Let me start by saying I dipped. Let me also say that I knew I would dip and that I didn't care and I went anyway. For those of you wondering what on earth I am talking about there was a White-billed Diver off Southend Pier on Thursday. A stonking rarity anywhere, particularly in Essex. There was a vague report Friday afternoon, but it sounded duff and deep down I knew it wouldn't be there on Saturday, but as I wrote about earlier I wanted out of Wanstead and this was the perfect excuse. Somewhere different, somewhere with different birds, and not too far away.
Being feeble I went out on the patch first, adding Great Black-backed Gull, Teal, Siskin, and a bacon roll. I leave it up to you to decide which was the most appreciated. It was cold and clear, very nice in fact, and I didn't begrudge it at all. I love living here, with Wanstead Flats on my doorstep. It might not be the countryside but I couldn't contemplate living anywhere without a green space nearby. Nonetheless by around 11am I was all done and in need of something different.
Astonishingly I'd not been to Southend Pier since 2012. Wow. That is a measure of how quickly time flies. I used to bird a lot in Essex and it was good to be back. The train has been significantly modernised, with the old train carved up and made into shelters alongside the tracks and at the far end. There was a small crowd assembled, none of them seeing large banana-billed birds, and amongst them were Bradders and Mick. I spent most of my time on the upper level above the Lifeboat scanning east, picking up a few Great Northern and Red-throated Divers, a couple of Razorbill and a Shag, but of the prize bird there was no sign unfortunately.
No matter, I had my camera and when I got bored I descended to the lower level and took a few photos. Arriving later than the others I had missed the glassy conditions and there was now a bit of a breeze getting up making the water choppy, but I had fun papping a few Med Gulls and so on. A nice afternoon actually, better than sitting around at home doing nothing, and I am pleased I went. Here are a few more photos, including the one Turnstone that had only one leg. After all the trouble I went to getting down low I could scarcely believe I'd homed in on the lame one, but there you have it.