Saturday 9 November 2019

The coffee run gauntlet

Contrary to popular opinion, I do in fact bird Wanstead Flats. At the moment, indeed as for the whole of the year, this is almost exclusively a Saturday morning activity, although during spring migration it also tends to be before work as well. So although I have not written very much about it as it is so dull (for the most part), it does still happen. 

Take last Saturday for example. I was lounging around in bed when Tony's message came through about a fly-over Yellowhammer. This is a good bird locally, probably annual but not reliably so for weekend birders. I resolved to get up, stable doors and bolts notwithstanding, and see what I could eke out. It was quite a nice morning out there, and I soon met up with the aforementioned TB and other members of the gang - Marco, Bob and James. James had managed to get the Yellowhammer circling over the SSSI whereas I dipped, so we sent him to get the coffees and breakfast - he had had his share and could afford to miss it should it come over again.

What we didn't anticipate, and I suspect neither did he, was a Woodcock flying low across Long Wood and diving into the Esso Copse. Ker-ching! I picked it up fairly far off to the left of Vizmig, and as is their nature it barely deviated as it flew across our field of view, behind Long Wood, and then out the other side and across to Esso. As it flew across the path it neatly bisected Tony and I at Vizmig, and a lone figure struggling towards us, laden with steaming coffee and bacon rolls...

Oh dear. Had he seen it we wondered? Should we tell him? Should we [shudder] suppress it, and just thank James for doing the breakfast run? Did I miss anything? No, all quiet here.... In the event we told him, we had to - mainly as it was a year tick for me :-). And unfortunately he hadn't seen it as he had been concentrating too hard on anti-spillage measures. I had flat white by the way, excellent as usual. It is difficult to know what to say in these situations, but I would like to think that there was no awkward silence, even though bacon rolls could fulfil that function. This is the risk of going to get the coffees. We take turns, but what can you do? I missed Snipe the other day, perhaps not in the same league but gutting nonetheless. 

We need to invest in some kind of ceremonial eye-masks, to be put on the moment the coffee runner steps away from the group, and not to be removed - no peeking! - until he is back. And no heard onlys! 

We had seen where it landed, and trudged over to have a look, but it is a complete tangle over there and despite a good thrash of the cover we could not persuade it to reemerge.

I think it's my turn again soon...

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