Saturday 24 September 2016


Looking at the weather forecast yesterday suggested we wouldn't see a whole lot going on on Wanstead Flats this morning. Nor anywhere else in the south-east by the looks of things, and as at 1.30pm as I bash this out, this has proved to be spot on. Nevermind, it has been an OK week for late September - Spotted Flycatchers hanging on, a few Whinchats, and a steady trickle of Swallows. Earlier in the week these were going East, mid week they changed around to all go West, and this morning they were headed South. If they continue this stupidy they'll have made the Pyrenees by December and might as well turn around and come home. Probably the best birds since the Ortolan have been a couple of Stonechats. These used to reliably winter on the Flats a few years ago, but now seem only to be passage migrants. I managed one in the spring over by the Harrow Road changing rooms, so two that appeared by Centre Road carpark yesterday were most welcome. I didn't have a camera yesterday as I was CW-bound, however this morning I lugged it out there. Hard work, as two birds always are. I got into position just once before they realised what I was up to and kept a much closer eye on me.

The Whinchats all seem to have gone too, but a lone Redstart is hanging on at the west end of Long Wood. Just waiting for the Ring Ouzels now I suppose, and then it's officially winter birding again. Tony had a Siskin this morning, Starlings are gathering, and Goldcrests are starting to get easy again. It is coming. This is the eight autumn of blogging from Wanstead (and very occasionally elsewhere), and whilst it's easy to see that my enthusiasm has diminished over time and that priorities have changed, I still get a minor rush being out there on good days. More importantly, there are now enough other people out there who also recognise how good it is, the message has been well and truly delivered. 

In other news, Nick has been shopping for England. I have never known a splurge like it - new everything, including a new handbag apparently. He has been threatening this drastic action for sometime, but the moment finally arrived today. Tony, James, Bob and I spotted him from some distance away, gleaming in the sunlight. Shading our eyes as he came closer, we could not work out quite what this sparkling object was. Positively glowing, a spanking new camera, lens, and most amazingly of all, boots that do not yet let in water. Shetland will be the test of course. I give them a just under a week, with Quendale getting the better of them on about day six. Anyway, like Brexit, Nixit (Friday) is clearly not as bad as originally feared and he may single-handedly help us stave off recession if he is able to keep this up.

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