This article was first published in the Newsletter of the London Natural History Society, No. 240 February 2016
For the second consecutive autumn my planned walk around Ruislip Lido and woods was forecast to be a wash out. Unfortunately the forecast was correct and it was windy, very wet but incredibly mild. I was hoping nobody would turn up but two members did so we had a walk around for a couple of hours.
I had arrived 30 minutes early and as I walked towards the café something had spooked many of the birds on the lido. The near raft had been full of Cormorants and I counted 24 of them as they flew off. Also many duck were swirling around in the air including a few Mallard, ca. 20 Shoveler and over 30 Pochard. As I got nearer the café I spotted an angler wading in the water and this is probably what spooked the birds as I’ve never seen an angler wading here before. There was also no sign of any of the 15 Little Egrets that had been reported a few days earlier on the marsh.
When Nigel and Andrew joined me the number of waterbirds had much depleted though still large numbers of Coot and Mallard present with small numbers of Gadwall, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Pochard remaining plus a single drake Teal by the Water’s Edge Pub. There used to regularly be a herd of up to a hundred Mute Swans but feeding has been prohibited in many areas so the number these days is closer to 30. The wet conditions meant few passerines were seen though a couple of Pied Wagtails were feeding by the lawn area.
We then proceeded to the LNR where we had a brief view of a Kingfisher on the pond. Surprisingly there were no Teal but a few Mallard and sitting in the trees were three rather dejected looking Herons no doubt as disappointed in the weather as I was!
In the woods to the north of Poor’s Field we did locate a mixed tit flock which contained at least one Goldcrest. By this stage I had real problems identifying birds as my binoculars and spectacles steamed up and were covered in rain drops as well as poor light.
Returning via Poor’s Field we did spot a few Redwing feeding on berries. In some short grass we saw some items of mycological interest – a couple of colonies of unidentified waxcaps and some Golden Spindles.
As we returned to our starting point large numbers of Wood Pigeons could be seen across the water low over Park Wood plus many gulls in the air. Nigel then spotted a Buzzard flying low over the trees of which we all had decent views I was surprised to see it active in the rain.
It was good to get out but I was pretty drenched by the time I got home. Also the species list was short of quite a few species we should have seen. Maybe next year my late bird walk will be dry? Third time lucky!