Saturday, 24 November 2012
A Waxwing and it is done!
I planned a quiet weekend, and where better than Rainham. No chasing around the country, just a nice peaceful wander around the old place and maybe get some ticks for the Rainham year list and bolster my standing in the London Birders patch list challenge. Stu said he would like to go there too and seek out the Caspian Gulls. Er! OK.
Now gulls are fine, but I don't really want it to be my #300. I would have to look away when he found one. Luckily it turns out he is slightly less clueless as to Caspian Gull ID as I am (though I maybe doing him a disservice here, sorry Stu). So early doors we are traipsing through the fog down to the concrete barges (not stone, as they are not). Two Water Pipit flushed and flew around a bit and helped brighten the proceedings and the barges themselves were covered in roosting Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank, with a few Lapwing thrown in. Having checked them out there was no other option but to look at the gulls. Kev Jarvis and his colleague Mick Southcott, were there visiting the right side of the river for a change, and soon after Shaun Harvey turned up. This was not looking promising - as in we might actually find what we were looking for. The fog too wasn't helping as it began to clear, though a persistent drizzle did happen to dampen things one way or another. We gave it an hour and then thankfully Stu complained he had lost feeling in his feet. So we took this as an excuse to go to the centre for some coffee.
There was not much on the river, a flat and high and a weird milky colour, so we made good progress to the welcoming warmth of a cuppa, another Water Pipit and some Rockits on the way. News on our arrival of a single Waxwing touring the car park and nearby Purfleet. Oh yes! But it had not been seen for the last hour. Ah well. See I am calm.
Stu sneeks off to get a fleeting glimpse of it as I am buying a new tripod, and then its gone again. Still calm.
Coffee and a bite over one of the balcony stalwarts has got it again and the centre empties to get a look. And there it is #300 about a mile away in a tree with some Starling. Oh yes!
What the hell do I do now. My task is over as is my short lived elation. Not to say I haven't enjoyed every single minute of it, well I haven't. But most of it has been a great experience and fun. I had planned to go down to Devon one weekend and plough on with Cattle Egret, Lesser Yellow-legs and perhaps a Cirl Bunting on two, but now that seems a bit pointless. Though there is a yank Wigeon that would be a lifer, but its in Yorkshire and a bit of an arse to get to. I would like to go to Devon, but the money outlay would be hard to justify. I'll think on it.
Anyway it behoves me to thank all that made this feasible and helped rack up the numbers on the way and pushed me when I got a bit lazy. Jono, Tim, Steve, Dan, Stu, Tony, Paul and Bob from the patch. David Bradnum, Prof. Whiteman, Paul Hawkins, Martin Blow and Richard Cockerill for driving and their expertise and Yvette at work for having to patiently listen to the on-going tedium of the list and me going on about it without showing any signs boredom whatsoever. And the numerous people I've met around the UK who gave me lifts, local gen and the time to make the whole thing easier than it probably should have been. Finally also to Mr Garner for flushing a Barred Warbler from a wet field on Unst, and my brother for the lift to Grafham for the RR Swallow.
And anybody I've forgotten!
So back to wet Rainham. We tried to give it a go, and got as far as the target pools but quite frankly neither was really that inspired, just wet. And cold. The promise of warmth and dry feet too much.