Friday, 30 April 2010


The excitement of this morning was almost too much to bear. Despite a lot of rain in the night, there were no new migrants on Wanstead Flats. I had been expecting to be wading through Redstarts, fighting off Whinchats. I couldn't even find a Lesser Whitethroat. Have a Mallard, it's about the best thing I saw.

Shrugging off this poor start, I put plan B into action: Return home, have a cup of tea, wait for news on the Iberian Chiffchaff in Kent. This plan worked exceedingly well, and before 8am the news that the bird was still present and singing away had me packing the car ready for a minor twitch with children. We liaised with the Monkey, who, off work again, had nothing better to do, and got there with no trouble. I'd sussed the location using the marvel that is google earth's satellite view, so knew exactly where to go. Before I even saw the small crowd of people I could hear it - I'd scrubbed up on the song this morning before leaving, as I hadn't a clue what it sounded like. I'm sure the Blowmonkey had too, but in case he hadn't, I pointed the bird out to him when he arrived :-)

In many ways this was an ideal twitch. For starters the bird was still there - somewhat of a prerequisite. It only took 40 minutes to get there, the parking was easy, we didn't have to walk far, the terrain was kiddy-friendly, and there were only a few people watching it. Perfect. Possibly not the world's most exciting bird, but it would have taken something special to beat the Bluethroat from last weekend. Tick and run.

The bird was very active, and singing frequently from high perches. Interestingly - although I use the word with caution - it also gave the classic colybitta chiff-chaff-chiff-chaff as well, though less frequently, and usually from cover. I have no idea why this should be. My best guess is that it took an English language course when it was younger and now, finding itself here at long last and able to use it, is haltingly asking the way to the station? Or if any of the twitchers had pets.

We also bumped into Matt, remarkably for the first time this year. We saw him a lot last year at various birds, and had expected to bump into him in Dorset for the Bufflehead, or at the very least Suffolk for the Lesser Kestrel. His flimsy excuse for this is that he has been working (although he did manage to squeeze them both in - a bad cough I expect...). Anyway, good to see he is still out and about, and I hope he finds something good soon in Sussex that I can twitch, though if you're reading Matt, much closer to a car park next time please!


Thursday, 29 April 2010

Rainham Success

Up at stupid o'clock on a day laden with promise. I had the morning, or at least some of the morning, to go birding. I've done Wanstead every day this week, so I felt that Rainham needed some love. The alarm jolted me awake at 4:55 and a mere ten minutes later the snooze function woke me again. And Mrs L again. I am very popular in this house.

I was on site by about half five, expecting Cuckoo and Turtle Dove to fly over any minute, just like they had done for Dave Mo yesterday. I wasn't expecting to see any Sandwich Terns flying up the river. Andy had five yesterday, all heading east, and on a low tide with the water still receding, I didn't rate my chances. Idly scanning the river, which up until then had been dead, I picked up a slow-flying tern. As it came nearer I noted the heavy wingbeats, purposeful flight, and habit of looking down all the time, bill vertical. I have no idea whether this is an ID feature, but it's one of the things I look for in a Sandwich Tern. And when it came closer still, the bill was black, and in fact there was another bird a little way behind it. I couldn't believe it - two Sandwich Terns, a Rainham and London tick. As I watched them fly though slowly up the river, I recalled that my camera was lying on the ground next to my feet. I "quickly" took the scope off the tripod and mounted the camera in its place. Then I turned the camera on, changed it to AI SERVO mode, and selected the centre focus point. The terns meanwhile had reached their breeding grounds and were busy feeding their newly-hatched chick....

Bugger. I assume they continued west, so texted Kev and John upriver, but neither of them were on site, and at least one of them might have been in bed! Still, I know they'd do the same for me. The Sandwich Terns signalled the start of a fairly exciting river-watch. All of a sudden there were loads of gulls heading against the tide, and every now and then a Tern. The first two I saw I felt were Arctics. I'm not good at separating them in flight, but they appeared to have long streamers, no neck to speak of, and I couldn't detect and obvious contrast in the wings. I saw Arctics at the weekend with people who knew what they were talking about, so I suppose it doesn't matter too much. Subsequent birds, to my eyes at least, were all Commons, and a small group ended up feeding mid-river for over an hour, until I had to leave.

