I spent this morning practising for Shetland by standing around in heavy rain and wind getting soaked through for the sake of some birds that are very slightly different from other birds. It was the kind of conditions that in normal circumstances I probably would have stayed at home, but a good dose of cabin fever yesterday and the prospect of an Essex tick dragged me out nonetheless. The four Parrot Crossbills at Gunner's Park showed superbly for those that could bear it, but sometimes I have to wonder what the hell we all do it for. Plenty of familiar faces - James L hiding under a tree, a semi-drowned Rich B, Harry and Barry (no Larry), and Kent Barry. The birds were in a pine no bigger than a Selfridge's Christmas Tree, and looking as damp and miserable as their admirers. Two males, and two females - probably, I only got a good look at one of these, the other remained mostly hidden. I subjected the camera to the elements but I probably shouldn't have bothered - a couple of record shots below. It's still drying out now and I've had to peel all the neoprene off to allow the moisture to escape, in other words a total pain in the backside for close to no reward.
Still, the photos are better than the ones I got of Yellow-browed Warbler at Cudmore Grove on East Mersea this afternoon, which I've posted below. Didn't take single one, but got lovely views of one of the birds, whilst the other remains a heard only. I've been wanting to see YBW in Essex for a long time - they've always eluded me, whereas Pallas's hasn't. Clearly that's the wrong way around, but they're both done now. Met Adrian, Tony and a couple of others and wandered around in circles for a few hours before finally connecting and getting decent views. Managed to dry out at the same time, so all is well that ends well, and I made it back to the car before it started up again. As I approached Southend again it appeared to be brightening up, and I mused briefly about going back and trying the Crossbills again, but quickly decided against it. I have things to do tonight, involving heading off to the Empire at Shepherd's Bush for what I hope will be a quality gig. I've been listening to "Same Trailer, Different Park" by Kacey Musgraves almost constantly since Bob Harris played her on Radio 2 a few months ago, and I still like it - so tonight is going to be ace.