I went to Rainham today for the third time in as many weeks, the place is on fire at the moment. Before you say it, it was not for a Gull. Had it been I would not be confessing on here, no, I would have kept it nice and quiet and moved on. What got me moving today (and quite quickly at that!) was a Common Crane.
Pottering about in the garden, I at first thought it was a joke so nonchalantly did the news come out. "Crane Serin Mound" was Dick's to the point message. Whaaat?! Rainham has never had a Crane, and they're a hard bird to catch up with anywhere as they can cover about 10,000 miles an hour on a nice warm day. I assumed it was a fly-over until the next message said it was on the deck....
Oh, er right then. Horticultural plans abandoned, scope sourced, bins grabbed, and off down the North Circular and A13 to Ferry Lane. I made it in nearly record time. The record of course lies with the White-tailed Plover a few years back which was before the installation of average speed cameras, now that was quick. Nonetheless I was nervous, this was not only a Rainham tick but also an Essex tick. Surely in the 20 minutes it would take me it would get up and be in Sweden before I got to Dagenham?
I need not have worried, the bird stayed all day and allowed almost everyone who cares to waltz up and have a good look - albeit a distant and at times hazy look. Arriving at the Serin Mound I was surprised to find only a few people there, maybe I was quicker than I thought. At first you could only see its head pop up every now and again, and at that point it could easily have been a Canada Goose. Gradually it walked out into the open and revealed the rest of it - a proper adult complete with a shaggy rear end. My only other London Crane was a juvenile at Beddington in 2010. Whilst that was closer, this was a lot better, and more importantly was within the boundaries of a couple of lists I take. It's a numbers game.
This was number 194, and hot on the heels of both Stilt and Quail makes a good dent in the target whilst still leaving quite a lot of easy ones. A morning on the sea wall in the autumn might net another 2 or 3, I nearly got the Raven today, and as well as the Laughing Gull there is now a Bonaparte's knocking around. It's always good to have something to aim at.
The rest of the day I spent aiming my binoculars into Wanstead air space. Futilely. One Buzzard for my troubles, a stratospherically high bird heading south so rapidly I didn't even bother to call Bob who still needs it. That's June for you I suppose, but the brief May interlude this morning was most welcome.