Before this week I had had two London ticks this year - Red-throated Diver and Green-winged Teal. This compares to eight last year, and seven the year before that, so perhaps about average, but it still feels a little slow. You can't keep on getting that many each year I suppose. Back in 2010 when I was chasing a London year-list, I went over to the Surrey heaths to try for Nightjar. I failed, needless to say, and I thought my chances were gone for good, until Nick and Stu went over last weekend and scored in exactly the same place. With the high pressure continuing, Bradders and I made plans to repeat the exercise mid-week. No point leaving too early, and so we waited for most of the rush hour to die away before heading round. We were still too early, so spent some time in a local hostellery whose clientele all seemed to have rats as pets. I commented on this at the bar, only to discover that one of these ratty little dogs actually belonged to the barman. Oops. No chance he was going to spit in my chips then. Or worse. Whatever did go into my food, I have survived it, and I'm happy to report that we also located a churring Nightjar, which then flew around our heads like some kind of weird puppet on a string. Fab views, and a great London bird to finally connect with, and possibly one that I might not have had too many future chances at. Once upon a time they were in Epping Forest, I suppose it's possible that with some habitat management (as is going on in Surrey) they could do again.
Also back in 2010 I travelled all the way over to Beddington for a Pectoral Sandpiper. Always a tricky location to get to from over here, and one that generally induces groans. Why couldn't it have been at Rainham I wondered at the time, like most of my good birds that year. Well Thursday and yesterday it was, and although I don't pursue it fanatically, I always like getting a new bird on this site list, which for me now sits at 188, which for a single site in London is pretty good - compare this to Wanstead where I'm sat at around 130. A brief dash yesterday saw me connect fairly easily, although I have to say it was a bit hazy to get a nice zoomed-up view.
And so to this weekend, with both the above bagged in the week, I found myself completely free. So free in fact that I headed out onto Wanstead Flats this morning, something I have not done since about May. Not a lot going on, as you would expect for the time of year, but I was out so early that there was only me and it was very nice indeed.