I've lived in Wanstead for nearly fifteen years. My wader list after last year's Black-tailed Godwit, was fourteen, neatly mirroring my time here at that point. Now in my fifteenth year it is only right that I add another wader to my patch list, and so late last week I did exactly that - Greenshank. One was found by Simon and Nick on the deck on Heronry, and even more remarkably was still present when I and the rest of the patch stalwarts got to it after work. It was still there the following morning, and mind-blowingly was also still there on Saturday morning. I toddled over to see it with Tony, noted that it was favouring a narrow channel on the south side and was thus relatively close, toddled back home to fetch the largest camera I could find, and then toddled back to Heronry and papped it.
The bird was flushed by a water-borne dog and flew east calling, but dropped back in a couple of minutes later. Deciding I'd got as good as I was going to get, I got up to leave and had not walked more than about a hundred yards when Nick sent a message to say he had seen a white-bellied wader flying east over the SSSI. Those of you that know that patch will know that the next bit of water a wader will see on that vector is the Shoulder of Mutton Pond, followed by Heronry, where I just been. I was under trees and had no sky, but it had to be worth a look so I retraced my steps and went to the north side of Heronry where I could see the biggest expanse of water. Scanning the southern edge I nearly dropped my binoculars - there were TWO Greenshank sat side by side in the shallows. After a while they both got up, and calling loudly flew over my head and disappeared over the golf course. Mouth agape, camera uselessly on the ground, I followed them through the bins getting glorious views as they flew against a charcoal grey sky and were lost to view.
Greedily I went back to the southern channel just to check that the original bird wasn't there, that would have been quite ridiculous. It wasn't, but nonetheless what are the chances? That said I remember when two Golden Plover on Wanstead Flats were joined by a third overnight, so there is at least some precedent but still, it is just extraordinary when you think about it. The photograph of the two together is not very good as I was on the other side of the pond, but it doesn't matter as I doubt this will ever occur again.
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