Wednesday 12 August 2020

Like buses

Nocmig continues to astound me. Last night, around midnight, another Common Sandpiper flew over. I was there to hear it, the fourth record over my garden this month. Not content with that, at around 4am another one went over. A week and a half ago my knowledge of how Common Sandpipers arrive on the patch was extremely limited. Now I know that they fly over my garden before landing on the banks of local ponds, because early this morning I flushed one from the side of Heronry. It is tempting to think that it is the same one that flew over earlier, but of course who knows? That is one of the downsides to nocmig - how many are there (for example, how many individual Common Scoter did I record in April?) and what happens to the birds? Do they continue on? Or do they fly around in big circles trying to fool local birders into thinking there are loads of them?

Much like the 2019 Greenshank which lasted a week in the one-bird-signifying italics before before being upgraded on my list, garden Common Sand's italics lasted barely 24 hours.My primary feeling about nocmig at this point is as follows: How did I not know about this for so many years? How can I have confined my birding to daylight when so many amazing things happen at night. 

I have so many questions. Will nocturnal Common Sandpiper in August become an annual event? Will I get Common Scoter next April again? I have no frame of reference. I know that if I go to certain places on Wanstead Flats in early October after the right weather I am in with a good chance of a Ring Ouzel. I know when Spotted Flycatchers and Redstarts are likely around Long Wood. Having seen around 30 Common Sandpipers in Wanstead, mostly in May and August, I suppose I know when they are most likely to be moving and thus when I could be in with a chance overnight, but somehow it still feels mysterious, as if I am on a voyage of discovery. Which I very much am.

Nocmig is not great visually, a few pink squiggles if you're lucky, so here is a blast from the 2017 past. Taken on Alex.

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