Monday, 17 June 2013

Rainham and Trimley: not a shabby weekend

News of a Wood Sandpiper at Rainham on Friday meant a Pointless London Listing possibility; they have been scarce this spring and the chances are this is a returning bird already! News of Caspian Gulls on the tip also, meant I would have to take another fruitless wander round by the Concrete Barges.  Half an hour of that and I was already well within gull fatigue guidelines, so I gave up. One interesting very pale/white non-adult, probably Herring Gull, was all I could muster before tedium took over.  One summer plumaged Dunlin in the bay held out hope for some wader activity on the shore line so I walked the river path.  Windy.

The Dunlin was a false promise and the wind annoying so as soon as I could I flipped on to the leeward side of the sea wall.  A male Marsh Harrier was hunting over the dragonfly pool but soon disappeared.  Then checking the twitter feed: depression: Pacific Swift Trimley.  That'll go I mused to console myself. I texted Bob and Tim on the off-chance one was interested and had a car.  Neither did, and with my drivers owling it in Finland it would mean getting back into London and then a train out to Ipswich and then Trimley. I estimated about 3-4 hours, no way the Swift would still be there.

When I left the centre the weather turned decidedly shitty and seeking shelter I met up with Howard and his 2 person walk and a group of volunteers all with the same idea.  As the rain ceased news came through of a Spotted Redshank on the flash.  Need that!  I ventured out and arriving at the platform I was guided on to the bird, nearly in it’s summer best, as it fed along the reed fringe. Picked up the Wood Sandpiper minutes later working a channel then the rain came down again.  With it came 3 Avocet also trying to find some shelter from the gusty, wind blown rain. Two good birds for London and my first, almost sum plum Spotshank.  My euphoria only somewhat tarnished by continuing news of the Swift showing well over Trimley  Ah well, if its there tomorrow… ha! As if!

Sunday and I got up decently early to do the patch and be, just incase, in a good position to launch for Trimley on positive news.  The park has been the best bet for good birds of late and when news did come through I was at the Shoulder of Mutton enjoying the lonely Reed Warbler. So not ideally placed to get back to the station, I ummed and aahed but found myself walking back across the flats.  How did that happen?
The journey was a nightmare, being Sunday and news of a Red-necked Phalarope at Vange didn’t make it easier.  I’ll get that on the way back. It flew.

Four hours later and I am off the train at Trimley with the only other passenger to alight, a birder called Helen from Norwich.  Met Dom Mitchell on the way down, and then a little later Marco, both happy with their views of the still present Swift.  On arrival a happy Monkey came wandering down the path.  He had the bird over his head; a good omen.   

It soon became apparent that I should have brought my scope, but I had baulked at the idea of traipsing round Wanstead with the extra bulk just on the slim chance this bird would still be here.  Big bins are fine but with masses of Swift in the sky I couldn’t pick up any colours in the middling light.  My best bet was to get birds flying below the tree line. After about an hour I picked up a white arse on a hurtling Swift.  Then it was gone.  A couple of more times I got people into the general area of this white arse, and amazingly a few got it.  A single House Martin wasn’t helping. By now it felt like I had been doing a work out in the gym.  So I had a look around.  Another sum plum Spotshank feeding on the pools, a Black-tailed Godwit and some feeding Avocet (no sign of chicks).  A lone male Pintail was on another pool and a couple of Marsh Harrier quartered the reeds towards the distant woods. 

Scanning the rising Swift multitude I picked up a Common Buzzard thermaling over the water tower and then a much paler smaller raptor above it.  Thin winged and obviously a male Harrier I called it out in the hope one of my colleagues could scope it.  Looked good for a Montagu, strangely all were pre-occupied.  I later got confirmation from one of the locals that it was a Monty.  Sweet!

Back to the Swift then.  Long periods of scanning with nothing.  Then a guy picked it up over the water tower and called out its movements.  I got on it, but again I could get no colour of it.  Great.  Finally the sun broke through and the birds began to take on colour.  Again someone spotted it over a lone Oak and finally I got unbroken views for about a minute.  That was a as good as it got.  So after five hours of weight lifting I decided to go ad take some pictures of static birds and then head for the station.
On the way back met up with some birders from Yorkshire who had been standing by me in the line.  Nice bunch of lads we chatted about patches on the way back, picking up a singing Nightingale and a rather smart Yellow Wagtail on the way.  

All the time a steady stream of hopefuls came towards us.  The main gripe – Father’s Day.  Their day to do what they want and yet having to what had been organized for them.  One poor guy in the line had to leave before seeing the bird because of these family commitments.

The bird was not reported after I left so a lot of disappointed people I would guess. Lee GRE estimated a turnout of 2,500 + people and since I know of only 3 people who came by train, a huge amount of carbon released by friends of the environment.  Smug, moi? 

No comments:

Post a Comment