Saturday 1st November, and another morning at work. Three hours later I finally finished the last few tasks then back down the A2 'for a change' through the 50mph no work zones and on towards that paradise of ornithological dipping, the 'Chantler' zone, Bockhill. My track record at Bockhill to be fair isn't very good, especially when it comes to let me think, 3 Radde's Warblers, well 2 whole birds dipped completely and brief views of another, Arctic Warbler, Red-flanked Bluetail (ok not technically a dip I was in South America), Barred Warbler, and soon to be new addition, Sibe Stonechat. Despite arriving at just before midday and enjoying the persistent rain, the trio of Ray O'Reilly, John Tilbrook and myself mustered between us Sparrowhawk, Firecrest and lots of Robins, I only managed the Robin!!
My clothes were soaked through by 1 O'clock, even the waterproof trousers appeared to serve no purpose and my bins were steamed up and practically useless.
Fortune was on my side though as the Bonser/ Lawson info line together with RBA indicated to close Kent listing rival Terry Laws that a Red-flanked Bluetail was 'gettable' at Ramsgate. I twisted Johns' arm and off we set with Ray following 'briefly' North to Ramsgate, a prelude to the events in Sao Paulo a day later.
At approx 1340 we arrived at the park and a short sprint found a tight group of 7 or so birders enjoying close but very wet views of this much wanted bird.Only the third record for Kent and the second to be enjoyed by birders and not mammals as the Sandwich Bay bird was nobbled by a weasel way back in 1956. The bird performed admirably to the slowly increasing crowd and worsening weather though, better than Dungeness we were informed! After an hour of enjoying this bird , my first in Kent it was back down to Bockhill to try again for the Sibe Chat.
Our timing at Bockhill was 'almost' perfect as we missed the Chat by a second or two and with torrential rain failed to see the bird that afternoon. undeterred though we returned the following morning !!