Wednesday, 26 March 2014


After the exertions of February, March has been a very quiet affair. This has been a relief, yet rather disappointing. It's always a quiet month, and perhaps contains fewer lifers than any other. My memory is not what it was, but it seems that Bonaparte's Gull, Short-toed Treecreeper, Snow Goose, Lesser Kestrel and Harlequin Duck are the only ticks I've ever had in March. February by contrast has fifteen, three times as many. With last month yielding four new birds, it was inevitable that March would disappoint I suppose, and in a way, though dull, it's for the best as I've been run off my feet and had millions of ticks been available there would have been little I could have done about any of them. Which would have annoyed me, so instead I get to be annoyed about there not having been any. Twitching is a really sensible hobby.

So, like many birders during the calm before the (hoped for) storm, I've been concentrating on the patch, adding several Wheatears, Tawny Owl, Little Egret and Kingfisher. The former was of course very keenly anticipated, but that's over for another year now, and we're back to regular migrant patrol and being disappointed on a regular basis before going to work. It goes without saying that my patch list is way behind any previous year. Shucks. 

Instead I've been amusing myself by trying to sort out what photo I've taken in each month this year that I reckon is the best for that month, and it is taking bloody ages! This can only be a good sign, even if they are all from Morocco. March has in this regard also been disappointing, with very few keepers. One final weekend in which to do some damage.....

Monday, 24 March 2014

Plain nasty

It isn't often I categorise people as plain nasty. Idle, yes. Stupid, yes. Highly cretinous, sometimes. But just nasty? Rarely, but this is the only description for some truly lovely people who chose to drive their caravans onto Wanstead Flats on Sunday afternoon. Their behaviour towards their fellow man (me) was so objectionable it beggars belief.

I was on a walk with the kids, otherwise known as Mission Wheatear. Successful, and returning towards home, we were forced to walk right past where the convoy of Irish travellers had just parked up, presumably having chopped the lock off the access gate on Centre Road.  I had thought that they might leave a guy with his children alone, being family people themselves. Unfortunately I had my camera with me, and that's where it all started to go wrong, and, as I now know, these people have different social values to me, and the presence of children is of no significance whatsoever. Theirs included.

As we walked home, one of them accosted me, demanded my binoculars. Right. Then wanted my camera. With children clutching at me, I politely declined, said I was out for a walk and was off home now. But you can afford to buy a new camera. Very true, but not relevant, so I refused again. By now there was a little more interest, and so the next thing I know a green Transit van was driving alongside me. Show me your camera. I want to see the last five photos you've taken. No. Though here's one of them if any readers are interested. 

Hope to get closer as the season progresses.....
I kept walking, kids keeping close. This is my land now, came the menacing voice from the van still slowly driving alongside. Sure. Give me that camera or I'll drive over the lot of yous. A new low to intimidate and threaten a man and his three small children. The amazing thing about this is that his own family was in the van with him, there was definitely a woman in the passenger seat. In all the excitement I don't recall if there were children in it or not, but if there were, what hope have they got? But what a way to behave, who the hell do these people think they are to threaten a person and his kids, one of whom by now was crying. I have never met a person like this, well, maybe those four muggers a few years back, but that was a different social situation. I'd love to know what rights I have as the person on the end of this threatening behaviour. None, probably.

When I got home (all in one piece, and with a camera - people should know that will be the last thing I ever give up), I looked up two things. Firstly, the number for the City of London Police, who got a call straight away, and secondly, the procedure on how to move Travellers off sites that they have illegally occupied. I should have guessed it, but the first internet hits were all about the rights of Travellers and how they could play the law to resist leaving.  Amazing. I am not saying these people should not have rights, but equally, I don't feel that the driver of that particular van deserves a whole lot of legal protection. If there are any people with legal knowledge reading, I would love to know what my rights are when a man in a van, driving off the road and on a public open space, threatens to run me and my family over. Can he be prosecuted for threatening violence against minors? Against a six year old? I'd love to know as I am fuming. How dare he. How dare he frighten my children close to their own home, on the very playing field that they learned to ride their bikes on. 

So, genuinely horrible. Plain nasty. I wonder what would have happened had I been on my own? Would I still have my camera? Maybe not. Anyway, I'm not happy, as you can probably tell. As I enter my fourth decade on this planet, the observed behaviour of my fellow citizens has hit a new low. As has been noted on this blog before, I sometimes come across as less than sympathetic to unfortunate people. In this instance, you can think what you like, as these particular people are scum and this is truly what I think. Vile, deplorable and indefensible. I feel sorry for their children, but how dare they threaten mine.

