Saturday 19 November 2011

Essex Birds

Wanstead is in Essex, and that's where I started today. Nick and I were nice and early on the patch, but no goodies were produced. I had palpitations early on when I saw two distant flying waterfowl and immediately issued the joyful shout of "Brent Geese!", a long-awaited patch tick. My initial joy turned to consternation though, when after some proper squinting I felt that the rear-most bird was definitely lighter in tone that the lead bird. Although I'd been certain that the first bird was a Brent, the apparent difference between the two raised all sorts of questions, and very sadly I've binned them. Although generally very low, I do have some standards.

Thinking about it, Brent Goose is a good candidate for my most-wanted bird for the patch. It's entirely possible, is big and easy to spot, which is always a plus, and now is the right time of year. That said, there are many others. Marsh Harrier and Short-eared Owl both rank highly, as do Smew and Bewick's Swan. I've decided on my most-wanted for the garden. That's going to be Little Egret from now until I get one. It's still a hard bird away from the Roding, but I'm close enough to the Walthamstow-Thames flight path to be in with a chance. Other possibilities for the garden are Firecrests on an away day, and perhaps also one of the seven Egyptian Geese which seem to have taken up residence on the Basin, just a short flight away.

Why is Alexandra Lake filled with algal blooms and infested with rats? No idea.

Wanstead held little else, six Teal on Alex probably the highlight. A quick grill of the gulls produced nothing remarkable, though I still think that with the number of Common Gulls we get, Ring-billed has to be a serious possibility. I suppose that could be the new most-wanted... A group of Long-tailed Tits did not want their photograph taken, and an out-of-control dog jumped all over me. The second time it jumped all over me, I nudged it away with my leg. Oh dear, in the eyes of the owner that counted as kicking the dog, and that was well out of order. It's great isn't it? A dog jumps all over me and all of a sudden it's my problem. Yes, that sounds fair to me. Here's an alternative suggestion though, dog-owner. Keep your stupid f***ing dog under control or on a f***ing lead, or don't f***ing bring it to Wanstead f***ing Flats. Or am I out of order again? I tell you, the day I get a sincere apology from a dog-owner, or even just an apology, will be the day I..., the day I..., well I just don't know. It's so massively unlikely it will never ever happen.

Moving on, we moved on. To real Essex, with additional passengers in the shape of Paul W and Muffin. Fingringhoe to be precise, where we spent an hour not seeing a Glossy Ibis for Paul's Essex list that he does now keep (it would be a great deal quicker to list the counties for which Paul does not keep a list. Herefordshire I think.), which was in fact there all along. The next stop was Mersea, where I quickly added a perfectly genuine and acceptable Red-breasted Goose to the Essex List I definitely don't keep, and added Black Brant for the day when that becomes tickable.This was a life tick for Muffin, and he was so delighted that he made some patterns in the mud with his trainers. A Wigeon we had been watching and thinking was a little odd then died in front of us, a nice lesson in the natural way of things for junior. This air of finality caused us to surmise that the day was basically over, so we went home.

What do you mean you can't see it?

1 comment:

  1. My sister has some un-trained mutt that she lets jump up all over people. Try telling her to stop the bitch doing it and she'll complain about depriving it of its human rights to self expression. Half a mind to give it a good whack. And then deal with the dog.