Thursday 26 April 2012

Moaning and Migrants, by God.

I have migrancy to report, and lots of it. But first let's talk about God. Whether you believe in God - any God - or not, you cannot fail to have noticed the atrocious weather we have been having. A month's worth of rain fell in a day in some places, and it has been COLD! FFS, it's nearly May, and I'm cold. April has been colder than March, and there are a few stories circulating about how May is going to be the coldest on record. Can't wait. Anyhow, in various texts that I have not read, it is Gods that are responsible for weather. He is/they are the ones who send floods, storms, fires and general pestilence to wreak havoc upon weak and unrepentent sinners. Towards the end of March, I would suggest we did something really bad. Personally, I'm in the clear. I have been working very conscientiously, and at the end of March I was in Finland taking photos of birds, so it wasn't me. Somebody, however, has messed up in a big way. The result is the worst spring I can remember in my 275 years birding.

It is extremely fashionable to moan about how rubbish 2012 has been. You will recall, perhaps, how the very same people were in February saying what an extraordinary year 2012 had been, what with Yellowthroats safely tucked under belts, and Spanish Sparrows happily in bags. You will also perhaps that other non twitchers (like me) were waxing lyrical about what a brilliant year 2012 was, with Smew on every puddle, Goosanders by the fistfull, and gazillions of waders everywhere. Not now. No, 2012 is officially crap because some people haven't seen a Sand Martin yet.

I'm one of them. Until just yesterday, I could have said the same thing about House Martin, but happily that little gap on my patch year-list has now been filled. I had nipped up to the post office around lunchtime, and on the way back had decided to check the Basin in case any hirundines had been forced down by the celestial machinations. They had! The Basin was buzzing! Buzzing with Hirundines. It's basically impossible to get an accurate count when birds like this are zooming around all over the place, but a conservative estimate was 15 House Martins, 5 Swallows (ergo it must now be Summer, Jesus Christ), and 2 Swifts. The Swifts were the most surprising, and at the time I felt they were really early, in contrast to every other species this Spring. Checking my scrupulous records however, I discovered that Swifts had arrived in Wanstead, or at least been spotted by me in Wanstead, on exactly the same date in 2009 and 2010, and only in 2011 had they been later. Don't any of you ever complain that this blog isn't interesting.

So, two rapid patch ticks, and complemented only a short while later, when back home, by a Hobby out of the back window. This was a day earlier than last year, but was also a spot from my garden, which is clearly a bit of a Hobby mecca. It is actually - the birds breed relatively nearby, and in summer, Hobby comes only a close second to Goshawk Sparrowhawk in being the most likely raptor to be seen overhead. I hope that this bird is one of the residents returning, but it's too early to say, and I've not seen it since - mind you I've been at Canary Wharf. In some ways, this rubbish spring has some advantages, in that three tick days are a very strong possibility. I'm on 90 now, which is six behind this time last year. Of the regulars, I'm missing the afore-mentioned Sand Martin, as well as Tawny Owl, Common Sandpiper, Yellow Wagtail, WhinchatGarden Warbler, Reed Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat. There are a few of the latter on the patch, I've just not lowered myself to twitching them yet. Perhaps tomorrow, if it stops bloody raining.

1 comment:

  1. 275 years birding! Jonathan 'Yoda' Lethbridge. Is that monopod you stumble around Wanstead flats with actually your light sabre? And Could you not 'use the force' to A. Improve the weather & B. Improve the quality of birds locally?