Today was all about a nice little drive to Suffolk via Peterborough, easily the best route. With the best will in world it was a long shot that the Rock Thrush would stay to be my 400th UK tick, and so it proved. After and hour or so kicking back in some services off the M1, and the dreaded but not entirely unexpected "negative news" message, Rich B, Nick and I decided to cut our losses and head off to Landguard where the Subalpine Warbler from the previous day was still present. Except that yesterday after I had gone to sleep it was upgraded to the eastern race, which could well be an armchair tick for me in the future. I know nothing about these things, but it was showing down to about three feet, so who cares?
On site the paparazzi were massed - again, not entirely unexpected. The bird was a dream, one of the really good ones that care not a jot about people. Practically flew through peoples' legs in fact, so it was no surprise that the usual crap about getting too close was trotted out by those without cameras. Bird photographers can be right idiots of course, as can birders, but I'm continually amazed by the propensity of some people to essentially cry wolf the minute a long lens comes out. Naturally I ignored the moaning and got on with it, as did everyone else. To those who felt we got too close, frankly you'll never be happy and the sooner you move out of the south of England and to somewhere remote where you're the only one there, the better. Seriously, this is twitchland, just accept that a lot of birders have cameras and get on with it. By all means have a go if you see a complete twerp behaving poorly, but on those occasions where it is abundantly clear that the bird is under no stress whatsoever, just accept it and say nothing. Unless of course you're not really concerned with the welfare of the bird at all, but rather your own personal enjoyment of the bird, which if you ask me is actually the source of most of the agro. Whichever, don't attempt to make me feel like a bad person for the way I enjoy a bird. Rant over, and on to the results of my incredibly poor fieldcraft and continual flushing of an exhausted and near-to-death migrant.
Tiring of the bullshit, we wandered towards the point in search of other migrants. A Ring Ouzel was hiding in some brambles, so we continued on to the common, where at least 15 Wheatears, part of the same fall that brought the Subalp in, were still hanging around. Oddly enough nobody moaned when I crawled right up to one, seems it's only rare birds that deserve being protected from bloody photographers. Yes, I am annoyed. Annoyed as I knew exactly what it would be like before I even got there and it was 100% true to that vision. You might say that there's no smoke without fire, and clearly I am massively biased, but nonetheless it's a sad indictment on twitching down south. The Hebs are far better.
In other news, Rich's Green-winged Teal had relocated to Rainham, so he was of course enormously interested in seeing it there too, as was I, but first we called in at a Ring-necked Duck at Chigborough Lakes. Quite a rare bird in Essex I would imagine, and certainly a new county bird for me, as was the Teal. Neither proved obliging for the camera, but the RN Duck, a female, was really smart. So a pretty twitchy day with a fair few unnecessary miles, but all good fun, and things could have been very different. Next time. Cheers to Mr B for the driving and the early pick-up, a good little jaunt.