While seawatching off Walney Island the previous evening, the news broke that the colour-ringed American Royal Tern - usually of Channel Islands residence - had pitched up at Pagham. After a little bit of dithering, we made the inevitable decision of interrupting my visit to Walney and driving south overnight. We set off at about 22:00 and I felt sharp enough to make the drive, but only at OAP pace, mostly not even crossing 60mph. Somehow we remained passively resigned to missing a first light arrival and didn't get the foot on the gas. Anyway, we arrived at something like 05:20, by which time an amazing number of folk who did the sensible thing of not doing things by halves and got here for the crack - and had therefore seen the bird - were buggering off. Just as the tern had. There was an instant dull feeling of idiocy at having made the effort of an overnight drive but making it pointless by faffing about for a couple of hours before leaving and driving well below the speed limit. I had only myself to blame. I think Liam was too polite to push me, or realised I would have been unresponsive in my dazed auto-pilot night drive mode. Spilt milk and all. However, this definitely classes as possibly my worst mainland dip of all time - titting up the timing of an overnight drive to what is now a local site for me, for a bird needed by all tiers of the twitching community.
I was too drained to properly appreciate the Mediterranean Gulls and Little, Common and Sandwich Terns, or the two Bar-tailed Godwits, Grey Plover and Ringed Plovers. A Fulmar flew over the crowd and a Cetti's Warbler sang. One of the Meds was a smart 2CY with an adult-type head and bill pattern.