Monday 16 April 2012

Birding Canary Wharf, but Exciting

Today I can put my hand on my heart and say that birding Canary Wharf was exciting. This might sound like the greatest contradiction ever, but it was fabulous. I had a pretty intense morning, one that finished at half two rather than the traditional midday. Feeling pretty fried, I headed outside for some air. And for some birds. Hopefully - this was Canary Wharf after all.

I made it as far as Westferry Circus, and being late, there was hardly anyone around. Some security people magically turned up shortly after I extracted a camera from my bag, but when they realised I was a sad weirdo they went away again. That left me and the shrubbery. And the shrubbery was alive! I found a male Blackbird feeding three almost fully grown chicks, I found about half a dozen Goldfinches, and I found a Wren sneaking around. I've never seen Wren there before, not in a decade of looking. Amazing. Or rather, I am amazingly rubbish. And where had the Blackbirds come from, with three young hopping around, it's not like they're fresh migrants is it? Good grief. I thought I'd better start looking harder. What if there was an undetected Warbler unobtrusively feeding somewhere? This became my mission, and I'll you what, it was pretty darn exciting. Especially when I got a tantalising glimpse of what surely must have been a phyllosc. Just a flit, but immediately I was in full-on birding mode, straining every sense. Except taste perhaps. Or smell.

Anyway, the closest feeling I can assosciate the next twenty minutes with was birding abroad, somewhere like India. You've got something, you have an idea of what it might be, but you don't know, and you NEED to know, for listing's sake. The choice, of course, was pretty much between Willow and Chiff, but I needed to see it well. Either would have been a Canary Wharf tick, and a tricky fifteen minutes followed before I nailed it as a Chiffy. I've been trying to recall when I last looked at a Chiffchaff so intently, and I reckon it was down in Cornwall about three years ago, at Helston Sewage works, when trying to find a Sibe in amongst twenty trillion collybita. Usually I just note the song, perhaps cock my ear towards a hoo-weet or a hooweet, but never actually look at them. I mean, why would I want to do that? Bo-ring!

Today I never even made it as far as the river, I spent my entire break in a tiny tiny area looking at a handful of birds, and loved every minute of it. Flocks of Terns probably went past, a Kittiwake or two, but I wouldn't have cared. Sensational birding about two minutes from my office. I'm still some way behind in the peanut stakes, but with dedication like this, those calories could be mine!

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