NE wind, autumn, Canvey Point. You know the score.
Pitched up at 8am on a rising tide and found locals T and J already there. A good sign, firstly because they generally only appear when their considerable experience tells them sea birds will be present, and secondly because they both call out anything they see and are keen to share their expertise, which can be very welcome. Mike joined soon after.
The less good news - a bit quiet. 3 Arctic Skuas were harassing a large feeding flock of terns some way out. Then T found a Peregrine on the still exposed mud, and a scan of the mud had a Grey Plover still in summer plumage and 20 loafing Sandwich Terns. A male Common Scoter drifted in and gave excellent scope views; I have had years when all my scoter views have been about half a mile out in passing flocks, so nice to see the bobble on the beak clearly. Mike picked up an adult Mediterranean Gull in full winter plumage, but for a while that was it; nothing much moving in the gloom.
Eventually a party of Common Terns went up river and J called two Black Terns in them, and a party of four soon after, frustratingly none of which I got. Then on scanning an Arctic Skua came out of the mouth of the Thames, and flew straight towards us before passing just a few tens of yards off the shore. A dark juvenile, this was easily the closes I've been for a few years to this species. More scanning up river produced two terns coming out with bouncy dipping flight, and sure enough they were Black Terns, then four more appeared including one moulting adult. Having had a good look at one at Frampton earlier in the week, and noticed that whereas for a Common tern in flight the body is held level but for the Black Tern the body was going up and down as a counterweight to the movement of the wings, it was nice to use that as a clue to distant terns that they were Marsh Tern, and for that to turn out to be right.
Two Pintail out, a Great Skua flying out of the river under the far bank, and 20 Golden Plover onto the shore, and that completed the list.
The locals seemed a bit disappointed, presumably because similar weather conditions had produced a Sabine's Gull earlier in the week, but for me from landlocked Herts there had been some excellent encounters with birds of the sea and a few decent ticks.