Wednesday 19 January 2011

Three for the Price of One.

I am somewhat behind in blogging terms, so today will see a mammoth effort designed to get me back on track. It will also be somewhat photo heavy, but I will attempt to blather on as much as possible so that it looks wordier than it otherwise might be.

So first off, Wanstead. I was pretty shattered at the weekend and Mrs L was away - unfortunate, but booked well before me heading off to the States became a priority. As such, we didn't do much. I got reacquainted with the kids, had lots of cuddles, and did a lot of unpacking, cooking and tidying. All well and good. On the bird front, I persuaded them that walking to the Tea Hut of Happiness on Sunday afternoon would be worth their while, and that cake awaited them. Three bits of cake were £1.30 - you just can't beat the Tea Hut of Happiness. Didn't see too many birds, but a check under the covered banks of Shoulder of Mutton pond revealed two drake and three female Teal, which were new for the year for my Wanstead list. Ace. I later learned that Tim had seen a three drake and two female, so I am surmising that, barring dramatic and quick surgery, there were six birds in total, which is an excellent count for a single location in these parts.

Mallard x Black-headed Gull hybrid

Monday passed in a blur, and with the kids safely despatched to various educational establishments on Tuesday, I had my first proper foray into the Park since the start of the year. Fab weather, cold but clear, I spent five happy hours wandering round, and counted 192 Coots which was pretty fun. The full list of what I saw is on the Wanstead Birding blog (how confusing), but the undoubted highlight was a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker that flew over my head near the Dell, arousing deep and immediate suspicion as to its identity, which I was able to confirm once it landed. Given that I was going to the Dell expressly to try for Lesserspot, this brought about feelings of deep satisfaction of the type that sometimes accompany patch birding scores. A flock of perhaps 40 Siskin in the Dell only served to brighten my mood. With a Kestrel in the Old Sewage Works, and a surprise Chiffchaff near the Ornamental Waters, my Wanstead list for this year is now at 63. My best ever start is 67 by the end of January, something to think about perhaps, though I am putting myself under no pressure. What happens, happens.

On the way back home, I got a patch tick: Paganism. Or at least some kind of semi-religious ritual that I have no clue about. Perhaps a more rounded and culturally aware person can tell me? I came across a man standing next to Shoulder of Mutton Pond with his eyes closed, facing north. As I approached, he rotated 180 degrees, and stood for several minutes now facing south. Then he did a bit of clapping, three times I think, and then I don't know as I ran for my life before I got turned into a frog or something.

It is probably highly disrespectful to post this photo, and this guy is probably a seventh dan arch-druid and my house will now collapse into a pit of fire, but I was sufficiently interested to wonder what on earth was going on, and it beats dog walkers gesticulating at me. Any ideas?

So, that's Wanstead up to date. Next post will attempt to get America done, and then a highly original post on..... Waxwings!

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