Thursday, 8 January 2009

Wanstead Flats Threat Assessment Guide

Let me introduce you to the Flats. They are wonderful. I can be out seeing birds in less than a minute. This is TFL zone 3 don't forget, but I've booted Snipe out in under two minutes from the front door. Skylark are also a mere two minutes away, and Reed Bunting and Stonechat are under five minutes. The Flats are my favourite bit of the patch. Since my unfortunate encounter with four hooded gentlemen in Bush Wood almost a year ago, I have birded the Flats probably 80% of the time. You can see a long way in all directions, and carry out threat assessments with 8x32s. I tend to bird early morning, when f*ckwits are likely passed out in bed, but you can never be too careful. Here is a guide to potential encounters you may have on the Flats.

- Dog walker. Annoying and useful in equal measure. If no dog obviously present, such as hidden by long grass, check person for lead or small plastic bag. This is the most likely early-morning encounter. Threat Level: GREEN
- Joggers. Threat Level: GREEN (especially if they look like they are hating it)
- Kids in School Uniform. Threat Level: GREEN. Also, don't linger with the bins.
- Amorous Asian couples avoiding friends and family. Threat Level: GREEN
- People with bibs playing footie. Threat Level: GREEN
- People flying model aeroplanes. Sodding annoying, they should get a hobby that is fun and cool. Like birding. Threat Level: GREEN
- Loitering youths in hoodies. Threat Level: AMBER. Circumvent, or retreat.
- Significant Relative out looking for you, perhaps also with bins. Threat Level: RED. Go home immediately and unstack the dishwasher.

This morning was GREEN, and I spent 30 happy minutes meandering to the bus and got 6 Skylark, 2 Mipit, a Pied Wagtail, whilst a Grey Heron flew over Centre Road. The bush of Reed Bunting potential had a Crow in it, and I couldn't find any Stonechats, maybe tomorrow. Patch year list now 41.

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