Friday, 26 August 2016

Crawling towards a PB

When I saw a Skylark in early July to take me to within one of my total for last year at the reservoirs, I thought it would only be a matter of weeks until I beat my personal best. After all, there were a couple of irregular breeders (Hobby & Garden Warbler) and a couple of regular passage birds (Whinchat & Spotted Fly) I had yet to see along with various odds and sods which had already been recorded by others. Eleven almost universally dismal visits later, I was not feeling so confident particularly as I am soon off patch for six weeks. So with a good smattering of migrants all over London this week and overnight rain, I was determined to be at the reservoirs for opening time and stay until I had passed 107.
      Lockwood had plenty of Common Sandpipers with at least 16 usually in small flocks and Teal numbers had increased to four but there was no sign of Lol's Redshank from yesterday or any other wader. Nor was there any sign of passage with no Spotted Flys or Garden Warblers despite lengthy waits at the usual haunts on the north side. In fact, Whitethroats and Blackcaps seemed to have largely moved out but there were still a few smart Lesser Whitethroats around. My luck changed when news of all the flycatchers gathered at Wanstead persuaded me to round again and look at the snags at the top of High Maynard. There were still no flycatchers but there was a flighty Whinchat (107) on the bank which hadn't been there a couple of hours before and almost immediately wasn't there any longer as it flew across to the west side.

                                                       Very distant and flighty Whinchat

Crossing the road, a long slow walk down the central path finally delivered a very bright Willow Warbler and then after the usual tantalizing glimpses, a Garden Warbler (108) emerged right in front of me by the magic semi-circle. I pushed my luck by continuing to look at the best flycatcher spots on the south side but nothing. In fact, given the time of year, the conditions and the migrants elsewhere, it was a long, hot and hard slog. But at least we have breeding terns and they have had a surprisingly good year...

DB @porthkillier

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