Wanstead Patchwork: Part II (Skylark Highway or Police Scrape Patch?)

After Saturday was spent gallivanting around in Kent and Essex trying to improve my year list, I realised my new patch list was not going up on its own, so I nipped out early on Sunday morning.

It was not exactly prolific birding to be honest; especially after the excitement of the Slavonian Grebe last weekend (it is still there by the way). But I did add four species to my UK year list (62 so far) and eight to my patch list (now at 43 – pretty poor, but that is with only about 3 hours birding on the patch so far this year), with…

  • Green Woodpecker
  • Dunnock
  • Skylark
  • Stock Dove

… all new for the year, and…

  • Chaffinch
  • Meadow Pipit
  • Kestrel
  • Goldfinch
  • Pied Wagtail

… new for the patch this year.

I must confess that I shamelessly exploit the excellent Twitter updates from Wanstead Birding to find out what has been seen where as I stroll around. Nick Croft’s Twitter tips had me on the hunt for Linnet on an area of gravelly grass known as the Police Scrape (see point X on the map below). I wandered around wondering how this uninspiring patch of land could be of use to any birds of interest when I saw a flock of small birds in the distance. I was sure they had to be Linnet, but closer inspection left me surprised but equally pleased to see seven Skylark (which close-up look nothing like Linnet – even when they are as blurry as in the picture below):

Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis)

Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis)

I have to say, seeing Skylark on this scrubby playing field seemed a world away from the wonderful moment in the excellent Kingbird Highway when Kenn comes across the small population of Skylarks in the US on San Juan:

Kenn Kaufman, Kingbird Highway, 1997, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Kenn Kaufman, Kingbird Highway, 1997, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

[Back to reality] I then promptly bumped into Nick and some of the other Wanstead birders who kindly pointed me in the direction of a pair of displaying Stock Doves.

I shall leave this rather dry update of my patch search with a photo of a Kestrel who I found on the edge of Bush Wood at the spot marked Y on the map below.

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Thanks to Google Maps

Thanks to Google Maps

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