Wormwood Scrubs > April 2012 Scrubs Report
April 2012 Sightings at Wormwood Scrubs
It's heating up…
April is the month that we all crave. It's the time when spring migration is in full swing and we Scrubbers are at our most vigilant. This April was no disappointment. As ever, we recorded a fair amount of surprises.
Surprises like our first Pheasant for six years, Ring Ouzels for the ninth year in a row, our first Little Egret of the year and our first April Reed Warbler ever. Rooks, Peregrines, a few Whinchat and an exceptionally early Garden Warbler complemented our migrant breeders and passage birds like Swallows; in the main represented in lower numbers than expected. Thankfully, we did receive a reasonable showing of Common Redstarts and Northern Wheatears — the latter species having been totally absent during March.
With 76 species already clocked up for the year could our mystical target of 100 be achievable?
Wren (R. F. Spencer)
Contributors: Rob Ayers, Mathew Bournat, Charlie Farrell, Bill Haines, David Jeffreys, Huw Jones, David Lindo, Roy Nuttall, Paul Thomas et al.
Numbers of this urban fish-eater were generally up on previous Aprils with a showing of around seven birds on the 1st being a good opener. That count was equalled on the 12th.
Our first record for the year concerned a bird that headed south on the 30th.
A single bird headed over Braybrook Street on the 4th and another was seen overhead on the 21st.
Four flew by on the 21st.
Two birds flew through on the 8th and another couple were seen on the 26th.
Several were often heard on most visits with around seven on the 10th being the highest count.
Four birds flew over on the 19th.
Two drakes were aerially chasing a female on the 1st. Up to four were seen on odd occasions throughout the month.
One drifted in high from the north on the 10th before wafting east.
A pair was observed being mobbed by crows high over Central Copse on the 3rd. After that date birds were seen on a fairly regular basis during the month. Exceptionally, three birds were reported on the 12th.
A male headed southeast on the 1st and it or another headed over The Scrubs at noon on the 4th.
The last time this familiar gamebird made an appearance at The Scrubs was back in October 2006 when a single Scrubber witnessed a male skulking around in Martin Bell's Wood. We had to wait until the 11th of this month for the next appearance of this most elusive of Scrubs visitors. A male was watched calmly wandering in the grass very close to the bund at the western end. As suddenly as it appeared it disappeared and could not be relocated. Despite their large size they are experts at concealment!
Prior to 2006 dog walkers were consistently reporting Pheasants during the winter practically every year. Indeed, the 2006 bird was the first to be seen by a Scrubber and as a consequence is a much-wanted bird on practically every Scrubber's list.
Three headed north high in the sky on the 1st and on the 8th another headed northwest in the company of a Common Gull.
A 1st winter bird flew over west on the 4th and an adult passed through on the 8th with a Black-headed Gull.
At least 20 were around on the 1st with most of them passing overhead. The same number was recorded on the 30th.
The usual six or so frequented our airspace during the course of our daily visits. A count of 10 birds on the 2nd was pretty good, but even better were the 12 on the pitches on the 12th.
As usual, the occasional bird was seen and on the 8th we had three birds move through.
Our resident population of around 50 entertained us during the month.
Over 2,500 were officially counted coming into roost on the 1st.
One of our elusive birds was heard calling on the 1st and seen sporadically through the month. A pair was spied on the 22nd.
Great Spotted Woodpecker
The usual birds were seen and drumming was heard at various points during the month with a male witnessed drumming on one the Channel Tunnel Depot's pylons on the 1st. A pair was watched successfully repelling a parakeet at their nest hole on the 22nd.
One was found in the grassland on the 4th and a singleton flew through on the 8th.
A small passage of birds passed through heading north on the 1st. At least three birds were involved. These birds were our earliest ever and our first record in April since 2008. It is quite surprising how scarce these birds seem to be especially given that there is a fairly substantial colony just two miles down the road at the London Wetland Centre.
The two birds that lingered around Central Copse before heading north on the 7th were our first birds of the season. We experienced a fairly weak passage of around 22 birds during the course of the month, which was less than last April's total and just one more than in April 2009.
At least six birds passed through north on the 30th.
Around 13 were counted on the 1st including two males that sang briefly. A count of 15 was made on the 12th. In addition to our terrestrial birds at least 20 migrants bounded north on the 11th.
Unusually, we were seeing far fewer birds than in previous years with the first record for the month being two birds on the 19th.
At least six were noted on the 1st.
The maximum count was of 10 on the 1st and 2nd.
Around 16 birds were counted on the 1st.
Two males were discovered on the 11th. A bright looking male was found at the edge of Heron Copse whilst the other very slightly less gaudy male was watched feeding around the vicinity of the western end of the grassland. These birds were our first for the spring. These birds preceded an additional male that was found on the 15th. All in all it was not a bad showing.
Our first birds of the year arrived on the 4th — late by our standards. Two individuals were seen: one on the pitches and the other in the grassland. During the course of the month a further 17 were discovered — another great spring for this gorgeous migrant.
