5 November 2011

Halcyon days (again!)

I wasn't expecting too much to happen today as I got up late.

Yesterday's rain held some promise and even the Bandstand pond had some water in it but nothing else. A small flock of Fieldfare flew west down Capel Road and a smaller flock (2) of Lesser Redpoll flew north over the broom, nothing unusual there.

At the vismig point some Song Thrush were flying around and a few Blackbird set off high and south. All a bit quiet really. Jono turned up nursing a slight hangover and in need of a special coffee from the Little Tea Shop of Happiness, so we tracked off to the Alex on route.

A group of Greylag flew towards us then banked and went back the way they came. Then I picked up the bronchial-chain-smokers call of Egyptian Goose turning over the Alex, 5 of them (we later found two more on the lake setting a new record for the flats).

At the lake I spotted a Med Gull (which from the photographs looks a different bird than Monday's, however it could be just the different profile that was offered this time. Monday's bird appears to have more of a mask in front of the eyes) floating around with the Common and Black-headed Gull.

Monday's bird, half asleep

Four teal were feeding in and out of the willow roots at the east end and there we also picked up the female Wigeon again.

Not a wigeon or female either, nor mentioned in the text. We saw some of these. There you go: context!

The coffee cure beckoned.

After taking his medicine Jono had to leave for parental duties. I went to check out the Perch swamp on the off chance the Water Rail might have returned. That the swamp was actually wet was encouraging, but nothing. In the drowned wood though I caught glimpse of the of the long red bill and the flicky tail.

Like the other migrants who pitch up here on passage or for longer, you wonder how and why they choose this place, and return to it for years. Or it could be a completely new bird that has stumbled on the stinky swamp patch and found it to its liking... hmm!

Thinking I would get a shot of the bird if I returned to the reedy bit which separated the stinky bit from the drowned bit, I squelched into the tall stuff and waited.

The rail had other plans and was not for showing. But I waited on, sinking slightly more by the minute. Then a Kingfisher popped up on a branch just through the undergrowth...

Too many branches and stuff, which is a shame because it was probably the nearest I've been to this elusive bird. After while it flew off and I was able to prise my boots out of the mud and get back to the path.

On the main body of the lake a female Wigeon stood out from the Tufties and Gadwall. A second bird or a change of scene for the Alex bird?

To the old sewage works, where I fancy one day a flyover Hawfinch will be seen. One flew over a house in Woodford Green, again, not too far to the north, and one flew over the Greenwich Ecopark earlier that morning (just to the south). The odds are getting better.

No Hawfinch, but another run around Bullfinch, a leucistic Goldfinch (!), Goldcrests and large numbers of thrush as well as the roving tit flocks and a chancing Sparrowhawk or two. Looking back towards the west a small woodpecker flew in exaggerated dips from the cemetery and over the stables - the first Lesser Spotted Woodpecker I'd seen since May. We should have had plenty of sightings in the late summer, especially in the OSW.

The day's tally was looking good so I tried the east bank of the Roding up by the old allotments, specifically for Little Egret who move to the quieter reaches of the river when the golfers are thudding balls into the water. No egrets but a Grey Wagtail meant that the detour wasn't a complete waste of time.

Then a quick tour of the ornamentals to count the ducks and again to see if any egrets were roosting up on the islands. Five Herons but no white ones.

On the west side of the Ornamentals and in particular the grotto there's the off-chance of a Firecrest and in the wooded walk leading up to the Dell, Treecreeper. More Goldcrest, a Stock Dove and hundreds of pigeons crashing out of the trees.

By this time it was getting gloomier and I hurried down the side of the stream to reach the east end of Perch: I fancied a hot tea (and cake). Half way along this rarely used path a large shape flew from the floor to my right and zigg-zagged through the trees and out into the open. My first Woodcock of the year for either of the patches. Sweet! I had been thinking more of a Snipe flushed by the stream and dream of a Jack Snipe just sitting there waiting for its picture to be taken, but I'll more than settle for a Woodcock. [Just doesn't sound right!]

The tea was a perfection, just right, and the chocolate cake - not too bad either. I sat happily getting outside the tea shop's offerings and watched a falcon circling high to the south. Through the bins it got bigger and bigger as if it was coming toward me. It was: cue the camera, cue malfunction. The bird stooped fast over the tea shop to somewhere over the plain. It's quarry eluded it, and I its digital capture. Arse!

Just time now to get the Teal that Mike Messenger had said were on Shoulder of Mutton when we'd met earlier. Done, giving a record 55 species for the Park. Blimey! 50 is hard enough in here and I was missing Kestrel, Coal Tit, Little Egret so a bloody good day. Wow!

That was it then, back home for tea and see how bad the Kingfisher turned out.

So I thought. As I reached the south end of the flats a wader's call came to me as it flew over. I know that. What the hell was it? I would spell it out, but virtually all waders have a teu teu call of some kind. It was ploverish, but not the haunting call of the Golden Plover, too late for LRP and not right for LRP, which to me meant only one thing. A thing I confirmed by going straight to Ringed Plover on the Birds of the Western Palearctic CD on my return home. I knew I knew I knew it.

Kerching, as they say!

No comments:

Post a Comment