Finally got a Great Crested Grebe on the patch list. They always do a runner in December, and usually return at around this time of year. This one was two days earlier than it was last year, and was another school run success story. Only really Tawny Owl left to get before the migrants arrive.
Been too busy working out match facts and now behind with the patch stats, I'm afraid. Will plan to update the score on the door later. However it's been a pretty quiet start to the year. Short-eared Owl appeared last weekend as it does most, but not every, year. A white-winger last weekend was frustratingly distant on the sea and couldn't be nailed to species. Finally got in on the game yesterday, though, with a 2nd winter Iceland on the beach in the afternoon. I see that FPS had one at Girdle Ness at lunchtime yesterday too - maybe it is doing the rounds of Anas fantabulosa patches.
A glaucous gull at Red Strand and a winter plumage tystie out in the bay off Long Strand yesterday were the two scores for the Galley patch this weekend - both tricky so both most welcome! Back ahead of Bushie for now...
Woodcock has been on the patch for the past 4 years now, but only one or two records per year. Thus, I was rather please to flush one today while having a quick check on the patch. Also got a migrating herd of 8 roe deer, reed bunting and a skene of pinkies. Not a bad hour really, and more to come.
And that more included sprawk at last and linnet to winnit. Takes me one chart place above Shakey to number two - he is not going to like that much. 61.33%
After a day of counting dodgy ducks in St James's and Hyde parks yesterday and a much deserved victory in the intercity challenge, a return to fine N.E birding was to be had following a tip off from the local constabulary. A small flock of pink-footed geese just a field away from my pad produced a single barnacle and whitefront plus a fine flock of four beanies. Sorted.
Yes, I've been wasted for days now, stuck here in south east Asia while you lads all break off into the distance. I wish I was back bashing the Bog, getting to grips with cold weather woodsock and other such delights. Ho hum. Still, I'll be back on Friday, so will have a couple of days to hoover up all I have missed and close that 25% gap. Doubt I'll be able to beat that cracking garbage duck though - are you selling pictures of it? Have you put the photo onto Birdguides? A shoe in for photie of the week for sure.
Blimey, went out for a long walk yesterday and caught up on some of the bread-and-butter species I should have seen ages ago and suddenly find myself in the top half of the table. Just been attending to the consequential nose bleed before realising that there are some notorious late-starters behind me. In fact some haven't even started at all.
Anyway, what did you do to Whitney, Kevin?
And another thing, Shakey, I've got a golden duck sitting wrapped in a box to send to you as your prize for last year. Email me your postal address and I'll get it winging its way to you: andy @ andywebb.org.uk
Oh for some decent cold weather and a chance of some of those cold weather movements being had down south, but alas not, as today the sun broke on a beautiful spring like morning with the larks singing overhead and jackdaws pairing up. A morning stroll around the bush produced a splendid coat tit singing its little heart out in the local plantation and a small flock of yellowhammers. OK maybe they're not megas but at least they're two more than I had at this time yesterday and put me once more ahead of Seppy. And lets face it, at the end of the day, that's what counts.
The forecast is set fine for tomorrow (well at least so i'm told) so further hours grafting in the field should produce the goods.
Another couple of days, another couple of ticks.....this cold weather certainly is doing the business. First up a classy redhead Smew on the Roding (a small stream in these parts), patch-tick goodness, and the one I've been wanting. Another one I've been wanting, I should say. Then this morning I checked the Basin early doors and what should be swimming around between the usuals but FIVE Goosanders. I've seen just one before now, about three years ago. I may give up broadcasting and take up patch-list challenging full-time.
On my way to the recording studio today I had a specific target in mind - Woodcock. They are always more prevalent in cold weather – whether they come from further north in Epping Forest to the temperate plains of Wanstead, or whether they are always in Wanstead but are forced into the open more, who can say? There have been a couple of patch sightings this year already, including one on Sunday night. As I crossed into what we call the boggy bit, I was amazed to see a Woodcock launch itself out from the base of a small tree and bomb off low and west without repetition, hesitation or deviation. This was blind luck – only the third Woodcock I’ve ever seen here, but I’d like to think I was talking it up, working the magic. Sometimes it pays to be cocky. Pretty momentous morning actually, with 1300+ Redwing and 180+ Fieldfare all heading south-west in the 45 minutes that I spent on the Flats.
Mega day in Wanstead. The forecast looked amazing, so I phoned up that idiot Parsons and told him I wasn't coming in - I think they drafted Paul Merton in. Good thing they did, as you would not have managed to get me off the patch for love nor money. The result? Three year ticks towards the Golden Mallard, two of them lifers, and more Lapwings that you could shake a stick at.
To cut a long story short, the Jack Snipe was Wanstead's first since 1979 - I was a young man then - and the six Golden Plover were my first ever here. Ad winter Med Gull, and the small matter of 373 Lapwings ....
New total 73, or 68.22%.
Megaduck was around again, this time trying to eat Moorhens.
Cutting short a long weekend in Aspen to get to grips with the forecast awesome movement of wildfowl from the mainland was probably a mistake. A light covering of ice thinner than the whip on a Cafe Latte just didn't produce. Two Grey Plovers, a few Dunlin and a single Grey Heron along the Malibu Lagoon beach was little reward for missing the skiing.
A switch to searching drainage ditches for displaced Jack Snipe produced a single Common Snipe and best bird of the morning a Brown Rat.
Fabulous day in Wanstead chaps. As an [extreme] OAP I might suffer from fuel poverty, but when the freezing temperatures bring gifts such as these, how can I complain? First up 2 drake Wigeon on the Basin, annual, but barely, and then a steady procession of Lapwing seen from the house whilst thinking up original gags for the show, now in it's 214th season. Lapwing never fail to be seen in cold weather here, and though I only got 16, there were up to 40 seen today at various points - I'm expecting more tomorrow - guess I'll need to dream about another species now. Plenty of Fieldfare and Redwing about, and a Meadow Pipit from the house was most unusual. Bring on the continental geese and swans! New total 70 / 65.42%.