in a copse on Wabnstead Flats.

Woodlark : "Seen on Wanstead GC (Golf Course) in summer of 1967".

Skylark : Most reports of Skylarks are of the well-known population on Wanstead Flats, although two reported from the rough grassland of Leyton Flats on 2nd January 1984. In 1976 it was reported that on Wanstead Flats there were "several nests...but most of these failed because of fires". One or two nests were reported from Wanstead Flats in 1977, but as these are notoriously difficult to find anyway, it is not known what the breeding success was.

The fact that the population remains strong suggests some success, for there is still a good population on Wanstead Flats. One at least usually heard each year in Wanstead Park, but in 2009 none were heard. A lot of work took place on the Plain relating to water-pipes, and is thought that the birds may have been disturbed. It will be interesting to see if they return.

Sand Martin : Records from 1974 show only very few numbers on Spring and Autumn passage; often these were about the first hirundines to be seen (perhaps with Swallows) and Alexandra Lake was perhaps favoured. In the last few years, as House Martins have declined.

Sand Martins are now seen much more frequently, particularly over Heronry Pon, and are in greater number than House Martins. In 2008 there were still birds to be seen over the Heronry Pond on 20th June. Birds were seen again in perhaps smaller numbers in Autumn. They are known to nest in the walls of the Bow Back Rivers in Stratford, and it would be interesting to know where "our" Sand Martins breed.

Swallow : In 1976 "Several birds were present all summer, feeding over the lakes and in the Sewage Works, but far outnumbered by House Martins. Only one local nest was reported (fledged 3 young), but there were probably more". Small numbers seen each year, usually arriving in early May, and may be seen anywhere, perhaps particularly crossing Wanstead Flats.

Red-rumped Swallow : On 4th June 1975 one was identified flying around the Ornamental Water. This is the only report of this species in the study area.

House Martin : Used to be a very common bird, nesting on many houses in the area. The Wren Group Bird Report of 1984/85 states that this is the "commonest Hirundine in our area" and gives a count of 600, most of which which were in the area of the Keeper's Cottage and the Temple in Wanstead Park. This was obviously a flock preparing to leave for migration.

In recent years no nests seen, although some birds are seen, particularly over Heronry Pond.

Tree Pipit : One record of a bird in Wanstead Golf Course and later nearby in Wanstead Park on 16th May 1977. One bird flew SE, slightly west of Alexandra Lake, on 24th September 2008

Meadow Pipit : In 1978 the Wren Bird Report stated that the closure of the Sewage Works resulted in much smaller numbers in this area. "Fair numbers" were reported from Wanstead Flats, however, and nowadays small numbers may be seen all year on Wanstead Flats.

Yellow Wagtail : The first records from the Wren Groups reports were in 1977 with birds being seen in Wanstead Park and on Wanstead Flats. In 1978 two were recorded on the Flats, and it is recalled that those seen there were accompanying the cattle. It does seem true that very few records of this species have been received since the cessation of cattle grazing in 1996, although some may have passed through on migration.

One flying south-east over Lake House Estate, 9th September 2008.

Grey Wagtail : Always small numbers recorded, from Wanstead Park, the Roding and by Alexandra Lake on Wanstead Flats. However, they are familiar local birds and breeding pairs known from Wanstead Park and the nearby Roding.

Pied Wagtail
: Quite common in the area, although a drop in numbers was recorded after the Sewage Works closed down. Certainly have bred by Alexandra Lake.

: A single Waxwing was reported from a garden in Forest Gate on 28th January 1979. No further details are known. A flock of 50 or so were present in the Aldersbrook area in February 2012. A few were seen in and around Aldersbrook in early 2013.

Wren : A common resident species, and may be seen anywhere. An interesting record of winter build-ups in the Sewage Works in 1978, with a count of about 50 birds.

Dunnock : Fairly common. It was reported in 1978 that they outnumbered the Robins by about three to one!

Robin : A common breeding bird.

Nightingale : "1 bird in park on 15/9/1966". A bird was heard singing from the bushes on the mound in Warren Wood on 15th May 1985, and again in the evening on 19th May.

Black Redstart
: One on Wanstead Golf Course on 11th October 1981.

