The Pec was not visible at first. A wader about 100 yards out looked promising; it was asleep and stood facing away, but a brief lift of the head gave encouragement - not a Snipe. An hour later and it had rotated slightly to show white on the flanks and underneath, and then about thirty minutes later it completed the rotation et Voila! An unbroken neat breast band. Pectoral Sandpiper on the year list.
As is often the case when going see rarities, the star of the show was something different. In this case, a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper. It was consorting with two Ruff and came close under the hide. The three of them stood on a small island and the reflection of them in water as they stood bathed in direct sunlight from behind was something to behold. Needless to say my photo does not do justice.
The chap next to me had some top gear - a prime 500mm lens with a 1.4x converter. He very kindly offered to let me put my camera base on his lens and soon I was clicking away. What a lens! Auto focussing, the lot. There's a couple of cropped photos below. the poor composition is my fault but the crispness of the birds is something to behold. A very generous offer to put thousands of pounds of gear in my hands, the kind of encounter that gives you a warm glow all day.
Hobby hunting over the marsh, adult Yellow Wagtail in front of the hide and 2 Lesser Whitethroat in the car park completed the list.
I had intended to go to East Tilbury on the rising afternoon tide to get waders plus maybe some sea birds on the SE wind, but with the Curlew Sand in the bag I was off to Canvey Point instead. There had been some action in the morning but there was nothing to be seen when I got there. We managed 20 Commic Terns upstream, a Hobby from across the river ended up flying right over our heads, and towards the end of the watch a distant Manx Shearwater was drifting out of the estuary. That just left the local birds to admire; several Mediterranean Gulls, hundreds of Oystercatchers, a small flock of sparkling Grey Plovers, and a few Sandwich Terns. With some excellent company and warm sunshine it was a cracking second part to the day's watching.
BirdGuides has WWBT, Pom Skua, sooty shearwater and several Black Terns in the estuary today, but these birds are generally the reward to locals for many hours watching, and its an achievement to see any of these if you just turn up for a couple of hours on the off chance. Today was just nice to sit in the sun and see what drifted past.