A Big Birding Year: Part XIII (“Look Mum, no feet!”)

Wanstead Flats

Wanstead Flats

Wanstead Flats is the most southerly tip (albeit disconnected from the rest) of Epping Forest. It is totally surrounded by East London’s urban sprawl. I visited for the first time this weekend (and for less than an hour as I got rained on quite heavily).

If you want to see how a really slick birder blogs about this place, check out the Wanstead Birder (I seem to be blocked from linking to him on this site)

I did not take any good photos, but whilst I was ferreting around in some bushes trying to photograph a Green Woodpecker (honestly Officer!), I looked up through a gap in the branches and saw the unmistakeable shape of my 83rd species of bird for the year: my first swift of the season (rather later than normal). I yanked my camera lens towards the sky and just managed to catch a blurry shape as it whizzed by…

Common Swift (Apus apus)

Common Swift (Apus apus)

The Latin name for the Swift means ‘no feet’. This is not strictly true, but it is true that this unsurpassed natural flying machine does have very small feet indeed. As I like to regale to people in an attempt to impart some wonder as an explanation for my geeky hobby, a young Swift will wobble to the edge of its nest and when it eventually fledges / takes off (if it survives) it will not touch land again for around 3 years until it is old enough to breed (just to re-cap in case anyone hasn’t got what I mean, the bird will be permanently airborne – sleeping and eating and everything – for years!)

I intend to return to Wanstead Flats to explore the birdlife more another time.


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