Yesterday is old hat. Dipping? I don't do dipping, I just do relentless ticking. Today I added Shore Lark to my London list, apparently a yank one to boot. I should have gone yesterday, but I was having such a great time dipping the Leach's Petrel that I didn't want to spoil it. Also I had an errand to run over in Richmond, so I staked the farm on the bird staying and went this morning instead. Happily it did so, and so just gone eight I joined a sizeable crowd on the Staines Reservoir causeway. For those of you that don't know the area, the causeway regularly vies with Antarctica as the coldest spot on earth. My son still remembers the Red-throated Diver twitch from 2013 and shivers involuntarily.
Today however it was quite pleasant, and the bird was almost in the south-west corner of the north basin and did not require the endless trek across to the other side. Very striking, with quite rufous upper flanks and the eyebrow noticely bright white contrasting with the small yellow bib. I remember being very surprised to find a Shore Lark in Washington a couple of years ago in arid habitat, and looking it up to find that it was essentially the same bird, but I never thought one would turn up here. I'll let the boffins decide - I am just pleased to be able to add this to my London list after a dip a few years ago out near Tilbury.
Here's a photo (of sorts) of it. I am not very good at phone scoping as you can see, but the white is pretty clear nonetheless. One to tuck away for a few years perhaps? I watched it for perhaps an hour and then drove to pick up a couple of plants in Richmond - always good to be able to combine visits out west with something else that you actually need to do. That said I left early enough that there was no traffic at all, and was home before lunch before it really built up - I've seen worse!