I've been waiting most of the week to get to Lakeside, and it's not often you can say that, especially at this time of year when it's full of pillocks (for those readers not from the Thames Estuary, Lakeside is an enormous and crappy retail park on the outskirts of London, highly 'Essex' in every way, including geographic location. I digress). Anyhow, neither the shopping opportunities nor the high-class clientele were the draw for me - instead it was a flock of Waxwings that had descended upon the fruiting shrubbery in the carpark of Costco, some kind of discount warehouse of awfulness. Arriving well before opening hours this morning, I was hoping to avoid the associated idiocy, only to find it in full swing around the Waxwings, with one of the most wonderful displays of twattery I've seen for a while. Can you tell I'm annoyed? I wait all week, work work work, and then my planned Waxwing photography extravaganza is ruined by some prize-chumpery.
I was going to post a photo of the gentleman in question, but on careful consideration it wouldn't be fair to publicly shame the short, fat, crass and clueless dickhead with glasses in the ill-fitting blue waistcoat who drove a small white car, who despite being politely asked to stay back so that the birds would come down from the trees and feed on the berries, continued to walk right up to every tree the beleagured birds flew to, pointing his camera directly skywards to take a series of what will be utterly pathetic, pitiful and 100% delete-worthy photos that my eight year old son would likely be ashamed of. So, whoever you are, I hate you, and when they finally flew off never to return, I cursed your lack of fieldcraft and your shite, under-exposed jpegs of Waxwing arses. I go back to work tomorrow, whereas you no doubt you will be at Lakeside again, wasting your shutter like there is no tomorrow. Hopefully it will break. Not that I've never flushed a bird in my over-eagerness to get a photo of it you understand, everyone has, but when there are a pile of people standing well behind you, telling you the current and likely future consequences of your actions, all of which soon came to pass, you would think that you might pay some heed. But no.
Glad I got that off my chest. For Christ's sake. Where can I go in this bloody country where I am not assailed by millions of people all intent on making my life as trying as possible? I can completely understand the mentality of people who get so pissed-off with 'birding' in the South-east that they sell up and fuck off to the Hebrides or wherever, and spit at any strangers they see. I can almost see eye-to-eye with that immensely unfriendly birder at Scatness (Shetland) who had a go at me a few years ago. Almost. Except he was a git of course. Not that I expected it to be just me and 24 Waxwings at Costco on a Sunday morning this close to Christmas, but it would have been nice..... I've posted the best I got in the few minutes I had before el-pricko marched up to the bushes and they all flew off into the trees and subsequently to Kent, but I could have done so much better. I was hoping to improve on my 2010 efforts in the same car-park, but it was a total failure on that score which I am finding remarkably hard to come to terms with.
Anyhow, ranting aside, I actually saw 36 Waxwings today. How so I hear you ask? Well, in a massively jammy and unjust episode for which I am very grateful, as I was putting the camera in the car this morning, some funny trilling caused me to look up..... 12 Waxwings flew straight down my street and over onto Wanstead Flats. As Chad du Clos would say, "unbelievable, to-tally unbelievable". I called Nick immediately. I got as far as saying "Wax....", and he said "11!".
"....wings!", I finished, "12!" He had been in the SSSI and had picked up on them flying south approximately on the line of Centre Road. What were the chances? Fabulous luck for both of us, especially me, as it was the first time I had poked my head out of doors all morning, and very peculiar that I was just off out to see exactly double that number of Waxwings being harried from pillar to post by a complete and utter.....