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11 April 2013
Black Redstart: Mega
My enthusiasm from last night was getting to the point it was being sorely tested: absolutely bugger all on my circuit round by the Jubilee (no waders), through the SSSI (no chats), and around the brooms (no ouzels) - and I was on my way to the Esso garage for a pick-me-up Costa and bun and then the park. Who should I bump into but local family hero Mr Lethbridge, similarly underwhelmed by the morning's offerings. Instead of my coffee I escorted him to the Alex. "Swallow" we said in unison as we climbed up the hillocks on the south-side. They were hard to make out in the murk as they scythed their way over the water, and even harder to count. We agreed a compromise of three and a half. That sorted I walked him off the patch.
Wet footed I trod back to Alex. Definitely four Swallow now. As they danced over the dark water, I watched a chiffy climbing through the birch. Having not taken a picture yet, I thought if it should just pop out on to a branch... It flitted further long the straggling clumps of trees and I followed. Turning up the west side I saw a larger bird flit into the same tree as my warbler. Great Tit I confidently assumed.
The Great Tit then did the decent thing and perched out on to one of the more visible platforms and became a Black Redstart. I knew that would make Mr Lethbridge happy on his journey to the salt mines.
Another bird of myth from the records expunged. Just a 42 year wait for this one. I thought I had one on the other side of the Alex two years ago (hang about, isn't there some kind of law on this kind of situation?), but I had to let it go on the grounds of being a tad crap and not smart enough to outsmart a smart bird.
Shortly afterwards Tim arrived. Luckily he had been late leaving for work, and luckily I refound the bird. He left and Steve turned up. A lifer for him, lazy bugger, told him he should go down to Rainham for them. Now what we assumed must be a female began to sing, so a first winter male then.
After Steve, Tony, which meant I spent most of the morning standing around in my very wet boots. The Swallows kept me entertained and Steve had found a Sand Martin in amongst them. The poor Swallows were obviously finding it hard work, unlike the flycatching Redstart, and every so often would go and sit it out on a tree in the Alex scrub. There were now seven of them.
After Tony turned up, I finally made a bolt for it on the premise I was going to find a Common Redstart or ouzel or something. I found lots of singing Redwing instead. And that was good too!