The postscript to this event is that the Met turned up that same afternoon and turfed them off, and they only left behind a small amount of rubbish, rather than the immense piles of rubble and mattresses that might have started to appear after a few days. Is it any wonder Travellers are ostracised if this is how they behave towards people? There is a whole lot to possibly explore here, about what has led to the current situation, what the options are that are fair for everyone. But I am in no mood to do so. Any credibility these groups may have has evaporated as far as I am concerned. Outraged of Wanstead? That's me. 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Key Date

March 15th - March 20th - March 30th - March 16th - March 23rd - March 20th

I am sure you can see where this post is headed. Inevitable, sorry. The dates above are the Wheatear arrival dates on Wanstead Flats for the last six years, and the final date is yesterday's. Which means I've seen a Wheatear! I've been finding it a massive struggle to get up in the morning, but knowing that it's absolutely prime time has been a great motivator. Days of nothing seemed to go by, but finally on Thursday morning all those mornings of trudgery paid off when Tim found the first one. I was mere yards away and soon relocated it on one of the cut areas. A spanking male! Bob vectored in on it pretty quickly, and Marco too. Nick, alas, was at work, as was Dan, but I'm sure they'll pop out at the weekend and give it a good bash.

A glorious bird, fresh in and looking absolutely pukka and full of the joys of spring. It was somewhat flighty, nervous no doubt of the high crime rates in East London, but I was on the way to work and thus had no camera so it mattered not. Great views of the bird as it sat, just like its predecessor's, on a barrage balloon hitch, or perched on a tussock.  It has started, and I'm very happy. At last. Work has been typically manic, but seeing this African wanderer before I got to my desk that morning was very special. The first one is always a joy, the experience I look forward to each year perhaps more than any other. I've probably mentioned that before, and this year was no different. Simply brilliant, and the small group of us lapped it up. May there be many more.

This is my favourite photo of a Wheatear from Wanstead Flats. Hoping to do something similar at the weekend!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014


What a fabulous weekend. Wanstead Flats overflowing with migrants, and then two amazing afternoons of top-quality music at the O2 in Greenwich. I'm only lying about one of these things, and it being mid-March you might think I would be talking about the latter. Especially when I tell you it was a country music festival, Nashville-on-Thames. But no, Wanstead Flats had no migrants whatsoever, bar a Chiffchaff that has probably been here all along but only just started singing. It was pretty rubbish on both mornings, all the good singing started around 4pm.

For those of you that don't know, I'm a big fan of country music. This is less dominated by twangy banjos these days, but there are still a lot of songs about love, cold beer, and trucks. Generally a love of cold beer and trucks, though possibly of high school sweethearts too. Frankly it's an ideal complement to my other cool hobby of birdwatching, and makes me the all-round "hey, I wanna be that guy" guy. Not. But I don't care, I absolutely love it, as those who have been on long-distance twitches with me driving will know. The Country2Country festival (such a great title, so much hidden meaning...) is becoming an annual event, and takes place over an entire weekend. There is now sufficient demand for this genre that they're able to fill the O2, and what was almost a sell-out last year was a definite sell-out this time around. Last year I only went to one of the days, and saw amongst others two massive names, Vince Gill and Tim McGraw (look 'em up!), but this year I went the whole hog and was there both days. The line ups were Martina McBride, Dierks Bentley, The Dixie Chicks, and the Zac Brown Band, followed on Sunday by Chris Young, The Band Perry, Rascal Flatts, and finally Brad Paisley. Just so people can understand quite how popular they are, I did a protracted search on the wikipedia, and between them these eight artists have won 20 Grammy awards, and sold a massive 83 million albums (and that's just in the US), 29 of which went platinum (or multi-so), with a further 10 gold. This is big, big stuff. Dixie Chicks album Wide Open Spaces sold 12 million copies. That's more than Automatic for the People. More than Back to Black. More than Harvest. More than The Lion King soundtrack.

