by Peter Roseveare
A break-in by a Woodcock must be a unique event, not just for Dovercourt Road but anywhere. And even more amazing was that the bird was uninjured. Woodcock are seen in Dulwich from time to time as winter visitors, usually in the woods flushed by a dog, but never until now under a bed in a front room, amongst a sea of broken glass.
When Angela showed it to me it sat quietly in her cat box and allowed photography although well camouflaged by its leaf litter plumage. Indeed this is how most woodcocks spend their day coming up in the evening as crepuscular feeders probing for invertebrates in the woodland floor. Like the related Jack Snipe they lie completely motionless as you pass and it needs a very sharp eye to spot one on the ground. A day spent in Angela’s cat box was not greatly different to what it would have done anyway and gave us the pleasure of admiring its wonderful subtle camouflage.
Woodcock breed more commonly in the north of the country and they can be seen at dusk during the breeding season making a rock and roll display flight which is given the name “roding” and accompanying it with an unusual clicking call.
This has been otherwise a quiet winter. As a result of the mild weather the large flocks of Redwing and Fieldfares have been absent and we have not seen any of the Waxwings which were such a feature of last year. Most of our small birds are still with us but as there is plenty of natural food they may be less in evidence on our feeders, although the increasing population of Goldfinches are seemingly addicted to Nyger seed.
Of other news, there is still a Little Owl in Belair park and two first winter young drake Shoveler ducks have taken up residence on the Belair lake along with the recently returned pair of Mandarins. Herons sit quite nonchalantly in Dulwich Park as occasionally does a Cormorant.
Keep watching and reporting any gems you might see.
Peter Roseveare Wildlife Recorder ( Tel: 020 7274 4567)