Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Last night I had a cunning thought. Another one. The fact that is was likely to fail was of no concern. A quick trip down to Rainham and bag a couple of geese, then slip across town and snap up a Dartford Warbler at Richmond, and if that went well... My imagination thought to include Beddington to hoover up an interesting gull, but failed to base any of its hopes on reality.
It all appeared to be going tits up soon after leaving Barking when the view from the train disappeared into a grey fluff. The grey fluff got worse by the time I got to the river wall just by the centre, with visibility down to about 20 yards. This might take some time.
I could see blue sky above me and occasionally something flew through: a flock of Lapwing with three Black-tailed Godwit. Deeper in the fog, I could hear the calls of Teal and Wigeon, piping of Redshank and the excited calls of finches at the feeders at the centre.
An hour past. At some points it looked like the fog was clearing only for it creep back again. Richmond was soon off. A Chiffchaff flitted along the path and disappeared into the cold, damp blanket. I was getting cold too so I decided to walk a bit further along the wall towards Aveley Bay. Two grey geese calling as the flew over the centre and towards Kent stopped me in my tracks. Arse! Probably the White-fronts.
A while later I could make out a boat on the river, then Kent and I could now feel a bit of warmth from the sun. I could even see birds on the reserve, all wrong-uns, but there was a gaggle of greylag way over on the back of flashes that defied a good view. Without too much optimism I felt I should check them out.
It was now time for a coffee and so headed back to the centre. In the distance I made out two familiar shapes that could only be Harry and Barry, and were. We were after the same thing, so while I went for a restorative hot mug, they made their way down the river wall.
By the time I got to the Butts hide there were no geese, where I had thought and very little else that was awake, bar a showy Stonechat. I was becoming more convinced that the birds had flown. Work then.
To the south of the hide a group of Greylag and Canadas were working their way down the fence line. I gave them one more shot. A small goose, partly hidden behind an ant hill caught my attention. It's head popped up. White blaze, get in! Tick #192 and I believe my first at Rainham, so double yay!
Tomorrow Richmond and the cunning plan part 2....