A rare window of opportunity for some birding opened up on Sunday afternoon. Where to go? A guaranteed Sabine’s Gull on KG VI? Or take my luck on an unpromising westerly wind at Canvey Island Point and some waders that have taken up temporary residence at West Canvey RSPB?
I decided to take a third option: to spend an hour swearing, shouting and hammering the steering wheel in frustration whilst being held captive on he A130. Bastards! Whoever they are! I thought the Human Rights Act had abolished this sort of thing. Anyway, eventually Canvey Island Point, conveniently round the corner out of the wind, just me, one other, and a sun-light Thames Estuary.
The other birder found an all-brown dot on the horizon. Over the next fifteen minute it moved painstakingly slowly in our direction until a pair of white wing flashes were visible and with the short-tailed silhouette it was fairly straightforward to diagnose a Great Skua. An embarrassing number of months … err years since I last saw one. Easier and faster was a Manx Shearwater that eased upstream. Otherwise a flock of c100 Black-Tailed Godwits wheeled in unison, a few summer-plumage Grey Plovers were on the mud, and a few Sandwich Terns flew west.
Finally West Canvey RSPB. New to me. Juv Little Stint tick! Spotted Redshank tick! And three Green Sandpipers and a Ruff. Bonus tick!
Birdguides reported a long-tailed skua the same morning, Other local web sites reported Gannets, and Arctic Skua too. But no-one had our Great Skua and Manxie. Which just makes you wonder how many other birds go through un-recorded by these web sites.