Tuesday 19 September 2023

Coats and tail

I've not worn a proper coat on the commute for many months, just a jacket (a sports coat don't you know). I like jackets, not just because of their timeless style, but because they have pockets and old people like me need pockets. I can put my keys in one of the inside pockets, my phone in the other, Oyster card and work ID in the breast pocket, and then my glasses in an outside pocket. Or on my forehead as that's a cool look. All very handy, no need for a bag, or to have tons of stuff in my trousers - that way distaster lies. How many trouser pockets did I wreck in my youth? Too many.

Anyway, I've been plenty cosy with just a jacket, on warm days I can wear one without an inner lining, on colder days a nice woolen or tweed one, lovely. But on Monday I didn't feel that even the heaviest one was enough and so today I dug out my wax jacket from its summer slumber. Like an old friend it was as if we had never been parted. This has even more pockets than my various blazers, just wonderful. I can even fit my bins in one, whereas previously I've had to hang them over one shoulder and get on the train with a suspicious bulge underneath my arm....

So wax jacket out and it's officially autumn. A scarf and my Bridge Coat will mean its winter. Of course in the birding sense it has been autumn for quite some time, and whilst it might be the start of the silly season for rarity hunters on far flung archipelagos, in actual fact autumn passage is largely over. The Flycatchers are gone, Wheatears and Whinchats are thin on the ground, Tree Pipits are through and finding Warblers is becoming increasingly difficult. 

Instead we're in a transitional period, and one where surprises can occur. Like Pintails. The last on-the-deck Pintail record in Wanstead was in 1975 - the year I was born. There was a flyover in 2020 but a series of blurred images are not especially wonderful. So imagine people's surprise when one arrived about a week and a half ago. There were some ID shenanigans which prevented both initial news getting out quickly as well as its subsequent pinning down, but I was in America at the time and was thus not especially bothered. In fact had it never been seen again beyond the initial sighting I'd have selfishly taken that as a semi-decent outcome. Eventually however it was pieced together as still being present, albeit on a different pond, and everyone connected. Gah! The pressure was on, but I am nothing if not jammy and it was still present when I landed in Heathrow four days later! I twitched it immediately, Lake Michigan to Heronry. Phew.

In addition to this excitement (my 166th bird in Wanstead) the first autumn Lesser Redpoll chupped over me last week, and this weekend I added an autumn Stonechat. I'd somehow missed both of these over the first winter period and so my year list is now looking pretty acceptable for what has been a less than stellar year. In fact it's slightly above my 15 year average which is pretty unexpected all things considered. Then again it's about the same as I was on in April 2021.....


  1. I dread to think what you are going to be like when you are actually old! Sports jacket!

  2. You'll need to update the important blog now with yer big pintail news hey? Carnt believe there were no shots of it tho?

    1. There are pics, but not mine. I'll dig them out and send you one.

  3. The sports jacket surely deserves a photo?