After seeing the last Sundays Pintail I have not been able to get onto the patch for work related reasons, (work; the curse of the birding classes) this was quite a blow as there has been Bittern, Shag, Red-breasted Merganser and possible Scaup this week, all patch year ticks, an amzing number of potentials this close to the end of the year.
So today was my big chance, I started at the Waterworks in hopes of an ice-skating Bittern, One has been seen at Stoke Newington and recently the Middlesex Filter Beds so I thought I might be in with a chance, I was, it was a fat chance. The N.R. was pretty devoid of any N. Best, was a perched in the open Sparrowhawk, that my numb fingers and fiddly camera phone did not do any justice, and that is saying something given the standard of photographs I post on here!
I thought it would be worth checking for Shag on the East Warwick despite no sightings for a couple of days.....still no sightings, I was now too cold to muster any enthusiasm for walking round to the West Warwick in the hopes of confirming Pete’s sleeping possible Scaup from Sunday, which was just as well because in amongst the Aythya’s on No.1 were the very birds. 2 female Scaup very much heads up and alert showing all the requisite features; larger than Tufted Duck, broader in the beam, round headed with a white facial blaze and paler ‘ear’ spot, bill tipped black – my first on the patch for 19 years.
It is interesting, to me at least, that so many of the good birds I have seen on the patch this year are the first for around about 20 years, I think this reflects my on/off relationship with the patch rather than their true rarity in most cases.
I contemplated a photo but they were swimming steadily and, I suspect would have proved impossible to phonescope. My decision was really made though, when a snow flake suddenly landed on my face followed by about a gazillion more. In a matter of moments it was almost a white out. The walk back to the car was most unpleasant. I don’t recall if I have ever seen snow settling on Ducks before, a very strange sight.
Apparently just after the snow a Bittern flew in to Stoke Newington from the South, I knew it was still around, the little blighter.
After a quick lunch I had a look on the Banbury but the only Sawbill was a female Goosander rather than my hoped for Merganser. This year just keeps getting better, I wonder if there are any surprises left....more snow coming.
On other matters, the cumulative Walthamstow list has also grown recently, Roy W kindly lent me the last 70 years worth of London Bird Reports and trawling through them revealed the fact that Snow Bunting and Yellow-browed Warbler have both been seen on patch, so total now stands at 241.
(On this day: 17 12 96 The Dartford Warbler soon seen on Walthamstow Marsh in loose association with 3 Stonechats, also 2 Chiffchaffs nearby.)