As I walked back along the Sea Wall, a funny looking Wheatear caught my eye. No, not funny looking like that - it was still a Northern Wheatear. There was something not right with the bill. Either the upper mandible has a slight extension, or the tip of the lower mandible is missing, not sure which. I managed to get quite close to it by crouching down and creeping forward, thus allowing a decent enough close up, but I still can't make my mind up.

So, a pretty good morning. Not a huge amount of variety, but I don't get a self-found London tick very often, so I was very pleased. Mrs L couldn't believe it either. That is bird #130 for this year at Rainham (equalling my best ever), and 165 for the site. Listing, it's where it's at.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

More Garden

This morning I succumbed to the lure of trying to get the Pheasant onto the house list. I have been meaning to do this for ages, but kept telling myself not to be so stupid and so went out on the Flats instead. Yesterday, Monday, I heard it within about 30 seconds of getting onto the Flats, and was annoyed, as it would easily have been audible from the garden. There is a circus on there at the moment, and the increased activity there should be keeping the bird closer to me. That was the plan anyway. It failed. I won't tell you what Mrs L thought of the plan.

All was not lost though, as whilst listening intently I thought I detected the very faint song of a Willow Warbler. I heard it twice, and after the second time was pretty convinced. Then I had to do the school run, stress stress stress, and forgot all about it. Back home, hanging up the washing as part of my rock and roll lifestyle, I was startled to hear a drawn out "Hu-weeeeeeeet" coming from the next street over, and thus remembered the song from earlier in the morning. Get in! Garden tick number 65, and whilst perhaps less pleasing than Pheasant, garden ticks are never ever unwelcome.

I am being supremely lazy at the moment, barely bothering to leave the house. Today was largely domestic. Hanging up the washing was perhaps the highlight. I got rid of all the winter hats and gloves from the front hall and replaced them with flowery summer hats and various small caps. I also emptied the upstairs bathroom bin (ugh), cleaned the bathrooms, scrubbed some windowsills, and repotted a plant. Dusting? Nah.

No, no other birds have landed on my perch.

During my three hour lunch break I watered the garden and looked at the sky. Two Hobbies in the sky together over the SSSI, the customary Sparrowhawk, and two distant Swifts were the pick of the birds. There was also an unidentified raptor miles away being harried by an unidentified smaller bird. I thought about putting the scope up on the roof but there are limits. And that was it really, you now know as much about my day as happened in my day. I did the school pick-up, made dinner, and am now typing this. Scintillating stuff.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Feeder, Camera, Action!

Not a great deal doing today, a circuit of Wanstead produced nothing bar a female Whinchat, and later three Swifts from the garden. I spent my time wisely though, doing three loads of washing and dipping a Red-backed Shrike in Essex.

In the downtime, I added a few more natural looking perches to my cunningly situated feeding station. This is amazingly easy to do, and within about ten minutes the birds were using them. The list of species that have landed on the perches so far is not large, but I'm heartened by the fact it is getting used at all. Birds include Blue Tit, Great Tit, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Robin, Crow and Magpie. I wish I'd been less lazy about it in the winter, who knows what might have landed in range.

Here are a couple from today.

Also, whilst attempting to twitch the Shrike, not only did I get yet another Lee Evans tick (in the Monkey's car no less!), but I saw this, which was more interesting. I think it's a melanistic female Pheasant, but I'm really not sure. Whatever it is, I don't think it knows what it looks like, as its defence strategy was to to flatten itself on the edge of a field and blend in.....

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Next time, stay on the Patch

Canada Goose, Wanstead Flats

Once again I was out on the patch this morning. Despite the promising weather, my inital hour on the Flats was unrewarding. I met up with Stuart and we decided that the Old Sewage Works could be worth a try. Half way there Paul phoned with the news that things were going pretty well at Rainham. Dave Mo and H had had yesterday's Nightingale, several Garganey, and an Arctic Tern on the river. I changed my plans and turned for home, joking with Stuart as I left that he would probably find a Nightingale now.....