Redstart : One male in the Dell, Wanstead Park on 2nd April 1976 and a female on Wanstead Flats on 3rd October 1976. In 1979 there were three records - April, May and August - all in Wanstead Park.

Two males in and around the Hawthorns on Wanstead Flats near the Golden Fleece on September 1st, 2008.

Whinchat : One bird seen on Wanstead Flats on 26th August in 1976. In 1977 a male bird was seen on Wanstead Flats on 8th May. In 1978 one female was seen in the Sewage Works on 26th December. A single bird on 3rd October 1982 on Wanstead Flats.

There have been subsequent records of individual birds seen occasionally on Wanstead Flats.

Stonechat : In the 1970s whilst the Sewage Works were in operation, sporadic records from there. These were three records in 1976, one in 1977 and one in 1979.

Nowadays, seen occasionally on Wanstead Flats.

Wheatear : Small numbers seen each year on passage through Wanstead Flats in Spring and Autumn. Occasionally in Wanstead Park, for example there was one on grassland by Heronty Pond on 20th April 1975.

Ring Ouzel : A male was caught for ringing in the Sewage Works on 11th October 1982.

In 2008, on October 3rd, a female was in scrub alongside playing fields just east of Long Wood on Wanstead Flats. Disturbed by a dog, it flew high west at 7.20am. On April 14th 2009 there was a male reported on Wanstead Flats and on April 15th 2009 there were two - a female in grass near Centre Road and a male on north side. A bird was seen feeding just SW of enclosure near petrol station on Aldersbrook Road on 19 April 2009 (photo)

Blackbird : Reported in 1985 as being the commonest of the Thrush species in our area, this probably still the case. It is common all year round. Occasinally individuals are seen with varying degrees of white, sometimes almost pure white. These have given rise to confusion as to what species they are, or with Ring Ouzels, but their habit or habitat usually should give a clue.

Fieldfare : Less common than Redwing, but again numbers vary from year to year and throughout winter

Song Thrush : Quite a common bird in the area, particularly in Wanstead Park

Redwing : Numbers vary from winter to winter; In 1976 about 200 were present in the area from January to mid March.

Mistle Thrush : Another common thrush in the area, notably from Wanstead Park and Wanstead Flats.

Cetti's Warbler : One heard at at SW corner of Perch Pond on 3 April 2008. This was a first record for this species in the area.

Sedge Warbler : "Prior to 1970 this species is said to have bred in the reeds that used to line the river". One in reeds at edge of Ornamental Waters on 14 August, two on Wanstead Flats on 3rd September in 1977.

Reed Warbler : The 1977 Wren Group Bird Report states " Two birds ringed on 21 Aug. at the sewage works form the first and only record of this species for the area in recent years". In 1980 single birds were caught at the same site on 3rd and 24th August. In the Summer of 2011 a pair bred on the Shoulder of Mutton Pond in Wanstead Park, and a bird was present there during 2012

Lesser Whitethroat : Small numbers may be present during the summer, and also on migration; in 2008 one was seen in the scrub east of Alexandra Lake on 1st September and another in hawthorn near Centre Road on 24th September. One was singing by the Alders Brook on 18 April 2009 and two in the same area by the bridle path behind City of London Cemetery, one giving a lot of subsong at 09.30 on 19 April 2009.

Common Whitethroat : In 1976 a nest in Wanstead Park raised three young and there was possibly a nest in the Sewage Works. Similarly, in 1977 a pair present in the Park from May to September raised three young.

With the closing of the Sewage Works, numbers built up on the undisturbed land there ove the years, and now there is a healthy population. Increasing numbers observed elsewhere such as by the Alders Brook and on Wanstead Flats may be the results of breeding from that population. In 2008 there was a singing male in the scrub next to the Roding on 15th April, two in scrub near Lake House Road on 24th April. There was one in the scrub just east of Alexandra Lake on 6 May and 4 in Wanstead Park on 1st July also in 2008.

Garden Warbler : There is one record of a pair in Wanstead Park in 1976. In 1977 two young birds were ringed in the Sewage Works on 28th August suggesting that a pair first seen in the Park on 14th May could have bred.

Small numbers may be present in Wanstead Park. One in the scrub east of Alexandra Lake on Wanstead Flats on September 1st 2008.

