walking free in waltham forest

walking together in waltham forest

reports of our walks

Looking for signs of spring in the south, February and March 2013

I enjoy all the varied aspects of the WFiWF walks, but as I have a particular interest in natural history, I also tend to look out for any interesting flora or fauna which we may come across.  As this walk started at the Waterworks Nature Reserve, straight away there was potential for bird sightings at the bird hide area.  The reed beds which have been planted in this area have grown much higher as they have become more established in recent years, and some of our group remarked that seeing them reminded them of the Norfolk landscape.  It was reported in the local paper that someone actually saw a Bittern in amongst the reeds at the Waterworks Nature Reserve recently, which is a very exciting development.  Unfortunately, we didn’t encounter a Bittern during our ‘whistlestop’ visit to the reserve, but we did see some of the usual water birds to be seen at this time of year, ie, Mallards, Coots, Moorhens, Tufted Ducks, a Little Grebe, and even some Shovelers, and various gulls (mainly Black-headed Gulls).  We also saw a Green Sandpiper, and I pointed out the Sand Martin roosts which have been especially built to lure this particular bird in to nest in them.  As we were walking away from the Hide area, I spotted bird movement on the ground on my right, and was surprised to see that it was a Sparrowhawk.  Within seconds it swooped (only inches above the ground) just in front of a few members of our group up ahead, and on into some bushes.  I think it must have been ‘casing’ some prey nearby, and was just waiting for the right moment to make its attack.  It was quite unusual to have such a low and close-up encounter with a Sparrowhawk.

After we left the Reserve, further along on our walking route we came to the Leyton Jubilee Park.  A new adventure play area for children has been built there, and it seems there are also plans for a wildflower meadow, and another ‘wild’ area in this park, so it’s good to see that our wildlife visitors (butterflies, bumblebees etc) are being catered for, as well as the human ones!  Just around the corner was Dagenham Brook, and a couple of members of our group pointed out a Black Poplar Tree, which is not too common a sight; and a little further on, David pointed out a patch of snowdrops.  We next reached the Ive Farm area, where we found a Fig Tree, as well as seeing two Green Woodpeckers in a nearby field.  Hopefully, on future walks we will be able to see even more natural delights, as Spring is just around the corner (so they keep telling us....).

Kathy Hartnett

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