Sunday, 27 November 2011


It was the normal tale of a Sunday afternoon, the spirit was willing(ish) but the flesh was definitely weak. I really had intended to go out on the patch (after deciding not to go looking for a Rose-coloured Starling for the Essex list I am not really keeping) but it has been a hectic week and after being out all morning some food was the first priority, second priority was just a few minutes of folding the arms and shutting the eyes, third priority didn’t really stand a chance after that.

I couldn’t make my mind up anyway whether it should have been the reservoirs to have a chance on the Merlin or the marsh to find some trickle down ‘sibes’. As ever my indecision led to no decision.

So there I was staring out of the back window, whilst finishing off the last series of 24, as if it is not exciting enough! Checking the Gulls mostly moving North to the Chingford reservoir roost, trying to check the occasional non-Starling Passerine zipping by, which are usually Chaffinches apart from the ones that look really interesting but are moving too fast or are too far away to identify, when out of the blue a small whippy-winged Falcon appears from the North-west, the direction of the marsh/reservoirs and flies straight through, giving me enough time to get the bins on it and then run to the front of the house to see it carry straight down the valley and on towards the Olympic Park.

Not my first Merlin on the patch, I had a female whizz past me near No.1 reservoir on 2nd Dec ember 1988 and a, probable male, blast North viewed from the house on 23rd September 2005, but certainly the most prolonged views. I guess it was the male that has been seen a couple of times recently on the filter beds and the Lockwood.

It didn’t seem to be hunting but looked rather purposeful in it’s flight and, being 15:30, I suspect it could have been on its way to roost somewhere to the South, worth keeping an eye out further down the valley East India Dock Basin maybe? Assuming there is just one Bird locally (they are pretty scarce in the Lea Valley) then it certainly has quite a range.

Certainly a magic sighting. (sorry, I could have said it cast a spell over me)

On this date:

27 11 1982 13:30-16:00 Bright, calm and cold; 150 Shoveler on the Lower Maynard. 6-8 Short-eared Owls along natural bank of the Lockwood including 2 together, 1 buzzing a Redshank on horse field. Seen hunting, roosting in bush and on ground, yellow eyes noted. Also on the Lockwood a female Goldeneye.  On No.5 a Black-necked Grebe, showing yellowy eyes, presumably a juvenile, also a party of 5 Little Grebes and a Ring-necked Parakeet over, high. 1 Kingfisher on the stream by the Coppermill. Another Short-eared Owl on the Marsh.

27 11 1989 1 Common Sandpiper still on the East Warwick.


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