Getting ready

Lots of this. NO shame.
It was of course fabulous, with the Dixie Chicks, Rascal Flatts and Dierks Bentley being particular highlights. The Zac Brown Band, possibly my favourite group at the minute, were excellent but I didn't think as good as when at the Shepherd's Bush Empire last year, and Brad Paisley, like Tim McGraw (40 million albums, 20 Grammys...), was a superstar and exemplary showman. Cowboy boots and wide-brimmed hats were of course in abundance, though not on me. I draw the line at a truckers cap, I have no need to look (more) like a tit. Anyhow, something like ten hours of live music over two afternoons/evenings, and a brilliant atmosphere. If they can keep it going I'll be there every year. Whilst I prefer the smaller venues for sure, the convenience of multiple acts one after the other with much reduced "per band" rates is an excellent idea, and one I hope continues. 

Pretty much a perfect weekend as far as I was concerned, let down only by a distinct lack of Wheatears. Partial redemption on the way back from the Sunday gig with calling Tawny Owl as I walked home from the bus. When I got home I ordered eight new CDs. Twitchers beware.

Yes, some brainwashing did occur....

Thursday, 13 March 2014

I'm with stupid

Mild panic this morning, as various people retweeted news of a Savannah Sparrow on the south coast. Photos appeared of the bird on a fence, and the location was revealed. I imagine various peoples' plans changed. Not me, work first, birds second, but I watched the whole thing develop from the comfort of my desk, checking messages between meetings. Naturally a pile of people had dropped everything and rushed to Sussex - highly mega, three records, quite understandable that real life be put on hold.

But wait, what's this? By lunchtime it was revealed as a hoax! No bird, just string. Oh dear oh dear. Apparently the "finder" turned up and triumphantly showed people the fence, but unfortunately had misjudged quite how unbelievably sad savvy twitchers are and it was the wrong type of barbed wire. Yes, I know what you're thinking. But apparently the barbed wire in the UK has four sharp bits, and the barbed wire in the USA has only two. Oh yeah baby! Mr. String beat a hasty retreat, and his name is now mud. People on the internet are talking about suing him. Yes, I'm aware that it is only a bird. A class action apparently. This says more about UK twitchers than it does about the stringer.

So, another pillock desperately seeking attention is found out, and remarkably quickly. I ask you this though. If you made up a bird, would you then go to the "site" and start trying to find the bird? Perhaps being in the thick of it was exactly the thrill that had been sought, but honestly. What a pathetic saga. Why would you do such a thing? Is it actually funny? Maybe it is, as when I found out I couldn't help but smile at the thought of the equally desperate twitchers who had skived off work, jumped in their cars, and driven to Lancing for a figment of someone's imagination. Un-lucky!! Of course it's much more serious than that. They have wasted precious time. Precious brownie points. And fuel! And imagine if they had put money (20p) in a collection bucket! Ticking birds off is important - I should know. So when people get all excited about ticking another one off and then it turns out to be, heaven forbid, a lie (!), well that's just criminal isn't it?

Personally I'm pleased the whole thing was a crock of shite, as in addition to a bit of amusement on a dull Thursday morning, this weekend is a bit of no-go as far as mega twitches go. There is a massive country music festival at the O2 in London, and that is far more interesting and important to me than a small streaky bird on a bit of obviously incorrect wire. 

I saw this funny bird yesterday at Canary Wharf, which has no history of string whatsoever. At first I thought that it was a Blue Tit, as it has a lot of a blue in it, but now I am not sure. Can any birders identify it for me? I will be there in the morning to hopefully try and refind it. And by the way, the sky is precisely the right shade of blue for the meridian line in March, so don't bother going down that route. If you can identify the berry, I give up.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Once again.....

Once again the Birding Gods shit on me from a great height. I am entirely used to this, though it never ceases to irritate the hell out of me. So, a good two hours on the Flats this morning, meeting up with Nick and then Dan. A lovely morning, but bar a few movements of Chaffinch and Redwing, nothing doing. Leaving Dan to go and release rare Waders in the park, Nick and I strolled over to Alex seeing not a great deal. The routine here is that Nick escorts me off the patch so that I can catch a train to work, and then goes off and finds something good. It happens so frequently that it is an "in joke" between us. I find the humour to be waning......

Naturally it happened again. I was on the platform at Manor Park when the good news came through. Rook. A patch mega, annual at best, and a monster grip back for Crofty. It had been no more than five minutes. Now I don't need Rook fortunately, but in the unofficial Wanstead listing stakes Rook is a very valuable bird indeed. Of course, had I been with Nick still, the grip back would have occurred anyway, but that is not the point. The point is that if I had still been with Nick he wouldn't have seen anything. He only finds rare birds if I have just left the patch. I'm kind of the opposite of a lucky charm, which explains why he is always so keen to make sure I get to work on time. Black Redstart, Little Owl, Tree PipitKittiwake, the list goes on just about forever. And now Rook. Only a year-tick, and since Nick always wins the patch year-list competition anyway, not a massive deal, but it is the principle of it. I work it hard (occasionally), find nothing (almost all of the time), and then a nanosecond after I leave for the salt mines, boom (dead cert).

