Wednesday 7 January 2009

January 5th and back to work

It is cold. Very cold, and the street has a decent covering of snow, at least 1/2 a centimetre. Time to really get the patchlist going, and get out there, where all the birds are. Leaving before sunrise, Reservoir Wood is a bit scary, but I make it out into the glorious open having heard a few bits. The first pond, Shoulder of Mutton, is 100% frozen, not surprising as it is the smallest body of water in the park. Consequently almost devoid of birds, but a Moorhen gets ticked pecking about at the margins. On to the next pond as I skirt the bottom of the golf course, and the thin end of that is frozen solid as well. Oh dear, have all my ducks gone perhaps? Luckily the wide end of Heronry Pond is still clear near the Cafe, and the ducks are concentrated there. A rush of ticks follows, the only absentees are the regular Shoveler. Really good numbers of Pochard today, and all quite close in as well as the edges are frozen and they usually hang around at the far side. On to the Perch Pond behind the Cafe, and I get the regular Water Rail in the corner immediately. However the rest of the pond is 95% frozen and produces only a few Gadwall. Paul, another local birder, picked up 2 Goosander on here only a few days ago, but I was in Scotland so he sent me a gripping photo. Excellent record though, in so far as a bird I did not see can be classed as excellent.

Interesting Fact: Wanstead Park is one of the best sites in East London for wintering Gadwall. If you had visited today you would have gone home thinking it was rubbish though. That is what this blog is for. Scooted up to the station picking up a few more bits, and whilst sat on the Central Line tot the list up which comes to 32. Rock on. Bit of a photo-essay on the park later. Today you'll just have to imagine what it looks like.

I work at Canary Wharf. The photos below show the bird-filled dock just outside my office. Take careful note of all the greenery, and all those habitat hotspots. For some dumb reason, hatred of the international financial markets probably, I have decided to do a 2009 CW list. Between the Jubilee line and the Office I kick it off with a fine adult Pigeon. It even has two complete feet. Superb.

Top habo

And here is the view from my desk if I look to my right and ignore Simon, Matt & Chris. I have nailed Peregrine from here without even getting up. Today however I got a LBB, 27 Cormorants, 2 Crow & a Common Gull.

Look at all the birds I can see from my desk

Over lunch I give two fingers to dedicated patch-working, and get on the DLR to tick the wintering Ring-billed Gull on the Isle of Dogs. One other birder today, who says he has seen it. Maybe he has, maybe he hasn't. A few people I have met here ticked 2w Common Gull and went away happy. I didn't do that, and dipped it for days on end as a result. Today though it is actually here and I pick it up very quickly. Once you see it you can't possibly be confused, though I'll admit that this bird is the same size as a Common, so prob a female. I am not much of a Gull-watcher, but the dark band is thicker, darker, and more clear-cut, the the bill itself thicker and chunkier, more like a Med Gull, and if it comes close enough, which it does today, the yellow iris is very easy to pick out. It also looks more dangerous, if that can be described as an ID feature. Year tick #122.

A quick afternoon walk round the estate brings the total up to 12 with 3 Mallard, 11 Greenfinch, 2 Blackbird, a Magpie and a site mega. Robin (a patch-tick, I am stunned). My record-keeping must be dreadful. I have worked here for 10 years and never seen a Robin? How can that be? I am deeply grateful for this gem of a site tick, and head back to my desk with a spring in my step to rush the news out and earn some more money. A Robin, well I never. Maybe this patch has promise after all.

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