Not sure if you can dip a bird that you didn't actually go and see, but it felt like dipping. I needed a break from London, and felt that Bobolink would make a nice addition to my British list. Happily enough, one was found in Glamorgan. The only way I could get there and back in time for the school pick-up was to leave in the dark on no news, a risky move. So rather than go the whole way, I strategically placed myself on the M4 corridor and awaited news.
The news was unfortunately negative, so I spent a bit of time dipping two Glossy Ibises, attempted some Red Kite photography near Stokenchurch, and finally ended up in Wanstead looking for the Wryneck again.
As I headed towards the Alexandra scrub I could see a few people milling around. Turned out they were all Wryneck dippers, and looking fairly miserable. Hadn't been seen for over an hour and a half. Oh dear. I cheered them up by finding it in approximately five minutes, and they all got good and prolonged views, and were most grateful. I felt rather smug, possibly looked it too if you can believe it, but then again I do spend a large amount of time on Wanstead Flats and know it rather well. On previous Wryneck searches in the larger area of scrub that it disappears into, I had noticed an excellent-looking feeding spot consisting of a couple of anthills in a hollow area of bramble. This was the first place I went to look, and there it was. I'm not sure who was more surprised, me or it? It flew up and sat inside an Elder bush, and I went and found the dippers, all of whom were still wandering disconsolately around the burnt patch of Broom where it had been in the morning.
And then it was time to pick up the kids, and my birding day was over. So, in summary, I woke up in the middle of the night and drove about 300 miles to see a Wryneck in Wanstead. An act of genius if ever I saw one.
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