"Have you looked at your pager recently?!"
So went the conversation between myself and Bradders at around 11:15 this morning. I think it ended with "Whatever you're doing, get in the car now!" So I did. Up until then I had been having quite a nice relaxed morning. Myself, Pudding and Pie were at Abberton Reservoir in Essex, and we had the Roy King hide to ourselves. The hide had been transformed into a field hospital for dollies, with me as the consultant trying to speculate on what ailments might be afflicting them, all the while trying to scope a very distant White-rumped Sandpiper on the island. I'd finally got the Sandpiper, after a few false starts, in with a small group of Dunlin and a Little Stint, and had been observing it for about 10 minutes, when my phone went off and the day went beserk. Tufted Puffin on the Swale at Oare Marshes. Holy Shit. I don't think I even knew what one really looked like. Could a bird from the Pacific North West really be in a muddy channel in Kent? Only one way to find out. We legged it out of the hide and back down the track. In the chaos Pudding dropped Baby Hat, which I then ran over with the buggy. Whereas in the hide we had never really got to the bottom of what was wrong with her, we now knew definitively...
To cut a long story short, Puffin schmuffin. We didn't see it, and neither did anyone else who wasn't there when it was found. The place was packed, and for a while my car was actually blocked in in the car-park as desperate twitchers abandoned vehicles just about anywhere in order to rush to the sea wall and look at some brown water for a bit. Still, at least I gave myself a chance, but the whole afternoon was rather fraught. This is what I hate about twitching - whether you get the bird or you don't, the feelings of angst and so on leading up to it are really irritating. It is supposed to be fun, but instead it turns into a hugely nerve-wracking and stressful experience, which is ludicrous. If it turns up tomorrow will I go for it? Possibly. I'd prefer to bird the patch though. If Kent can get a Tufted Puffin, Wanstead can get a Red-breasted Flycatcher or a Wryneck, either of which, for me, would knock some stubby black bird with a stupid orange beak into a cocked hat.