The strangeness started as soon as I got out of the car. I thought someone had their radio on – unsociable at 8:30 on a Sunday morning – but as I entered the fields south of Sawbridgeworth it became obvious the noise was on a different scale – possibly Harlow town Park about 5 miles away across the Stort Valley, or possibly here.
So as Marvin Gaye “What’s Going on?” echoed round the fields I picked up a small flock of Long-Tailed Tits. I searched for Sylvia warblers but apart from one in the bottom of a bush drew a blank. A couple of Bullfinches skulked in a bush and a Kestrel flew through as Dusty Springfield sang “Son of a Preacher Man”, and then I struggled for birds and songs – possibly a Kingfisher calling, and was that Sly and the Family Stone?
Stevie Wonder was singing Superstition as I crossed the river, and then the mood changed to Jazz as I went up the hill to view SLRS. I bumped into Kevin on his bike, and as Miles Davis’ trumpet rang out round the fields a Meadow Pipit flew south, and we saw family parties of Yellowhammers, more Bullfinches, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, brownish Willow-Chiff and a GS and Green Woodpecker. SLRS had 4 Snipe, 2 Lapwing, and a couple of Teal, and Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five”.
Another mood change. The small birds were kicking up a commotion, and as the ground shook to Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” a dark shape slipped out of the hedgerow with a bird in its claws – my instinct was Hobby.
As I headed for home someone turned the sound off at this time, and a total of four Chiffs were in the willows by the river. One singing, one skulking, and two “hoeet”ing.
I thought the bizarreness would stop there, but mid afternoon Mrs Dipper called for an emergency chocolate run to Waitrose in Bishop’s Stortford. On the way back I stopped at the large recently ploughed field at Trimm/s Green/Allen’s Green, a local highpoint with views over Stansted Airport . Mike had been earlier and seen good numbers of Lapwing, Carrion Crows, and various other birds. I saw most of that through the heat haze, and then a wader flying around; notions of Golden Plover were dispelled by the enormous white wing bars. It didn’t settle, was chased by Lapwings, and eventually flew up towards me to confirm as a Black-Tailed Godwit, then flew off north. Bizarre.
** evening update ** Kevin informs me that the music was from an all-nighter takin place in an overgrown bomb-hole slightly south of the birding site. Kevin's source, an unwashed crusty emerging from under a bush, says this happens every September.