Tuesday is my weekly early morning out on the patch. I didn't manage to get up at first light - my sodding pager ran out of battery at 5:11am, and started beeping. Even if you have it set on "silent", it beeps when the battery needs changing. Genius. And you can't just turn it off either, first you have to scroll through all the messages you have not yet read. Because it had been on silent, there were quite a few I hadn't noticed from yesterday evening. Enough that half-way through desperately pressing "M" it started beeping again for the low battery. I couldn't see enough to just pull the battery out, so was forced to continue until it was sure that I knew all I needed to know, and could be turned off. The design is, as they say, piss poor. I could have thrown the damn thing out of the window.
I stomped back to bed. Mrs L was very pleased, and awarded me some Brownie Points. We both managed to get back to sleep, but of course I then didn't manage to get up when I was supposed to. An hour of prime birding therefore went begging, lord only knows what I missed. I got another Snipe though, yay!
As it has been raining heavily non-stop for the past two days, the Flats were totally waterlogged. Vast puddles have appeared almost everywhere, the smallest depression or uneven ground and a pool has formed. Unfortunately none of them were heaving with Waders, though presumably an hour earlier I would have been fighting my way through hordes of Redshank and Lapwing. There were stacks of Gulls around though. AAaaaahhhh!!!!
On the way back home I picked up a distant bird flying south-east. As it came nearer, it became a Gull. A large Gull. It seemed very dark on the mantle. Could it be a Great Black-backed (semi-mega in Wanstead, and not seen in 2010 - so far)? I had a look at the bill as it hove vaguely into view, though still some way off - oh yes, chunky! And it also had those small white wingtips, mini-mirrors, much bigger than the tiny white patches adult Lessers have. Tick! I even managed to get a few photos, well, best call them record shots. I followed it though my binoculars all the way across the Flats, and as I did so, realised that it flew in a totally different way to all the other Gulls. It was almost like a Grey Heron, a lazy, languid, floppy flight, with very slow yet even wingbeats. Of course, it may just not have been in much of a hurry this morning, and so this isn't feature at all, but if the massive size, ginormous beak, dark mantle and small mirrored wing-tips all fail to make an impression on me in the future, it could make all the difference.