Saturday, 27 February 2010

Like London buses

Things have been conspiring to keep me from birding and blogging lately. The big overnight systems implementation at work that everyone's been working towards for the last 6 months happened on Monday in a painful, stuttering way. The new system is in and working (YES), but I didn't leave the office until 4am, and the preparation has eaten up large chunks of my Tower Bridge time. For the last 3 days I've taken some well earned annual leave and spent 2 long days in the field on Wednesday and Thursday. I was going to write them up this afternoon, but I got sent on a wild goose waxwing chase round Romford, which is probably worth a post in itself. So there you are, no drivel for almost a week and suddenly a probable 3 posts at once. Or at least, 3 posts in short succession. It's quarter past 2, I'm not writing them all tonight.

It also means this post will, from hereon, be mercifully short.

Wednesday was designated as 'Patch Day'. Took a walk round Harrow Lodge park which added Song Thrush to the year total, and saw about 20 Pochard on the main lake along with the regular wildfowl. Don't know what's happened to the local Grey Wags. Their usual spot on the river was full of Labrador when I got there on Wednesday so odds of seeing anything were slim, but that's several trips this year and no sign yet.

After Harrow Lodge I crossed over into Dagenham Chase, wandered through Black Poplar wood and took a long walk round the back by Upper Rainham Road. I spent an unhealthy amount of time taking pictures of one of the Black Poplar trees with the long lens because a) I wanted to play with abstract patterns in the bark, b) they are really rather rare trees and Black Poplar wood in Dagenham Chase holds 6 of the 600 females remaining in the UK and c) it was starting to spit with rain and under the trees seemed to be the place to stay. The poplars will probably be the subject of another post at some point because they're an interesting local feature, and other than the ever present Magpies and some common wildfowl on the Slack the Chase was fairly birdless. A cooperative male Kestrel did get me my photo of the day though. What the Chase mainly had was mud, interspersed with great big puddles of water. I had to navigate a whole slew of these to go round the bird sanctuary in the middle on the offchance that the lone Greylag sitting with a Canada flock was something slightly more interesting but when I got close up, a Greylag it remained.

Still, after a couple of claustrophobic weeks, it was very nice to be back out in the open air for a decent length of time. And I got to give the camera an outing while the enthusiasm is still running high as well. Here's a few of the better ones to finish with:

Picture of the day: Not as sharp as the pros, but shot from the hand and the first one of these I've ever tried that's even come close to working. Stunning example of male Kestrelhood as well.

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