Having waited over 40 years to get Waxwing on my patch list, and succeeding last year both at the reservoirs and from my house, I would imagine that the chance of getting them on the patch year list is fairly slim, though never say never, the winter is still young. Thus the temptation to drive up to Loughton and see a lingering flock of 90 was strong, a couple of circuits of a housing estate and the mission was accomplished, this then left me time to have another crack at Walthamstow. Sigh!
After Fridays washout I was not really relishing the prospect and was struggling to decide which bit to do. So little to see, so much to cover!
Horseshoe Thicket won out, the lure of clinching the possible Siberian Chiffchaff was the only thing that really appealed. As it was, it turned out to be the right move, but not for that reason. On the way I checked out the Gulls on the filter beds but they were all a little far away, the Eider was still on No.5 along with increasing numbers of Shelduck.
It was not as cold as Friday but it was a good deal greyer, there was a bit more bird activity in the form of the occasional Tit flock but no sound of any Chiffchaffs of any persuasion, let alone Siberian. I worked the small thicket three times but it steadfastly refused to reveal itself.
On the first lap I spotted a large damp patch under some Trees and thought it needed investigation, after all I had flushed a Woodcock from this thicket at the back end of last year (One can live in hope.) Of course there was no Woodcock in there so I turned to walk back to the track only to see, yes you guessed it, a Woodcock flying slowly past, slow enough to get views through the bins. What’s more I saw where it ditched down on the marsh, so switched my cameraphone to video and headed over, I was sure that I would get at least some sort of image. Unfortunately all I got was wet feet from the increasingly boggy marsh, the Woodcock either walked off into some weedy strip or was hunkered down, hey ho! Still not a bird I see much locally so a good one to get on the year list.
What is happening with Woodcock? Up till 2007 I had only seen one (dead) on the patch, this one was the ninth. Are they getting commoner, am I getting my eye in, why was I missing them before?
Buoyed by this success I decided to have another crack at Little Owl. There was a Jackdaw in the Horse paddocks off Lea Bridge Rd, strangely not a common bird on the patch, and a fair few Redwing. No sign of the Owl however, so I thought I would check another angle, still no sign, I decided on the long game as it was near to dusk and rechecked the North side of the Trees, still no sign! I don’t know what made me look back at the Trees after I left but, there was a Little Owl shaped lump where there was no lump before, I looked back again and saw the little lump fly to the next branch where it promptly became invisible. Motto: If at first you don’t see a Little Owl, try, try, try again.
On this date:
23 01 82 Walthamstow; A very good selection of typical and unusual Walthamstow birds, among the first category Little & Great Crested Grebes, Shoveler, Cormorant & Heron and in the second, Goosander, small party of Ruddy Duck and 3 ‘redhead’ Smew, very flighty as on last sighting. Winter and resident Thrushes prominent and Lapwings over.
23 01 10 A Green Sandpiper but just 1 Snipe on the Waterworks N.R. Two Little Owls near the riding stables in separate trees. 5 adult Whooper Swans over South. (Later seen by others at Crossness and Rainham) No sign of the Bittern at Walthamstow but a Water Rail seen and another heard.