2021 is officially my 10th year birding the patch at Wanstead. Unofficially I did visit Wanstead in 2010 and dipped a Wryneck! Well I say dipped, I just stumbled around not knowing where I was going and couldn't find the area the bird had been seen and soon left, mightily unimpressed with the lack of decent habitat - This was coming from someone who had been schooled on the Thameside marshes along the Essex coast. A couple of visits that Winter and the discovery of a Goosander on Perch lake in Wanstead Park and I'd seen the potential of the area and was hooked, aided by the enthusiasm of Jono, Tim, Bob & Nick I adopted Wanstead as my new patch and the rest as they say is history.
A decade later and my patch list sits on a heady 149. That's not bad for someone who can't actually roll out of bed and be on the patch in 2 minutes, I have to make a short drive (or the occasional cycle) and most of my visits have been weekends due in part to work and family commitments, but none the less it's been a big commitment with lots of effort, often forgoing other opportunities to go birding or even twitching elsewhere for the good of the patch. Sometimes I've questioned my sanity when I've woken up at stupid a clock on a Saturday morning (often after several Friday night beers) and trudged around the patch and seen very little, but that's patch birding - there are plenty of lows but it's the occasional highs and those special days when you run into a Great Grey Shrike, Wryneck or Yellow-browed Warbler which keeps you coming back for more.
Last weekend I managed to dip Whimbrel (not once but twice) on the patch, this would've have taken me to the magical 150 but the birding gods weren't on my side and I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time as a total of 4 birds flew through Wanstead Flats. There's not a lot you can do about it, other than shrug it off and move on. As much as I want to hit 150 as soon as possible the old romantic in me would like to find my own 150th bird on the patch, so as another weekend approaches I'll be setting the bar high again and will be on the look out for maybe a Wood Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Little Gull, Arctic Tern, Turtle Dove, Hoopoe, Black Kite, White Stork...I could go on and on with the possibilities, but to be honest if there's a singing Quail I'll happily take that!
|My patch list of 149 - What will be number 150?|