Tuesday 29 March 2016

Forgetting February

Just a quick update on a local rarity seen whilst out birding. Me. February somewhat passed me by, with half term holidays, a couple of other sorties, and daily news of the patch being absolutely dire. With time at a premium I did the sensible thing and went birding elsewhere. That’s not to say that on March 1st I rushed out the door keen and eager, of course not. Most of March was utterly terrible as well, and so it wasn’t until a few weeks in that I ventured out, tempted by news of the first LRPs and so on. Initially there appears to have been a westerly bias, with Dorset and Devon getting the vanguard, but gradually more and more sites on our side of country have been seeing their first migrants.

I’ve seen mine too, but it wasn’t the one I wanted. You all know what that is. Anyway, although that gem is still to come on Friday I spent a considerable portion of the day out on the patch cashing in on other things. Earlier in the week I had missed some Rooks, and somewhat disastrously a mega-for-London Hooded Crow. Work is the curse of the birding classes, or something like that. Anyhow, it was a bank holiday, I was here, and the weather was good enough for this fair-weather birder to be out. And it was good, in the Chiffchaff sense of good. Hmmm. I then missed Rooks again by going home for coffee and breakfast. And a nice long rest. But by mid morning I was raring to go again and so joined Nick on the side of the Alex for a spot of skywatching which almost immediately paid dividends with a stratospherically high Buzzard found by Nick. I found this very difficult to pick out, I think my month and a half of sitting in a darkened room processing a huge backlog of images has taken its toll on my outdoor vision. The next bird was altogether more satisfactory being a much lower Red Kite, which I picked up somewhere north of the Alex. It just appeared, not sure how – this is common when skywatching. One minute there is an empty sky, the next minute there is a bird in it, and you’re never quite sure how it managed to get there across the expanse of sky that you've been scanning. And then of course when we looked again after sending the obligatory twittergloat it had disappeared. Oh no, there it was, lower again and a bit further east. Oh but hang on, that’s a Buzzard. Where did that come from? And so where’s the Kite? And then when we looked again there were two Buzzards right next to each other, both of which then gained height and vanished within a matter of seconds.

All good in other words, with two year ticks in a couple of minutes to add to the earlier Chiffy. This latter and the Buzzard I would always expect to get, but Red Kite whilst increasing is never guaranteed. Last spring I missed them completely and had to wait until mid-May, which turned out to be my only sighting all year, so I’m pleased to have managed to connect in what must be the most likely period for Kites to go a-wandering. My three year ticks turned into four with with three Sand Martin that dropped in briefly, and then I had to go home and eat freshly baked Hot Cross Buns. Never easy.

Thirty seconds into the journey home I looked up at the sky and there was another Red Kite hanging in the breeze, tail twisting to maintain position. Where it had been immediately prior I cannot way, but Nick and I think there may be some kind of bird vortex above Wanstead Flats, which randomly spits out and sucks in avian interest for short periods of time. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to see it. What is on the other side of the vortex remains unknown, however we’re pretty sure it isn’t Walthamstow else we’d have had Osprey.

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