Friday, 5 October 2012

A Dead Duck and An Owl

You know it's a quiet morning when three birders - myself, Sue and Tony - end up staring through our binoculars at a Wood Pigeon sitting in a tree. Later on, we saw a flock of 26 "Woodies" on the East Field, although they were soon frightened off by a Glendale man hoovering up litter. Other than that our monthly survey on 28 September was very nearly a dead duck- as they say. The oppressively gloomy weather had a lot to do with it, I'm sure. Birds that we have little difficulty in seeing on a normal day like Great Tits, Robins and Goldfinches could not be tempted out of their cover and were heard rather than seen. We did get a good view of three Blue Tits at the top of a tree in the Vicars Hill border, though one had flown by the time I got my camera out.

Blue Tits in the Vicars Hill border
We heard a single Wren in the wood, caught a brief glimpse of a blackbird in the Veda Road garden border, saw a Mistle Thrush fly across the lower field into the tree canopy and two House Sparrows at the top end of Vicars Hill. But only those old familiars - the Crows and Magpies - were out and about as usual. At least by the end of next month, the gulls should have arrived for the winter. And the Robins which are ticking and clicking just about everywhere at the moment as they establish territorial rights should be showing themselves more clearly. And of course the trees will be shedding their leaves...

Magpie on the East Field
There has been one piece of good news during September - a Tawny Owl has been heard hooting after dark by residents along the Cliffview Road border. Tawnies are not uncommon in the parks and wooded areas of London, though this is a "first" on Hilly Fields during the time that we've been recording. When the London Wildlife Trust carried out a survey in 1985, over 400 records of Tawny Owls were submitted covering every borough except the City of London. Interestingly, the LWT has just completed another "owl prowl" survey and it will be interesting to see how it compares and whether numbers have fallen like those of many other bird species. If you hear an owl hooting on Hilly Fields, please let us know via the comments box.

Tawny Owl [stock photo]