Saturday, 3 November 2012

South London: Where the birds are?

Apologies for the lack of updates recently, no excuses save the usual. So what has south London's premier crew of  part time birders been up to these last few months? Well to a man, we've been busy not seeing much of anything really. Except Goldcrests, if there's one thing we can do, it's them. Oh and Jays. Lots of jays.

So summer slipped by and the late season migration brought a scattering of birds to the area. Hobbies made their annual appearance through the latter half of September, seen well in Brockley, Sydenham Hill Wood and the Forest Hill area. South Norwood had Whinchat and a good smattering of common warblers. Of the latter, chiffs were common and there were a good few willows too, including one at the LWT Centre for Wildlife Gardening in Peckham. Common Whitethroat and Spotted Flycatcher popped up at Nunhead Cemetery finally and that's about as much as I can remember. A lot of time was spent casting envious glances across the river. Wanstead birders have stepped it up a notch it seems, well played to them, there's is a truly eye-watering list.

But with summer gone and autumn blurring into winter, it's been marginally better. An autumn viz mig session at Dulwich golf course, a week or two back, bought streams of woodies going west and small numbers of Redwing. Siskin and Lesser Redpoll have moved in again, both seen on numerous occasions in Dulwich Park w/c 22nd October. Chaffinch numbers are up, along with previously mentioned goldcrests but has anyone found a Firecrest yet? Nope. Of Ring Ouzels there was lots of banter and wishful thinking but save a bird reported in Brockwell Park, no one hit the jackpot.

We might bemoan our luck at times but despite south London coming off as the poorer cousin of the North and East, maybe it's worth considering the differences in the habitats on offer. This is a beautiful, green pocket of the capital and I wouldn't live anywhere else, but with patches largely dominated by ancient/secondary woodland and tightly managed suburban parks, there is little room for areas of grassy scrub or water. In terms of bird diversity, that means we might fall a bit short. Still, to see owls and birds of prey alongside dozens of other species within a short walk of home is a privilege in a city like this. Now, back to work. Stay tuned.

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