In other news, I am about to buy some mugs. Never say that this blog goes off on tangents. I bought Mrs L a Little Miss Scatterbrain mug about a year ago, and have now decided that all of the family should have one. She guessed the one I would buy Muffin immediately, but took three guesses for me. Her first guess was Mr. Dictator. As if! I mean Mr. Dictator doesn't even exist!!! Durrr! Her second guess was Mr. Shouty. Yeah right. He doesn't exist either, poor Mr. Men knowledge or what?! 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Nul points

I am officially informed that my Brownie Point total for today is zero. Why? Because I missed seeing the kids play cricket as I was stuck in a traffic jam going to the dump. Natch. So after all that effort, I have netted a big fat zero. Sky-watching also netted me a big fat zero, but I cannot say that I have had a bad day, as for most of it I have been sat in warm sunshine consuming wine in shirt sleeves. This is all I really require to be happy. 

The light was lovely this morning

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Earning Brownie Points

Ah BPs, that essential commodity for the married birder. So hard to gain, incredibly easy to burn, and often particularly short-lived, disappearing before your very eyes seemingly without having been spent. Winter is usually the best earning period, and it's important to build up a decent stock before the onset of Spring. There is no fixed exchange rate. For instance useful tasks performed just after a very hectic birding period often earn nothing at first, so deep in the red are you, and only after a while does the counter start ticking. It may initially advance quite rapidly, even perhaps going into the black, as even the slightest of efforts is frankly amazing after such a long period of shame. But conversely, just as you think you can do no wrong and might be gaining a really solid platform, so the rate of accumulation drops, and you have to do ever more to stay level. In other words it's a mystery only understood by one significant person. The woman in your life. Now of course many birders don't have this problem, or not any more at any rate, and so the need to earn BPs is either non-existent, or but a distant hazy memory. How I envy them.

BPs in Chateau L, whilst not at an all time low, are not currently well positioned for migration at all. The end of last year was one hectic twitch after another, with five new (and distant) birds in four weeks. I've since been to Morocco twice, spent a weekend birding followed by a week working in Scotland, and also been to County Durham, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, and twice to Kent. When not travelling the length and breadth of the land, I've been working all hours, and thus my contributions to daily life within le manoir have been somewhat minimal. So today, bar a short outing to the patch, I very sensibly stayed at home and did nice things with the family like playing scrabble and sky-watching (Peregrine and Buzzard - kerching!). Tomorrow my plans are exactly the same (though they hope to include Red Kite) and thus I hope that the BP counter may advance slightly. I might go to the dump, which is an easy run. Mind you I have a quick trip to Cyprus coming up that will undoubtedly burn any I get from this weekend and a few more besides. Perhaps I need to pack Mrs L off to Belgium quickly?

Frankly I had hoped that by this stage in the year I would be in better shape, but it has been rather busy. I am not complaining though, with four ticks in eight days during February, and the exciting periods of the year yet to come, I don't really care how many BPs it has cost! Not only that though, but this included yet another two-tick day with the Duck and the Gull. Every time I have one I say I'll probably never have one again but they seem to keep on coming. I have not done any real research into list progression, but it doesn't seem to be slowing down quite as I thought it might. The chances of ever having a positive BP balance ever again are therefore looking remote.

Friday, 7 March 2014

World Book Day

I have not mentioned them a great deal of late, but I do still have a family! Yesterday was World Book Day, and it's a pretty big deal at school, teachers dressed up too, with a competition and prizes, and generally just a lot of fun. When I say competition, what of course I mean is intense competition between the mums as to which of them can make the best costume. Mrs L has therefore been slaving away for what feels like months, and my place at the dining table has been taken up by a sewing machine since about January. The results are below, with Toad of Toad Hall, Emerald Star, and Hermione Granger all kitted out and ready to go. To cut a long story short, we didn't win (Booooo!), but at least we didn't take the cop-out route taken by many parents and send our children as Ariel from the Little Mermaid or Storm Troopers, of which there were legion, ha ha.

