Wormwood Scrubs > June 2008 Scrubs Report
June 2008 Sightings at Wormwood Scrubs
Summertime and the living is easy
June turned out to be exactly what it said on the tin: quiet and pleasant. There were no real great shakes ornithologically and the weather was largely fine; a far cry from last June's monumental rainfall. I guess we have to be thankful for the small mercies in life.
We recorded our first Lapwings of the year this month, which was pretty late as we normally see this wader flapping over from January. Apart the tantalisingly brief view of a pair of Bullfinch darting into what could be their nest site, the bird of the month was the majestic Hobby that drifted over Chats Paddock.
Foxes were plentiful as they are generally and there were plenty of Grey Squirrels kicking around. Our vole population must be doing well judging by the attention that our Kestrels give the grassland and we're pretty certain that out rat population is doing just fine!
Scarcer mammals included the occasional sighting of our solitary Rabbit over by Scrubs Lane Wood and 2 solitary examples of both pipistrelle bat species (Common and Soprano) were detected on a bat survey walk on the 25th.
Summer for a birder is relatively short lived because as soon as we begin to hit mid-July the ornithological autumn starts. We should start to record more returning waders and some of our summer migrants will be to get itchy feet.
Keep tuned in!
Great Burnet in Kensal Green Cemetery (D. Renham)
Contributors: Alison Fure, David Jeffreys, David Lindo, Roy Nuttall et al.
Miniscule numbers were noted throughout the month. Of note was the individual soaring on the thermals very high over the grassland on the 15th.
A couple single birds flew over on the 20th.
A singleton went over on the 9th.
With birds now attending to their goslings, sightings of this naturalised ornamental goose were down with 15 on the 1st being the most notable count.
A hunting pair was seen separately most days coasting and hovering over the western end of The Scrubs.
A fine adult coasted over Chats Paddock on the 27th being mobbed by Swifts against the backdrop of a gorgeous blue sky. It was low enough for its red ‘thighs’ to be clearly seen.
This constituted our first ever June record. Surely they must be breeding somewhere closeby?
The first of our two records this month concerned a rather sad looking individual that was flushed by a dog from the football pitches on the 9th. It was probably a moulting failed breeder passing through. Another was again flushed from the playing fields on the 25th.
A heavily moulting bird flew over on the 20th and a pair went over Central Copse on the 25th.
Conversely, fairly large numbers, well by our standards, were still seen during the month with up to 20 birds seen daily. The 15th was a good day for thermals as a couple were riding them at great height over Martin Bell's Wood.
The usual small numbers drifted over daily during the month.
This compact pigeon is a discreet visitor to The Scrubs that is more often overlooked than seen. The only records were 3 over on the 20th, and singletons over on the 23rd and on the evening of the 25th.
Around 60 birds were seen daily, though there were probably far more. Juveniles were seen with the adults feeding on the football pitches.
Our sparse records continued through June and commenced with a pair over Central Copse on the 1st.
It has taken us several years to realise that the birds that we see probably emanate from the suburban streets of Acton to the west of us where there seems to be a fairly healthy population.
This year seemed to herald the return to form for this amazing bird with upwards of 60 being seen daily. Over 100 were counted on the 15th and 150 were milling in the evening skies on the 25th.
These counts contrasted quite strongly with last June when we were struggling to see more than 40 birds per visit.
This month during the day there seemed to be a resident screaming crowd of 30 birds including juveniles. By early evening things changed dramatically. Quite literally, swarms of birds would sweep in from all points of the compass — though especially from the south and west. The birds would make landfall on the trees that line the northern edge of the prison and along Braybrook Street before making a low squawking dash for Central Copse.
On the 25th an incredible 2,000 plus birds came to roost along with a lone Amazona species (a member of a South American parrot family) and as much as we are not keen on them, it was an arresting site. Dog walkers and the local kids messing around on stolen motorbikes stopped to watch the spectacle.
These parakeets appear to have no natural enemies in the UK and with those formidable beaks they seem to be perfectly able to look after themselves. However, late in the month there was a report of a large gull flying amongst a small flock of parakeets and actively trying to capture unwary individuals. This kind of behaviour has never been witnessed here at The Scrubs before.
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Singletons were occasionally seen all during the month.
Around 6 birds passed through on the 1st.
One flew over Braybrook Street in the afternoon of the 15th. Our second record this spring; this once common bird is now an extreme rarity.
Our famous breeding denizens of the grassland kept their heads relatively low this month whilst rearing their young with around 8 birds counted on the 1st including 2 singers.
At least 6 birds were counted singing on the 1st and a brood were watched being feed on Lester's Embankment on the 25th.
Around 6 of these unobtrusive cover-loving birds were seen on the 1st.
Up to 7 birds were in song on the 1st with the odd juvenile noted. This time of the year these robust little birds are notoriously shy and difficult to see.
At least 9 birds were seen on the 1st.
It seems like it has been a good breeding season thus far for this common and quite brilliant songster. At least 25 birds were counted on the 1st.
At least 6 of our estimated 8 males holding territory were still in full song during the month.
Unusually, our small breeding population were far more visible this month than in previous Junes. There was a family party of around 6 in Martin Bell's Wood and the odd bird was still singing during the month.
Our healthy breeding population continued to enthral us throughout the month as they zipped around the bushes and shrubs around the site.
The lone singer in the north west corner was still singing up to the 20th.
At least 4 males were still in song around the park.
Family parties abounded during the month with at least 10 seen on the 1st.
At least 8 birds were seen on the 1st and 9 juveniles were noted on the 20th.
Family troops were almost continually circuiting through the trees all month.
At least 20 including juveniles were at large on the 1st.
The only known sighting was of a singleton in the evening on the 1st.
On the 15th, 3 flew north over the grassland.
The usual 100 or so birds were hanging around during the month though over 300 were counted on the 15th. This mammoth total — our biggest yet — included a single gathering of over 200 that came to feast on a loaf left out by a dog walker near Hammersmith Hospital.
A group of around 40 juveniles frequented the grassland during the month.
Around 20 birds were counted by the Community Centre and along Braybrook Street on the 1st. Small numbers were seen on a daily basis.
A male was heard singing near the pony centre plus a female was observed in Martin Bell's Wood on the 1st.
At least 15 were seen, particularly along Lester's Embankment and in the grassland.
Numbers of this charming finch seem to be slowly increasing with at least 10 birds, including possible juveniles, seen in Martin Bell's Wood.
This common finch is still by far the most numerous finch on The Scrubs with at least 30 birds including juveniles watched along the northern edge.
A pair dived into the herbage near Scrubs Lane Wood on the 15th.
2008 Year List
- Great Crested Grebe
- Grey Heron
- Mute Swan
- Canada Goose
- Tufted Duck
- Black-headed Gull
- Common Gull
- Mediterranean Gull
- Herring Gull
- Lesser Black-back
- Great Black-back
- Common Tern
- Stock Dove
- Wood Pigeon
- Collared Dove
- Turtle Dove
- Short-eared Owl
- Rose-ringed Parakeet
- Green Woodpecker
- Great Spotted Woodpecker
- Sand Martin
- House Martin
- Meadow Pipit
- Tree Pipit
- Pied Wagtail
- Northern Wheatear
- Song Thrush
- Mistle Thrush
- Ring Ouzel
- Garden Warbler
- Lesser Whitethroat
- Common Whitethroat
- Sedge Warbler
- Reed Warbler
- Willow Warbler
- Great Tit
- Blue Tit
- Long-tailed Tit
- Carrion Crow
- House Sparrow
- Reed Bunting
- Little Bunting
82 species thus far (75 species in June 2007 & 80 in June 2006)