Tuesday 8 March 2011


** Navigate away now if you don't want to read 2011's waiting for Wheatears post **

Soon, this old barrage balloon hitch will perform a useful function once again. No, we are not going to war, or at least not that anyone has told me. No, it will provide a nice perch for a Wheatear to sit on. Guaranteed. And when it does, perhaps a week from now, I will be extremely happy, as I am every year. If a year passes and I cannot muster any enthusiasm for the arrival of spanking summer plumaged Wheatears, well that will be a very dark day indeed, and signal the onset of my birding decline.

But it isn't just about Wheatears. Though it is difficult to even consider them at the moment, there are other birds. Many are only just around the corner. So that you too may delight in the glory ofthe spring migration in Wanstead, perhaps even hold sweepstakes from afar, here are my earliest ever spring arrival dates.

Let's start with Wheatear - it is traditional after all.

Wheatear: March 15th
Chiffchaff: March 27th
Blackcap: March 28th
Willow Warbler: March 28th
Swallow: March 30th
House Martin: April 8th
Sand Martin: April 11th

Ring Ouzel: April 19th
Hobby: April 20th
Lesser Whitethroat: April 20th
Tree Pipit: April 20th
Whinchat: April 20th
Yellow Wagtail: April 22nd

Garganey: April 23rd
Swift: April 25th

Garden Warbler: May 8th
Turtle Dove: May 19th

By the way, I have had both Chiffchaff and Blackcap earlier than the above dates, but with wintering birds it can all get a bit muddled so I've excluded the absolute outliers in March. Science, done. Also, whilst going through my records to pull out these dates, it appears I've never had a spring Redstart here.