Red Letter Day
The day started on the quiet side, the skies looked good, sunny with patchy cloud making it look good for picking out any diaurnal migrants. However the cloud soon burnt off and although I heard several Yellow Wagtails picking them up was difficult. I then came across the long staying Whinchat in the Triangular Pen, which is 100m west of the Chat Bushes. She was sunning herself perched on a small maple tree, occassionally dropping down and picking up insects in the grass. She then moved to the Chat Bushes as more commuters began to walk past the pen. I still had 30 minutes before the workers I was here to meet would arrive to cut the vegetation down in the Wetland Pen, so I went to fill up the drinking pool in the Chat Enclosure. The only migrants on show here were a handful of Chiffchaffs, 3 Blackcaps and a juvenile Hobby heading north at quite an altitude. By the time I had walked back to the Wetland Pen I had heard but seen 4 out of 14 Yellow Wagtails. Things then quietened down and even though I was guiding the guys cutting down the vegetation, which also gave me the opportunity to check the skies, nothing was moving apart from a lone Meadow Pipit.
I then had a phone call from a colleague in the Ecology Team, discussing habitat work we would like to carry out in Bushy Park and to arrange a date to meet our new line manager. I hung up and the phone rang again within a few seconds. I thought she had forgotten to tell me something but it was Dave, "What have you found now" I said in a jokey tone .
"Cory's Shearwater, Cory's Shearwater heading west over Longbridge. Luckily I knew he was fairly close by. "Whereabouts"? "It's above the Willow in the Goose Pen". Now the tricky bit, not that it was far only 30 metres or so but my bins were in the car. A made dash, grabbed the bins and my camera. "Are you still on it"? "It's still above the Willow, it's turning left, it's coming back". "I've got it, what a bird". I watched it for a few seconds then the even harder bit, could I get a photo. By now the bird was about 1/4 of a mile away. It then veered right, I picked it up in the view finder and fired off a few shots, it the turned left and I lost it. Camera down bins and phone up, "Dave you still on it"? "Yes it's moving left, above the Plane tree". I scanned the skies above the Plane and I soon had the bird in view. Even at that range, the yellow bill stood out like a traffic light. It was moving away so this would be my last chance to get any photos. I again found it in the viewfinder and click, click, click, click. Then it dipped down below the crown of the tree.
Dave then appeared at the gate, we were both so excited, what a bird! Dave asked if if I had got any photos, I hope so but hadn't yet looked. Dave then called the RBA to get the news out incase another lucky birder could connect with it. In the past birds that have headed in a SW direction over the park have been picked up at the Wetland Centre. The buzz of seeing that bird over the centre of London was incredible. We had a look to see if any pictures showed enough detail to convince the doubters that it was a genuine Cory's Shearwater. Nowadays unless you have photographic evidence it is almost impossible to get a rarity bird past a bird commitee.
Below the calmness before the excitement of the above.