Sunday, 28 August 2016

Wait a minute, it's stopped hailing.. a line from a song by American humorist Allan Sherman which only someone my age would remember. It's a parody letter home from some whiny American child explaining why his parents should remove him from summer camp listing ever more outlandish reasons ('I don't want this should scare you but my bunk mate's got malaria'). At the end, however, the sun comes out 'guys are swimming, guys are sailing' and he tells his parents to 'kindly disregard this letter'. For some reason, the 'wait a minute line' always comes into my mind when, after some lack-lustre days, the birding luck changes......... As it did today...
       I actually visited the reservoirs again yesterday but saw so little I was too embarrassed even to tweet about it. So I did not exactly start out today with high hopes. In fact, but for the neigbour's new dog again waking me with its excited barking, I may not have bothered at all. Lockwood, however, has never looked better for waders with a good edge pretty all the way round and water levels still apparently dropping. But there was nothing apart from Common Sandpipers until I got right to the north east corner where my third ever Turnstone on the patch was on the wide shore line. Turnstone is just about annual although this is the second this year as Adam had one which dropped in during our magic week in May. I could have got closer for a better picture but didn't want to flush it and even persuaded the Fish Spotter to walk down the bank (which proved worthwhile as it was still there in the afternoon).
                                                         Turnstone on the beach

          But apart from a flock of eight Common Sandpipers together on the west bank, which I think must have put the total numbers in double figures, and three Teal there seemed little else. Thanks to the Met Office, I had the wrong clothes with me for the second day running so I decided to dodge the un-forecast showers and take the train up to see the Little Stints at Rye House which showed very well. Seeing the gravelly spit they were on, it struck me that the Prof was right that they could turn up on Lockwood. A chat with Frank N and Mark on the train back about the occasional joys and persistence required for patch birding convinced me to go back to the reservoirs and see if the rain had brought anything down. It hadn't but halfway along Lockwood, I started hearing the gulls making half-hearted alarm calls. They have much better sight than me for about a minute later, I saw that what was worrying them was an Osprey flying right towards me just a few hundred feet up. As it went over to High Maynard, it didn't continue as I expected but started soaring and gaining height. It gave me time to ring Lol whose house overlooks the reservoir to alert him and to get my camera out of my pocket, switch it on. and try to find it on the screen. Amazingly, I succeeded which was more than Lol did unfortunately despite looking from his loft.  It's my third of the year but also my third ever for London after more than 30 years of birding here and always a brilliant bird to see. So all the weariness of Friday's post seems a long time least until tomorrow...

DB @porthkillier 

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