A, for me, reasonably early jaunt up to the Lockwood revealed that I was clearly the first person up there as I got the privilege of flushing everything. Sadly everything did not include the Oystercatcher. I thought I heard one call on the South side about ten days ago but try as I might I didn’t hear it call again so shrugged it off as aural mis-perception. Well over the last ten days one has been seen a number of times around the Lockwood and the Maynards but not today.
I had left my hat in the car but didn’t bother going back for it, it was cloudy and my eyes would soon grow accustomed to the glare, I thought. A half an hour later the Sun came out, oh well. The Tern rafts were largely deserted, most of the young now well fledged but half way up the East bank of the Lockwood I came under sustained attack by Common Terns, one individual was especially persistent diving to within inches, where’s that hat when you need it. I carried my scope and tripod aloft to protect my head. It was enough to drive me off the bank and they kept it up for quite a while, it made Canada Geese with downy young seem pretty friendly.
There were about 10 Common Sandpipers along the edge; I flushed a party of five when I got up the courage to walk along the bank again. In the North-west corner was a roosting group of Cormorants, 151 of them, it looked like a casting call for Hithcock’s ‘The Birds’. I walked along the bottom of the bank to avoid disturbing them (plus I saw a couple of Common Terns roosting along the edge too!) It gave me the opportunity to check the minor Lea-side Trees for Flycatchers and the like. A couple of calling Kingfishers was the highlight.
I spotted a visiting Birder lying in the Sun with a cap over his face, classic technique for finding Crossbills; it enables you to focus every ounce of energy into listening for their calls as they go over.
A glutton for punishment I decided to walk around the High Maynard (if the Oystercatcher wasn’t going to come to me I would have to come to it) unfortunately I had forgotten about the Common Terns, they had clearly not forgotten about me, I hurried past!
The Maynards gave up no Oystercatchers but Pochard numbers are building up now, I started to count them but decided better of it. We probably have about 0.5% of the wintering population (UK 3,800) here, perhaps more, perhaps one day I will find out. Ever more desperate I forced myself to check the East Warwick but still no Oystercatcher. Last year I bumped into our visiting pair often, whereas Lol always kept missing them, I think the tables have been turned. A Common Sandpiper flying round No.2 was a strange sight, there is virtually no clear edge, it must have been flushed off No.4.
I had a couple of Gatekeepers and a Common Blue and there were a few Red Admirals around but nowhere near the numbers of the last week or so, it really seems to be their year. A couple of Brown Hawkers and a Banded Demoiselle just about wrapped up the morning.