Friday, 3 August 2012

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Sunday 29th July

It’s fair to say last Sunday was a good wader day.

Martyn and I headed up to Frodsham Marsh, the reason for this – a Buff-breasted Sandpiper that had appeared yesterday. This would be a new tick for me, although it did sound elusive and flighty in yesterday's report. All the words I don’t like to hear. At any rate a wader fix was badly needed, so off we went.

Scanning Tank 6 from the main path, there were quite a number of birders assembled, including a few familiar faces from across the Staffs border. An impressive flock of up to 1000 Black-tailed Godwit were roosting, along with a single Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Redshank. Dunlin were more active as we searched through them unsuccessfully for the Buff-breasted Sand.

This approach clearly was not working with none of the birders present managing to spot the BBS. After an hour or so we decided to try another tack, to find another viewing area as the bird had been seen at the back of the tank late yesterday and some parts of the tank were very distant viewing from where we stood.

Our investigations paid off. There were quite a number of small waders working through the vegetation on the other side, mainly Dunlin, but also a Little Stint, 4 Snipe and single Ringed & LR Plovers. There was also a Ruff here and once we got onto that, Martyn locked onto another small wader – the Buff-breasted Sandpiper!

It stayed closely associated with the Ruff whilst it was feeding and it was moving quickly. A new bird for me, it was slightly smaller than I’d anticipated but it’s warm, buffy colouration was noted, as was its short bill and yellow legs. Assumed the bird was an adult. We had good scope views for about 10 minutes before all the waders flushed by a Marsh Harrier. Both the Buff-breast Sand and Ruff flew off with a Lapwing flock.

Other birds noted included 3 Yellow Wagtails, a showy Reed Warbler, 53 Shelduck, 3 Teal, 40 Curlew (in a nearby field) and 2 Ruddy Shelduck.

We then spent the afternoon around the Burton Mere/Inner Marsh Farm area.

At Burton Mere we had 3 Avocet, 20 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Snipe, Little Egret, 1 Ruff (a male moulting out breeding plumage), 3 Oystercatcher, 4 Redshank and a few Teal and Gadwall. A Water Rail was heard calling.

Dragonflys noted were Common Darter, Brown Hawker and Blue Tailed Damselfly.

The hide at Inner Marsh Farm was far less populated that Burton and therefore a more enjoyable place to watch from. Waders again was a key theme – 105 Black-tailed Godwit, 27 Redshank, 7 Avocet, Dunlin, 1 LRP, 1 Ringed Plover 1 Oystercatcher, 1 Snipe. Also here Little Egret, 2 Buzzard, 4 Common Tern (3 juvs) and a few Teal.

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