Friday 19 August 2022

Signs of autumn

The patch has looked like autumn for many weeks - dead brown leaves, fallen before their time, carpet most of the copses as the dessicated trees are unable to maintain them. The bird life has of course remained decidedly summer, i.e. dead, and as is customary I completely avoided the patch in June. And for all but the last week of July actually, which I can't recall doing before. I was just busy, and by the sounds of it I did not miss a great deal.

Naturally it started getting interesting as soon as went to Fife, with the first Tree Pipits, Redstarts and Flycatchers arriving. I am back now, of course just as Fife starts getting interesting! The Eden estuary has had a Spoonbill, the East Neuk has seen multiple Pomarine Skuas, and there was a two Great Shearwater day at Fife Ness which is basically unprecedented. C'est la vie I suppose, but I have been venturing out here in Wanstead instead and it is beginning to feel good.

Before work the other day I scooped up three Whinchat and three Wheatear together by the model airfield, and a Yellow Wagtail went over south which was my first of the autumn. It's not quite the flock of 40 that Abberton got, but I am still of the opinion that Wanstead Flats consistently punches well above its weight during migration season, particularly autumn. There was also a briefly exciting moment when a "Plover" was mooted on Alexandra Lake, reported by a non-birder and possibly talked into it! I was working from home and was able to take the time to hop on my bike and rapidly pedal down there. As I arrived I heard a Common Sandpiper call. Still, all waders are good round here - my 39th Common Sand on the patch in coming up to 20 years birding here, which gives an idea of their scarcity.

A bird from long ago....maybe this weekend I will take my camera out with me?

On the day that the Thames Water hosepipe ban was announced we had a deluge locally, and this has lent the area a new lease of life. It is still a myriad of shades of tan and brown, but the air feels humid, there are clouds overhead, and birds are appearing and finding food. After work yesterday I came back across the Flats, encouraged by earlier news of Flycatchers. I did not take long. I struck out at the birches, a favourite haunt that had hosted a bird in the morning, but at Esso Copse a familiar dash of muted brown resolved into a handsome Spotted Flycatcher. Quite mobile, a short while later it flitted towards Long Wood and as it did so a second bird followed it, I fancied greyer than the first. I followed both! In the part of Long Wood we know as the Enclosure I had the briefest view of a Pied Flycatcher before it disappeared, and pretty soon I could once again see a bird perched up prominently on the outer edge of Esso Copse again. Joined by Nick (long time no see), this turned out to be the Spottie again, but the Pied had vanished. Meanwhile James found both species together at Alexandra Lake, so we are a little confused as to how many birds there actually were. Definitely two Spotted Flycatchers, but potentially just one very mobile Pied. Equally there could have been three, so I think we are going to settle on two. Science in action.

So the next few weeks are the good ones, and generally they make up for all the crap ones. We need to make the most of it!

Another from the extensive back catalogue. This is really easy!

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