I really enjoy taking photos of the kids, and whereas usually they view it as chore, yesterday they were more than happy to pose. In the keeping of the Victorian setting of Hetty Feather's adventures, I've processed the final photo in a 'vintage' style, which I think works quite well. I can't believe how big they all are now - I've been blogging about them since 2009, and my youngest has gone from a baby to a six year old - wow! Would that I could go back to being a full-time house husband - I look back at that period with great fondness, and I'd do it again in an instant. Especially as they're now all at school and spring is about to start...

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Final Reckoning, and Gulls are dull.

Recently I had a little bit of fun to celebrate my trio of mega[-boring] ticks, by running an online poll as to which was the least interesting of the three. The results were both surprising and confirmatory. Surprising that 61 people actually responded, but confirming everything that we always knew. Gulls are crap. This is bound to provoke a response, but the final and un-rigged (Seppy) results were:

American Coot 19 (31%)
American Black Duck 14 (22%)
American Herring Gull 28 (45%)

Even with the two percent carelessly discarded by Google, the Gull is streets ahead. Well, behind. Gulls divide opinion like no other bird. The die-hards, mentioning no names Mick, absolutely love them, sometimes to the exclusion of anything else. Larophiles, as they're known, can be fairly impressive in terms of their knowledge of which bit of a Gull is which (head, beak, wing etc), but they are far outnumbered by the larophobes. People like me. Normal people. People who are mildly scared of Gulls, particularly when it comes to identifying them. I actually know a little bit more than I let on, though the Gulls are probably still winning. But I can't say I love them, or even enjoy them. Especially as they contain a lot of white, the enemy of all digital photographers. Happily I've not got many left to see in this country, four if my maths are correct, so almost done, and then I need not ever look at one again. Hurrah!! But they are a challenge...

Had I voted, I'd have gone for the Coot as being the most abject. A horrible bird, almost identical to a normal Coot. Utter dross. Right in the middle would be the Mallard Black Duck. A bird I would never ordinarily have traveled any distance to see, but seeing as it was there and I was relatively nearby, I thought why not - the weekend was basically all about ticks. And of course this therefore means that I found the Gull the most "interesting". This is not the vote of a larophile, it merely reflects the pitiful company in which it found itself. It was hard work, which is effectively what placed it last in the dull stakes. But definitely not first in the interesting stake, and that's a key difference. I had to work at it, which I didn't really have to for the other to - there were no confusion birds present for the Coot or the Duck. There were thousands for the Gull though, and picking it out was the stuff of nightmares, even when I knew what field it was in. People are saying it's obvious, I beg to disagree! Head tucked in it looked mostly like every other bloody bird in the field, and even when it woke up it wasn't like it stood out particularly. Just another big 'un really.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who voted. If you fancy travelling any distance to see any of them, can I strongly advise you against it?

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Wanstead list marches on

I've not mentioned Wanstead recently, I may be forced to give up the blog title and hand it to somebody worthier. However today all that changed. It was a lovely morning, and so with a spring in my step I exited my house on the way to work. Within a few paces I heard a Blackcap singing. It felt wrong, as I hadn't driven to it. I thought about walking ten yards back to the house, and getting in the car, but sadly didn't have the time and carried on to the joys of the Central Line. This marks the first patch year tick since January 25th, which is probably also the last time I spent any meaningful time on the patch. This is beyond terrible, but entirely predictable. As I stated earlier in the year, I knew deep down that I probably wouldn't bother much this year, as I just don't gain as much enjoyment from it as I used to. Such is life I suppose, it is probably cyclical, and a little break could do me the power of good. And February is a pretty good time to have a break. 

It is now March, and the exception of course is Wheatear. The time is nearly upon us. I have been remarkably restrained so far this year, in times gone by I would have been counting the days down from about mid-January. Unfortunately it is a particularly busy period at work and in any spare time I do have my priorities are slightly different at the moment.

I can't wait to see one of these. Brilliant, brilliant birds, and best on the patch of course. The above photo was taken at Landguard.....

Monday, 3 March 2014

Pond Heron delays Dunge

What is there to say about this Pond Heron thing? I didn't really want to go, rumour has it that it is a total pig, and having gone, I can now concur. Not as much as Barry though. My thought process was to be there in the dark, "tick" it in the pre-dawn light, and then go and do something worthwhile at Dungeness that didn't involve Gulls, such as year-tick Glossy Ibis and Emu. In the event I was still embarrassingly sat in the car at 10am in some housing estate having seen a couple of Magpies. I'd had a nice chat with Dick and Dean, who with typical low staying power had left already. The Prof, on his fourth visit, had sat out the rain for a bit in the passenger seat and told me that his snoring was cured, and when it had cleared up I had sent him up the hill with a two way radio. And now, expecting of nothing, I was chatting with Alan L about how brilliant Scotland had been, when suddenly the aforementioned radio crackled into life.

