Monday, 20 April 2020

Wanstead Bird Reports

Every year we release a patch bird report, and the most recent one - 2018 - is now out. You can click on the image below to access it and I would encourage you to do so. In fact please do so - the effort that has gone into this, and all the others, which can be found here merit their wider circulation. It works well on a standard widescreen monitor.

I am not sure how many local patches do this but it's a nice way to round up the year and they're fun documents to go back and read during the quiet times. In recent years Nick has been putting them together, how he finds the time I have no idea. Oh, wait, yes I do! Nonetheless, it is a mammoth effort that takes him days and days, and they deserve to be seen by more people. As this year is the tenth one, a few of the local patchworkers have contributed to a "Top ten moments of the last ten years", and reading those gives a real sense of the type of birding we get here - it is not all about rarities! That said, this was the Rustic Bunting year, a real mega anywhere, and so that features on more than a few of the top tens.

This was the year of the "Beast from the East" and so in this report there is a small feature on Lapwings. I remember that period well and on one of the days I worked from home. Between bouts of work I picked up 275 Lapwing heading west over my garden and away from the brutal weather. Given I can go for a full year and see none, it was a quite incredible spectacle. There is also a short piece on Gull ringing recoveries - Tony is a big ring afficionado and makes a big effort to record and track down all that he sees. Jubilee Pond is probably the best place to read rings - you are close to the birds and they perch on the low wooden fences on the islands allowing for good visibility.

The bulk of the report is the day by day sightings - these are basically pulled from the ELBF feed that Howard V painstaking compiles, and then combined with a short and often light-hearted summary that describes the month as a whole. It is liberally illustrated by all of us, and I think this is what makes it such a fun read - you can scroll down and relive the year day by day! If this view is not your kind of thing, then there is also the annual systematic list, and this is where the real detail lies. It is put together to sit alongside the historical records page on the Wanstead Birding Blog. This for me is where the real interest lies - we have status, records by month and year, tables, firsts and last dates for common migrants, and all set against photos taken by local birders. As it is a local patch report put together by local birders, as opposed to something more formal and official describing a much larger area, certain what some may call 'liberties' have been taken that some people may not agree with, mainly the inclusion of non-accepted rarities. Rarities in any context are always thorny issues, and indeed even locally we don't necessarily all agree with the approach, but this is where we currently are and I would urge readers not to get all het up about it and just to read the report as an insight into local birding on one of London's best patches. You cannot fail to get a feel for where we all spend a vast amount of time, and if it encourages more people to get out and enjoy local birding then so much the better. I've certainly noticed more and more people out with binoculars in recent years - a far cry from when I was just wandering around on my own!

Anyway, enjoy, and if you have any comments then please do let us have them via the usual means.


  1. A very impressive document - can't image the amount of work that went into that. And to have a local patch like that!

    1. I can't imagine it either - all I do is send a few photos! The rest just magically happens.....