Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Sanity Clause

I have just finished reading this month’s Birdwatch magazine, soon to fall victim to budget cuts I fear, mine that is not theirs; which had an interesting, and balanced, article by Andy Stoddart, extolling the virtue of doing a local patch. He mentions that there are many ways to enjoy Birding, something the mono-focussed twitcher bashing brigade on Bird Forum would do well to recognize. I really don’t understand why they feel the need to post on the Rare Bird thread; do they join Philately Forums and run down Stamp Collectors?

Any hoo, I appreciated only too well what Andy said about most patches producing little in the way of glamorous rarities and how this can be remedied with a quick fix of twitching. After this year’s abysmal personal year list, (only one year in the last 30 was lower) I will definitely be indulging in some therapeutic twitching in 2012  Birds notwithstanding. The perfect balance of character building, grounded patch work combined with the occasional twitch should keep (make?) me sane.

This afternoon I had to have a camera shoved up my nose (don’t bother googling You Tube it’s not on there) which meant I had a bit of time to do the Southern end of the patch. The footpath to nowhere is taking shape in the South-east corner of Marsh Lane fields, there were quite a lot of Birds along the previously hard to access Dagenham Brook but I suspect they will be soon driven away if the footpath gets much traffic.

I was concentrating on the scrubby edges of the patch today with Bullfinch and Redpolls in mind; naturally that’s where they stayed, in mind. As I approached the top field I heard the yapping of a yappy Dog, it and its owner and child had walked along the whole length of scrubby bushes, I didn’t bother! I headed round the field and decided to look at the roosting Gulls on the Football pitches, the Dog family changed course and headed for me, I doubled back and outflanked them at which point they outsmarted me and headed straight for the Gulls....D’oh. I thought I could beat them to it but they cleverly sent the Dog on ahead and he flushed the lot, just to make sure they stayed away they all walked over to where they had settled....

Time to give up and check the Lea by the Golf Course. There were quite a few Duck loafing including 20+ Teal and a few Gadwall. One of the Teal had neither a vertical nor horizontal White flank bar; I was just thinking what it should be called....No-winged Teal? When it flew off...perhaps just Winged Teal. I don’t know what made me check the Owl Tree, habit? You’ll never guess what I saw...told you you’d never guess, the Little Owl was in there, well a bit of its wing was. Given how it filled the hole the other day and how much room there clearly is in there, such that it can get really tucked away, I’m thinking there must have been two of them in there before. Still pretty hard to see though. Follow directions as before but see photo for actual hole.

A Kingfisher called from the Lea but must have flown in the opposite direction. Near to the Red Bridge 2-3 Goldcrests were loosely associating with some Long-tailed Tits but unusually no Chiffchaffs in what is normally a good spot for them.

On the Waterworks a showy Water Rail in bed 17 toyed with me, giving me enough time to get glasses, bins and cameraphone lined up before disappearing and then doing the same all over again a couple of minutes later.

A few months ago I promised a picture of the finished sculpture in the Olympic Park which is prominently visible from much of the patch, conveniently they seem to have finished it just before the blogs demise, I say ‘seem’ as it’s hard to tell really, at least we won’t have to put up with it for too long, it must be a honeypot for metal thieves. Not the best photo but I could have given you nostrils.

Nothing much else in the Waterworks, no Snipe or Green Sandpipers though both have been seen recently and no Bullfinches or Redpolls, again both have been seen nearby in the last couple of weeks. Winter officially starts tomorrow but somehow I don’t think we are going to notice, we have virtually no Winter specialities around. Looks like the blog is not the only thing going out with a fizzle.

On this date: 21 12 1989 At Walthamstow the Red-necked Grebe was on No.4 reservoir and a Common Sandpiper was on the Lockwood. On the Marsh a Long-tailed Tit and a Stonechat, possibly a Chiffchaff heard in the distance.

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