25 September 2012


Not often you get a deity on the patch, but if you've got to believe in a god you might as well make it an elephant one.

Off to Shetland tomorrow so a break for you. Good birding to you all.

22 September 2012

The search for Yellow-browed Warbler...

... yielded nothing.  While the east coast was dripping with the little beauties, even Rainham bagged one early doors, we searched in vain for our own jewel.  Five of us spent most of the morning looking at Chiffchaff parties as they moved through the canopy and bushes, while listening for a distinctive call that never came. A Red-breasted Flycatcher would have done, or a Barred Warbler.

Still the Stonechat appears is 2, or could even be 4, but definitely 2.  We were watching the one by Jubilee while Tony found another in the brooms with the Whinchat.  My relocated bird from yesterday, as I thought.  Then Dan found 2 with the Whinchats closer to west copse.  And then we couldn't find any.

Otherwise virtually the same cast as the week: yesterday's Lesser Redpoll was today's  Siskin, and in the case of the Wigeon - the same as last weekend.

Could get interesting in the next few days with easterlies forecast and unsettled weather.  I think Ouzel. Not going to put my house on it, but... 

20 September 2012

Juv Stonechat

Nice to see one of my predictions (see What September may bring...) come true, but I must confess I was worried I might not catch up with one of these this year.  Had me going too, I was expecting it to be just another Whinchat, but closer inspection and confirmation from Jono, meant that my second guess was right.

Crap light for a change, and guess who hadn't bothered to change any of the settings on the camera.  It all  means its back to the usual grim pictures.

When it did clear up and the sun shone, I found myself with the same Whinchat as yesterday and in the same bush, in the same pub scrub.  With much the same results. It would have been nice to have a 3 chat day, or even 4, but the Wheatear had buggered off and we haven't had a Redstart for over a week now.  I am not counting Robin either, though there are a lot of them about.

And that was about it, apart from an interaction with a dog owner who took offence to me flicking his dog with my leg that it was busy trying to interfere with.  Wanker.  When another doggy did the same I just scowled - the owner looked meaner than he did.

17 September 2012


Can't have enough of a good thing, so if you've had enough Wheatears click away now.  But you won't because they are the dog's doo-dahs.  Mr Lethbridge may own the rights to technical brilliance round here, but even he is using the Croft-Method.  Sauntering up to your quarry with the camera in front of face. Providing you don't fall flat on said face you can get quite close.  I would have got closer yet, if it hadn't been for a fat lady, inspired by the Olympics to get her porcine-self out to listen to her i-pod while stomping round the flats doing something approaching a jog.

16 September 2012

Team Wanstead

Another long stint on the patch on Saturday, but with Tony B getting all the good birds I might as well have stayed in bed.  A good team effort brought us 56 sp on the flats, which was almost trumped by a pretty good response from the park with 54, giving a total of 67.  Not bad at all. 

Interestingly, on my way home as dusk fell I heard some strange owl like calls emanating from centre copse.  Yeagh I know, strange calls emanate from all the copses at this time of night, but no-one was there - I checked.  Unfortunately I was distracted by the Wheatear chacking at me from the path.  So tomorrow I am in the copses tape luring.  Who knows we might have got a Little Owl back.  That'll make Jono scamper with renewed vigour!

Balloon's Crake showing well, Alex

In two weeks time I'll be on Shetland, going swish-swish in a small clump of nettles at the behest of Mr Garner, and when I get back all the chats and summer stuff will have gone.  Winter's a long time when you miss these birds.

Today was the 2nd anniversary of the first Wryneck, but judging by the lack of texts hitting my phone while looking after my dad, not many of Team Wanstead were out.  Tim later noted the Wigeon (juvenile) on Ornamentals and a build up of Martins over Heronry, but nothing else.  Mind you with the wind stubbornly sitting in a westerly direction we are going to find it hard work.  Here's hoping I am utterly wrong, again!

Chiffchaff numbers are still good; around 30 on the flats, 10 for the park. Common Whitethroats have all but gone, though Tony made up for that by finding a Reed Warbler in the scrub by Alex and I might have had a Garden Warbler north of Long Wood. As for other migrants. Saturday was the first Mipit day, with around 30-40 going south in small parties and singles, had a couple of Siskin over too, the first of the Autumn.

Birds of the day for me though, the Wigeon on ornamentals and a smart male Teal in the cut.