Friday 26 April 2013

Another Fall on Wanstead Flats

I had awoken at 5am and looked out at heavy rain, and so naturally went straight back to sleep. Who knows what I missed, but I remained warm and dry, which counts for a lot. I happily twitched a Reed Warbler that Tim had found on Alex just after the school run, and in the process found another. Satisfied with my five minutes, I went back home and continued my epic struggle with Regulatory Capital.

Approaching lunchtime, a text from Nick announced that he had found eight Wheatears on the Flats. Two minutes after that, another text proclaimed that the eight had become 16. It was clearly time for lunch, so I headed out. There were Wheatears everywhere. Steve and I counted somewhere between 22 and 29 just in the Broom fields. Scattered with them were four Whinchat, two male and two female, and a long-tailed Warbler had me very confused until I could snap it at long range and discover it was the patch's first Garden Warbler umpteenth Whitethroat of the year. I guess it's been a long time about five minutes since I saw one, and the Brooms isn't is the most obvious place for one to be - in fact it was perched on one of the logs next to a Wheatear when I first saw it - highly confusing.

I wish now I'd also twitched a Sedge Warbler over by Alex, but I didn't have time. Had I done so though, I would have seen eight seven species of Warbler on Wanstead Flats today, a record as far as we know. We've never had Sedge and Reed together before, and Garden was wasn't the icing on the cake. All the others (Willow, Chiff, Whitethroat, Lsr Whitethroat & Blackcap) are now back and in some numbers.

What I found interesting* was that these birds all arrived at around lunchtime. I was glued to the computer screen so don't know whether there was a shower or not, but reading reports from around London suggests that other places also had stuff just appear our of nowhere in the middle of the day. Are these night-flying migrants also travelling during the day in order to make up lost time?

The day got even better when Steve rang a little later with news of a Kite species flying west from Alex, i.e. towards me. He and Next Day Keith hadn't managed to get much colour on it and were contemplating Black. Wow! I dashed out of the house and started scanning, and I can only have been outside for a minute when a noticed a bird flying north and away, not much higher than roof height. I've seen stacks of Black Kites in Europe recently, and this unfortunately didn't fit the bill. It had a pretty deep fork, and whilst it wasn't a bright one, it was definitely rufous-tinged, especially on the head. Still, I thought I'd missed out on this species, the peak date for which round here is the final two weeks in March. Even better news was that with one foot on my front drive, it also counts as a house tick, and as it's the second Red Kite, means I can remove the little italics that denote single bird.

I must say it's been a pretty good fortnight. I've had about one patch tick per day on average, but in monster sessions. Four on one day, another five two days after that, and three more today. This takes me to 98 for the year, with silly things like Grey Wagtail, Bullfinch and Tawny Owl all missing, and stuff like Swift and Common Tern yet to come. In patchlisting terms, I'm hopeful that my so far abysmal performance in the "patchwork" competition will see a real boost come the end of April updates.

And so to the weekend, and my thoughts are turning towards Spurn and a funny-looking passerine. The high likelihood is the Friday night bunk, but we shall see. I've never been to Spurn, and it's been doing pretty well lately, so even without the star bird it could be an excellent day out.

* you may not


  1. what a stunner that Whinchat is, lovely composed shot.

  2. Hi, it's Mark out of Ryan/Mark here...

    Just dipping in to the blog to check your pictures of the subalp out...they're stunning! If you manage to get yourself out on one of the white-billed diver trips you could get some cracking shots - I'll keep you posted!

    Is the pic at the top of this post the garden warbler? It looks more like a whitethroat to me - especially with the white in the outer tail. If i've got the wrong end of the stick then I'll apologise and get my coat....

  3. You know what, you're the second person to say that and I reckon that you are right and I am wrong, and that this is a 1s Whitethroat and not a Garden Warbler as I thought. Bugger!