I blame the cycling and the lack of booze. Still dry, I gamely cycled to work on Wednesday, feeling weak yet managed a day of work, but that ride home was the most difficult thing I have done since walking Blakeney point for that Alder Flycatcher. The next morning I was flat out. Hot, cold, shiver, a wracking cough. I ache all over, particularly my lower back, which feels like somebody emtied out my insides, stuck them in a ring with Mike Tyson (sorry, only boxing reference I know of) for ten rounds and then stuck them back in. I swear I passed out at some point on Friday afternoon, and last night I woke up soaked to the skin three times.
I still feel terrible, but at around 11am today, which happened to be the cricket lunch interval, I thought about blogging for the first time. And food. Ah-hah I thought, I must be on the mend. I skipped the food and went birding instead, thinking that the fresh air of Dagenham might cure me. Or kill me. We shall see tomorrow (or you might!) but for the moment I am still standing and able to type this.
The Scaup was nice, last year I didn't see one, so this is another victory for the new 2016 approach of getting up off my backside. Or in this case, my back. Met up with the locals - an acquired taste I should warn you! - at the Pond-of-a-thousand-names and then had a wander round the site looking for Vince's Sibe Chiff. We found this easily down past the Slack and it's a belter, though too quick for my dulled reactions. At least ducks just sit there and bob about. My first visit to the Chase for donkey's years despite it being only half an hour away by car. I reckon I could get there quicker by bike....
|Confuse these two!!
Next stop on the tour Rainham - targets Raven and Bittern, which would both be site ticks. Neither were forthcoming, though Shaun was there. Mind you Shaun being there was about the same level of probability of Robin being my first bird of the year every year - pretty much nailed on. If you need him as a year tick just head down to the Serin mound at about three in the afternoon. Trust me, he is unmissable ;-) Before I caught up with him I had enjoyed some semi-decent views of the Shorties, but seeing as how their mission in life is not just to catch voles but also to frustrate the hell out of him it was not surprising that they seemed to disappear just after I met him. Rainham is great for amazing views, but really tricky if you're after photos. Defeated again I headed back to Wanstead.
I returned home shattered, but not before a cheeky Woodcock twitch, risking life and limb down by the Roding. Nick was there, motionless in the dark, but being the kind old gent he is took pity on me and spared my life, however sadly informed me that the resident Woodcock had appeared, and then disappeared, some three minutes previously. So close. He escorted me off the patch and then went and found a Tawny Owl.