An excited Prof came through, "I've got it!!" "It's behind you, coming in high". I leaped out of the car, Alan calling to the other car loads, and sure enough over it came, heading for the other side of the valley. Wacky races ensued, and a small convoy of cars led by Le Grand Twitch headed towards the other viewing spot. The Prof vectored me in, and I nabbed a photo of it sat in a tree which will surely be definitive when it comes to the final ID. I did a small victory dance. 

Not really.

I'm still not entirely sure why I bothered. It's hardly as if I can grip off anyone with a bird of unknown genetics, unknown provenance, and unknown vagrancy potential. When you put it like that it seems very silly indeed, but I suppose there is some slim chance that no owner steps forward to reclaim it and it sheds a feather that proves it has come from miles away. Or perhaps just one mile away, as the Royal Military Canal where I've seen both Night Heron and Green Heron is just that short distance south west.....Just saying. I would be amazed if there were not a careless Heron-fancier somewhere in the neighbourhood.

I debated going home, then realised the family was out and about, so carried on with plan A, which was to meet up with some reprobates at Dungeness. This was but a short drive from Hythe, and I clocked the juv Glauc as soon as I arrived, as well as dirt bird Ibis on the way in. I remember when I once drove some distance for one of these....The lads were there (well, where else would they be?), and the usual routine was played out, bread, fish heads, camo. How can you beat it? The highlight was probably finding a rusting commode chair on the beach, which I then sat on to take photos. I'd needed the loo for ages, but funnily enough couldn't go. A couple more reprobates turned up a little later, one with a shiny new white thing......


Taken from a toilet

Richard is somewhere in this photo

East London massive

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Red-flanked Bluetail shenanigans

I saw this bird the other day on the way back from the big Ross's Gull dip in Wales. Nick needed it, and they are lovely, so we went and saw it. I had my camera, but got nothing at all on it apart from four feet above me in a tree. Since then I've either been in Scotland or at work, and seeing as today was forecast to be lovely and sunny in Gloucestershire, I thought I would give it a go, especially as the bird has now been present for a month and the crowds should have quietened down. What I really should have done was have a lie in as I am pretty tired, but at 4am I was up and on the road. Bloody birds. 

I was first on the site at 7ish, but no sign of it for over an hour. It appeared briefly in the favoured tree, but by then the crisp morning sunshine and the frosty perch were both gone. Gradually more and more people started to turn up, including some of the most vacuous and cretinous numbskulls I've seen for quite a while. Welcome to the UK rare bird scene. Standing right in the middle of the bird's flight path from the top bush to the feeding bush. Walking straight through the target area. One guy walked straight over the perch I had carefully set up and then crouched in front of me. I poked him with my monopod until he fell over and rolled down the hill. Not really. I informed him nicely that he might prefer to stand behind the people who were already there, which he did, though I'm not sure he understood why. Incredibly frustrating, it seemed that each time that the bird might be ready to come down the slope somebody climbed up it and straight towards the row of trained cameras. Given that I needed to be back at Chateau L for early afternoon it was all in danger of going horribly wrong and being a 300 mile mistake, but luckily a short break in the imbeciles allowed the bird to zip in and have a forage, which is when I managed to get these shots.

Obviously I am not known for moaning and whining on this blog, but trying to get quality photographs of rare birds in this country is a mostly hopeless affair. Some people manage it, and hats off to them, but I reckon I am done trying. My only opportunity is at weekends when it's at its worst, but there are so many retired or non-working birders that even weekdays are painful. I am in this for the enjoyment of it, but every time I come back seething. This is ridiculous, I should not set myself up for this. I am very selfish, but I want just me and the bird, and the rest of humanity can sod off. Then again, I didn't find this bird did I, so what right have I got to expect it all to myself? Precisely none. Clearly this does not stack up. Either I go for these birds and in doing so sign up to all the idiocy, or I avoid them and do my own thing. I much prefer the latter, and so must remember to try and steer clear of the crowds. This is difficult in the south-east, unless you're into Gulls....