Sunday, 23 April 2017

A Nightingale sang in Motorcycle Wood

Saturday morning started very well, with 2 Green Sandpipers calling overhead as soon as I had stepped onto the Flats, and then minutes later as I circumnavigated Alexandra Lake I picked out a Little Ringed Plover on the receding waters edge, but as soon as it saw me it quickly flew off calling. Waders at Wanstead are always cherished, so to see two species within a few minutes of arriving is exceptional and to put this into context the only other waders I had ever seen on or around Alexanadra Lake in over 5 years was a single flushed Jack Snipe and a Common Sandpiper.

Other notable birds on an excellent mornings birding on the patch were a single White Wagtail on the football pitches, my first Hobby of the year and a couple of Northern Wheatears - only my 3rd and 4th birds this Spring. But the morning ultimately belonged to the wonderful sound of a singing Nightingale in the scrub on the north side of Motorcycle Wood - a most welcome patch tick, having missed the last bird on the patch back in September 2013.

I was with Nick in the SSSI when he thought he heard the brief song of a distant Garden Warbler or Nightingale but as I had my 8 year old son with me (Mrs B was taking part in the Wanstead 5km park run with my eldest son) and I had to drop him back once they had both finished running, so I left, leaving Nick to try and locate this bird. A short while later (fatherly duties done), I was back with Nick who quickly confirmed it was indeed a Nightingale and he had pinned it down to an area of dense scrub on the north-side of Motorcycle Wood, a tense (potential patch tick) few minutes passed before the bird burst into song again just a couple of metres from where we were both standing, and then for the next 10 minutes or so we both enjoyed the wonderful jaw-dropping sound of a singing Nightingale in full song - I did manage to catch a couple of fleeting glimpse's of the bird, but to be honest the poor views never really mattered as it was all about that hypnotic song.

Male, Wanstead, London
One of the two Male Northern Wheatears on Wanstead Flats.


  1. What a great morning's birding Tony. Patching at its best...

  2. Patch days like these are sadly few and far between Steve, but when they come...boy they feel good