Wednesday, 26 August 2020

88% Self-found Rating

We all know birders like to keep lists, many birders keep lists of list's - I'm not quite that anal but I do keep a few lists including a little unknown list (well, it was unknown) of self-found birds on the patch and this recently hit a new high of 88% with the addition of Nightingale now on that list - does anybody else do this?

The calculation is quite simple really (in Excel) just divide your self-found list by your patch list.

Wanstead list currently stands on 145
Self-found list currently stands on 128

128/145 = 88% (that's rounded down, 88.28% if you really want to be accurate).

For a patch that is heavily covered by numerous people all day, every day (and this appears to be growing year on year) I'd say having a self-found rating of 88% of my total patch list is quite remarkable, but please let me know if I'm blowing my own trumpet here as I have no idea how this compares to any other birders and their patches.

Here's the list of 17 birds I've not self-found and apart from Rustic BuntingOrtolan Bunting and Slavonian Grebe all the others, although scarce on the patch are potentially gettable and would help to improve my percentage rating and could even nudge this into the 90% region!

Red-Crested Pochard
Black Redstart
Lapland Bunting
Slavonian Grebe
Red-legged Partridge
Cetti's Warbler
Ortolan Bunting
Great White Egret
Black-tailed Godwit
Red-backed Shrike
Rustic Bunting

Male, Spring, London
If I could find an Autumn Garganey on the patch this would certainly help increase my % rating.
This male (not found by me) spent the morning on Jubilee pond back in March 2019.

There is one problem (although it's a very nice problem) If I add a patch tick to the list and I'm not the finder my percentage rating drops, as I say it's not a big problem as everyone loves to add a new bird to their patch list regardless of who found it. I also find that keeping a self-found list does keep me interested and fully motivated when I'm out on the patch, I suppose we all have different motivations and goals when out birding and my little unknown list certainly adds a little dimension and keeps me entertained.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

The Speez of a Tree Pipit

It's funny how seeing just one bird of note can turn around a mornings patch birding.

I'd seen Spotted  Flycatcher, a flyover Yellow WagWillow Warbler and a family group of three Hobby which was all standard fare for Wanstead but it wasn't anything to write home about (or Blog about) especially as we're now heading towards the end of August when expectations are always running a little high, but whilst standing in the north end of the Brooms with Bob and Marco I picked out the distinctive harsh flight call of a Tree Pipit overhead. It only called the once but that was good enough to stick it on the year list - which is limping along! The three of us did a quick recce through the long grass and sure enough I found the bird perched up on one of the few remaining burnt and chard trees left in the Brooms - calling the guys over, we all enjoyed some cracking views of one of my favourite passage migrants as it sheltered from the gusty wind, remnants of yesterdays storm 'Ellen'.

Following last weekends Nightingale and today's Tree Pipit finding just a single decent bird amongst the usual passage and breeding species can so often make the difference to your day when birding a local patch.

Autumn, Passage, London
I've seen a few passage Tree Pipits at Wanstead but they don't typically show as well as this one!

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Dreaming of a Rare Ficedula

Autumn arrived in the shape of not one but two Pied Flycatchers on the patch Sunday, these were my 13th & 14th records for Wanstead and my earliest here by two days. As much as I love seeing a Pied Fly on the patch, my thoughts were side-tracked by the possibility of a bigger prize - Semi or Collared Flycatcher!

Having seen both Flycatchers well, constantly flitting between the Silver Birches and Lyme Trees in the SSSI there was no doubt both birds were your standard autumn Pied Fly's but there's no harm in dreaming and it goes without saying, double checking - especially as a day later there was a Collared Flycatcher at Spurn.

Here are a couple of photos of Sunday's Pied Flycatchers followed by my dream find...

Autumn, London, Wanstead

Autumn, London, Wanstead

And just for good measure here are a couple of photos of Collared Flycatcher - sadly not Wanstead or even the UK, but Bialowieza, Poland.

Bialowieza, Poland

Bialowieza, Poland

Bialowieza, Poland

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull - Nailed!

It's taking a bit a longer than I'd hoped but I've finally nailed a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull on the patch this summer.

Whilst the bread-chucking Thames Larophiles have been enjoying these brutes for over a month now, us inland patch birders have had to bide our time. You would think being just a stones throw away from the Thames (4 miles in a straight line as the Gull flies) juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls would be easier to come by at Wanstead but despite hours of coverage there are usually only a couple of records each summer - which makes finding one amongst the semi-resident large Gull population that frequent Alexandra Lake taste just that little bit sweeter!

London, Wanstead

London, Wanstead

London, Wanstead

Wednesday, 5 August 2020


Those of you who follow my exploits on Twitter might have noticed a big upturn in tweets regarding Moths in the last few months! This is not a new passion but an old one that has re-surfaced again and was aided by being furloughed and locked-down for 3 months, which gave me the time and opportunity I've been missing for a few years (basically before the kids came along) to re-engage all things Lepidoptery - and I'm loving it!

The early morning starts have been a bit tougher since I've returned to work but the blood-shot eyes and lack of sleep is all worth it when you're rewarded with a new moth for the garden list - This currently stands on 128 for the year. In Moth terms it's not a particularly big total but it does go to show what's possible with a simple Skinner Moth Trap in a urban London garden with a little bit of sacrifice and effort.

Here are a few the highlights of the Marcos so far, nothing out of the ordinary but a good cross-section of Moths - If you're lucky I might even do another post with some of the Micros!

Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Bird's Wing
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Lime Hawk-Moth
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Pale Prominent
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Small Magpie
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Cypress Carpet
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Maiden's Blush
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Oak Processionary
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Grey/Dark Dagger agg
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Oak Hook-tip
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Angle Shades
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Small Blood-vein
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Yellow Shell
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Tree-lichen Beauty
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Scalloped Oak
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Ruby Tiger
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Toadflax Brocade
Moths, Teammoth, Mothsmatter
Mother of Pearl