12 September 2014

6-11th September: A buzz and a hiccup

Saturday 6th:

Slow to get up this morning I discover the patch is full of birders. Could it match the previous weekend.  Even with the extra bodies on the ground it was slow work, the weather is grey but warm and not a great deal is perching up except for the Whinchat.

A female type Redstart was elusive around the enclosure, a second later picked up in Dan's school scrub in the evening, in the company of a Reed Warbler looking like it oughta. The day was one of pipit and wagtail with mipit back in numbers at last.
  • Wanstead Flats: 5 Whinchat, 2 f Common Redstart, m 1st winter Northern Wheatear, 2 Tree Pipit, 36 + Meadow Pipit, 16 + Yellow Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 Pied Wagtail, 5-6 Spotted Flycatcher, 6 + Willow Warbler, 20 + Chiffchaff, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Common Whitethroat, 20 + Blackcap, Reed Warbler, Goldcrest, 18 + House Martin, Swallow, 3 Kestrel, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Shoveler, Teal, 4 Pochard, 3 Gadwall, 2 Egyptian Goose, 200 + Ring-necked Parakeet going west to roost (Wanstead Birding) 

The masses soon dissolved away when it was apparent that no mega or Wryneck was forthcoming, so I was left alone to trundle round the park on my own. The Old Sewage Works had three spotties working the elder along the main path and a Hobby idled it's way south. The first Bullfinch for a month or so called somewhere along the big hedge, all in all not quite the migrant spectacle I was hoping for. I did the ornamentals to check for Wigeon (none), and my circuit brought me to the Little Tea Shop of Happiness, where they now do bacon and fried egg sandwiches, which is excellent news.

I met up with Kathy H who had finished her butterfly survey and was like inclined towards a cuppa too.  As we chatted I noticed a buzzard crossing the Heronry. Kathy noted a second near it, then a third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh.  Hang about! I turned, eight more were kettling over the houses to the south.  Blimey! Now this was getting interesting and something the others should know about.  While I juggled, phone, bins, coffee, ciggie, Kathy kept up a running commentary.  A couple looked like my HB from the week before, this was getting decidedly more interesting.  I phoned a friend.  Jono had taken his daughter to a party and was now on the way back. We were now up to 23 birds circling in several groups to the north and south of Heronry. While I tried to give Jono directions (he was now at the Redbridge roundabout) a member of Jo public comes up and asks "how many cygnets can I see?" with my long lens, because he's heard there's five but can only see four! What?

Without pausing my  commentary to Jono I peek around my bins to look at the swans: "Five", which must have sounded quite odd to the listener on the other end of the phone. The old man prattled on until Kathy intervened to tell him we were watching buzzards, a lot of them - else he would have been counting the swans from much closer.

The amazing spectacle lasted for only about ten minutes, in which time Jono had managed to spot them from his route home, Tim got the last four stragglers from his garden and even Dan got a couple passing his flat's windows. Twenty-four was the last count, with at least two Honey Buzzard in the mix, there could have been more (one of Tim's showed HB characteristics), just so difficult looking at individual birds with so many crossing your line of sight.  Absolutely awesome!  Kathy was made up too. Did I get any photos? Er...

  • Wanstead Park: An amazing spectacle of 24 buzzard moving through north-west en masse over Heronry c.16:35 2, at least, looking good for Honey Buzzard (didn't anyone else in London see this?) (NC/Kathy Hartnett/Jonathan Lethbridge/TimHarris). Hobby, Kestrel, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, Goldcrest, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, 6 + Willow Warbler, 10 + Chiffchaff, 50 + Pochard, f Teal, 23 Gadwall, Little Egret, 6 + Little Egret, Bullfinch (Nick Croft) 
And that's when it went a bit quiet. Sunday the Whinchat had held on, but with a super moon, clear skies and a favourable breeze virtually all our resident warblers and migrants have made a dash for the continent.

It can't be over, so soon, can it?

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