Wanstead Flats,a jewel in an urban birder’s world.

My first visit to Wanstead flats and I’ve lived inRedbridge for thirty years.It is well known that Wanstead commands the highest prices in the housing market and is therefore a desirable place to live. Having only visited the Snaresbrook side of Wanstead , I couldn’ t see the attraction so, my visit was an eye opener; it reminded me of Blackheath in SE London.You alight at Manor Park and cross the road to the entrance.

The park is a space of 140 acres and is in my home borough or Redbridge; the map above shows the pathways you can use. Close up there is some useful information about the park as seen below.

If you are going “birding”I would suggest you look at a few birding sites (of which there are plenty) to get an idea of what birds are around. Then, if you can, go with someone who knows the habitats.My friend B had done his homework and came prepared with a list of what we could see.Top of the list was the Spotted Flycatcher.

On entering the park we bumped into a fellow birder who confirmed what birds were around and their locality. As we were chatting, a beautiful whitethroat darted around on a bramble. A great start.

We walked to a small open woodland with, I was pleased to note, lots of tall oak trees which reminded me of my boyhood days in Basildon.We understood that there were a couple of little owls to be spotted. Sadly no luck.On the trail leading to our next venue, we came aross some corvids and, a first for me, a House Martin. The pathway reminded us how close we were to the City of London with Canary Wharf in the distance.

As I have mentioned, local knowledge gives you a chance to see the birds on your list.Therefore we stopped birdwatching and did some “twitcher” watching and luckily we came across some birders who B knew. The birders pointed out to us where the flycatcher had been seen.While trekking to see the Spotted Flycatcher, we came across one more species ,a Black Cap .

Sure enough, the spotted Flycatcher exactly where the birders said it was. When we arrived at the spot there were two other birders there and between us we must have taken a thousand shots of a rare bird.We were not particularly quiet but the bird was posing like Chrsitie Brinkley in a bathing suit.

We were concentrating so much on the Flycatcher that we kept missing the Hobby which I initially thought was a Sparrowhawk. I said to one of the experienced birders “wow did you see that Sparrowhawk?” to which he replied “no but I saw a Hobby.”

We were all getting a little tired and running out of water. So we decided to head back and look for the Little Owls again. Sadly no owls but did see a Chiffchaff and some very young Egyption Geese.

One of the many landmarks to be seen was the City of London Cemetary church , beautiful from where we were standing.

I can’t finish this blog without mentioning The Golden Fleece pub .Great range of beer, lovely welcome and friendly staff .Cheers B – a great day.

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