Friday 24 September 2010

Actual Birding

This week has been fairly quiet on the actual birding front (though obviously never a dull moment on the cyber-birding front). For late September, I've seen very little on the patch. Part of this has to do with not actually getting out on the patch for more than about three hours in total, most of those when the birds had not yet woken up. I've seen a single Brown Spotted Flycatcher, and of course the Wryneck is still here, but other than that I can't think of anything even moderately exciting in Wanstead.

However, it is coming up to Ring Ouzel time, or at least I hope it is. I missed them all in the spring, bar a probable that I had to let go, and they are amongst my favourite birds, so I hope I can find one. I'm basically down to weekend mornings only at this point; there is not enough time in the morning prior to Mrs L leaving for work.

Still, I have it pretty good, what with not being stuck in an office or anything like that. I was reminded of work just today, when I received a pay-slip from my ex-employer. Like a child on Christmas morning, I excitedly ripped it open! Was this the big one, the one that would irreversibly change life in the Lethbridge household? El Gordo!


Guess not then. Stock dividends from shares I still have in some executive incentive plan or other, and that I still can't sell. Well, whoopee. Do I sound incentivised? That life seems so far away now, though if I don't pull my finger out I could be headed back to it. I had to wear a suit the other day for the first time in ages, and felt almost professional again. I won't say I strutted down the street, but I felt like a different person. Funny what clothes can do. You would think they were meaningless, and I am of course not remotely embarrassed by my customary bedraggled birder appearance, but in a suit I felt more confident, more assertive, with a positive spring in my step. The funeral went fine.

My youngest has been a bit poorly this week, a nasty chesty cough, so we've tended to stay in, hence no birding of any note - a trip to Oare to twitch a White-rumped Sandpiper aside. Instead I've been concentrating on the watching the sky from the terrace, with some success as it happens. The lack of Ospreys and Honey Buzzards has been disappointing, but almost as exciting has been not one, but two garden ticks. TWO!! I mean, wow.

The first of these was Meadow Pipit. At this time of the year the breeding population on the Flats is augmented by passage birds, and the numbers are building steadily, so I was fairly confident. How in the five years or so I've lived here I've not managed to get a Mipit from the garden I'll leave up to you, but it took an hour on Sunday morning, viz-migging from dawn, before two typically bouncy and squeaky birds went over. Played for and got, and a pathetic gap plugged.

Prior to this stunning success I hadn't had a garden tick since May, so I was fully expecting that to be my lot for the forseeable future. So it came as a pleasant surprise on Wednesday when a Great Black-backed Gull flew over the garden. This species is rare on the Flats, I'd expect to see perhaps two or three annually, and whilst I knew that I'd get one over the garden eventually, I'd put it to the back of my mind. I'd just been watching a pair of Lessers when a comparatively enormous gull flapped lazily over with slow wingbeats and a whopping great bill. I'm afraid I don't have even a poor quality picture to aid constructive discussion, so you'll have to take my word for it. I am well known for being highly competent at Gulls, so I'd image automatic acceptance is likely.

Like this, but bigger. And with a darker mantle. And pinkish legs. Just call me Klaus.

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