As I think I have already mentioned Mary is our new superstar bird finder. Her list of finds is already quite long, very distinguished, and getting better all the time. Today she found an Oystercatcher circling around Alex, site of most of her best birds. Oystercatcher is somewhat of a patch mega by virtue of it being and exceedingly hard and very frustrating bird to catch up with - as far as I am aware this is the first one that anyone has ever clapped eyes on - all other records are heard only but most people haven't even had that pleasure. I have two heard-only records - one nearly a decade ago on a very foggy November morning on Wanstead Flats when a bird took off from the grass somewhere ahead of me and kleeped its way further into the murk, and another early morning in October 2013 that for the life of me I couldn't pick up. I also have three separate noc-mig records from last year all of which I was asleep for.
This morning was therefore a pretty unusual event. I had just finished one Zoom meeting and had started another. Multi-tasking as ever I had quickly thrown open the velux windows and was scanning towards the Flats as the meeting got going. People started talking, and at the exact moment my phone rang and for some unknown reason I picked it up. Silly me. It was a crank call about a bank account I don't have, and I forgot to mute my Zoom call whilst answering it so my colleagues got to hear what I thought about it. Very professional. I apologised and muted my microphone. As I did so I realised I was hearing an Oystercatcher calling. Gah!!
Completely flustered by too many things going on I was completely unable to get on it despite it calling probably half a dozen times. My best guess at that point was that it was headed north west over the Park but I just couldn't pick it. I heard later from Mary that it had departed west from Alex at around that time, so perhaps it passed to the south of me when I was scanning east. Deeply frustrating. Nonetheless it is an upgrade to my existing Oystercatcher records from the house, as this time I was awake which means I can count it. Indeed none of my nocmig records are on my garden list as I don't count the ones that the recorder picks up without my knowledge. So a garden tick, albeit one lacking a little in lustre, but who is arguing when it is #98? It is also a patch year tick and means I move on to 116, a total which I have only ever previously reached in September. I quickly let the local Whatsapp group know about the calls - so four concurrent tasks, I had no idea my brain could even do this - and then got on with the meeting which was well underway by this point.
Other than a brief trip to Rainham followed by a short stop at Wanstead Flats about ten days ago I have been pretty slack - no birding at all anywhere. I did contemplate the Elegant Tern in North Wales but concluded I would loathe all that time in the car and that despite the rarity value it did not have the same appeal as the Black-browed Albatross. It occurs to me that if I use the "but will it be as good as the BBA?" argument on myself each time I will probably never go birding again, so I need to snap out of it at some point and just get out there. Mary's Oystercatcher proves that the dead season is over, wader passage is underway, and that now is the time to start putting some hours in!
|Different day, different bird, but one of these just flew over my airspace!