Sunday, 21 March 2021

2021 Wheatear Sweepstake - In Safe Hands?

As I'm typing this another day is slipping by and still nobody has claimed a Wheatear on Wanstead Flats and the 2021 sweepstake contest is dangling on a knife-edge. This is the most keenly contested year to date, going right down to the wire with just three of the original ten competitors left in the's nail biting stuff!

There was a reported sighting yesterday (Saturday) which had Jono punching the air and briefly claiming victory and the retention of the much sort after 'Golden Wheatear Chalice' but his hopes were quickly dashed when the committee requested and viewed the respective photographs. The photos were carefully scrutinized and a non-descript, brown looking bird could be seen distantly perching on the Brooms...Dunnock! Yes I know a Dunnock looks nothing like a Wheatear but if a novice birder claims a sighting I have to follow the strict and proper guidelines covered in the rules of the sweepstake before announcing a winner (or not in this case) so the contest was back on and is down to just three participants, James (21st, 22nd) Richard (23rd) and me (24th)...yes - me! who'd have thought I'd be in with a chance of winning after drawing out of the hat last (10th pick) and got left with the dates that nobody else wanted.

I’m not counting my chickens (or Wheatears) just yet, as the wind switches to the south-west overnight so tomorrow (Monday 22nd) does look quite favourable but I never gave myself a chance-in-hell in winning the sweepstake. Once everyone had selected their dates I was left with the two book-ends at the start and the end of the month so to have even a glimmer of hope has got me just a tad excited. One things for sure if I do pull this off it may go down as the unlikeliest of wins and biggest shocks since Leicester won the Premier League!

Whilst James continued to search for Wheatear today he discovered an empty and discarded metal safe on the Flats. It's been reported to the police but I think they could be wasting their time in trying to uncover who it belongs to - as rumour has it, it belonged to Jono! It was where he safely kept the chalice. The safe was only ever opened once a month to give the chalice a bit of a polish but after failing to retain his title, he clearly had no more use for it and must have chucked it out overnight, once it dawned on him that 2021 wasn't going to be his year - even a last ditch and desperate attempt at Nocmigging a Wheatear from the Brooms couldn't help him!

Watch this space to find out who will be the 2021 Sweepstake winner?

No longer required - Did this once house the Golden Wheatear Chalice?

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