"It Was All Fairly Low Key Except That They Had Big Guns"

By Rob Last edited 139 months ago
"It Was All Fairly Low Key Except That They Had Big Guns"
Zoom-Lens.jpg

Our second favourite quote of the year so far comes from a nice little story over in the Redbridge local paper today about a bird watcher who was mistaken for an international terrorist.

Apparently a 'twitcher' described only as "in his 60s" was checking out the bird action on Wanstead Flats a few days ago when he became the object of attention for a Range Rover full of SO19 officers.

Thankfully (and a little too coincidentally if you ask us) a photographer from the local paper was on the park at the same time and witnessed the whole incident (after he'd run back to fetch his camera of course).

"A police Range Rover pulled up into a car park at Lakehouse Road and I saw three heavily armed police get out of the car and start wandering around. They pointed to a clump of trees and started walking towards it.

"I ran back to get my camera and when I got back I headed over after them. Then I saw them in the distance and pointed my camera at them at which point they appeared to turn their guns toward me, so I put my camera up in the air and yelled press'."

Personally, faced with a selection of special operations hardware we wouldn't shout anything. We'd lie face down on the ground and pray to whichever God we felt might be listening. But in this case out hero was lucky and was able to continue his story after speaking to the twitcher in question:

"He was a little shocked, saying they had come over to him, surrounded him, and said they were SO19 from City Airport. They had a polite chat with him finding out who he was and what he was doing. He said it was all fairly low key except that they had big guns.

"I could see why it looked a bit dodgy because his lens looked a bit like a surface-to-air missile. I've seen him there before and he's an avid twitcher so I expect he will be back."

Bloody hell. What kind of camera did this bloke have that "looked a bit like a surface-to-air missile"? Was it shoulder mounted? Did it have laser sites?

When asked for a statement the RSPB replied: "It sounds very alarming for the individual concerned but to our knowledge this is a rare occurrence and we hope he is no worse for the experience."

Last Updated 17 January 2006