Today I did not get up and do the patch. Ever since I the guys got a couple of Green Sandpipers a couple of weeks ago, I have been getting up before 5am and going out to find my own. Guess how much success I've had? Exactly. But I have persevered, day after day, and found nothing better than, er. You know what? I don't recall having found a single interesting bird, it has been quite depressing. In other words, regular patch birding. You go out, you see nothing, you come back, you weep. Well not nothing I suppose, you see the regular denizens, but no surprises, and patch birders like surprises. That's not to say that I have not been pleased with a few things, but whether they constitute exciting is highly debatable. I'll mention two, and let you decide.
The first was when I discovered that unbeknownst to all of us who work the patch, a Tufted Duck had managed to hatch eight ducklings on the Jubilee Pond. At its widest, the Jubilee Pond measures about 25cm, and it plunges to depths of at least 10cm, so Mrs Tuftie is either very very clever, or we're all really really stupid. I've always said the ducks round here are pretty smart. These are either the first or second brood of Tufties we've had, I honestly can't recall, so this is very pleasing, as as recently as yesterday all eight were still present and correct, and had grown substantially.
Secondly, and it doesn't come much more exciting than this, I was wandering across the Flats having checked both Jubilee and Alex for non-existent Green Sandpipers, when I espied a Greylag Goose in a group of Geese on the playing fields. Are you sitting down? I casually raised my bins, and they were all Greylags, sixteen of them! Wow! Added to the family of nine I had just seen on Alex, unless my maths is very shaky, that makes 25 Greylag, easily a new patch record. This is what patch-working is all about.
Yesterday, tramping round the Flats, I saw nothing unusual. I had the place to myself from about 5am. No joggers, no dogs, no dog-walkers, and no doggers. It was very pleasant. Six Greylag flew east at about 5:30am. I had dismissed them as Cormorants moments earlier, as this is exactly what Cormorants do at this time of day. Then one of them honked, exactly like Cormorants don't. Moving on to the Park, I sat on a bench near the Tea Hut, and observed no birds on the Heronry Pond. On the way back home, the Reed Warbler was singing again on the Shoulder of Mutton Pond, raising hopes of a second brood. Later on in the day, back at the Tea Hut, three Sand Martins and two Swift fed above the lake. Everything very much tickety-boo.
This morning I stayed in bed. I deserved it, and was knackered, perhaps still feeling the after-effects of my Cornish extravaganza. I was woken by a tweet at 5:40am, someone thanking me for recently following them. Good. You can guess what is coming. I went back to sleep until 6:15am when another "bong" from my phone woke me up. "Green Sandpiper being flushed by dogs on Alex!" or words to that effect. But of course. I moved very quickly, quickly enough to be at Alex in under five minutes and to just catch not one, but two Green Sandpipers disappearing into the far distance as a large brown dog looked happily on. Luckily one called as it went, the Green Sand equivalent of "Sod this for a game of soldiers, I'm off", and they were never seen again. I checked the Bandstand Pond just in case they had dropped in, but when I got there a small brown and white dog was gambolling in the shallows....
Still, a patch ever tick, and my 100th this year, so I can relax now, and thereby miss more of them. The general rule for seeing waders in Wanstead is to ask yourself if I am in bed or not. If I am, get out there quick is my advice.