It feels like it’s barely got light this weekend, so pictures have been hard to come by. The best one isn’t exactly a mega rarity (or even a mega photo), but a smart little bird nonetheless:
Saturday was spent twitching down to Devon, for a certain American visitor and some local specialities, depicted very badly thus:
Today I was back to local birding. First, I checked out the redpoll flock in Thorndon Country Park, hoping for something white and fluffy. Sadly, it was not to be, though the flock was well over 100 birds and contained at least 5 Mealies. Although redpoll taxonomy and ID is a bit of a minefield, I rather like them (perhaps because they’re so scarce nowadays) and enjoyed spending a couple of hours searching through the mobile flocks. With a handful of Coue’s Arctics in the country, and a flock of 1000+ redpolls reported in Scotland yesterday it appears that birds are arriving in numbers this year, so I’ll try to return to the site and have another look soon.
By the time I’d reached Rainham, the rain had really set in, so the camera didn’t even leave the car. A Jack Snipe was good value bouncing away in front of the Ken Barrett hide, but after re-identifying someone’s Water Rail as a female Teal (yes, really) I decided it was time to move on…
Continuing on away from the centre, the visitor numbers tailed off and the weather worsened. Perhaps bizarrely, I enjoyed this even more: I had the new hide to myself (largely trying to find a Green-winged Teal to wind Hawky up!), and on the walk back I could really appreciate the range of outdoor gear I’ve built up. Waterproof jacket, trousers and boots have cost a pound or two in the last few years, but in foul conditions I was warm, dry and comfortable thanks to Ventile, eVent and Goretex. Similarly, with decent quality waterproof optics you don’t have to worry about getting soaked and can just carry on whatever the elements throw at you. I could completely forget about life and work outside birding, and just relax – this is what the hobby is all about, rain or shine!