Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The Law of Sod

Today's juvenile White-winged Black Tern at Aveley Pools.
From some angles the trailing edge of the underwing seemed blackish ...
... but less so from others. Note the clean flanks and black 'headphones'.

For three days on the spin I have checked the pools at Rainham over the early high tide. The birding has been good, but not exceptional, and rarities have been conspicuous by their absence. On the fourth day we have a family day out planned, so this morning I'm at home where, occasionally, my mobile fails to pick up a signal.

Late morning I pick it up, it reconnects with the network and immediately an incoming text message drops a bombshell: 'White-winged Black Tern on Aveley Pools.' Any other day that could have been 'my' bird, but instead we are about to take a car-load of kids strawberry picking. Any other wife and that could have been a major dip but, ever patient and flexible, Hazel stalls departure while I hack round the North Circular Road for an unplanned fourth visit to Rainham in four days.

This distant record shot shows the dark brown 'saddle' to good effect.

Thankfully, the bird is still there and showing very well - though I barely have time to snatch some record shots and enjoy it before heading rapidly for home. Thanks to Dave for the text, and to Andy and Jono for trying to call me while my phone was out of range. Comiserations too to Dave, David, Paul, Ruth and everyone else who couldn't quite get there before the local Peregrine attempted to snaffle it, as witnessed by Shaun; scared witless, the tern was last seen heading for the Thames. Hopefully it will reappear tomorrow.

London year-list update:
193. White-winged Black Tern.

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