Sunday, 21 August 2011

Billy, Don't be a Hero!

I was spurred on by the report of a Wryneck at Alexandra Palace yesterday and took the opportunity of an early start to go and find something on the marsh. First up was the Waterworks, I think I was the first person on there this morning so my optimism rose. There were a dozen or so Magpies going mental, that’s the technical Birding term, and I felt sure they had got some roosting Raptor pinned down but as they kept moving around and didn’t focus their attention anywhere in particular that hope faded. I saw a large adult Dog Fox sniffing around so maybe that’s what got them exercised.

A few Warblers were moving through, including a nice Lesser Whitethroat. At least 1 Yellow Wagtail was heard flying South but I couldn’t get a visual on it. A probable Teal flushed from one of the beds as I lifted the hide flap, if so it would have been my first of the Autumn. A Moorhen clambering around up some Reeds reminded me that I had two ticks yesterday, from the comfort of my armchair. I just read that the AOU have split Common Gallinule from Moorhen (the other was Snowy Plover split from Kentish Plover) I wonder who will make a name for themselves by finding one of these on this side of the pond? Probably someone bored witless on a rainy day in Scilly; I don’t think I will be checking all the Moorhens on the patch for one that laughs! (Diagnostic call apparently).

Next up was my assault on the marsh but just at that point the pager confirmed the continuing presence of Ally Pally’s Wryneck. What the heck? Why flog the marsh looking for Wryneck when you can drive 5.5 miles and actually see one for real? I got there in just over twenty minutes and had seen the Bird after probably another twenty’ve got to love it! I also heard Nuthatch whilst I was there. You can actually see the patch from the palace, and vice versa, yet Nuthatch is a patch mega, I’ve never even come close to one, and Wryneck has never occurred according to the patch definition on the blog though I know Lol found one on his ‘Tottenham extension’.

My heroic attempts at finding a patch year tick were not quite over as you can easily swing back round from the Palace and find yourself on the Lockwood, as indeed I did. At the Southern end Kevin was prone on his back closely checking the inside of his cap for migrants. I decided on the ‘upright looking through the telescope’ method; though for all the good it did me I could have snoozed too. After checking the whole edge (to be honest you really need to walk round as anything smaller than a Redshank would be difficult to pick up if it were on the North bank) I coughed, which brought Kevin back to consciousness and to his feet. He had seen yesterdays Greenshank, which was a patch tick for him, but there was no sign of it today. The two Wheatears had been reported by Scottish George again and Kevin had had a flyover Green Sandpiper and a couple of Hobbys but that was about it, certainly no repeat of the Buzzard extravaganza of the other day.

Sometime later Kevin decided he was going to lie down again (he does get on the patch shortly after 06:00) I decided this was a good move as every time he sat down on Friday Buzzards appeared. Suddenly he said ‘Did you hear that? It sounded like Greenshank.’ I didn’t, but we both scanned around for a few moments. Then I saw a Bird lift off from the edge of the reservoir only about 200m from where we were standing, before I could get the words out the one became a small flock, 7 Greenshanks, and all now in flight and heading South. I lost them to sight over No.4 but they evidently turned West at that point and Pete L picked them up, calling over his head, on the East Warwick. I think they must have landed when Kevin heard the call, not realising that we were standing nearby.

I would categorise Greenshank as the most common, of the less common Waders we get on Walthamstow, if you get my meaning. My previous highest count was a flock of 5 on the 13th August 1984, usually just singles are the norm. About time we had one of the less common of the most common Waders or better still just an out and out rarity.


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