It all got so intense last week that I had to leave the country. I may blog about the nature of leaving the country later, though I'm not sure that this readership is quite ready. Of course during the nanosecond I was away the Wryneck turned up. Note that this was always a question of when, rather than of if. The whiff of inevitability with Wrynecks bracketing us like a salvo from a Dreadnought made it 100% certain that one would land. So of course the moment I skipped the border one slunk in under the radar, but was luckily picked up by a visiting birder attracted to the area by the gazillions of amazing migrants that have been encamped on Wanstead Flats.
Despite being in Madrid, I wasn't worried. Wanstead Wrynecks always stay a week, it's the rules. Local knowledge like this is one of the joys of working a patch - you know what turns up when, and you know where on the patch it will likely be. This in-depth know-how takes years to accumulate, but eventually, like me, you can say: Spotted Flycatcher, around Long Wood. Pied Flycatcher, around Long Wood. Ring Ouzel, around Long Wood. Tree Pipit, around Long Wood. And also you know how long something will stick, so I was not at all surprised to see a Wryneck streak across the brooms around Long Wood at half six this morning. Eventually it perched up, but by then the area was crawling with twitchers and my photo effort was so ridiculously embarrassing that I cannot possibly post it here. The photo however means nothing, it's all about the seeing and the ticking. So suffice to say that I saw it, which was critically important as it allows me to keep a Wanstead Wryneck clean sheet. 100%. Four birds in six years. What the hell happened in 2011 and 2014 is what I want to know. We thought at one stage that they might have been following the alternate year rule, but the 2013 bird blew that one out of the water. GSCE maths definitely has a part to play, but I'm too dense to work it out.
In the absence of anything other than a blurry mess, here's a Spotted Flycatcher. One of possibly 13 birds this morning. Around Long Wood. Did someone say best migrant patch in London?