Sunday, 4 April 2010

Third time lucky

Having missed an Alpine Swift at Hollow Ponds a couple of weeks back and then not being able to get to Crossness in time for the second London bird this spring, a third found last night at Chafford Hundred, right on the Essex perimeter of the London recording area, really seemed like rubbing it in.

Nonetheless, I set off early this morning with high hopes, having exchanged texts with finder Ruth Barnes and with Dave Darrell-Lambert, who lives close to Warren Gorge, where the bird had been seen. Paul Hawkins and Martin Redfern were already on site when I arrived, but my first two Sand Martins of the year were no consolation for the absent swift, and by 9 am, with the weather closing in, I headed for home and filed a 'negative news' report.

I could have laughed when half an hour later news broke that the bird had reappeared - except that it wasn't funny. I hastily had to rearrange domestic plans (thanks family) and slugged back round the North Circular and along the A13 to Grays, only to miss it by eight minutes. Is there no justice? Thankfully, the answer was yes after I picked the bird up again coming in towards the gorge over a nearby shopping area - bingo at last!

It was only my second London Area Alpine Swift, after the well-watched bird on Hampstead Heath in 2006, but great not to have missed an encounter in this invasion spring. A passing Peregrine was a nice bonus bird, while Sand Martin and the swift took my London year list to 145 species.

A family walk around Trent Park in the afternoon brought good views of Treecreeper and Mandarin Duck - and the news that David Callahan had struck gold with a Hoopoe at Rainham, an excellent find. Fingers crossed that that bird stays longer than the average Alpine Swift ...

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