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