Me thinks this is the dullest February ever, it has failed every benchmark test that should apply; not cold enough, not enough snow, or warmth, or strong southerly air movements and, consequently, naff all birds. With an election coming up I say we vote for any party with the imagination to ban it (and June and July). Having said that it's probably in the "climate-change" deniers UKIP's manifesto (will Lee GR Evans be their environmental minister if they win?), perhaps we should just leave things as they are. Talking of bad things spoilt rich boy George Osborne has been colluding with rich boy Boris Johnson over a new plan for London, which basically looks like they will be trashing any environmentally rich brown field sites for housing and some more insipid open spaces for dogs and gangs of children to loiter in. They will set up a commission, no doubt backed up by some sketchy scientific surveys, to find land where small hideous housing can help swell London's businesses coffers. No consideration of the huge amount of wasted acreage on industrial plots, like say Ford's in east London, which might need some cleaning up, go for the plots where nature left unchecked has done much of the work for you.
More on that later which may or may not depend on the outcome of the election either way.
I am with stupid
Yesterday in keeping with things dull, I spent a good few hours waiting for the Ranger Rapid Response team to come and free a Mute Swan that had managed to land in one of the small fenced enclosures by the Jubilee and couldn't get out. It would probably still be in there as only one other person noticed it might be having some trouble, and it would still probably be in there if I had waited for the Rangers.
After calling twice, freezing my nads off and getting thoroughly bored and increasingly angry at the amount of bread, rice and other crap being delivered by ill-informed do-gooders, I kicked the fence in at its weakest point and shepherded the stupid swan out. Actually I waited till there was no one else around before trying this to avert embarrassment if I fell over trying to deliver my deft kicks!
After that conclusion I was at a bit of a loss what to do and with our enthusiastic new colleague, James Heal, covering most of what of I would have (including a Buzzard over east of the Basin) there was very little left for me to cover; Shoulder of Mutton and the Old Sewage Works. It has to be said the parks trees looked fantastic in the setting sun, it is a good park, just a shame there's little good habitat round the ponds bar the Shoulder of Mutton.
I didn't have much hope for the Old Sewage Works, which can be very hit and mainly miss. The Roding was high and very brown and generally not very appealing so I slowly made my way to the Manor Park allotments where the Aldersbrook springs from the cemetery. Here, as the stream splits with the main part passing behind the allotments, is probably the best place to find Water Rail. One scurried sway as I approached with a second bird calling from the arm of the stream that acts as an overflow channel for the Roding. Teal are usually in here too and, sure enough, a smart male sailed further up the channel as I looked. With the conspicuous absence of golfers it was quite peaceful in the fading light, which means of course Woodcock time. I returned to the spot just below the sluice and waited. Standing higher up the bank I faced west and didn't have to wait too long before the familiar stumpy silhouette came in from the north and did a bit of circling before pitching down behind the brambles on the golf course. With Josh's record from Bush Wood last weekend, we have at least two wintering birds.