Saturday, 31 July 2010

My July

White-tailed Lapwing at Rainham: one-day wonder on the patch.
In a flash, July is over. I last posted on 5th, the night before an operation which has temporarily but significantly restricted me physically and will do so for some weeks, possibly months, to come. Thanks to Yoav and others for the good wishes here and elsewhere, and to my family and friends (you know who you are) for such generosity in transporting me about and helping in many ways. As I can’t drive for several more weeks, I hope to see more of you all shortly.

As a birder, it’s been tough. Toughest of all was cutting off the hospital tags and trying to dress myself one-handed to be driven to Rainham in a hurry for the White-tailed Lapwing (thanks for the concern, anonymous commenter, but I managed to get there after all!). Still spaced out on the after-effects of general anaesthetic and heavy duty painkillers, it all felt like a weird dream – except that I have the blurry digiscoped images to prove I was there. (I won’t be able to manage my long telephoto lens for the foreseeable future, so it’s been mothballed).

Butterfly highlights included this Purple Emperor at Broxbourne, seen here feasting on the sweaty residue of Roy's trousers. Time to put them in the wash, mate.
Other highlights in an otherwise largely sedentary month: adding two fly-over Common Crossbills to the garden list; several butterfly excursions (including Purple Emperors and White Admirals in the London area and my first Silver-spotted Skippers and Chalkhill Blues in the Chilterns); making theoretical progress on a long-standing book project (more anon); and, of course, seeing more of my wife and children. Low points: being stuck indoors for days on end; daytime TV; being unable to type; and the World Cup (remember that?).

It may be less glamorous and lacking a white tail, but this plover was also noteworthy on the Thames at Grays: the first July European Golden in London for some years, and also an early juvenile.
One of two new butterflies this month, this male Chalkhill Blue posed at Aston Rowant, in the Chilterns, on the last day of the month. Even more numerous there were Silver-spotted Skippers ...
 The few outings that I have been able to undertake have resulted in several more London year-list additions, with White-tailed Lapwing, Common Crossbill, Avocet and Cattle Egret taking the total up to a round 190 species so far. I have also mastered the logistical challenge of birding my Rainham Marshes patch by public transport, even if it takes two bus rides, four train journeys and a 10-km walk to do a round trip. Here’s to August and all that that promises.

... while Red Kite sightings in the area included this unusual encounter with a bird blocking the road north of the M40.

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