Three of these enchanting and rapidly decreasing chats were found in the grassland on the 30th.
At least 10 were noticed on the 1st and 2nd.
A lone bird flew from Chats Paddock to Central Copse on the 2nd and on the 6th an individual flew out of Braybrook Wood.
A singleton headed north from Scrubs Lane Wood early on the 1st. The exodus north was further evidenced on the 10th by a group of four birds that momentarily landed on the tree tops of Chats Paddock before continuing their journey. The last bird to be seen was a loner on the 21st in Chats Paddock that headed off high to the east.
The maximum count was of around 25 birds on the 1st.
For the ninth year running we were graced with the presence of this glorious montane thrush. A male flew into the grassland from over Central Copse on the 8th — a day earlier than last year's female/1st summer male. It hung around for all of five minutes before melting away. It was our earliest yet.
Yet another male made landfall on the 12th at the southern edge of the grassland. Like its predecessor it too made a hasty exit.
An exceptionally early bird was sound recorded singing from deep within a blackthorn in Southern Copse on the 2nd. It preceded last year's earliest returning spring migrant ever by three days.
At least nine singers were encountered on the 1st and at least 13 were seen and heard on the 12th. There was a good count of over 18 birds on the 15th but that was smashed on the 21st when at least 21 were found including some 13 singers.
A singer in Central Copse on the 21st was our first for the summer. By the 30th at least two individuals were seen.
A male was found by Heron Copse on the 12th and became our first for the spring — a full four days later than 2011 and 2010. The next birds did not show until the 21st when two were visible. By the end of April at least five were present.
A singing male was discovered in Lester's Embankment by a visiting birder on the 16th constituting our first for the spring. This riparian denizen is a pretty scarce bird here in the spring; indeed this was the first ever to be recorded in April. We can half expect to see this species in May or even in June but they are far more likely during the autumn.
Our first for the spring was singing in Martin Bell's Wood on the 12th. It was quite late as most of our first birds have arrived during the first week of April. By the 14th we had recorded two singers that were reported for a few days hence. By the month's end only one singing bird remained.
Nine territories were estimated on the 1st and at least 14 were counted on the 4th rising to 17 plus on the 12th. The peak count was of 22 including 16 singers on the 21st.
The good counts continued with at least 13 seen on the 1st.
A respectable 30 were estimated to be on The Scrubs on the 1st. One parent was seen feeding a youngster on the 20th.
At least six were seen on the 1st.
Around 10 were seen on the 1st.
A pair was noted along the northern edge of Scrubs Lane Woods on the 1st. Another elusive bird — perhaps one of the pair — was seen on the 21st.
The usual sprinkling of birds was noted throughout the month. The biggest number occurred on the 21st when at least five were encountered.
A rather scruffy looking adult was picked up flying north on the 3rd before doubling back to land in Braybrook Woods with the Carrion Crows.
Our second bird of the spring appeared on the 10th when it was spotted heading north from the east.
The peak count was of around 120 birds on the 1st.
A feeble count of just 10 was made on the 1st. By the 20th a flock of 50 strong had started inhabiting the grassland.
The average count was of around 12 birds with many more being heard in and around their Braybrook Street stronghold. A female was watched being heavily harassed by a Robin in the northern edge of Scrubs Lane Woods. The biggest count was of at least 30 birds commuting between Central Copse and Braybrook Street.
At least six were counted on the 1st including at least two singing males.
Around six were noticed either in the grassland or on Lester's Embankment on the 1st. At least 10 were counted in the grassland on the 7th and the 12th.
At least eight were around on the 1st.
About eight birds were seen on the 1st.
A pair flew east on the 6th. They were the first to be recorded in April.
A singing male was discovered in the grassland on the 10th. A pair were seen on the 12th — a rare occurrence indeed.
2012 Year List
- Little Egret
- Grey Heron
- Mute Swan
- Canada Goose
- Egyptian Goose
- Common Buzzard
- Golden Plover
- Black-headed Gull
- Common Gull
- Mediterranean Gull
- Herring Gull
- Lesser Black-back
- Great Black-back
- Feral Pigeon
- Stock Dove
- Wood Pigeon
- Collared Dove
- Rose-ringed Parakeet
- Green Woodpecker
- Great Spotted Woodpecker
- Sand Martin
- House Martin
- Meadow Pipit
- Pied Wagtail
- Grey Wagtail
- Common Redstart
- Northern Wheatear
- Song Thrush
- Mistle Thrush
- Ring Ouzel
- Garden Warbler
- Lesser Whitethroat
- Common Whitethroat
- Reed Warbler
- Willow Warbler
- Great Tit
- Blue Tit
- Long-tailed Tit
- Carrion Crow
- House Sparrow
- Lesser Redpoll
- Reed Bunting
76 species thus far (78 species in April 2011 & 69 in April 2010)