3 January 2016


I hadn't really got any high hopes for the annual first of the year. I had done the routine check around the patch on the preceding two days and was not optimistic. The Wigeon had all hoofed it en-masse, the Caspian had disappeared and there are always a few birds you are tripping over most days only to find them absent when it matters. My mood had not improved as I tried to find the Firecrest in Long Wood, though Bob starting early in Bush Wood had already chalked up the Firecrest there and a Woodcock.

At least it was sunny if not warm. Rose S joined me and we waited on.  Then a real rarity, a message from Josh about an "owl in the brooms", I was just to about to ask what kind when I saw for myself, a Short-eared Owl being mobbed by crows. If circled north over Long Wood before the others, conspicuous by their lack of tweets, could get on to it. Five minutes later it, or another was back to the south getting crow-ded. Excellent!

With more bodies it was only a matter of time before we could find the reluctant Firecrest, but by the time I did (in the gorse) we had lost Richard to the SSSI and he had a fruitless hour or so (and again on the 2nd) before he could add it his Wanstead list.

We left him searching the wood, while we did coffee and the alex. No Caspo but a couple of Yellow-legged first winters?

Bored of trying to make gulls into something slightly better we retraced our steps to look for Skylark, no joy there either so to the park.  Not much joy there either, while the list stuttered on we ended up at the tea hut where Bob and Jono appeared to leave. Bob, it transpired took it upon himself to d the basin, while Jono was meant to meet his family for a walk or something, any how he was back shortly afterwards and joined myself and Josh for a cuppa.

Fortuitous! A couple of peregrine later, JL spies a high flying duck, a high flying Shelduck no less. Things were looking up. Tea done its off to snatch back Nuthatch and try for Coal Tit, which means Bush Wood.  Luckily Bob texted about 2 Wigeon on the basin, and rather than let him have those hanging over us, we decide to Basin it. Too much for Josh, who went home.

No Wigeon were obvious when we reached the fence overlooking the lake, so I asked Bob where he had seen them. Tucked in at the east end, was the reply. By this point we were questioning his mental state, but Jono decided a it of trespass was in order, just to make sure like! No Wigeon but better, a lot better.  Fantastic even. AFB in fact! While we scoured the reeds I noticed a movement in the willows beside us. Only a Lesser Spot! Er yes, I might have hugged Jono, but that's because it was a Lesser Spot.  I hadn't seen one for nearly two year's, Jono for longer.  Apparently I hugged Bob after finding the Wryneck last year...

The best start to a year, ever.  So now it's down hill for here on in!


  1. Hi there Im quite sure, the gull pictured swimming above is a 1w herring. The notched teritals, with oak leaf pattern, and retained notched juv wing coverts are typical of herring. A YLG would most certainly have a degree of moult in the wing coverts. I'm rapidly finding out that wing moult is the key to id'ing 1st winter yellow legs



    1. Ssves me the trouble of sending it to Mr Bonser, thank you!