23 December 2012

A Christmas post

Since I will be looking after the folks in between eating too much, this will be the last hurrah before crimbo. Not much to tell: a lot of gulls today.  I mean a lot! A rough guess at around 2,000 at the various locations on the flats.  I only checked the police scrape cos I was late out again. Mostly Black-heads and Commoners, with a few big-uns thrown in.  As I slipped off park-ward via Costa, I gave the playing fields a once over.  White spots everywhere and more no doubt lingering by the lakeside at the Alex.

Gull pics on the off chance that one might be interesting, wrong again!  There were a few others there too

After faffing round Reservoir then Bush Wood (1 Nuthatch!), a detour via the basin (many Gadwall), I ended up in the Old Sewage Works as it was getting dark.  Did the same thing on Saturday, I am searching for Goosander you see.  The Ilford Golf Course has some nice new water hazards which are much to the liking of our Mallards.  If the Roding rises any further the golf club might seriously have to consider water sports.

As I stood watching darkness grip the land a Sparrowhawk flew towards me and had a pop at something which looked like a bat to me through the bins, a big one. However I thought I got some white on its wing, which would make it not a bat, but a bat shaped wader bird.  But it didn't fly like a wader and I could get any hint of a bill.  It gradually disappeared up the river.  So today I thought: might get a repeat.  I got 2 in the form of Pipistrelle, which just goes to show how warm it has been of late. As long as they can catch midges they'd be alright, though I did see some moths on the wing.

But mainly the OSW was about gulls.  Hundreds of them. I could see loads feeding or roosting towards the railway line and every now and then a big flock of several hundred would wheel past northwards. Most, I could make out, were Black-headed, with a few Common and here and there small parties of Herring Gull and some LBBGs.  Before it got too dark to see I estimated 1,300 BHGs had passed me.

I stood there a bit longer, because it was peaceful.  OK you've got the North Circular just a few hundred yards away, but no people, no dogs.  The nearest bit of Wanstead we've got to nearly countryside, apart from the woody bits of course.  I also was hoping for a Barn Owl, well you never know.  And thinking of owls made me decide it could be now or never with our Tawnies.  Not really wanting to go all the way to Bush Wood I dawdled, stood a bit and listened.  It was nearly an hour later when I got to the Shoulder of Mutton.  I could just make out the flashes of the Tufties on the lake - they like to roost here.  Then I heard my first London owl of the year calling from Reservoir Wood.  Job done.  Would be nice to have all the owls for London this year, but Little Owls are harder to come by than you think, so maybe next year when I go for the 200+ in London-pointless-year-listing-exercise-thing.

It also means that we don't have to have our annual drinks in Wanstead or The North Star (even with its delicious French bar staff) on the off chance of hearing owls en route.  It can be the Golden Fleece.  So if you fancy a pint Sunday the 30th is the date.

Happy xmas

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