Guess what? About a minute later, Stuart called with the news that he had just heard a Nightingale. I assumed he was winding me up, but he was insistent. I started running back. Whilst still talking on the phone, within sight, he heard it again. Half a minute later I was with him, expecting to hear Nightingale any second. Nothing. Nothing at all. What a complete bummer.

I decided to press on with plan A, or was it plan B? Let's call it plan Rainham. I met up with Dave Mo, Paul and the Monkey, and it was very successful, although sans Nightingale. From the sea wall we had several Arctic Terns, at least fifty Common Terns, a drake Garganey upriver, and two adult Little Gulls. On the reserve we were treated to another drake Garganey, and a sustained shower dropped many hirundines and Swifts in over Aveley Pool. Rainham year-list now 129, having added the Spotted Redshank last night, and 173 in London. Brownie Points, nil.

Blue Tit, Rainham

So a rather profitable morning at Rainham, but I am sat here cursing my inability to stick to any sort of plan whatsoever. I spent much of yesterday evening agonising over whether to go to KGV for Terns, whether to go to Rainham super-early and have a crack at the Nightingale, or whether to just stay on the patch. In the end I decided to do the patch. Commendable, but then I changed my mind, and thus missed a patch tick by about thirty seconds. As it happened, Rainham would probably have been the correct choice, as the Nightingale there sang at dawn, plus all the other stuff - the Mo had a cracking morning!

The trouble is that I am trying to do too much. The usual story. Last year I was running round the country, and thus missed stuff on the patch. This year I'm not doing that (209...), but I'm trying to do Rainham as well as Wanstead, plus trying to get to 200 in London. At this time of year, it's impossible to be everywhere at the same time, but that is what I want to do. Days like today remind me why it is pure folly. Rainham was great, but I would have preferred a patch tick. Maybe next year I'll just do Wanstead...

Yesterday was the same story. I started off on the patch, was having a really rather good morning with a couple of Wheatear and a showy Lesser Spot, and then the pager bleeped that the Bluethroat was still at Welney, so in a heartbeat I abandoned the patch and went there instead. I don't think I missed anything in Wanstead this time, but it's bound to happen more often in the coming weeks. A superb bird by the way, recommended it to anyone, even someone who hates birds. It's blue! Bradders and I arrived about five minutes after four hours of continuous singing out in the open, and didn't manage to see it for three hours, but when it showed briefly it was all worthwhile - incidentally my first on the planet. More amazingly than that, it was first visit to Norfolk this year.

Just to prove I can take crap photos to compete with the best of them

Back at KGV we feasted on 60+ adult Little Gulls with Paul W, easily the most I have eaten seen in London. We were unable to convincingly string any Common Terns into Arctics, so did a circuit of Rainham after it closed. The only bird of note was the previously mentioned Spotted Redshank on the Targets. Glad to get it, means I don't have to go to Norfolk for my London tick this year. There were at least ten Wheatears in the anthill field, and on the northen boardwalk I had another crack at the Reed Buntings with my new lens. The photo below is my best effort. If you click on it, it will become bigger and nicer.

Reed Bunting, Rainham

Friday, 23 April 2010

The Early Worm gets the Bird

Out again at 5:30am, tell you what, I have been seriously dedicated these past few days. It paid off with a patch tick at 6am, a Shelduck flying roughly north-west. I am sure I have waxed lyrical about patch ticks before, but they are the best kind of tick there is. It's what it's all about. It was only a Shelduck, in the same way that the Dunlin was only a Dunlin, but a patch has the extraordinary ability to make the ordinary very special. I was out of the house within a minute and a half for that Dunlin. I literally dropped everything, bundled the children out of the house, and was on the spot in under five minutes. I suppose part of the extra enthusiasm must derive from the fact that the fix is only a very short distance away, thus no long trip in a car, and far less time during which the bird might do a runner. But you can't say that about the Shelduck, and it gave me just as much pleasure. Until I realised that the line it was on was likely to take it directly over my house....

