We walked up and down the nice but muddy river bank for about an hour ony seeing Little Egret's, and there were a number of them. Their large relative was not to be seen. On the verge of giving up we spotted it flying out of a well proportioned garden, we call them parks down here. It flew towards the car and appeared to land close by. We hadn't realised how close by as we flushed from the bend of the river just by the car. Luckily it didn't go too far feeding on the meadow between the streams. My first outside Kent (apparently there could be up to 8 touring the Dungeness gravel pits and with luck a new breeding attempt will be made there this year).
Job done, the pipits had been reported so instead of breakfast we flog it down the road to the QM and to the adjacent Kingsmead Gravel pits were the pair had taken a liking to. From the gate viewing the puddly field it's not looking good, but as we scan the field a car pulls up to get on to the property. Nothing ventured and all, Bradders asks permission for a bit of a nosey. Permission granted, though they will have probably regretted the decision by now, we get on to the field for a thorough look. Again the best puddles are devoid of life bar a couple of Pied Wags. Not looking good there's only one place left to look on the reservoir side. We can see wagtails, and rounding a patch of weeds I spy two non wagtails in with them. They are our birds.
Now I know they went over my head calling a bit mipity and somewhat bunting like, but I didn't see where they went. Luckily after about five minutes I re-found them again nearer the gate. Now job done.
Next up a Pallas's Warbler down at Moor Green Lakes. This could slightly tricky or it could be a muddy cake walk. Again, nice place, great habbo - probably a bit too much nice habbo when looking for a particularly small warbler. Ticked off my first LGRE of the year.
The warbler had been showing well and indeed giving some nice photo ops. Not for us though. For an hour we trudged up and down the river, listening out for birds, any birds, but more especially Long-tailed Tit and Goldcrest with whom the warbler had been associating. Got the tits, got the crests, got the hump.
I wandered away from the main crowd to a patch with more evergreens in it that I thought more likely habitat. After a while Bradders joined me and shortly afterwards the bugger called. Right place, but one that was also particularly hard to see in to. A few lucky new arrivals got to hear it as it squeaked again, and I am pretty sure I had it in my bins several times as it pottered round the tops of the birches and pines, however there was a goldy there too, but then as the crowd gathered it dropped from the pine and disappeared.
We tried looking further afield to pick it up again, but we soon gave up when Jono arrived with Henry, after ticking Beardies, GWE and Buffs. We left them to it. Time a pressing and we were behind schedule. No shrike time, so off to Stains for a gathering of owls. A brief stop to get Goosander for Mr B's year list aspirations and its back towards London and tickable country for me.
Stains Moor was muddy, but then I've never known it otherwise. Got a second LGRE of the year, and shortly after a SOE. Then it dawned on me what was going on. Bradders wanted to go just a bit further. Psswp psswp. Water Pipit tick, and just a bit further, yack yack yack - Ring-necked Parakeet tick too. Really?
Luckily on the way back I got another London tick as a group of birders were on a hunting Barn Owl, which promptly stopped hunting and became a still Barn Owl.
Nice sunset, oh but man was it cold. Standing around on a sun free river bank had chilled me to my bones. Luckily the new bradder-mobile has a very good heating system. Worth every penny I'd say.