Champions of the Flyway!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dagenham Chase, east London - 4th Dec 2009

Grey Heron, Long-tailed Tits

Another work-related excuse to explore a well-known, yet - here it comes again - criminally-underwatched urban patch. Like various, previously mentioned others, it's a magnet for migrants, especially those that find themselves with limited choices within the endless sprawl of Greater London; and of course, it's barely covered - except on the occasions when a rarity turns up, when it's predictably inundated.

Quite how such places aren't covered with the dedication and commitment they deserve is mystifying, with such a vast and concentrated part of the UK populace within spitting distance here in Babylon; surely there are more birders within striking range in the heart of the East End?

And The Chase has more to offer than the ornithologically attractive but aesthically bleak environs of an oceanic reservoir, manicured parkland, or indeed Rainham Marshes - the latter of course being a honey-pot for the countless processions just a few km south, which tells its own story.

It's a great place, with an enviable, almost ideal mix of habitats, swathes of undisturbed open space, and a fantastic, muddy-margined, magnetic pool and wetland (the Slack) smack bang in the middle - not to mention the extensive grassland, woodland, marsh, meadows and scrub.

On this beautiful sunny winter day I went walkabout with LWT colleague and top chap Mr. Dominic Allen (and unfortunately minus sole local birder Vince, who was otherwise engaged but provided a very useful bespoke site guide).

We spent a good three hours wandering through the mix of habitats, and it could easily have been more. And it's only about an hour from my door in Hackney - come spring, it may well be hard to resist.