“The teeming hordes are sweeping, swirling round” The Teeming Hordes – Mallory Patrick
There is a sense of ‘movement’ amongst many of the migrant birds on the patch as we enter the Autumn passage time.
Some of our Summer visitors are leaving, and others are bunching up in bigger numbers as those on passage from further North stop off to refuel.
Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
The rather poor shot of a Chiffchaff above was taken in the low light of early morning. Yesterday I came across a flock of Chiffchaff at least 10-20 strong with a few Blue Tits and Great Tits tagging along for the ride (rather than the usual other way around). Chiffchaff breed across the patch, but the current numbers have swelled considerably.
Nowhere near as numerous, but also increased from very low number(s) during the breeding season, are Willow Warbler. The photo below has been puzzling me somewhat – the general colour and brightness point to it being a Willow Warbler and the legs look pale, but … the supercilium is annoyingly narrow and nondescript and as I didn’t hear it call or sing, I can be relatively confident, but not 100% certain, that it is not an aberrantly bright chiffy:
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) – I think!
Spotted Flycatchers have been an excellent feature bird on the patch for the last few weeks and numbers seem to fluctuate as they pass through. Yesterday I watched as three tussled and fought with each other, zipping from tree-to-tree in the highly productive area called ‘The Enclosure’. I even filmed one for a bit, calling and then flying off (excuse my shaky camera work): click here.
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
Spotted Flycatchers have been seen at numerous locations across the patch although the majority have been found around Long Wood and the Enclosure, reflected in this map of my personal sighting locations (each dot represents a rough location of sightings, not individual birds seen):
Thanks to City of London for the map
South of Long Wood are the brooms and grassland famous for our breeding Skylarks, but more recently the brooms have been alive with Whinchat. Six or seven have been recorded on particular days and have been popular with the local and visiting birders:
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) and some of the Wanstead birders blurry in the background
Four Whinchat in a bush
Even more popular than the Whinchat are the slightly less common Wheatear:
Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
With a blurry crow for size comparison
In the last few days I have rectified my lack of Yellow Wagtail on my patch list and have now seen a few pass high over. Meadow Pipits and several types of finches can also frequently be heard high above. But the numbers of all of these pale beside the hirundines; the sky has become increasingly busy with waves of Swallow, Sand Martin and House Martin:
House Martin (Delichon urbicum)
Today the Wanstead Birders counted up to 1000 Swallows pass over the flats.
Just as the summer migrants are leaving or preparing to leave, some of the familiar winter avians are starting to return from northerly climes or their coastal breeding sites, such as this Common Gull:
Common gull (Larus canus)
Migrants come and go, but much of the wildlife remains on the patch…
Juvenile Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
Female Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
With the onset of Autumn, the local fungi has been blooming all over the place:
Parasol mushroom (Macro Lepiota procera)
A different type of late bloomer is this naturalised Cyclamen found in Bushwood:
Ivy-leaved Cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium)
August and Early September has been great on the patch, but I am particularly looking forward to the return passage of the Ring Ouzels which I missed in the Spring.