Friday, 17 September 2010

Breaking the Jynx

The Wanstead Wryneck was easier to watch than photograph ...

I was out early again today, quartering the rural fringe of London in the Essex sector. My goal was to try and locate the last of the capital’s breeding birds to elude me this year, Grey Partridge. But the better – and more useful – thing about doing this year-list is that it gets me to places that I have rarely or never birded before, collecting records of potentially interesting species that are otherwise missed. Indeed, some of the farmland I visited (and I drove 107 miles today) is probably never covered by birders at all.

Initially I criss-crossed a large network of fields over several square miles, yet the only gamebirds I could find were Common Pheasants – and dozens of them. But then the phone rang, and plans suddenly changed – it was Jono in Wanstead, where yesterday’s AWOL Wryneck had been relocated. I made it there in surprisingly good time, and after a short wait a crowd of us watched it feed on an anthill by a bramble bush before disappearing into cover. Having dipped Wryneck twice already since Sunday, at the third attempt I had finally broken the Jynx, as it were.

After nabbing a few more migrants for good measure, I took the scenic route back to my early morning round and began the search again. The closest I got to Grey Partridge was hearing what was probably one call briefly in the distance, but it stays off the list until I can confirm it properly. In the meantime, today’s sightings round-up:

Good views of Red-legged Partridge, but none of Grey - yet.
Fallow Deer were also much in evidence. This black variant male
was the dominant animal in its herd of 22 deer.
M25/Essex sector:
Common Pheasant (60+), Red-legged Partridge, Common Buzzard (5), Hobby (2), Sparrowhawk (large female), Northern Lapwing (10), Yellow-legged Gull (adult in ploughed field with other gulls), Stock Dove (50+), Common Chiffchaff (2), Chaffinch (flock of 22 in stubble), Yellowhammer. Also 55 Fallow Deer, including herds of 26 and 22.

Wryneck, Yellow Wagtail (overhead), Whinchat (2), Common Redstart, Common Chiffchaff.

London year-list update:
199. Wryneck.


  1. good luck with the 200th bird Dom.

  2. Thanks Peter - still missing Curlew Sand and Spot Shank, would you believe, but Rainham has gone belly up for waders now that the pools are overfilled, so have probably missed those for the year now. Grey Partridge, despite its supreme elusiveness in London this days, is still probably the most likely addition.



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