Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Mist Clears

This morning was dreich, and colder than it had a right to be. The only thing that could be mustered on the marsh was a solitary Reed Bunting and the distinctive 'plop' of a Water Vole dropping into a ditch, which sadly remained unseen.

Undeterred, I thought I would give the reservoirs a work over this afternoon. I still have plenty of targets; I was especially hoping for a Wader or two given the conditions and was also particularly keen to get one other species.

Lol sees Pheasants on a near daily basis, flaunting themselves shamelessly at the top end of the Lockwood, and on a near daily (well it feels like it) basis he shamelessly reminds me of the fact. “Don’t worry there are still nine months to get one” he cheerfully tells me. This seemed like rather a long gestation period to me so I was determined to try harder this afternoon.

I took the long way round the Northern sector of the reservoirs, to no avail as it happens, walking around the Eastern edge of the High Maynard. Sometimes there are Waders in the overflow channel; this was not one of those times.

When I reached the Lockwood I carefully peered over the bank hoping not to flush the massed throngs of Waders, I succeeded in not flushing them but due more to their absence than my stealth.

There was a female Goosander hauled out preening and a party of seven Goldeneye, including an adult and immature drake, but precious little else. On the North bank was a Green Sandpiper which eventually flew North, later I saw 4 roosting by the overflow channel.

As I approached the North-west corner of the Lockwood I heard a Pheasant call! I assumed it would be on the bank as I rounded the corner, I was a bit surprised therefore to see, not a Pheasant but a pair of Greylag Geese. “No doubt the Pheasant is hiding in the bushes,” I thought. The Greylag Geese started to make some quiet, Pheasanty ‘gonk’ calls. “I’m sure that was a Pheasant calling,” I thought. The Geese got louder and Pheasantier sounding, my high scruples (well known in local birding circles) got the better of me and I decided I must have been mistaken and walked on sans Pheasant year tick but rather proud of myself. Seconds later a Pheasant called from the bushes! Scruples, pah!

There were a couple of Little Egrets on the breeding island on No.1 just loafing around, they nest quite a bit later than the Grey Herons, but looking rather splendid in their plumery, I know there’s no such word but it seems to fit.

At about 15:00 the sun started to burn through a bit and, within minutes a Sand Martin appeared, 1 became 2, 2 became 4 and, just as quickly as they had appeared they disappeared off to the West. This is my joint earliest date.

Seven Reed Buntings together on the East Warwick tell of a real arrival, as they have been as rare as ‘Hens Teeth’ before this week.


As dictator after dictator is toppled in the mid-east reports are coming in of a rebel success at Walthamstan. Crazed despot Paul Al-W has conceded defeat to the insurgent forces based opposite the Lockwood. These dissenters, believed to be supported by their spiritual leaders in far flung Wanis-tead have extracted a remarkable volte-face over a recent record of a Red Kite which was claimed to have flown over Walthamstan.

The Tyrannical ruler, Paul Al-W is believed to be fleeing to the London Wetland Centre where a blind eye is still turned to such wild assertions. It was thought that the threatened imposition of a ‘no-fly zone’ over the patch by the neighbouring emirate of Hacken-i was the last straw.

An enlightened new rule has been drawn up whereby someone actually has to ‘see’ the bird concerned either from or over the patch.

Paul Al-W issued a parting statement as he left the patch: “They’ll be sorry when a radio-tagged Spotted Eagle goes over...mwahh...hahh...hahh...hahhhh”

(In other words Red Kite is off the yearlist)


  1. The glorious nation of Wanis-tead and its humble and pious people deny any involvement in the affairs of the infidels to the west.

    We have long known that the great Satan of the West has well-dodgy listing ethics, and we were not surprised at all when the Red Kite seen by our faithful brother at the Stoke Newington Wadis, and subsequently over the great nation of Wanis-tead, made it onto the Walthamstan year list.

    Long live the uprising! We stand ready to support our brothers and sisters (well, let's face it, brothers) in Walthamstan as they seek to topple their morally bankrupt leader and once more seek out the true path.


  2. The newly enlightened view can be summed up thusly:

    If a Kite flies over a reservoir and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

    A truly unobserved event is one which realises no effect (imparts no information) on any other (where 'other' might be e.g., human, sound-recorder or rock), it therefore can have no legacy in the present (or ongoing) wider physical universe. It may then be recognized that the unobserved event was absolutely identical to an event which did not occur at all.

    Attributed to Eastern philosopher: Pee Dub Ayu