Tuesday 12 April 2016

The mythical floodgates (that only open after 8.15am)

Somebody has turned on the tap upstairs, and birds are now piling through. There were a minimum of nine Redstarts found in Wanstead on Sunday, including a garden tick for a lucky Tim, so the actual number of Redstarts was probably in the millions. I love this time of year, and so was out on the Flats this morning at just past six. And it was dead with a capital D. Dead. In just over two hours I saw a Linnet, a Yellow Wagtail pseeped through, and a male Redstart was flitting around the brooms. You may think that this is not actually that dead, but for London's best migrant patch after heavy overnight rain that haul classifies as avian desolation.

As I headed gleefully to the Salt Mines once again, I mused on whether it had been worth waking up at such an ungodly hour in order to see three birds. And then of course when the inevitable news of more Redstarts and no fewer than seven Wheatears came through, it became clear. Do not bother birding in the morning because the floodgates are closed. OK, so the early morning birder will, in time, pick up a few goodies. It has happened to me, it has happened to others. However by far the majority of the good birds seem to pass through at some point between 8:16am and about 10am. Can you guess what time I have to leave the patch in order to arrive at CDub for 9? Oh, I gave it away in the title.

One more (Steve) of the first male of the year that was found on Sunday.

So today, rather than miss out again, after work I went home via the Flats. And not only was it was far less busy than at six in the morning, it was also carpeted in Wheatears still. I am clearly missing a trick by attempting birding before work. A hiding to nothing I believe they call it. A mug in the common parlance. There were seven in a tight group near the barrage hitches, six males with a female tagging along. I don't habitually schlep a camera into work with me, so there are no photos, but for at least 15 minutes me and seven Wheatears enjoyed a close relationship.

Over the coming days I am expecting to run into House Martin, possibly Ring Ouzel, various Warblers fresh in, and potentially something left field - there was a Stone-Curlew at Rainham today.... Now that I know I can bird the patch at both ends of the day there may be no stopping me. 

Dunnocks are currently going beserk on the Flats. This is from the weekend.

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