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12 April 2012
Smartest bird on the patch
After failing to catch up with either of the Ring Ouzels that Jonno had found over the weekend, finally it appears that spring is here. A sprinkling of Wheatear and the faint songs of Willow Warbler, Tim strikes gold with the first of this year's Common Redstart, and what a cracking bird. I didn't manage to get a striking male last spring, so when he texted me of a male in Long Wood I hot footed it from the wader scrape that is replacing the receding waters of the Jubilee pond.
Rather than at the favoured scrubby bit, I found Tim earnestly gazing at something in the middle of the long copse. I withdrew and rounded the brooms so as not to flush anything and joined him on the other side. What a beauty!
Tim had to go to work, but Jono soon joined me for a quick look before he too was back to his office. Marco pitched up next, soon to be followed by Keith running as fast as I've ever seen him move. We bathed in the glory of this small bird flycatching from the bushes and for a while the sun felt all together warmer.
I took my leave to try for Sand Martin, reported yesterday over the Heronry by Amina Banajeh and her mother by the Little Tea Shop of Happiness. There were none. A Wheatear flew south over the lake, so I decided to go seek more on the plain behind the tea hut. A Buzzard soared westward unbothered by crows. The potential for anything was palpable.
I found another Wheatear atop the anthills, a slightly more amenable one than those of the flats. Pipits were calling as they flew north, it was just a great day. Then it sleeted as I went to the Old Sewage Works. Here Redbridge Council are doing their utmost to ruin one of the beset places to avoid people in Wanstead by metalling the path between Manor Park and Wanstead - to help the cyclists just in case it gets muddy - they've obviously got money to waste. Unsurprisingly nothing was on the river, though a Little Egret to did land at one of its favourite fishing spots before flapping north again.
I walked back towards the stables. I then caught sight of a large, dark raptor making good progress against the wind going west. Looked good for either Black Kite or Marsh Harrier from that distance, I called Jono to see if he could get better views from his garden, but it had either passed too far to the north or changed direction. We put the news out to a few people in the hope of getting a positive ID. Nothing, but it appears a female type Marsh Harrier was later seen on the Thames between Crossness and Bow Creek, could it have been the same bird? Another could have been, should have been, wasn't!