Monday 29 November 2010

Back on the Patch

I rather felt I had missed out yesterday. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I went to see that Harrier, and it was a good day out, but my trouble is that I always want to be birding in about three places simultaeneously. This is not normally possible, though some people have apparently managed it in the past.

Anyhow, there was only one place I was going to be today, and that was Wanstead. Ferruginous Duck in south London for my London list? Pah! Mealy Redpoll at Thorndon for my London list? Pah! I told you, I'm done. Record-schmecord. I was done quite a few birds ago, pleased that I had got to 200, slightly miffed that I could have been on the cusp of breaking the record had I been just slightly less apathetic earlier on during the year. I soon got over it however, realising I've had quite an amazing birding year, and that I should be pleased, rather than always looking to the next bird. So, whilst in techno birding speak, I "need" Ferruginous Duck for the year (anywhere, not just London), actually I don't "need" it at all, and I'll survive not seeing it. I almost went actually, even had quick look at where it was on the map, but then realised that Wantead Park was much closer and involved no driving.

As I have mentioned before, the Park is quite exciting in cold weather, and I was not at all surprised to find five Teal tucked away on Heronry Pond. After the weekend it is probably about 60% frozen, so the ducks were concentrated down one end and much easier to count. You will be pleased to know that I bested, by one, my previous high count of Pochard, 53 on January 13th last year. For the less mathematically gifted, that's a whopping 54 Pochard. Wow. Here is that 54th and record-breaking bird.

Chuffed at my duck-counting prowess, I picked my way along the Perch pond via a Grey Heron and a Cormorant, and on to the Dell. There I watched a small dog leave a small deposit, and watched the owner watch the dog leave a small deposit. The two of them departed leaving the deposit carefully camouflaged amongst the leaves on the path. My sincere hope is that she treads in it on her way back, doesn't realise, and then forgets to take her shoes off when she gets home, just to see how she likes it. It would be counter-productive, no doubt, to name and shame, so I won't. I don't know her name.

When I had calmed down, I carried on towards the Grotto, hoping to catch up with Nick's Treecreeper. It took a while, but sure enough I gradually pinned down the source of some quiet trilling and piping. There may have been two birds, I'm not sure, but even if it is just the one, it's only the second I have ever seen in Wanstead, which is a travesty given the habitat we have here. So, a special moment. It was in with a large tit flock, and seems very faithful to this particular area. Patch year-tick #108, and to think I would have been happy with 100.
Pleased with this success, I retraced my steps homeward via Chalet Wood, where I noted two Crows hassling a Sparrowhawk. I counted the five Teal (3m, 2f) again on Heronry, and was surprised to then find another five (1m, 4f) on Shoulder Of Mutton pond. A ten Teal day! In Wanstead, this is about as exciting as it gets! Whilst watching them, I became aware of a small cloud of corvids very distantly towards Ilford. Amongst them was a larger bird, but I could honestly not tell what it was. Either Raven or a Common Buzzard I felt, hoping for the former. I snapped off a couple of shots, which when blown up at home confirmed Buzzard. Not the same significance that Raven would have been, but nonetheless a quality local bird.

It's due to snow tomorrow, which could bring in something else. I can barely contain my excitement, so tune in tomorrow for a fresh installment of what to me is amazingly exciting and what to you is probably really really dull. I'll do my best to liven it up. Eleven Teal perhaps?


  1. When I was London Year-Listing in 1985, news broke of an Eider at Queen Mother. Mega! The next day I was due to travel to Suffolk with my friend Brendan to twitch Nutcracker. "Can we go to Queen Mother first?" I asked. Really I did, and really I wanted to and would have. "No." said Brendan. Sensible chap. We went there straight afterwards though! When listing really gets a grip, reason evaporates.