10 January 2011

The happy monday

It's not every Monday that you can say is good. Today ticked enough of the right boxes to be considered better than par and at one point I even had a smile on my face. I knew I wasn't going to get round the park, I am not as speedy as Stuart,or as accomplished in spotting an interesting passerine miles off - I need to get close and wait for things to happen. Invariably this means I don't get round the park much except at weekends, even with longer days I seldom get further than the boundaries of the flats. So my double patch idea is biased from the start. I don't open my door and fall into the brooms like Tim and Jonathan, I have a 20 minute walk in my squeaky boots before I can get excited. How the residents of Forest Gate love me as I squeak up their streets first thing of a morning. I digress. Today the flats were beautiful, with a slight frosting and magical sunrise.

No sign of the Little Owl in any of its usual haunts, but I did finally catch up with Goldcrests west of Centre Road, calling from the depth of a clump of broom. A Song Thrush sang from Long Wood, while a Mistle Thrush replied from the wood behind the Esso garage. Steve had joined me at this point and we wandered slowly through the SSSI watching a man seemingly collecting grass in two big plastic bags. His endeavours flushed the Snipe for us so we didn't have to. Job done. On the Fairground we met up with Tim on his rounds looking for Skylark. The Fairground/proposed police muster site could be scuppered (here's hoping) by the feeding habits of the flats' iconic bird during breeding - so we will paying much more attention to this apparently unattractive patch of ground during the spring and early summer. No larks today (I got 7 later on the footie pitches where they appear to favour the centre circle).

Next we sauntered over to the Alex where the Greylag numbers had now risen to 9. Shovelers turned circles, Gadwall dabbled around the margins, a drake Teal up ended itself under the over hanging willows on the island, while Tufties dived along the edges of the thin ice with a trio of Pochard. Leaving the lake behind we wandered round the scrub and grass to the east of Alex where the Wryneck had held court those nine glorious days in the Autumn. And finally, at last, about bloody time! a female Kestrel sat obligingly in a small tree ignoring the protestations of a Magpie. Here's a picture of what it might have looked like if it had been snapped on a grey day on a bush in Long Wood.

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