Drama at Walthamstow Wetlands

Dear Readers, we were walking down from Black Horse Road station towards Walthamstow Wetlands this morning when we heard the sound of a bird calling for its mother on the other side of the busy road. There was a lone fluffy gosling on the pavement, looking confused and heading towards the traffic. Aaargh! A van was bearing down on the youngster as s/he considered what to do next. Fortunately the driver was very sweet and stopped to see what would happen, rather than proceeding on his way at speed.

Then the bird’s mother arrived, and the two of them teetered on the kerb. They needed to go back towards the reservoir but there was a big metal fence for at least a quarter of a mile. The gap between the uprights was big enough for the gosling to get through, but the mother was too big. You could see her confusion as she tried to decide which way to go. We decided to follow at a safe distance to try to coax them along to where the entrance was, and to try to stop them running into the road.

At the other end of the pavement a cyclist actually stopped so as not to cause any more problems.

Several times the mother tried to get through the fence but was too big. And then, light seemed to dawn. She flew over the fence, much to the gosling’s distress, but then s/he seemed to get the message, and scurried through the gap to re-unite with the adult goose.

Phew! Too much drama too early in the morning is all I can say, and too early on a grey, windy, rainy morning. But it was very heartening to see how complete strangers worked together to try to keep a tiny bundle of fluff safe. I felt very heartened by the whole thing.

It was a very blustery day, but look, the swifts have arrived. Sadly it’s too blowy to hear their calls, but you hopefully get the general idea.

Incidentally, I have just joined a Facebook group called ‘Crap Bird Photos’ which I heartily recommend if you fancy a laugh. I am thinking of submitting the one below, but I’m not quite sure if it’s crap enough. Their standards of crappitude are very high. In fact, the photo shows a magnificent heron, but I doubt that you would ever know.

Anyhow, we had a lovely walk along the edge of the East Warwick Reservoir. There are gulls nesting on the island, terns fishing, shelduck and pochard everywhere, and if it hadn’t been quite so inclement (plus my friend needed to get home for work) we’d no doubt have been a bit more adventurous.

But still, there were some intrepid large red-tailed bumblebees (Bombus lapidarius), which I haven’t noticed in London before – I love those copper tails, they have the same hue as an Irish setter. They seem to be very partial to the knapweed.

And so, what an exciting, if brief, visit to Walthamstow Wetlands. I’m so lucky to be able to visit during the week, when it isn’t too busy, and it is such a biodiverse and interesting place. You never know what you’re going to see, and I so recommend it if you’re a Londoner. Their list of birds is also very interesting – recently there was a hobby, a hawk that specialises in catching dragonflies, and a cuckoo has been heard, again a rarity in London. You used to have to travel all the way to Rainham Marshes or the wetlands at Barnes to get such variety, so make the most of a reserve that’s on the Victoria line and easily accessible to anyone in Central or East London.

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