Contrary to what finds it's way on here, I have been birding a lot locally this spring. It is just that I feel that blog post after interminable blog post about hearing only Chiffchaffs doesn't make for great reading, so I have largely ignored my fruitless forays out onto the patch. It has been sort of enjoyable getting out there early before all the people and their pets, but equally it could have been a lot more enjoyable if I had been bumping into Ring Ouzels, hearing Willow Warblers, raising my bins and turning distant dots into hirundines and so on. No, I am afraid it has been dull as the proverbial ditch-water. Perfect blogging material now I think about it.....
I did add a few singing Blackcaps last Saturday, but after the early excitement of London's first Wheatear of 2017 raised expectations to fever pitch, the patch has done nothing but underperform. Our neighbours in Walthamstow meanwhile have been clearing up, loads of decent birds to remind us how little we're seeing, and to add to the daily depression of another two hours in bed sacrificed for no good reason I have to walk past the scars of the Corporation of London's latest land clearance scheme. I have a post on this lined up actually, but every time I am ready to publish it I discover another area that has been razed to the ground and need to record that too.
Adding to the feelings of being hard done by are the daily missives from the East London Retired Birders Club. This is a Whatsapp group, and I am seemingly the only employed member of it. You can imagine where this leads. A constant feed of people seeing tons of migrants across the local reservoirs and the river. A network of dedicated observers with nary a care in the world, out on their patches from dawn to dusk, revelling in migrant after migrant. Work? Overrated apparently. The first Sedge Warbler, 30+ Sand Martins, some lingering Mergs, oh, some Black-winged Stilts. Nice. From my desk in Canary Wharf I grimace and carry on. That I was unemployed for two years and doing exactly the same to them is long forgotten of course, it is the here and the now that matters.
All it will take however is one Red-rumped Swallow or Alpine Swift to make it all alright again. I live in hope, eyes to the sky. We may not have had many migrants this year, but imagine if one of those European overshoots made landfall here. It is what keeps local patchwatchers on their toes - we had a R-RS once, in the 1970s, and there was an Alpine Swift over nearby Leyton Flats only a few years ago, easily under a mile away, so it can and does happen. Just not very often sadly.
You can see this year's somewhat pitiful list here.