Tuesday, 5 October 2010

200 up - and counting!

Swallows, a House Martin and a late Sand Martin gather together on
the saltings at Rainham Marshes before heading south. Not shown is
the House Martin x Swallow hybrid that accompanied them.
It took longer to get from Heathrow in west London to my home in north London than it did to fly back from Lisbon on Friday. It didn’t help that my luggage went AWOL en route from the Azores, compounding the dire journey home. Still, it was worth it – Belted Kingfisher, numerous Nearctic calidrids, a fistful of Semipalmated Plovers and teal with wings of both blue and green hues, not to mention seabirds and the long-staying Great Blue Heron. A cracking Azorean starter ahead of the main course there in late October – can’t wait to get back.

In the meantime, maintaining the London year-list seems uninspiring by comparison – or would have done had I not hit 200 the very next day with a Manx Shearwater on the Thames at Rainham Marshes. Unbelievably, it was the second in a month there, and like the last it one hung around for several hours. Unlike the last occasion, this time I was in town and able to see it – a massive grip-back (and thanks to Ruth for the timely call).

I hit Rainham again on Sunday for a couple of hours early on while the family laid in, and again on Monday before work. I just had a good feeling about being by the Thames in early October, even though the forecast of good river-watching conditions didn’t materialise. And it paid off – number 201 was a southbound Osprey (another grip-back) called by Howard as it passed over the reserve towards Dartford Marshes at 9 am! A Brambling on the sea wall, a smart House Martin x Swallow hybrid with other hirundines and a Common Seal (rare in London) also justified the delayed start to the working day, and I headed in to the Birdwatch office in fine fettle for tackling the forthcoming November issue.

London year-list update:
200. Manx Shearwater.
201. Osprey.

Rainham 2010 patch-list update:
146. Manx Shearwater.
147. Osprey.
148. Brambling.

Common Seal hauled out on the Thames foreshore - a London rarity.

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