Wormwood Scrubs > July 2009 Scrubs Report
June/July 2009 Sightings at Wormwood Scrubs
For two months the only activity to be noted at Wormwood Scrubs was the occasional tumbleweed wafting across the desert-like landscape. No birds called and no beast dared to emerge. The Scrubs was bereft of life.
Now we could use that as an excuse for the extreme paucity of records and indeed visits during June and July but we can't lie. We were lazy, uninspired, on holiday, on ornithological missions elsewhere, cogitating at home, sleeping, fighting off swine flu and just not birding at The Scrubs. Lord knows what delights we could have missed.
The few highlights from the visits that were made included our 5th ever Little Egret, our 2nd latest autumn Common Tern, an unseasonable Reed Bunting and our hearts fluttered with the discovery of one or maybe two Skylarks in the grassland.
The good news is that The Scrubs has being seriously caned during the early days of August with some interesting results.
More about that next month.
Common Starling (S. Tranter)
Contributors: Rob Ayers, Mathew Bournat, Kim Dixon, David Jeffreys, David Lindo, Roy Nuttall et al.
A couple of birds were reported during the two months with 5 watched tracing the Grand Union Canal to the north on July 31st.
Following on from last month's surprise flock of four birds, a distant individual was watched flying north west over Acton on June 7th making it our 5th record. It will only be a matter of time before they become a relatively commonplace sight.
At least 3 birds including 2 juveniles were happily hunting over the grassland on July 31st. They were probably frequenting the grassland from earlier in the month.
Birds were beginning to trickle through again, fresh back from their breeding grounds.
Over 40 birds were soaring on the thermals on June 7th with further birds drifting over from the north.
The usual meagre numbers drifted over during the two-month period. Being a globally threatened species, it's understandable that there would not be huge flocks around every corner — unless you live in Bristol, Gloucester or Cardiff that is.
A singleton was observed to the north of The Scrubs on July 31st.
Average numbers were noticed during June and July with around 45 seen on June 7th.
At least 50 of these transcontinental drifters were seen wafting over The Scrubs on June 7th and July 19th and 31st.
These green alien invaders were barely counted with the only significant observation occurring on June 7th when around 30 were squawking including a group of at least 20 birds that lingered on the some of the trees on Lester's Embankment.
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Due to the lack of visits it was impossible to determine whether our breeders were successful or not. Encouragingly, birds were either heard or seen fairly regularly during the period. So the likelihood is that a pair or two may have bred.
After the heartbreaking realisation that our nesting pair deserted in late April, it came as somewhat of a shock when one or perhaps two birds were discovered in the grassland on June7th. One flew out of the main grassland to land in the southern edge of the patch outside Chats Paddock. It seemed very settled. Later, it or another flew out of the grassland near the bramble patch and over Lester's Embankment where it doubled back to land in the grassland again.
However, to date there has been no further Skylark records though this could be down to the poor coverage. It is possible that these birds could have lingered undetected.
We still believe that perhaps 5 pairs may have bred but there was no one around to see the young fledge. An adult was seen with food items in its bill on July 31st.
The blocking of the path leading through their breeding habitat has been the main reason for their success, however, there are still the ignorant few that insist on using it.
It is not known whether the pair that had historically bred in the grounds of Linford Christie Stadium returned, although a juvenile was seen near Braybrook Street on July 31st. A few singletons were seen around the site during the course of the two months.
There were still plenty of these little birds in song around the park over the two months.
Quite a few juveniles were seen but no counts were made.
The old Robin Redbreast seemed to have had a good breeding season here at The Scrubs, but unfortunately no counts were made.
At least 16 were seen on June 7th mostly along the northern edge of the site and majority being juveniles.
Around 20 were counted on June 7th.
A few family parties were noted during the period and a couple males were still in song.
May until August is the time of year when our breeding birds melt away to raise their families. We often only become aware of them in September when they are gorging themselves with berries in readiness for their long journey. On June 7th at least 3 birds were seen and 2 males were heard singing.
This year it seemed like the bulk of our 15 plus breeding pairs were to be found in and around Lester's Embankment, the grassland and Chats Paddock. A pair or two were located near the Southern Copse and in the bramble areas within Martin Bell's Wood. At least 20 including juveniles were counted on July 31st.
Two very early autumn birds were found on July 31st. The first appeared out of the grassland and the second bird was found near the top of a willow in Heron Copse.
We suspect that at least 5 pairs bred this season — that was probably on a par with 2008's breeding numbers.
Unfortunately, due to a severe lack of visits no proper counts were done but at least 16 birds including many juveniles were counted on June 7th.
As with their larger, more pugnacious cousins, these dinky birds were not counted. On June 7th at least 22 including juveniles were seen foraging around the park.
Very few were noted throughout the two-month period; a factor definitely linked to the lack of observers.
The usual bunch was seen with over 20 noted on June 7th. This collection of birds included juveniles.
On the odd occasions that any birders visited The Scrubs during June and July, it was noted that fewer crows were around. The average was around 120 birds.
The numbers of young birds using the grassland and Lester's Embankment increased dramatically from May's figures to at least 400 on July 30th.
At least 10 were encountered on June 7th mostly around Braybrook Street.
Unfortunately, no youngsters were located during our two-month lapse. But we are almost certain that at least two pairs bred. A female flew over Chats Paddock on June 7th and a male was noted in Scrubs Lane Wood on July 31st.
At least 14 were noticed on June 7th.
The numbers of juveniles feeding on the thistles built up slowly starting with around 10 seen on June 7th to at least 200 on July 31st.
Adults and juveniles were largely found along Lester's Embankment with up to 30 seen on July 31st.
A female was a surprise find in the plantation adjacent to Heron Copse on July 31st. it was the first mid-summer report of this common bunting since the singing male that was discovered in the grassland in 2007.
2009 Year List
- Little Egret
- Grey Heron
- Mute Swan
- Canada Goose
- Tufted Duck
- Common Buzzard
- Red-legged Partridge
- Black-headed Gull
- Common Gull
- Herring Gull
- Lesser Black-back
- Great Black-back
- Feral Pigeon
- Stock Dove
- Wood Pigeon
- Collared Dove
- Short-eared Owl
- Rose-ringed Parakeet
- Green Woodpecker
- Great Spotted Woodpecker
- Sand Martin
- House Martin
- Rock Pipit
- Meadow Pipit
- Pied Wagtail
- Grey Wagtail
- Black Redstart
- Northern Wheatear
- Song Thrush
- Mistle Thrush
- Garden Warbler
- Lesser Whitethroat
- Common Whitethroat
- Dartford Warbler
- Sedge Warbler
- Reed Warbler
- Willow Warbler
- Spotted Flycatcher
- Great Tit
- Blue Tit
- Long-tailed Tit
- Carrion Crow
- House Sparrow
- Reed Bunting
76 species thus far (82 species in July 2008 & 78 in July 2007)