Friday 29 January 2010

Of Late...

I've stayed local since coming back from Yorkshire. And there has been much excitement of the tick variety. So, in decreasing order of happiness:

Third spot goes to a group of five Siskin feeding in the Dell. Siskin, it has to be said, are fairly common in the Dell. If somebody challenged me to go and find some Siskin in Wanstead Park, that is where I would go. Luckily nobody did, as it took me three weeks of looking to find them. Some stats in case there are any anoraks reading: 147th bird for the year, 120th in London, and 65th in Wanstead.

Second place goes to a superb Little Slavonian Grebe that Paul found in a ditch at Rainham. Well, Monkey found it actually, but the less said about that the better as I'm sure he'll agree. This was a new bird for Rainham for me, and thus also for London, and one I didn't expect to get without shlepping all the way over to the pits on the west side of London. It rather unfortunately turned up when I was at Fairburn Ings in Yorkshire, but had the good grace to continue its stay this week. And it is by far and away the showiest Slav Grebe I have ever seen, you can get to within about 15 feet of it. All my pics of it are rubbish, as I twitched it in a rainstorm and have yet to get back there.

But pride of place goes to a Wanstead Patch Tick - Bullfinch. As is my habit, I get up really really early on Tuesday mornings and fail to see Woodcocks anywhere in Wanstead. I did the same this Tuesday, failed to see any Woodcocks, and then went for a quick look in the Old Sewage Works. Bullfinch was in the back of my mind, yet I was stunned when what I initially took to be a Chaffinch on colour popped out of the big hedge and resolved itself into an immature male Bullfinch. I didn't drop everything, whoop, holler, and raise my fists to the sky as I usually do with patch ticks. Instead I was mature and savoured the moment. It moved semi-ponderously through the hedge for a couple of minutes and then slipped quietly away. Wonderful. Speaking later to another local birder about my elation at finally finding one, he commented that he gets them there quite reguarly. This didn't diminish my satisfaction at all - it's all about the effort you put in. You walk round, oh look, another Bullfinch, boring! See, no big deal? If however you have lived here five years, holding out for a Bullfinch but have never come close, when you finally get one, well, wow! Hope I don't see one for a long time now, lest they become Snipe-like - I kicked up another three birds on the Flats a few days ago, that makes eight this year. Yawn!

What else have I been doing? Well, I have successfully done a week of not twitching Rainham after the ridiculousness of the geese last week. Apart from the Slav Grebe, obviously. And after that I went for purgatory on the Sea Wall for two hours, got wet, froze, and saw very little, and certainly not what I was hoping for, which was Corn Bunting or Oystercatcher. I could have twitched a Not three days on the trot, but chose knot to. Ha ha. Actually, now I think about it, I did go for the Barn Owl with the kids on Wednesday evening, does that count as twitching? I knew where it was roosting, and so positioned myself in a good spot and waited. It must have been hungry as by half-four it was out and hunting. Pie got to see it, and was delighted, but the other two chose to stay in the car. Barn Owls are a bit boring apparently. Personally, I reckon they're in the Kingfisher category - a bird that when you see one gives you a lift that few others can.

In between not twitching Rainham at the slightest hint of a year-tick, I have still failed to get a haircut. The most notable achievement is that I mopped the conservatory and the middle room. Mopping is basically extreme damp-dusting, and scores many BPs. I even passed the mop under the sofa, and fabulous quantities of fluff came out. This was such an eye-opener that I did under the armchairs as well to see if I could get any more. And I did!

The children are happily engaged in some kind of Star Wars role-play, thus allowing me the time to write this. Pie is Padme, and is shouting orders out. Pudding is only responding to "Captain", and is on her way to Tatooine. When I called her down for lunch she said she couldn't come down as her hyperdrive was broken. As a sometime-fan of the films, this is most gratifying....

Tescos today, and heavy trolley score. They both fitted in = stress-free shopping. Except I ran into a blind lady...

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