Sunday, 17 March 2019

The Wanstead Wheatear Sweepstake - Winner

Not much beats seeing your first Wheatear of spring and this beauty greeted me as I walked around the southern edge of Alexandra Lake just after 8.30am this morning, therefore we have a winner of the much coveted 'Wanstead Wheatear Sweepstake 2019' - take a bow Mr Heal who correctly predicted today (17th March) would be the date of the first Wheatear to arrive on the patch.

When I caught up with the newly crowned champ he was clearly overcome with emotion as I congratulated him on his win, holding back the tears James compared the win to the recent arrival of his son - clearly the Golden Wheatear trophy means a lot!

The date of the prize giving ceremony is still to be decided as unfortunately one of our potential sponsors slipped into administration in recent weeks - it's a real shame as that Chicken shop was one of my favourites. I'd like to thank the rest of team Wanstead for their efforts and hours of toil in often difficult birding conditions, with a special mention to Richard and Jono for there relentless assault of the patch throughout March (blink and you would've have missed them).

Here's to next year...

Wanstead, London
This long distant migrant is a welcome sight on any patch
Competition, Winner


Thursday, 14 March 2019

Norwegian Ringed Black-headed Gull

As Wanstead awaits the arrival of its first Wheatear and the sweepstake days continue to be chalked off, I'm continuing to keep an eye on the Gulls. Whilst sifting through the roost on the football pitches I picked up this green colour-ringed Black-headed Gull (J71P) which would indicate the bird was ringed in Norway, and would be a first for me and the patch.

Colour-ringed, Darvic, Norwegian
Adult Black-headed Gull (J71P)
I've now received the birds life history, and it was indeed ringed in Norway, just outside Olso at Braten, Noklevann, and it appears to be a local favourite having been recorded no less than 34 times around Olso since it was ringed on the 21st August 2015. It was last recorded in Oslo on the 29th June 2018 before I picked it up at Wanstead on the 9th March 2019 with this being the first time (J71P) had ever been recorded outside Norway - I do enjoy a good ringing recovery.

Colour-ringed, Gulls
711 Miles (1145km) from Oslo to Wanstead

Monday, 25 February 2019

Juvenile Common Gull in February!

Fairly quiet around the patch at the weekend (not helped by the unseasonably warm weather) but whilst scanning through the usual roost of gulls on the football pitches I came across this 1st-winter Common Gull which had yet to moult and was still (more or less) in complete juvenile plumage. I've seen similar birds in December and January, but never in February and this late into the new year.

Seeing a Common Gull in February still in juvenile plumage would suggest it came from an area of northern late breeding populations or even a more eastern direction which would suggest ssp (heinei).

Food for thought, and one for the many gull enthusiasts to mull over...

Juvenile, 1st-winter, 2CY

Juvenile, 1st-winter, 2CY

Juvenile, 1st-winter, 2CY

Juvenile, 1st-winter, 2CY

Thursday, 21 February 2019

The Wanstead Wheatear Sweepstake 2019

It's here, the wait is over...One of the biggest and most anticipated birding contests is almost upon us - The Wanstead Wheatear Sweepstake.
  • 9 Contestants
  • 18 Dates
  • 1 Bird
  • 1 Champion
Team Wanstead have selected their dates, the long winter and dark mornings are almost over, spring is on the horizon and everyone's favourite summer migrant will soon be gracing these shores again.

And the questions on everybody's lips - Who will be this years champion? Will Rob retain his crown? Will Jono be in the country? And will Richard actually make any effort at all? Only time will tell, but as we count down the days until the first of this years Wheatears arrive, you can follow all the action on here, as regular updates will be posted as the excitement builds and the tension grows...

The rules of the contest are simple, whoever correctly predicts the date of the first sighting of a Wheatear on the patch - wins! And there's an added bonus prize if you're also the finder.

We await official sponsorship (I'm in talks with Leica and a local chicken shop) of this nationally publicised contest and until such a time the prizes will be same as last year - a drink of your choice in the local Wetherspoons pub including bar snacks, and the presentation of the 'Golden Wheatear Trophy' (still to be purchased).

Good luck...