Blackcap : Individuals are seen sporadically throughout the winter. Numbers are enhanced in Summer when it is a common breeding bird in Wanstead Park and in and around gardens in the area. Also heard on Wanstead Flats. A female was seen in my garden between Manor Park Cmetery and Wanstead Flats during much of the winter of 2012/13.

Wood Warbler
: One bird seen on 1st August 1976 by the Ornamental Waters in Wanstead Park, a single bird on 27th April 1977, another on 13th April 1979 and another on 9th May 1979, are the only four records of this species in the area.

Chiffchaff : As with the Blackcap, occasional individuals seen throughout the winter, with many present in the Summer.

Willow Warbler : Less common than the previous two species, present in Wanstead Park, Flats, Aldersbrook area and the cemetery.

Goldcrest : These are quite common birds in small numbers, having been recorded from Bush Wood, in the Sewage Works, in Reservoir Wood and other locations in Wanstead Park, near Centre Road on Wanstead Flats and in the City of London Cemetery.

Firecrest : Occasional individuals have been seen. Older records relate to 26/27th November 1980 in Long Wood on Wanstead Flat. One was reported from Reservoir Wood on 1st October 2009, and since then there have been a few reports of birds in the area. Two were present in Bush Wood during the Winter of 2012/13.

Spotted Flycatcher : A breeding record confirmed in Wanstead Park during July 1974, and another during the summer of 1976. One near Long Wood on 11 August 2007 (photo). May be present on Wanstead Flats during the summer, and on migration.

Pied Flycatcher
: "A single male in Wanstead Park on 29/4/69". Rarely recorded; there was a female in the scrub east of Alexandra Lake on September 1st 2008.

Long-tailed Tit : A common, breeding resident.

Marsh Tit : In 1975 a single bird was reported on 19th February. In 1976 one pair reported in Wanstead Park, but were not thought to have nested. In 1977 there were records of five nests in the area, and in 1978 a report of a single bird on 10th May. There have been no recent records.

Willow Tit : In 1976 one pair was known and these nested in the Sewage Works. One in Wanstead Park on 8th May 1983. One bird was seen by the Northumberland Avenue entrance to the Park on 2nd January 1984. No recent records.

Coal Tit : Small numbers locally - less common than in the past. Some increase in reports during 2009.

Blue Tit : A common breeding species

Great Tit : A common breeding species.

Red-backed Shrike : "Present up to about 1950 in the Wanstead Sewage Works. Evidence suggests that they bred in several years". A juvenile that was caught and ringed in the Sewage Works on 1st November 1980 is the only subsequent record.

Great Grey Shrike : The 1984/85 Wren Group Bird Report states "The only Great Grey Shrike recorded in our area since 1973 was a female which was caught and ringed in Wanstead Sewage Works on 22nd October 1977".

Nuthatch : A fairly common species in the area at one time, seen in Wanstead Park and Bush Wood particularly. However, the Wren Group Bird Report of 1984/85 notes a scarcity of these birds.

Hardly a record in recent years until 2009 when two in St Mary's Churchyard on 8th January ; one heard in same location 9th January and was still present on 17th January ; one heard trilling in Reservoir Wood on 31st January; one singing around Rook Island, 23rd February; heard singing from Warren Wood, 2nd March.

Tree Creeper : These used to be a frequent sight, particularly in Wanstead Park and Bush Wood, and even local gardens. In 1974 they were reported to be "resident and fairly common" although there were no breeding records. In 1973 it was reported that "1 or 2 usually present" in Wanstead Park. In 1976 there were possibly three pairs in Wanstead Park. The Wren Group Bird Report of 1984/85 doesn't give any indication of scarcity, indeed notes an increase from 1984 to 1985.

Subsequently, however, numbers dropped and the species had not been recorded for some years until one in Reservoir Wood on 2nd November 2009.

Golden Oriole : The 1984/85 Wren Group Bird Report states that two birds have been reported in the area (since 1975). The first was a male seen near Forest School, Snaresbrook on 1st April 1977, and the other was a female at the same place on 29th April 1978.

Jay : a good number, peaking at 8-10 birds on Wanstead Flats; throughout the area.

