It has been a while since I wrote about the patch, mainly because for most of October I seem not to have been on the patch (two breaks in Yorkshire which rescued my autumn, more on that later), but actually it has been going really rather well locally this year. No doubt this is because that for all the months of the year bar October I have been more or less confined to Wanstead, and as we all know and when you spend a lot of time in a place you cannot fail to see a lot of birds.
Not everyone is into lists of birds, but I am, and particularly so when they relate to the local patch or specific parts of it like my garden. Here is the 2020 list so far. 116 species. In Yorkshire terms it's pitiful of course, I saw something like 130 species at Flamborough and Spurn in a matter of days, but for here - suburban London - it is decent, and at the moment represents my second highest total in all the time I have lived here. Only in 2013 have I ever surpassed this number, and the total for that year, 118, is only now two birds away.
Lockdown and the cancellation of all my travel plans have been the difference. I've actually been here. Unwilling (and at points unable) to leave the house other than for short periods of time meant I stared at the sky from my balcony and windows for hours. As a result my garden list has gone crazy with ten new species in a single year - the same as in the previous nine years put together. After lockdown ended Wanstead Flats ironically became less busy and I started venturing out again - a lot! I've missed a few things along the way, but not many, and as a result my yearlist record is firmly in my sights.
Any two of Wigeon, Lapwing and Jack Snipe will draw me level, and all three will do it. And all three have been seen on the patch this month, I just haven't been here very much. But those trips are behind me now and I am raring to go. And of course there could also be a few surprises - an errant Duck or Grebe, another Wader, dare I say it even a rare Bunting...
There are about 70 days to go and I'm planning to be here for almost all of them, be that on my balcony or out on the patch. Wish me luck!