Thursday 9 August 2012

Garden Warblers

I spent ages trying to dream up a nice play on words involving the word garden. Garden of Eden, In the Night Garden, stuff like that. I couldn't get there, so this post is fairly unambiguously called "Garden Warblers". Note the s. Plural. More than one. Three. Lots, in other words. Garden Warbler was a big miss this spring. I'm reasonably sure they have bred in the fairly recent past in Wanstead, in the Old Sewage Works, but this year none could be found. This changed yesterday, when there were two - one in the scrub east of Alexandra Lake, and one in Long Wood. It being Wednesday, I chose to look for the one near Alex, and scored pretty quickly.

Today I again started at Alexandra Lake - such is the power of the Olympics that the shoreline was awash with joggers before 6am. Truly birders have it tough here. Despite this, three Curlew, one Oystercatcher and seven Sanderling were feeding happily in the shallows. Not. After giving the lake a [very] quick once over, I proceeded to the scrubby bit, which was alive with birds. A Garden Warbler, likely the same bird as yesterday, quickly gave itself up whilst flycatching, along with a Willow Warbler, and tons of Blackcap and Chiffchaff. Here it is:

The low-lying mist had largely burned off, and I headed back across the Flats to Long Wood. Early mornings it is best to check the north and east sides first, and my tactic of just standing looking at the edge paid off pretty quickly with another Garden Warbler crashing around the elders and hawthorn. Presumably this, too, was yesterday's bird, but when it disappeared off round the corner I followed it, and was pleased not only to refind it but also find another one close by. I never managed a shot of them together, in fact I barely managed shots of them singly, but here nonethless are the pitiful results.

For lovers of stats, and frankly who doesn't like a good old patch stat, I've seen eight Garden Warblers in eight years here, including the bird yesterday. They're much more tricky than you might think, and even they are present they seem much more difficult than other Warblers to actually pin down and ID, with an ability to pop up, make you say "Oh, was that a Garden Warbler?" and then melt away never to be seen again. If I had counted every single one of these occurences as Garden Warblers I'd probably be on many more, but I am of course far too conscientious for that (hah! - Ed.) and so my total remains, as of today, on a lowly ten.

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