Sunday 15 March 2009

Played for and got

Up at first light this morning, straight out, no tea, no breakfast, there were Wheatears that needed finding. It was a glorious morning, and I mean fantastic. A slight chill in the air, and a bit of frost, but a clear sky and stunning sunrise. There was nobody there bar me, not even a dog-walker to appreciate the clarity of the morning. The whole place was mine mine mine, which is how it should be really.

I went straight out to the fence-line that remains from the Thames Water pipe-laying, and walked the entire length. Nothing. Well, Mipts, Skylarks etc, but no Wheatears. But right at the end, as I had given up all hope and was turning around, what should fly off one of the goalposts and perch up on a little mound, flashing a little white bum? He shoots, he scores! It allowed a reasonably close approach, and then the morning's first dog appeared.... The only dog I could see on the entire Flats and it happens to coincide with the only Wheatear, what are the bloody chances? Luckily it didn't flush far, and I soon relocated it post-dog on the top of a hawthorn, bit bizarre for a Wheatear really. This turned out to be extremely convenient, as it allowed Paul, a local birder and Wheatear-related text recipient, to scope it from his living room window without even getting dressed. Chuffed to bits I headed for home, where I knew there would be pancakes and maple syrup. I have lost a stone since getting axed, proving that weight gain is directly related to stress and fried breakfasts.

Later that morning I cunningly chose the playground on Dames Road for the family jaunt. The day was screaming "Large Raptor", and our usual playground near the Green Man would have been rubbish, whereas at Dames Road you can scan the whole of the Flats. As the children fell off various climbing frames onto the bouncy green stuff, I happily looked at the sky, and roughly an hour into proceedings a pale Common Buzzard drifted over SW, very very high. I didn't see a Buzzard on the patch at all in 2008 as I only birded early mornings, so I have put that one right very early on. Osprey and Red Kite next please.

Buzzard, 2 megapixels

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