Still, you can't have everything, and I was beyond pleased. Pleased as punch. Punching the air pleased in fact. A Shelduck!!. Perhaps not quite in the same league as Dunlin, but only really ever likely as a flyover, so the chances are slim. Sorry about the photo. As is habitual when something amazingly exciting happens, my neural pathways simply shut down. It was only when I had got over the shock that I remembered I was carrying several kilograms of camera, and mightn't it be a good idea to point it at something?

Although the morning was never likely to get much better, I did finally pin down the male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in one of the copses on the Flats. I have heard it a few times, and had texts from fellow birders to say it was there, but always contrived to miss it. Today I rocked up and there it was in the morning light. I'll have some of that I thought. Naturally it then flew away to some distant trees. Hmmm. Luckily it came back a few minutes later.

I'm now on 87 for the year here in Wanstead. I didn't get to 87 last year until the end of August, indeed at this point I was on 73. The site itself is on 96 - a measure of the excellent coverage that it is getting. There is a fairly dedicated band of observers, and between us we're doing a good job of bashing it this spring. The acid test is of course June.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Wanstead in the Mist

A chilly but glorious morning in Wanstead, with a low mist hanging over the ground. I was alone, no-one else on the Flats. Almost - Nick, another local birder, was on the other side of the Flats doing pretty much what I was doing, but I didn't see him until I had seen a few dog-walkers, so he doesn't count. For the purposes of eloquent prose, I was alone in the mist, with the scratchy chatter of Whitethroats emanating from the broom.

The Dunlin was gone, and I couldn't find the Redstart either. In fact I didn't see much at all. I got a brief glimse of the now dross Pheasant, attempted to stalk it, failed, and gave up. The most exciting moment, other than an amazing sunrise, was of a possible Ring Ouzel near Long Wood. As I rounded a corner it flew away from me and into cover, a distance of about two feet, so I didn't get long. Silently. In my brief glimse I fancied there was a flash of silver, but I could have been imagining it as I still need Ring Ouzel for my Wanstead year list. I'll be good and put it down as one that got away. I stayed for ten minutes, ten minutes longer than I had, but it didn't come out. As I got to the end of my road, ten minutes later than I said, the phone rang....

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

After Dinner Dunlin

Could not resist an evening visit in nicer light - astonishingly the bird was still there, feeding unconcernedly. I took Muffin, so now the whole family has seen this rare visitor. Except Mrs L, who has apparently seen enough photos of it to not need to see it in real life. I expect you feel the same way.

Tactics and a Wanstead Mega

Tactical error on my part yesterday. Mrs L was working from home, and she caught me asleep in the sunshine on the terrace. I couldn't really pretend I was doing anything else. I had been sky-watching, and just dozed off. Usually when she works from home, I am busy as a bee, literally vacuuming under her feet. But yesterday I blew it. Whereas before she thought of me as a domestic whirlwind, a veritable cleaning machine / child entertainer, I think she may now have seen through the facade.

Anyway, this morning I was trying to make up for this abject failure, and had already done a load of washing and was hanging it up when the phone went. "I've got a small wader", said Nick. "It might be a Dunlin, I'm trying to get closer." MEGA ALERT!!!!!!!!!! We went into overdrive, the washing was abandoned in the basket. The girls and I were out of the house in about a minute and a half, and were at the Jubilee Pond within about four minutes. We drove - I know, pathetic. I leapt out of the car and calmly walked over to where he was standing. He had indeed managed to get a bit closer, as there was the Dunlin probing the mud about ten feet away.

Mega. My list of Wanstead waders is Snipe, Lapwing, Woodcock and Wood Sandpiper (!). That was pretty mega now I come to think about it, but it didn't stick around, and anyway I didn't have my camera. I didn't have my camera for the Dunlin either, so I left Nick to talk to the local drunk and nipped home to get it. The Dunlin was still there when I got back, though the drunk had departed - the other way around and I'd have been annoyed. Enjoy!

