Find again highlights the importance of Bexley’s larger semi-natural habitats as homes and migration refuelling sites for less common wildlife.
Report by Ralph Todd
August sees autumn bird migration well underway with many waders and songbirds moving south from their northern/European breeding grounds – many thousands stop off in UK to refuel before continuing their journey. This past week there have been some interesting records around London of unusual species, pied and spotted flycatchers, barred warbler and wryneck to name just a few.
Local birdwatcher, Ian Stewart having found a redstart at Sidcup Place, and a larger than normal flock of warblers in Foots Cray Meadows, decided to have a search of Crayford Marshes to see if anything unusual had turned up there – his efforts paid off on Wednesday 2nd September as he found two whinchats and best of all a single Wryneck (Jynx torquilla) which flew up as he rode along the river wall near Erith Yacht club. We don’t know how long the bird had been around but fortunately it stayed overnight being seen by other regular local birders, Steve Carter and Ralph Todd.
The photographs below were taken around 4pm in the afternoon, the bird looked settled feeding around the bushes alongside the river so there is every chance it could stay around for a few days before continuing its journey south to Africa where it winters.
Wryneck is a member of the woodpecker family and is often very elusive, remaining within the heart of a bush or feeding on the ground amongst longer grass, favourite food is ants, it is now almost extinct as a breeding bird in UK where they used to favour orchards and open country, indeed they used to breed in Bexley until the early 1950’s. The last record was of one bird at Foots cray Meadows in August/September 1993.
According to the RSPB, only around 280 individuals of this now red-listed species pass through the UK annually.