Before you ask, no I wasn't scooting around the country. Who do you take me for? I went only as far as Rainham. Whilst I was there, a Rustic Bunting - a world lifer for me - was found in Kent, probably under an hour away, and yet I was unmoved. I could have gone, I had the time, but I had already said I was not going to go anywhere today, and I amazed myself by sticking to that. Another reason, of course, is that I am not a twitcher.
There will be other Rustic Buntings, of that I am sure. So what were the three ticks? Well, they were all a very confiding Black Redstart at Rainham. A Rainham tick, an Essex tick, and an Essex year-tick. I'm not doing an Essex year-list as it happens, but had I been, this would have been #200. Not any kind of record, but a nice round number and a personal milestone. I spent about two hours with the Black Redstart, and with patience came really rather nice photographic opportunities. The Rustic Bunting news came through as the Black Redstart had approached to within about fifteen feet. Having worked to get that close, I wasn't going anywhere. It could have been a mega, I wouldn't have cared.
Black Redstarts, and possibly Common Redstarts even more so, are amongst my favourite birds. This one, a first winter or female, was working its way along the fenceline between the new hide and the targets, hopping down and feeding before hopping back up on the next post along. It was a matter of positioning myself along the route and waiting. Sometimes it swapped fences, and other times it just came straight towards me and carried on past. I was utterly absorbed. A pair of Stonechats provided some distraction when the Black Redstart was elsewhere, and I took close to five hundred photos before reluctantly heading for home. The only slight issue was the very poor light, but a highish ISO and some lifting in post-processing has made the final images perfectly acceptable, to my eyes at least. I am my harshest critic, of course.
The question I now find myself asking is how many Black Redstart photos is too many? Three? Four? Not sure, so I'll start with three, and a Stonechat for balance. Remember, you're not allowed to nab these, reverse them, and then claim them as your own. That would be very wrong. Unless your name is egdirbhteL. J of course, in which case it would be entirely legitimate. I was amazed to see that this had happened to Gavin Haig's photo of the American Robin the other day. He remained fairly calm, I'm not sure I would have managed it. Not that you can do a lot about it mind you - if the person is totally unreasonable they can just ignore you from afar and there is probably nothing you can do about it other than spit. In an ideal world, I'd quite like to make a living from photography rather than going back to working in a bank, but so far nobody has decided they want to pay me for my photos, though whether this is because they're not good enough as opposed to a quick "right-click and they're yours" is open to debate. So far I've not found any ripped off anywhere, but if I do......