So this latest addition to my patch list is most welcome and most unexpected. It turns upsidedown my notions of what can be found where and when. I usually check the ponds first thing, and even then I sometimes don't beat the dog-walkers. If I'm out later than first light, I just don't bother. But this Dunlin was found at half ten in the morning, there were people and dogs everywhere. It was largely unafraid of them. A Rottweiler walked within about three feet and it flew ten. The drunk walked past it and it barely moved. So this gives me hope, but also means I have to walk all the way to Alex in future, just in case. Bother.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Spring Treat

Tuesday is my morning off. No school run for me, Mrs L does it to keep her hand in. I take full advantage and disappear off to the Flats until I need to take over. At this time of year, I get about four hours out there. Sometimes it's dead, and sometime's it's fabulous. Today was fab.

I was moseying through the SSSI when a I got a quick flash of colour. I turned to see a small orangey bird with a bright stripey head perched in the broom. I must confess I struggled with the ID for a while, before it dawned on me that I was looking at a spring Whinchat. I can't say I remember ever seeing one before, and certainly not on the Flats. What a little stunner!

The rest of the morning was pretty good too. I jammed in on a brief staying Tree Pipit, all bright white and yellowy there were at least three Wheatear knocking about, and I also had my first Wanstead Lesser Whitethroat for the year. As I was walking home, Nick called and said "Look over Long Wood now!" and a Hobby zoomed past.

This is a bit like a Hobby

I'm home now, coming down from my migrant high. Making tuna-noodle bake does that for you. It has been a rather successful few days - ten new migrants in quick succession. And of course last night I managed to get the Hoopoe at KGV, thus at least partially making up for missing one at Rainham.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Garden Excitement

Today has been a good day. We stayed in again, I am still slightly ill at ease about leaving the house for any prolonged length of time. For reasons I'd rather not go into, that proved a wise decision. Suffice it to say that we're not quite done.....

Anyway, being tied to the house in fine weather is no bad thing, and I rather pleasingly beat my garden day-list record, with a staggering 32 species, including Peregrine and Common Buzzard. The Peregrine was #80 for my Wanstead year list, and only the third I have seen here. It was way to the north of me, and I was confident when I saw it through the bins. I snapped off a few record shots that were sufficient for the Peregrine Guru that is Dave Mo to confirm the ID.

This is one of the local Blackbirds, easily recognised.

In between sky-watching, entertaining children, slaving at the cooker and other odd jobs such as refitting a curtain rail that the children had pulled off the wall, I managed to do something that has been in the planning stages for approximately eight months. It took eight minutes - perhaps my planning was overly involved - sticking a previously collected branch in a bucket of rubble, and then moving said bucket to underneath the bird feeders. Would the local avifauna view this a nice perch? I retreated a few metres, to inside the house with the door open, camera poking out, and within half an hour a fearless Woodpigeon had arrived, followed soon after by an equally tough Collared Dove. No doubt these will be the only two species that ever use it, but for now I'm happy.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

More not Year-listing

I think may have mentioned in a past post that I was not year-listing this year. This is still the case, but I think I also mentioned that despite not zooming around the country, I wasn't all that far behind my total last year, and that I would undoubtedly get to 200 species before the end of April. Stop me if I'm boring you...

Well, that day has come, and is a mere eight days later than in 2009. What does this signify, other that I am very bad at not year-listing? Not much really. I think it's best summed up as "If you go out birding a lot, you'll see a lot of birds". As you know, I don't go out birding very much being so busy creating the perfect home, so the fact that I have seen 200 species this year is nothing less than remarkable. The milestone bird this year was Yellow Wagtail, followed shortly afterwards by Whimbrel, which was the 200th bird last year. Listing's great sometimes. You get to marvel at inconsequential trivialities, and ideally share them with your spouse too. I did. Apparently I am very boring, and a geek. Very unkind.

