Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Gone in 60 Seconds

Starting from the car park in Forest Rd this morning, my peregrinations around the patch bore more than a passing semblance to a walk around a building site. This was all the more ironic as on reaching home the local authority ‘free’ newspaper (paid for from my rates) told me, on its short journey from mat to bin, that work on the new Walthamstow Wetlands starts next week. It’s hard to imagine what more they can do to disrupt the site but I’m sure we will find out.

One of my highlights of the Spring is seeing the flowering Violets under the Copper Beech by the Meccano bridge near the Beam House (see, not really a grumpy old man). Good News: the workers have cleared off from that area, Bad News: the whole area between the Beam House and the weedy area to the North of the East Warwick has been cleared and is pristine raked earth, Good News: they’ve left the grassy bit under the Copper Beech, Bad News: the Violets weren’t out (yet?)

Ptarmigan habitat coming along nicely. Build it and they will come I say

There was not a lot on the East Warwick. A small party of Wagtails gave hope but all proved to be Pied. There were workmen at the Southern end and I nearly didn’t go any further but thought ‘What would Pete do?’ ‘He’d check every last bird right down to the end’. So I did. The first bird my scope rested on was a near full Summer-plumaged Mediterranean Gull. So that’s how he does it!

Now you see it

Naturally I have been extremely sceptical about every patcher and his Dog seeing Med Gull on Walthamstow this year, some of them multiple times, some of them not long after I left the site, but, maybe I have been slightly too hasty and in the spirit of now I’ve seen one magnanimity I think the records can stand.

Now you don't

I thought I had better try and get a photo, even at long range, thankfully I managed to get my act together and grab a shot, in fact two but that was the last I saw of it. (though I hear it returned and is now twitchable, typical!) In avoiding the multiplicity of workmen and diggers by the diagonal bridge I serendipitously stumbled across a patch of Violets under the large trees by the West side of No.5. Nice.

Roses are Red my love, Violets are...well Violet

Sounding a bit like a dental check-up the rest of the Southern section was: No.5 nothing, No.3 nothing, No.4 nothing, No.2 nothing. Duck numbers were definitely down, just a couple of Shoveler and hardly any Shelduck. A chatty fisherman tried to engage me ‘I bet you would have liked to have taken that picture of the Stoat on the Woodpecker? We get plenty of Stoats over here’ I didn’t bother correcting him on either count. He then went on to describe the all black large Stoat and the four smaller ones trailing behind it that he had seen. Oh dear! I knew we had Mink but they are clearly breeding now. If I was a Woodpecker I would be very worried. Another fisherman sensing that his mate had trapped a birder now chipped in with ‘Have you seen the Rhea? I’ve seen it in the Reeds.’ When pressed, the description of a pointy brown Moorhen with blue sides helped me realise that I should not bother looking for an enormous flightless Ratite poking about on the edge of the reservoir. Presumably he thought the L was silent in Rail?

I pressed on up to the Lockwood where my notebook remained fairly untroubled. A Peregrine near last year’s nest site and 5 Goldeneye  were the highlights, but it could have been so much better, I scoped a perky beige Passerine along the concrete edge on the top of the bank, it was almost at the far end so I set off to claim what could surely be only one thing at this time of the year, unfortunately it could be two things, and the one it was was flushed. Repeatedly. A couple of walkers pushed it further and further but then got off the bank and dissapeared, I continued my pursuit only to see a workman clad from head-to-toe in day-glow fluorescent overalls walk along the bank exactly where my quarry had been. Had, being the operative word.

I felt certain that today would have produced a Summer migrant and it felt good for a Red Kite too (on checking, my first last year was on the 14th March) still it can only be a matter of time.


@birdingprof

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