Magpie : Common, with birds nesting throughout the area.

Jackdaw : In 1974 there was just one record, of eggs confiscated from children. This was considered a rare species in the area. A few were known in the vicinity of Snaresbrook Crown Court. In 1976 it seemed to be increasing and a gradual spread took place over the years through Snaresbrook, Wanstead and eventually to Wanstead Park and then Wanstead Flats.

It is now a common local bird, and frequently seen on Wanstead Flats. A flock of up to 100 birds has been reported in and around Wanstead Park.

Rook : One record of this bird on 3rd November 1976, calling as it flew over Wanstead Park.

Carrion Crow : The 1984/85 Wren Group Bird Report states that in 1985 there seems to have been a marked increase in the numbers of this species, with counts of up to 55 birds.

Now it is very common, with up to a hundred to be seen sometimes on Wanstead Flats.

Hooded Crow
: "A large number on Wanstead Flats during the severe 1962/3 winter".

Raven : A bird was present on Wanstead Flats, usually near Alexandra Lake, for some months in (1980s?). This was obviously an escaped bird, but lived quite happily with the Carrion Crows, and indeed seemed to become their glorious leader! It disappeared suddenly, and is thought to have been included in a cull of crows that may have taken place in the nearby cemetery.

Starling : These used to be a very common sight, with immense numbers flying in flock after flock SW over Wanstead Flats in the evenings, possibly heading for roosts in Stratford or even further into London.

Nowaday there are often several large flocks on the Flats; one flock assembles in roadside trees by Capel Road. Perhaps not so common nearer Wanstead Park.

House Sparrow : Quite common in small groups particularly near houses throughout the area. There are some good numbers by Wanstead Flats along Capel Road. Occasionally seen just inside Wanstead Park.

Tree Sparrow : In the 1970s these could be seen in the Sewage Works and in Wanstead Park, but after the closure of the Sewage Works in 1978 the small population began to decline. In 1981 the Wren Group Bird Report suggested that the species was declining in the area, and this was confirmed by 1985. There have been no reports in recent years.

Chaffinch : A common breeding bird.

Brambling : Rarely seen, and then usually in back-gardens. However, a flock of about 40 birds from January to March 1976 in the Sewage Works. In 1985 there were four on 20th January, six on 25th January and a single bird on 6th March, all on Wanstead Flats.

Greenfinch : A common bird in the area, with high numbers at times during the winter (eg flock of 30-plus Manor Park Cemetery/Wanstead Flats in January 2009)

Goldfinch : A fairly common bird, seen more often in Winter.

Siskin : Commonly seen during the winter months, particularly in the alder trees by Perch Pond and in the Dell; number up to about 50, for example, by Perch Pond on 24 December 2008. The last records for the winter of 2008/2009 was one at west end of Perch Pond on 20 March.

Linnet : A female near the Dell in 1975. Recorded on April 1976 on Wanstead Flats, on 21st April there were four on Leyton Flats; on 29th April 1984 two were seen in Wanstead Park. Two males and a female at the top of the Glade on 1st July 1984.

Redpoll : Has never been a common bird, occasionally being seen in Wanstead Park, but most commonly in the Exchange Lands. In early 2009 two pairs were reported to be feeding frequently in a garden in Northumberland Avenue, Aldersbrook.

Bullfinch : Has never been common, occasionally being seen throughout the year. In more recent years, even less common.

Hawfinch : "Seen in Bush Wood in 1960". From Wren Group Bird Reports, the only record is of a bird seen flying south across Wanstead Park on 6th October 1985.

Yellowhammer : Small numbers of up to 3 birds have been seen over the years in the Sewage Works, Wanstead Park or Wanstead Flats.

Reed Bunting : First reports from 1974 on two occasions in Wanstead Park. Small numbers tend to be seen; in Wanstead Park and on Wanstead Flats, particularly in Spring.



Pre-1974 records (in inverted commas) from Mr. A Leutscher and Mr. R.W. Peters via Wren Group.

Many of the 1970s and 1980s records are from the Annual Bird Reports (1974 - 1985) of the Wren Conservation Group, edited by C.W. Plant, later with B. Seaman and then M.D. Dent

More recent records are from a variety of observers and details may be found on the listings on this website.