Meadow Pipit (Mandy West)
Nipped over to Wormwood Scrubs, my patch, this morning to check up on the birdlife. The football pitches were still fairly busy with Larids. I counted at least 190 Black-headed Gulls in varying plumages loafing on the pitches. Interestingly, only perhaps three birds were in first winter plumage with majority sporting either their winter dress or appearing to be moulting into their summer brown hoods. Peppered amongst them were at least 35 Common Gulls and again, maybe 60% were adults. Isn't it curious that there were so few young birds around? Did that reflect a bad breeding season or do the youngsters hang out elsewhere?
I then strolled through our 20 acres or so of grassland in the vain hope of flushing something decent. Over the years I have kicked out cats, moths and a blow-up doll once during the winter months. Bird wise, I have also flushed redwings secreted in the long grass (very unusual, although I have heard that Fieldfares sometimes roost on the ground), a Short-eared Owl (nothing short of amazing for a central London site), regular Snipe and even a Lapwing.
This morning I found a singing male Reed Bunting in a Blackthorn and around 20 Meadow Pipits cavorting around. In the case of the pipits, it is normal for us to start getting a build up around now. By the end of March, four or five males may start their territorial song flights. The fact that we have breeding Meadow Pipits at The Scrubs is pretty amazing because our grassland is not protected and it runs the daily gauntlet of disturbance that includes dogs and their walkers, errant low-flying model aircraft and drifting litter.
Just the usual urban hurdles that wildlife have to cope with.