So, a quick summary of the weekends activities: Grasshopper Warbler found by Dave Callahan on the silts at Rainham was rather nice, although his Cuckoo chose not to stick around. Lesser Whitethroat in the Woodland area was the next one before I had to leave for Hilbs' Stag do. They had Doom Bar on tap, which was excellent in many ways, and less excellent in others. Amazingly I was up and about bright and early this morning, and so went to Fisher's Green for Nightingale. This, along with a Cuckoo, was very obliging in the heard-only sense of obliging, and Bradders and I followed this up with a single Common Tern on a bird-free KGV Reservoir. Meanwhile Stuart found a male Ring Ouzel on Wanstead Flats, which we later attempted to twitch, however 25,000 dog-walkers and footballers made this impossible. Retreating from Wanstead we headed to Rainham for cake, and then scanned the skies for no large raptors. We joined Paul on the Serin Mound for a spot of Yellow Wagtail, and then had a couple of Whimbrel on the Reserve. Mainly we just soaked up the sunshine though. And cake. Back in Wanstead I went looking for the Ring Ouzel, last seen in the vicinity of Long Wood, but only found lots of men pretending not to be hanging around looking shifty. Yes, long warm evenings are back, and it wasn't even Wednesday. Maybe there has been a change of schedule I don't know about? I'll let you know.

So, there you go, you're up to date. Seven year-ticks for those of you counting, and none of them in Wanstead. Woeful.

Garden Moths

This is the list of moths that I have caught in the garden and managed to identify. There is a steadily-growing catalogue of ones I can't identify as well, as I get better I'll add them in. They're mostly small and identical - and you thought it was just birds I was rubbish at.
1981 Poplar Hawk Moth
2199 Common Wainscot
1834 Common Pug
1921 Scalloped Oak
1711 Treble Brown Spot
647   Brown House Moth
2089 Heart and Dart
1428 Bee Moth
1436 Conobathra repandana
1386 Opsibotys fuscalis
2198 Smoky Wainscot
1293 Chrysoteuchia culmella
1424 Endotricha flammealis
1333 Scoparia pyralella
1713 Riband Wave
2318 Dun-Bar
1036 Acleris forsskaleana
1665 Grass Emerald
658 Carcina quercana
2193 The Clay
1417 Meal Moth
1344 Eudonia mercurella
438 Swammerdamia pyrella
1961 Light Emerald
2102 Flame Shoulder
1361 Pyrausta aurata
2441 Silver Y
2256 Satellite
17 Common Swift
2043 Orange Footman
1944 Pale Oak Beauty
2147 Shears
1764 Common Marbled Carpet
2092 Shuttle-shaped Dart
1937 Willow Beauty
1680 Maiden's Blush
970   Barred Fruit-tree Tortrix
1728 Garden Carpet
998   Light Brown Apple Moth
1133 Epinotia bilunana
1261 Codling Moth
2389 Pale Mottled Willow
2306 Angle Shades
2337 Marbled Minor
1906 Brimstone Moth
1958 Clouded Silver
2340 Middle-barred Minor
977 Large Fruit Tree Tortrix
2289 Knot Grass
2060 White Ermine
648 White-shouldered House Moth1860 Green Pug
1301 Crambus lathoniellus
1835 White-spotted Pug
1994 Buff-tip
1176 Epiblema trimaculana
622 Elachista adscitella
1828 Satyr Pug
1392 Udea olivalis
972   Dark Fruit-tree Tortrix
2107 Large Yellow Underwing
2127 Triple-spotted Clay
148   Nemophora degeerella
1033 Green Oak Tortrix
983   Choristoneura hebenstreitella
2126 Setaceous Hebrew Character1178 Epiblema roborana
1707 Small Dusty Wave
1481 Homoeosoma sinuella
2330 Dusky Brocade
1862 Double-striped Pug
1837 Grey Pug
1667 Blotched Emerald
2069 The Cinnabar
1001 Lozotaeniodes formosanus
1175 Bramble Shoot Moth
1941 Mottled Beauty
1955 Common White Wave
1669 Common Emerald
1825 Lime-speck Pug
2492 Small Fan-foot
2321 Dark Arches
1032 Aleimma loeflingiana
980   Variegated Golden Tortrix
2474 Straw Dot
1212 Spotted Shoot Moth
1421 Large Tabby
1437 Acrobasis consociella
1474 Ephestia parasitella
1504 Platyptilia pallidactyla
2077 Short-cloaked Moth
2088 Heart and Club
2170 Varied Coronet
994 Clepsis consimilana
1376 Small Magpie
1165 Zeiraphera isertana
1816 Toadflax Pug
1699 Least Carpet
2205 Shoulder-striped Wainscot1997 Sallow Kitten
1524 Emmelina monodactyla
1334 Scoparia basistrigalis
1338 Dipleurina lacustrata
2302 Brown Rustic
2384 Vine's Rustic

