To say that this week was frustrating was an understatement, sweating over spreadsheets when the patch was buzzing with new birds was not my idea of fun. Kittiwake would have been a new patch bird for me, I’ve only seen Ruff once and that not for many a year, Red-crested Pochard, Redshank etc., etc., blah, blah!
Today was my big chance. Anticipation was high, expectation was moderate, and hope was low…
On the basis that a lot of the recent action centred on the East Warwick Island, I started there. Unfortunately there were quite a few Fisherman lining the reservoir banks, and an equal and opposite number of Waders on the island. No.5 had nothing to add and all that No.4 could offer was the Wintering Common Sandpiper. I should probably mention singing Chiffchaffs, Cetti’s Warblers and sitting Little Egrets but they didn’t seem to offer much compensation. Still there was the Lockwood…
There were so many possibilities and all of them didn’t fail to disappoint. As I walked down the track at the Southern end of the Lockwood I was mentally preparing a desultory tweet, when what should stroll casually out of the Warbler bushes by the defunct toilet block but a Red-legged Partridge. I froze, hoping to get a photograph, but it strolled back into cover. I made a quick call to Lol, who was the only local likely to be able to make it to the site quickly and set myself up to get a shot if it re-appeared. Patience won out and it moved out of cover and fed quite calmly allowing me the luxury of composed pictures.
Lol arrived and got to see it too. It was still in the area in the evening. What’s the big deal, I hear you say. Well, this is Urban Birding baby! Red-legged Partridge is not a particularly urban bird, though they breed about 10 km up the valley their wanderings are a bit random and casual. They do seem to appear about every two years and early Spring is probably your best bet but they are seldom twitchable on the patch. The last patch record was in 2015 between No.1 and the East Warwick for about 2 minutes, before that one hung around in the Waterworks NR for a few days in 2011 (I actually ran for that one! To be fair not far, but actual running. Obviously I am well past that now).
Buoyed up by my Gamebird success, I decided to have another round of the Southern section, with, other than a lingering Buzzard found by Lol, predictably little result. I had thought I would go through the middle of Nos. 1, 2 & 3 but didn’t have the time. Davey L (nice to meet you at last, and sorry to lose you to the KGV shortly) did have the time and saw the Red-crested Pochards! There is always tomorrow.