Saturday, 11 March 2017

Wheatear - London Year 1st for Wanstead

The 2017 crown for London's 1st Wheatear of Spring is sitting firmly on the head of Wanstead today, with a cracking male gracing the Flats. So often, Wanstead has played second fiddle to southern London sites like Beddington Farmlands as they record several fresh-in early arrivals, as we sit back with baited breath eagerly awaiting our 1st - but not this year! We haven stolen a March (11th of March to be precise) on our London rivals by taking the crown at circa 8.00am this morning.

Male, London, 1st, Spring
The Prize, the Glory, the Northern Wheatear
Even with my eternal birding optimism I didn't actually believe there would be a Wheatear on Wanstead Flats today, it is after all only the 11th March - and they're not due here for a least another week. But the weather forecast looked promising (an unseasonably warm 17ºC and a light southerly) and there had also been a bird seen in Surrey only yesterday (outside the London recording area), but after one circuit of the Flats with my compatriot Jono it was looking increasingly less likely.

As we had both been out since around 6.30am, it was still early (8.00am) and I suggested another circuit. As we crossed the Brooms I picked out a slim Skylark sized bird distantly in flight, but the rocking/barrelling flight of the bird suggested more investigation, following the bird it landed in the top of the nearest copse and moving closer to get a better view - there was the prize - a male Northern Wheatear in all its Spring glory.

It feels great to finally achieve a little personal goal in finding the patch's 1st Spring Wheatear, and with the added bonus of it also being a London year-1st, I might actually treat myself to lay-in next week.

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