Thursday I was working, things were slow as it's that summer doldrum time when half the birders are doing dragonflies, moths and butterflies and the other half aren't doing anything. When a call came in from Hector Galley who had already reported a Great White Egret and the feral Red-breasted Goose from Hauxley NR that morning saying 'we've got a pratincole from the Tern hide at Hauxley' I quickly weighed up that I could spend the next 10 or 15 minutes trying to help with the ID over the phone or alternatively I could jump in the car and try and help with the ID in the field it seemed like a no-brainer.
Arriving in the car park I bumped into a nonchalant-looking Dave Dack strolling back to his car, thinking he had the prat in the bag and was playing it cool I shouted over 'Well what the **** is it'?' To which DD replied something like 'Great White Egret' at which point the confusion became apparent. We both then did that very fast walk that you do when you're too old to run but there's a big tick waiting for you somewhere.
Edit: Dave contacted me after I wrote the post and reminded me that when we met and I told him about the pratincole he told me that he had (independently) seen what he was certain was a pratincole from the hide directly opposite the Tern hide. Without a scope and very brief views he was unable to confirm the identification and had set-off back to the car at which point we met.
At the rather full hide first look at the pratincole, on a rock roosting and occasionally turning its head I was immediately struck by two features, how little red the bird had on its bill and the black lores and dark-looking forehead. My mouth ran away with me 'Dave this looks like a Black-winged'... I rattled off some phone-scoped images and watched as the bird got up, preened a little and got a bit of a kicking by a couple of Lapwings.
Back at the office the bird had flown south after I left, a holding message of 'either/or' Collared/Black-winged had gone out. Looking through the images all the features were pointing to Black-winged, DD was back on the phone he was sure it had been Black-winged too. Flight shots arrived on email from an obliging Tim Mason, no trace of a trailing white edge and an apparent all-black underwing, a quick circulation of images to others with more experience of the group and no dissent, Black-winged Pratincole it was. A great find by Helen Mearns, first record for Northumberland