Wednesday 8 February 2012

Patch Tick! Yes, again.

Steve is a relative newcomer to the patch, and to birding in general. This means he is far more diligent than the rest of us when it comes to taking his time and observing things carefully. When he tells you he's seen something, it is wise to listen. I got a call from him this afternoon, and it went something like this:

Steve: "Oh hi Jono, I've got a funny Grebe on the Roding."

Me: "Oh, right."

Steve: "Yeah, it's not a Little Grebe, it's basically grey and white. Got quite a lot of white in the wing. A bit of white in the face."

Me: "Errr, hmmm. Does it have longish neck?"

Steve: "No."

Me: "Errr, does it have a black crown?"

Steve: "No the head is brown. It's about the size of a Teal."

Me (beginning to panic): "The only thing I can think of is Red-necked Grebe, but what would one of those be doing on the Roding?"

Steve: "It's quite wary, I tried to get a bit closer and it swam off."

Me (panic stations) "Is it still there?"

Steve: "Yes"

Me (Gaaaaaaah!!!!!!!!!): "I'm on my way."

Charged around the house trying to gather the necessary like coat, bins and camera, and in the process mislaid my phone. Spent a frantic five minutes trying to find it before relocating it in my pocket. Genius. Finally out of the house I drove down to the Old Sewage Works, commando-rolled out of the car, and then ran across to the sluice and Steve, who encouragingly had his binoculars trained upriver. Pausing to stuff my lung back inside my chest, I asked if it was still there. He nodded and pointed. And the next minute I was looking at a redhead Smew. Gobsmacked - another prediction bagged, and Steve is officially now a super-hero. What a year 2012 is turning out to be, I've had three patch ticks in four days now! The bird stuck fairly close to the bank, and was regularly catching very small silvery fish. After congratulating Steve once again - he awarded it 9 points on his scale that usually goes up to 3 - I texted out the happy news to a number of unhappy local patch-workers, all of whom were at work a long way away. We're not competing you understand -  Nick always wins anyway - but I felt it best they know straight away, and promised them photos... Hopefully it will depart in the night like the area enough to stick around for a few days and let the others catch up with it.


  1. I can relate to this post as I'm quite into my patch at Holmethorpe in land-locked Surrey at the moment. It's been a great week with a Curlew over the weekend, numerous Dunlin, plenty of Smew (four seen today), up to four Pintail, a Goldeneye, a Water Rail, a couple of Little Egret and then a Med Gull today. Doesn't get much better. Let's hope the snow comes back!

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  4. looks like nick is taking it rather hard then? amayzing stuff! long may the run continue (he said grudgingly!)

  5. I congratulate you but at the same time I also feel the urge to bring several large noisy dogs to your patch, and a remote controlled plane.