2045 Hoary Footman

1705 Dwarf Cream Wave
1765 Barred Yellow
1234 Pammene regiana
1766 Blue-bordered Carpet
1010 Red-barred Tortrix
1859 Sloe Pug
1288 Twenty-plume Moth
2381 The Uncertain
1024 Light Grey Tortrix
1653 Buff Arches
2295 Marbled Green
2421 Scarce Silver-lines
1010 Red-barred Tortrix
1758 Yellow Shell
2279 Sycamore
2322 Light Arches
1413 Gold Triangle
2314 Dingy Shears
2387 Mottled Rustic
2280 The Miller
2110 Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
1414 Orthopygia glaucinalis
2109 Lesser Yellow Underwing
1865 Broom-tip
2010 continued
424   Bird-cherry Ermine
2050 Common Footman
642   Batia unitella
1316 Catoptria falsella
2098 The Flame
1375 European Corn-borer
2382 The Rustic
1236 Pammene fasciana
2297 Copper Underwing
1378 Phlyctaenia coronata
1439 Trachycera advenella
2111 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
2292 Tree-lichen Beauty
1094 Apotomis capreana
640 Batia lunaris
2343 Common Rustic
2047 Scarce Footman
2301 Bird's Wing
2019 Chocolate Tip
2284 Grey Dagger
1838 Tawny Speckled Pug
2160 Bright-line Brown-eye
2299 Mouse Moth
2064 Ruby Tiger
876 Blastobasis adustella
1398 Rush Veneer
2352 Dusky Sallow
1233 Pammene aurita
1708 Single-dotted Wave
1348 Ringed China-mark
2341 Cloaked Minor
2303 Straw Underwing
2379 Small Rufous
2087 Turnip Moth
2190 Hebrew Character
2187 Muslin Moth
1648 Pebble Hook-tip
1879 The Seraphim
153   Adela fibulella
147   Nemophora metallica
2425 Nut-tree Tussock

2182 Small Quaker
2380 Treble Lines
1356 Garden Pebble
2011 Pale Prominent
2480 Buttoned Smout
2338 Rufous Minor
1992 Small Elephant Hawkmoth
2216 Shark
2334 Rustic Shoulder-knot
1768 Grey Pine Carpet
1777 July High-flyer
1894 Latticed Heath
379   Red-belted Clearwing
2300 Old Lady
1922 Swallow-tailed Moth
1646 Oak Hook-tip

188 species

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Potty Training Complete

Well, that wasn't too hard. Obviously I left it longer than I needed too, but almost unbelievably, having started on Monday, she is basically there as I type this. No accidents yesterday, and only one today, but today was the big one. And I mean BIG. Number ones, fine, however the reaction to potty training was to stop doing number twos. For seventy-two hours. Given that the last one was trodden into a wicker chair and then padded all over the downstairs, I have been somewhat on edge of late. It finally arrived today. I was tidying the kitchen when I heard an immense "KERPLUNK" from the toilet. I dashed over to find a beaming child, only one thing on her mind - Chocolate Animal Biscuits. Plural. Not one, but two. A wee had been getting her a single biscuit, but for the holy grail (not on a chair) two had been promised. Frankly I was delighted to hand them over.

"My want chocolate an'mal biscuit NOW!"

Sorry if this is a bit scatalogical, but I have been dreading this. I wasn't involved with the first two kids in any way, I was too busy looking at leveraged financing or something. This has been an entirely new experience for me, and, bar one horrible incident that required a hose, has been fairly painless. I'm tempted to say that it was rewarding, but that might indicate a keeness to go through it all again, which is, I assure you, a very long way from the being the case. I have one more day to get through, and then it's the weekend and Mrs L is in charge. That's fair, I've done the hard bit.

