I'm working the early shift this week, and was in the middle of a call to one of my drivers when my text alert went off at lunchtime. It was Sue saying there was a Whinchat at Cranford Park. I've been hoping to see one before the influx of birds moves through the London area. All over London for the past couple of weeks there have been daily reports of Whinchats being seen, so as I only got one distant record shot of one at Lake Farm last year, I knew I really had to make the effort to get to the park. But I had been up since 3.30am, at work at 5am, and it was now coming up to 2pm. Would my stamina hold out ? Would I need matchsticks to keep my eyes open ?
When I re-read Sues text, I realised she hadn't seen one Whinchat, she had seen THREE. That made my mind up, so as soon as I done my hand over to a work colleague, I was out of the door and praying all the buses were on time. I don't drive, so had to get two buses home to grab my bins and camera, then another bus to the park.
By 3.30pm I was walking through the long grass meadow. Except most of it has been mown now. Most of it that is..............
The area where the Skylarks and Mipits nested this year, is still long grass. And after a quick call to Sue she confirmed that's where she had seen all three Whinchats. It took me ten minutes to locate the first bird, by which time Sue had texted she was on her way with Jasper the bird-dog.
So for a very enjoyable 90 minutes, in dull light but warm conditions, we watched three beautifully marked Whinchats topping on scrubby bushes, tree guards and spindly young trees.
I will not apologise for my complete overload of Whinchat photos, even though some of them are pretty crap really. These tiny delightful birds are making the journey to Africa where they will over winter, before returning next April. It's been an absolute pleasure seeing them at Cranford Park.
|No matter how hard I tried I couldn't get a photo with all three birds in the same frame, and as you can see above, I struggled to get a decent shot of two birds in the same frame !|
One of our resident Kestrels watched us for quite a while, probably jealous that we weren't taking more photos of her for a change.
And of course my blog would not be complete without a photo of Jasper.
It's unusual to see him with his lead on, but as he has accepted me as one of his 'pack' we have to be careful now if Sue and I decide to go in different directions as Jasper has started following me, instead of walking along with Sue.
I think it's a great honour to be included in Jaspers 'pack'. Thanks mate :)
And thanks Sue for the lunchtime text :)