Tuesday 23 March 2010

150, with style

After various medical appointments yesterday morning, I was pulling out of the nursery at around 10am when the pager bleeped ALPINE SWIFT at the Hollow Ponds - Leyton Flats, literally about 45 seconds drive away. I made it in 30....

The message related to a sighting about half an hour previously, but I went anyway. No sign, and no birders. I felt sure it was probably the fine work of Gary, and sure enough he turned up shortly afterwards, having been without a phone. Old school, he had dashed to a mate's house to get the news out, but the bird had disappeared in the interim. Gradually more melba twitchers turned up, but an hour and twenty-eight minutes later there had still been no sign, so I left to check a few other local areas. Can you see where this is leading? I am nothing if not dependable. An hour and a half after the first sighting, and two minutes after I had departed, the Swift returned. I turned around and raced back, and was met with a sea of smiling birders, all of course bemoaning my bad fortune, and certainly not crowing. I always do this, I am an idiot. I crack after a certain amount of time stood around doing diddly squat, and rush off to look for the bird. Everybody knows that the best chance of seeing a rare bird is to stand around and have a bit of a chat, upon which it invariably turns up. And if I leave a site, it will definitely turn up. I nonchalantly pretended it was all part and parcel of birding and I wasn't fussed, but I'm sure they saw through me. I was of course seething, having likely missed a London mega through sheer impatience.

An hour later, Pudding needed a banana. We headed to the banana storage vehicle in company with Lol, he of Dusky Warbler fame. As we strolled along, I picked up the Swift coming in over Whipps Cross Hospital. It gave us a showy 45 seconds, and then disappeared, never to be seen again. My 150th species in London this year.

All's well that ends well. The camera was with the bananas.

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