June has been exceedingly long this year, at around 85 days, but it is finally, and very thankfully, over. The last four days has seen more migrants than you can shake a stick at. Redstarts abound, Whinchats are everywhere, there have even been some Wheatears. I like Wheatears.
It started, predictably, as soon as I left for Scotland, with the local birders feasting on Whinchat, although I don't believe they attempted a salad. Spotted Flycatchers began to be seen, and from four-hundred miles away I bemoaned my poor timing and had another look through my scope at the Black Scoter. On Sunday, during the drive home, somewhere near Liverpool if I remember correctly, Nick and Tim found a Pied Flycatcher in Long Wood. Wow! Easily one of our rarer migrants, I crossed my fingers that it would stick until I got back, you just can't beat Pied Flycatchers and I wanted to see it. Happily it played ball, though I had to, er, penetrate deep into Long Wood in order to see it. It being a warm Sunday afternoon, my blundering about in Long Wood with binoculars caused some upset to activities already occuring, and soon various men could be seen emerging from the various gaps in the understorey. I didn't linger any longer than was necessary to get decent views of the bird. It is a real shame that the primary gay sex hangout on Wanstead Flats is also extremely attractive to migrants. You never quite know what you're going to get over there, it could be a Redstart or it could be a ... Nevermind.
Anyway, with a Spotted Flycatcher earlier in the week, some returning Teal, and a handful of flyover Yellow Wagtails, I was out relatively early this morning. It was damp and dank, and had migrancy written all over it. It turned out to be superb, and although no biggie like a Wryneck, was easily up there with the best mornings ever.
A Spotted Flycatcher in Long Wood and a possible (non-calling) Tree Pipit over heralded the start. There was a Redstart at the eastern end, and stacks of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat. One Whinchat in the Broomfields turned into three, and a definite Tree Pipit flew over east calling. Most surprising of all was a juvenile Pied Flycatcher in the broom, calling its head off. I didn't recognise the call, and when I got on the source of it I couldn't believe what I was seeing. What was it doing in the broom? Autumn flycatchers are usually totally silent for starters, but when I played the call on my phone to confirm I wasn't going bonkers, it all fell into place. It could be the same bird as Sunday, which was also a juvenile, but equally, given the numbers of migrants around, it could be a new one. It flew off low east towards more suitable habitat, and I couldn't refind it.
A quick stint at Alex netted a Common Sandpiper, a flyover Yellow Wag, two Teal, and Tony found another Redstart in the scrub, which also held a pile of Whitethroats, a Lesser Whitethroat, and a Willow Warbler. I've got a good feeling about the next few days, it's really rather good out there!