I suspect you didn't come here for that, so, any birds? No, not really. Having said that, for obvious reasons I have not left the house, so it has been all about the garden. I've been getting roughly twenty Sand Martins a day come through, the vast majority heading North-east. Earlier in the week I had my first Common Buzzard for the patch this year, which drifted vaguely towards the house before veering off east, and I've heard Coal Tit calling on two consecutive days. This is one of only two birds on my house list that I have never seen, the other is Tawny Owl.

I've managed to drag my lazy arse out of bed early only once this week, which resulted in me seeing a Jay. Awesome. Tried Rainham this evening but the Whimbrel flew off before I got there, and the Gropper hasn't been heard for a few days now so has perhaps moved on. Like migration, my London list has rather stalled. Still, I have the whole weekend.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

RSPB Abernethy Mallard Watch

Yup, you guessed it, a punter at the "organised" Caper watch last week called a Mallard as a Capercaillie. I watched it fly in, and land in the vegetation with only its head sticking out.

Capercaillie. Brown, so a female.

"I've got one!!!" came an excited shout from my left somewhere. "I bet it's that Mallard" I thought. And it was! I've made more than my fair share of ID cock-ups, but I would have been truly proud to add that one to my list. That basically sums up the whole experience. Two poor RSPB staff, and a hide full of numpties that couldn't have ID'd a Capercaillie if it had walked into the hide and sat down next to them. I very nearly didn't go, but seeing as I had Muffin with me, I thought it might be easier. Mistake (although the toilet was handy). Once people had stopped calling Mallards, very occasionally a real Caper would be seen, and then there would be a desperate mass rush to that person's viewing angle, which was basically identical to all other viewing angles in the hide. Predictably the Caper would vanish before more than about two people could get on it, or alternatively morph into a duck. The poor RSPB guy would try and find a clear view, set up a scope and invite people to look through it, but then no, a lady needed a step in order to be high enough, the step knocked the scope out of position, start again..... and of course the bird would have moved.

In the middle of all this, one of the RSPB staff fell over and bashed her head. It initially looked bad enough that an ambulance needed to be called, and so the other member of staff had to go and sort all that out. This didn't improve matters, as then there was nobody to even vaguely organise what was going on, and it became a free-for-all. Never again.

And then there were the directions. "It's over there, in the trees at the back!" Genius. "Could you perhaps be more specific?" "Um, errr, er, umm, err, at the back! In a tree!". Nobody had a clue. One o'clock, Two o'clock etc, scope widths and even rough distance in metres were all foreign concepts. Muffin and I were tucked in at the front, using one of the kneeling-height viewing ports, when I finally found a male sat in a tree. Once both he and I had had a decent look, I called out some proper directions. Some slightly less-dudey people were able to follow them and get on the bird, and then offered their scopes to others, as did I, and eventually most people present managed to see it before it flew down and disappeared. Job done, we packed up and left, passing the paramedics on our way out.

I don't know what possessed me really, I'd seen and heard Caper before at other places very nearby, and had some decent gen from friends who had been up last year, so I should have just done that. Still, we saw one, and that's what counts. And despite the comedy, very satisfying it was too. My previous Caper experiences were limited to the back-end of a female disappearing rapidly through the pines, and two males heard only. I had ticked all three of course, but somehow this felt like putting things right.

A Photo Essay on Failure

They say a picture tells a thousand words. Does that mean that three pictures tell three-thousand words? I am not known for word-thrift, and I reckon I could probably use up all three-thousand on quite how much this kind of behaviour annoys me. I'll spare you this time. But I took the owner to task, and the good news is that he "heard what I was saying". If ever there was a phrase which indicated utter indifference and apathy, this is it. Apparently Queen Victoria gave Wanstead Flats to the East End for the commoners to enjoy, and that is what he and his dogs were doing and were going to continue doing.