Sunday, 31 March 2019

Garganey...It's Never Straight Forward

News of a patch lifer on Mother's Day is not good for my marriage or my heart. But there I was making Sunday breakfast for all the family (buttery scrambled eggs, fried chestnut mushrooms on toasted Soda bread, with fresh coffee and orange juice) when I received two missed calls (Jono/James) and then a series of Whatsapp and Twitter messages alerting me to the news that Rob had found a male Garganey on Jubilee Pond!

Garganey is a full-fat patch tick and I'd already spent 6 hours on Saturday morning with Jono covering every water-body on the Flats/Park looking for one, obviously I couldn't abandon breakfast and I also had to take my eldest son to his football match, but by the sound of things the bird was acting really skittish having already flown off once, but had thankfully returned to the pond...dilemma, dilemma, dilemma.

But then it struck me, I could drop my son off at his match early (he was playing a home game at Fairlop) then quickly dash to Wanstead and be back before the end of the 1st half, and that's exactly what I did... I even managed to be back in time to see my son score the first goal, with the team eventually going on to win the game 4 - 2 and my son winning man of the match.

As Mother's Days go this has to be one of the more memorable - with my marriage still intact, a very happy son and an even happier dad.

Male, Wanstead, London

Male, Wanstead, London

Saturday, 23 March 2019

March, the new April?

As early spring days on the patch go, today was a bit special. The Cetti's Warbler from last weekend was still calling from the scrub near Alexandra lake and a pair of Great crested Grebes were a bit of a surprise as I walked around the lake, but it all kicked-off when I flushed a Woodcock from East Copse as I watched one our resident Little Owls. There was a small movement overhead throughout the morning with Meadow Pipit (27) Redwing (35) and Chaffinch (15). Chiffchaff had now arrived in numbers (6+) singing and Blackcap (2) were in full song, a brief female Wheatear in the Broom fields was a birthday bonus for Jono and Sand Martin (2) were my first of the year but the highlight went to a very early House Martin quickly thru the fairground, smashing the patch record earliest by 10 days and was a London first of year.

Wanstead, London

The morning wasn't quite over as bit of skywatching from the banks of Alexandra Lake, produced Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon and Red Kite all within a short fifteen minute window which all helped me to add 7 patch ticks to the Year List - It's a been a slow start to the year on the patch, but today felt as if spring had finally arrived.

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