I promised that the last update was just the first of two halves, but I got a bit distracted by my holiday plans and never got round to doing the final part, so here it is…
After the Brompton Cemetery birding the next trip of interest wasn’t a birding trip at all – it was the final day of the Ashes at the Oval. A fine day in fine weather, and it turned out (surprisingly) to be probably the most exciting day in the whole series. England’s tail decided to hit a few runs, Australia’s batsmen decided to do the same, and in order to try and force a result they declared and put England back in. Michael Clarke was optimistic that they could get the win, but when England made it pretty clear that they weren’t going to roll over – and it was looking increasingly as though we were actually going to get the required runs to win – Clarke showed himself up to be a coward by badgering the umpires to end the match for bad light. I have no problem with bad light ending the match as per the rules, but if one team declares to try and force a result they should then have to accept the possibility that it may backfire, and as soon as Australia realised that it might they tried every trick in the book of gamesmanship in order to scrape an undeserved draw. A slightly bitter end, but everybody who saw the match, and more importantly the two teams, knew who’d really been the victors on the day. There was also a good Sparrowhawk flypast late in the afternoon…
Swanny’s stumps get splattered
Those’ll be our Ashes then.
Bank Holiday Monday saw Jem and I spend a few short hours at the London Wetland Centre. My first Whinchats in four years (I’d only ever seen one before, in Sweden) were showing nicely on a fence on the main part of the marsh, and there were also lots of Migrant Hawkers around. There was also a very nice Common Sandpiper on the wader scrape.
The following weekend saw a little trip out to Essex for a meal with some of Jem’s expended family. On the way we had a short stop-off at the RSPB’s Old Hall Marshes reserve. In the hot sun we saw a very obliging Wheatear on a fencepost, a nice Kestrel, lots of dragon and damselflies (including a Ruddy Darter with extremely tatty wings), a flying Curlew, and a distant kettle of five raptors. On further inspection this turned out to include both Common Buzzards and Marsh Harriers. The downside with Old Hall Marshes is that it’s quite a long way from any towns of any significant size, and therefore I had terrible mobile phone signal. Had I managed to get a decent signal, Twitter would’ve informed me that there was a showy Wryneck in one of the nearby fields to where we were! Annoying.
Common Buzzards and Marsh Harriers