So far there has been one Wheatear, and it will come as no surprise to you that I did not see it. As is frequently the case, I birded the patch like the veritable demon for a couple of hours before work, toddled off to earn a crust, and then all the usual suspect layabouts turned up and found one in one of the spots I'd been checking. Grrr. It happens so frequently that I can live with it. Just about....
It was actually a really good morning. Nobody about, and I did the circuit of the brooms before heading east to the Alex. On my way over there the first Swallow of the season zipped over, cheering the heart and lifting the soul (think where it has come from!). I greeted it sololmly, and continued on to the empty lake before returning via the Ditch of Despair. No birds in it, obviously, however a funny buzzy chip of a call with a ring of familiarity had me looking up at the sky - took a number of seconds to place it, but by that time the glorious yellowness was in my bins. Yellowhammer! Birding a local patch is all about context, and whilst Yellowhammer is not a bird you would normally associate with feelings of patch gold, here in Wanstead it is just about annual for one lucky birder. Today that lucky birder was me, and I reckon it's my fourth here in 11 years. It certainly put in a spring in my step, but this extra va-va-voom still wasn't enough to track down what so far remains the patch's only Wheatear of 2016.
This is nothing short of a disgrace. Nowhere in London is this migrant so keenly anticipated, yet this year we have been bracketed by birds with barely a sniff of our own. And when one did finally turn up, it was a) a drab female, and b (and far more importantly) not seen by me. I tell myself I'm waiting for that first spanking male whilst basking in Rubythroat happiness. This is actually true, and I can still scarcely believe that I've now seen one. All the cuttlefish and cages jokes from those on a well-timed Shetland trip last year have been rolled out, but I remain highly contented.
There is only one thing that would make me more contented.