Some 343 Carrion Crows were counted heading into Bursted Woods between 19.03 and 19.59 this evening (8th September), from still light until after dark.
Whilst the stories on this website about the Danson Ring-necked Parakeet roost, and various woodland fly-out-to-roost counts of this raucous creature mean a greater number of people are now are aware of the large scale daily movements of at least one locally resident bird species, the day in, day out commute of the native Crows is probably less well known, and may well be hardly noticed.
Many of the Crows arrive singly, and almost all without calling, so that unless you stand and watch for a while, nothing very dramatic will appear to be happening. On this occasion 92 of the birds arrived in the first half hour, with the other 251 in the second. It wasn’t until the second half hour that the larger (but still loose) groupings of birds began to arrive, with clusters of 32, 26 and 34 noted, but still quite a few singles.
Unlike a previous count when most birds had appeared to come in from due east, this time most seemed to be coming in from bang on the south east compass point, though a change of direction at close approach cannot be ruled out. In the past I have surmised that they might use the adjoining railway line for navigation. If they had pretty much followed a straight line on this occasion, some may have come off Barnehurst Golf course and Perry Street Farm, but the numbers do suggest an influx from southern Crayford and Dartford marshes along the railway, then a short sharp left just past Barnehurst station. Previously very few Crows have been seen coming in from the north and west whilst doing Parakeet counts, and not enough to add hugely to the overall total.
I have counted significant numbers of Crows passing over Thames Road Wetland several times, over 100 on occasion, but earlier of an evening, and at that point they are invariably heading south west which would take them to Dartford Heath and Joydens Wood.
After no further incomers had been seen for 10 minutes I went into Bursted Wood, where there was no sound at all either from the Crows or the Magpies that roost there, even though I’ve seen roosting birds disturbed from the trees at dusk on several occasions. They could certainly could be heard in there from a hill some way off a couple of evenings ago. Should they have kept going on their arrival bearing, they would have wound up at Lesnes/Bostall woods.
At this particular small piece of woodland quite a lot of Parakeets fly out west on the way to their night time roost, then the crows come in the from the east and south-east and take over for the night. It would be interesting to know what the net effect on the phosphate and nitrate balance of the woodland (and Danson) is as a result of all these avian comings and goings!