Monday, 24 September 2012

Sabine's Gull 0 - Tea and cake 2

The weekend started with bright and sunny conditions (how that would change!) and an early morning walk around Wanstead Flats, a single Whinchat was still knocking around the open grassland near the ‘Golden Fleece’ pub and a Little Egret flew over head but not a lot else of interest early on. Stonechat had been seen in the far west of the Flats near the Jubilee pond, so I headed in that general direction across the football pitches picking up a few Swallows heading south along the way. As I reached the Gorse bushes south of Long Wood, two Whinchat’s sat up high on the gorse, joined by a Wheatear and then a Stonechat – three members of the ‘Chat’ family in one small patch of Gorse in the middle of East London you can’t fail but be impressed with that! But was this the same Stonechat from the West side of the Flats? Probably not - this was later confirmed when both birds were seen together.
With news of Yellow-browed Warblers scattered along the east coast on the back of some encouraging easterly winds - and one bird seen as close as Rainham, the next couple of hours were spent circling the Long Wood and scrutinising every small movement in the trees but despite seeing healthy numbers of Chiffchaff’s with a least 20 birds in the area, there was no sign of any of these ‘eastern gems’.
With rain forecast for Sunday afternoon and strengthening easterly winds, many predicted watching the Thames could be fruitful – wrong! Well wrong if you were watching from Rainham as I and many others were. My sum of a four hour river watch was a single Sandwich and Arctic Tern, several Common Tern, Greenshank and some rather distant Turnstone and Sanderling on the Kent side of the Thames and very little else - whilst at Canvey Point they were seeing Sabine’s Gulls, Gannets and later a Leach’s Petrel, none of which had ventured further up the river to Rainham - although frustratingly a Sabine’s Gull was seen from Gallions Reach even further along the river from us! This had somehow slipped through the net of at least a dozen watchers; maybe this bird took another route? – I suspect not! It must have passed us at some point – probably when the RSPB tea and cake was being warmly consumed.

Weather conditions looked promising!
Anyone seen a Sabine's Gull?

With the great and good heading in the direction of Shetland or the Scillies in the next week or two (the
Northern Isles are already 1-0 up and scoring with Britain’s 2nd ever record of Magnolia Warbler). I will have to be content with mopping up any goodies on the mainland – let’s hope there are a few birders left to find something!
*Today (Monday) a juvenile Sabine's Gull has been seen flying up and down the river from Rainham - typical!

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