Sunday, 5 March 2017

Nine is the Magic Number

I would've loved to have given you an amazing image of all nine Stonechats that graced Wanstead Flats on Saturday morning, but this was real and fast daytime spring passage movement and within minutes the birds had all quickly moved on.

I had earlier found four birds in the lower Broom fields (which on any given day is an excellent Spring count for Wanstead) and was recalling there whereabouts with Rob Sheldon when a couple of birds flew into view from where we were standing in the middle of the Brooms. These initial two birds quickly doubled to four and then doubled again to eight! As we watched the birds fly by one by one, low across the tops of the grass they quickly headed to the far corner of the Flats towards the west end of Long Wood, after a quick couple of recounts we both agreed there actually nine birds in the group, but as quickly as they had appeared they had all soon disappeared.

Nine birds! Wanstead has the odd wintering Stonechat and typically on Spring and Autumn passage you can expect to see two or three birds, but to witness a group, party or even a flock (I'm not sure at what point bird numbers become flocks) of Stonechats daytime migrating was an all to brief but an amazing local spectacle and has easily become the highest number of Stonechats recorded on Wanstead Flats.

The Stonechat is one bird which continues to benefit from our milder winters of late and surely it won't be long until Wanstead records a double-digit number of these birds, I just hope I'm around again to witness it.

Male, Spring, Wanstead
Just one of the magic nine!