Wildlife

Bat Survey – May 2017

On a warm Sunday evening (21st May 2017), over a dozen people joined the kind assistance of Les Clark, of the London Bat Group, who gave the group a very enthusiastic talk of the lifes of bats in Britain and also of the world.  He kindly supplied the group with several bat detectors which helped us to identify some of the bats that were around.

We met around at 8.45 pm (shortly before sunset) on a warm, still evening, just as it was starting to become dark.    Within moments after Les’s talk, we were already detecting Common Pipestrelles, as we have done on previous years, and in good numbers too.  These were detected near the Woodland’s entrance and in the Glade area.  Pipistrelles are the commonest and most widespread of all British bat species.  A single pipistrelle can consume up to 3,000 insects in one night.  according to The Bat Conservation Trust, “Common Pipistrelles feed in a wide range of habitats comprising woodland,  hedgerows,  grassland,  farmland,  suburban  and  also  urban areas.  They generally emerge from their roost around 20 minutes after sunset and fly 2-10m above ground level searching for their insect prey”.

The other species we were extremely certain to have observed were Soprano Pipistrelles.  These 2 species were only identified as separate species in the 1990s.  Soprano Pipistrelles, according to The Bat Conservation Trust “usually feed in wetland habitats, for example
over lakes and rivers, and also around woodland edge, tree lines or hedgerows, and in suburban gardens and parks”.

It was noted that the residential block on Tom Smith Close, nearest the gate and Seren Park was observed to have quite a few bats moving around the top of its roof.

Wildlife in The Glade’s new pond

Mallards in the pond

While in the woodland on Sunday, one of the woodland team members, while in The Glade area, took the below photo of a pair of mallards in our pond. Although the pond only covers several square yards, it shows what a valuable habitat it has already become.

 

 

Fungus Survey – 7th November 2015

On the Volunteering Day on 7 November 2015 we were joined by Anne Andrews who came to survey the Woodlands for fungus.  The survey was possibly a little late for many species, but in the link below is a detailed report of the day and what was found.

Fungus Survey – November 2015

Bird Survey (by one of our volunteers) – late 2012 / early 2013

In late December 2012 and early January 2013, and again in the spring, a number of visit were made to the Westcombe Woods area. The winter visits were brief (less than one hour) to the northern boundary around Seren Park, whereas in spring access was occasionally possible to Lasseter Place and the Glade, inside the woods. Overall this has enabled me to get an approximate overview of the bird life of the woods. As I don’t live far away, I also include sightings I have recorded while walking past; although these are not surveys, they add to the knowledge of what’s using the site and so are important to include.

One interesting finding whilst walking past one evening was a big roost of at least 60 Jackdaws flying in from Greenwich Park on 14th March, and presumably on most evenings over the winter. This is basically the entire local Jackdaw population, so the woods provide an important refuge for these birds outside the breeding season.

Species recorded in both winter and spring include: Great Spotted Woodpecker, Robin, Wren, Goldcrest, Magpie, Jay, Carrion Crow, Long-tailed Tit, Blackbird, Ring-necked Parakeet, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Woodpigeon. Overhead, Grey Wagtail, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Sparrowhawk, Herring Gull and, since May, Common Swifts have all been recorded.

Recent visits (May) have allowed us to get an idea of the breeding birds of the woods: a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers are nesting in a hole in a standing dead tree trunk, and the young can be heard begging for food while the busy parents dash to and fro gathering food for them. There is at least one Goldcrest territory, breeding Great Tits, Woodpigeons, 4 or 5 Robin territories, 4 or 5 Wren territories, 1-2 Blackbird pairs and 1 territory of a summer migrant, the Blackcap. A pair each of Carrion Crows and Magpies are nesting, Jays seem to be nesting somewhere there and a Blue Tit family is using one of the nestboxes near the Lasseter Place entrance. Long-tailed Tits are probably nesting in the Glade area. 4 species of butterfly were also seen on 9th May, and Foxes are present. The fungus known as “King Alfred’s cakes”, as they look like burnt cakes, were visible on 12th April.

Dunnocks can be heard singing, but it is not clear at this stage whether they are within the Westcombe Woods itself or just outside, along Restell Close. A Song Thrush was singing in the area early in the year but may no longer be present – hopefully it’ll turn up again over the next few visits. House Sparrows are also to be found along Restell Close and near the railway line. Common Swifts, the majority of which return from Africa in early May, are now frequently seen flying overhead (they nest in the roofs of nearby houses), feeding on the abundant insects from the trees.

So far over 30 species have been seen, an adequate total for just a few hours’ observation, but more surveys will take place in the next few weeks and we should have a clearer picture of the regular visitors and breeding birds by midsummer. It is hoped that the nestboxes we have/are going to put up, along with some sensitive habitat management around the Glade area, will over time help increase the number of breeding birds, but as a healthy number of birds are already nesting there things are looking good.

Here is more information from the bird survey (up to November 2013):

Westcombe Woodlands bird survey 2013

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