Friday, 30 December 2016

Keeping It Real Until the End

I've done my best to add to my 106 patch year total over the last couple of days, but despite my best efforts in a mixture of fog and winter sunshine I've failed to locate a Woodcock, Little Owl or even a Yellow-legged Gull to add to this score, so it looks as if an admirable 106 will be my final 2016 total.

The patch's 2nd Yellow-browed Warbler of the year remains in situ on Alexandra Lake - we're all hoping that hangs around until the 1st of Jan or even the day after (I may struggle to make the 1st due the sizeable hangover I'm expecting). The rest of the patch remains deathly quiet apart from a single Stonechat on the western side of the Flats, near the Cat and Dog pond which in todays warm winter light seemed to glow from its dead nettle perch.

Stejnegers's, Siberian, Caspian
Just an old school Stonechat  - not Stejnegers's, Siberian or even Caspian.

In a year in which I continued to give the patch almost all of my limited spare time, often choosing to tread the same pathways week after week over the opportunity to go birding elsewhere or even twitch something, I feel this decision has been duly rewarded with five quality new birds added to the patch list (Cettis Warbler, Ortolan Bunting, Yellow-browed Warbler, White-fronted goose and Great Grey Shrike) all of which has kept my interest firmly focused locally - and as long as the birding gods continue to deliver these little gifts now and then I'll continue to happily give it my precious spare time.

So unless I manage to get out onto the patch on the the last Saturday of 2016 this will probably be my last post of the year, which just remains for me to wish you all a very happy New Year 2017 and many thanks for reading and commenting - It's very much appreciated and here's hoping I have enough decent subject matter in 2017 to continue to fill these pages...

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Patch Year List - Smashed!

104 was the number to beat and smashed it I have.

A single Golden Plover over the Flats on December 4th was the bird which took me to 104 for the year - equalling my previous best total, and then on Saturday I went in search of a couple of those notable omissions. First up was Kingfisher, not a difficult bird to catch up with if you spend enough time in Wanstead Park but that's why it was still missing from my list - I don't cover the Park very often, but within seconds of stepping out of the car as I walked towards the Tea Hut the first bird I encounter was a Kingfisher flying low over Heronry Lake. With Kingfisher easily snaffled and a new personal best of 105 in my back pocket my next stop was Bush Wood, this is another location on the patch I rarely visit but it can be good area for my next target - Treecreeper.

The trouble with Bush Wood is the general lack of light, even on the brightest of days it feels dark and gloomy which is great news if you're a Firecrest wintering amongst the tangled mass of Holly but if you're searching for a Treecreeper the gloom can easily hamper your chances, but again I got lucky. I picked out the shape of a pair of Nuthatch silhouetted amongst the bare branches and sky, followed by a Tit flock passing through and then soon after number 106 came into view as a Treecreeper flew between the nearest two tree trunks.

The 2016 List

106 a new personal best year total on the patch and with a little bit of time off between Christmas and New Year there may just be an outside chance of adding to this number - and then we restart those totals and go all over again!

Birds, Woodland, Wanstead
A Treecreeper in the dark
Emphasising just how dark and gloomy Bush Wood can be!