Monday 30 April 2012

Peanut Challenge Update

I don't work in Canary Wharf every day, and even when I am there, there is no guarantee I'll actually be able to leave my desk. It was probably a rash decision to therefore stake a whole packet of peanuts on Canary Wharf being better (or rather, less awful) than Tower Bridge. To date this year, I've seen 33 species there. By way of comparison, on Saturday I saw 50 species on Wanstead Flats in approximately three hours. It is truly terrible, but the thought of the peanuts, or at least, not having to fork out for peanuts, keeps me going.

I managed to sneak out today, and whilst my favourite haunt of Westferry Circus produced nothing new, I was pleased to see both Greenfinch and Goldfinch, and to hear both Wren and Blackbird. The key to birding a patch like this is to set the bar very very low. Last week I was surprised to see fledged Blackbirds; today I was surprised to find Bluetits in a nestbox, and also obviously feeding young. There is also a Crow's nest there, it's all happening.

I went off to check on Doris and Stanley, and I'm afraid it's sad news. I can't remember when I first reported an egg, but Doris is still gamely sitting on them - there are four now - and nothing has happened, and my guess is that nothing will. In the next dock along I found an almost full-grown Grebe chick, so Doris' eggs are almost certainly addled. Doris and Stanley now have neighbours though; there is another sitting Grebe about forty feet away on the same bit of floating habitat. Here's hoping she has better luck.

I wandered onwards, past three delightful Coot chicks, to the eastern-most side of my self-defined patch. On the way I passed through Jubilee park, the bit of grass above the tube station. Being a nice day (for a change) it was absolutely heaving, but I'm afraid Wharfers have an inability to switch off. Lots of very earnest conversations entirely about work, and I must have heard "escalate to management" about eight times in twenty-five yards. Tragic really. Things improved a lot once I got the dockside, as I immediately clapped eyes on a couple of Terns at the far end. Far too far for my feeble ID skills, but one of them did the decent thing and flew much closer and revealed itself as a Common Tern. Not a Canary Wharf outright tick, but a new one for the year, and so I find myself only two behind Parus at Tower Bridge. I should imagine he is getting pretty worried now at the sheer brilliance of my patch. Mmmm, I do like peanuts.

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