I and other local birders in Wanstead are facing a dilemma. The month of February is generally one we greet with little enthusiasm. Towards the beginning of the month we might mop up a few stragglers missed during January, but then we essentially give up until the first migrants arrive. It is cold, it is predictable, and above all it is boring. For those hardy souls that do venture out, expectations are low. Confoundingly however three birders have added three new species for the year in the last three days. This is not supposed to happen - we are supposed to collectively give up and see nothing until we hear news of the first Sand Martins arriving on the south coast.
It is Tony's fault. And Bob's. Tony found a Med Gull on Saturday, which caused both Bob and I to come out and look for it. I saw it and took a crap photo of it with my phone. Bob didn't see it, and so went out on Sunday, did see it, and what's more took a decent photo of it. This spurred me on, and I went out later on with a camera to seek it out, and whilst failing found a Red-crested Pochard on Jubilee. Roll on Monday and news of these two birds has drawn Nick to the Flats - a permanent fixture in recent years he is now somewhat of no fixed birding abode. Whilst looking for the Med Gull he found a Yellow-legged Gull. I'm going out to look for it tomorrow morning (assuming blue skies and sunshine). What will I find instead?
This is often how birding goes, a variant of the well-known Patagonia rest stop effect, after a famous birding location in Arizona where rarity after rarity was found by successive visitors looking for the previous bird, despite being no different in habitat or promise than any other location. I've been there, didn't see much! Here, have a Magpie.