Saturday 4 December 2010

Rainham again

After a few light beverages with fellow London Birders last night, and a Test Match to listen to instead of sleeping, when my alarm went off this morning I was less than enthused about getting up to go birding. But get up I did, and most worthwhile it was too. Luckily Hawky was coming to pick me up, as there was no way I could have driven anywhere, and so at about half seven I found myself standing on the river wall at Rainham, in conditions that after the last few days can only be described as balmy. I began to feel much better immediately, must have been the sea air.

After a short while Robert de NiMo joined us, just missing three Goosander heading west. Luckily another two went east a short while later. Excellent birds for the site, and a patch tick for Hawky and I. Despite this early success, the river delivered nothing else. Visibility was excellent unfortunately - the forecast had been for poor - and the big thaw had started. As quickly as the good birds arrive when the freeze comes, as quickly they disappear when it thaws out.

Rainham was not quite done for the day though. As Paul, Marco J and I wandered along next to Wennnigton, Paul wondered if he had seen a female Yellowhammer. I'd just seen Reed Bunting in exactly the spot he was indicating, so dismissed this as pure fabrication, snow blindness. As we were getting scopes lined up on the bird in question, a bright yellow male Yellowhammer hopped out from cover....

Sorry about crap photo. Was too hung-over to operate real camera, this is digiscoped...

An absolute stunner, and another new site bird for me. The pair stuck around long enough for Dom and others to see them, but unfortunately a Lapland Bunting that he and Dave C found a short while later did not reciprocate. There were also six Corn Bunting on the saltings, so a rather good day for Buntings on the reserve. Just need a Snow Bunting now, and with one at Beddington yesterday, there is every chance.

So with about four weeks to go until the end of the year, my London year-list effort stands at 204, with a perhaps a couple more to eke out. Rainham stands at 158, again with some winter birds still to come, and Wanstead is firmly in last place with 108. All is as it should be. Speaking to a few of the London birders last night, it appears that to their knowledge, only two other people have got to 200 in a year, so Dom and I have done very well. You can't see everything, you'll always miss birds due to real life taking precedence, so it needs to be a good bird-filled year, but seemingly the biggest barrier to success is getting fed up with it in about August. When I look back at the birds I've seen in London this year, the quality shines out. No doubt, it has been a great year. Almost done now, and I'm looking forward to having a rest in 2011. The best thing that could happen would be getting a job...

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