Thursday, 27 September 2012

Yank Wader Fest

Sunday 16th September 

A fully-loaded weekend continued. Sunday saw a jaunt to see an American Visitor on the south coast. Britain’s second ever Short-billed Dowitcher of course, which had already lingered a couple of weeks.

Our driver for the day, Mr Richard Powell arrived with Martyn to pick me up about 5.15am-ish.

At Lodmoor RSPB shortly before 9.00am, we noted 6 Pale-bellied Brent Geese over the car park.

The Short-billed Dowitcher was showing well on the West Scrape, which was viewable from the path and whilst it wasn't close, the scope views were good. This was a well-marked juv, with a very bold supercillum and of course, the tertial notching that separates it from Long-billed. Perhaps the Yanks should have called it a Shorter-billed Dowitcher rather than a Short-billed, as it still has a hefty driller which probed deep into the mud.

The Dowitcher suddenly took flight then disappeared for a while in scrapes that were not so viewable. Soon again though it was sighted from the pagoda which was crammed full of birders and further sporadic views were gained.

A Dowitcher with a comparitively short bill - digiscoped by Richard Powell

At this reserve we also noted a 2nd-winter Med Gull, 3 Common Sandpipers, c20 Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Ringed Plover, 3 Snipe, 1 Sarnie Tern and Little Egret.

Med Gull - digiscoped by Richard Powell

The Dowitcher had again vanished, so news of a small number of Balearic Shearwaters past Portland beckoned a seawatch.

We spent almost two hours seawatching from the Obilisque or whatever its called. No Balearics unfortunately and the seawatch was uneventful.

Noted; 2 distant Arctic Skua, around 30 Common Scoter, plus all the usual Auks, Gannet, Shag etc. A solitary Wheatear, Rock Pipit & passing Swallows were noted around the lighthouse. Our seawatching seemed to attracted a few baffled American tourists; this time of the wrong (i.e. human)  kind. We were asked if we were looking for:

a) Whales
b) Ships
c) Germans

Hmm ok....time to blow Grocksville and move on.

Continued news of a White-rumped Sandpiper at Steart Point on the Parrett Estuary in Somerset – just a short hop off our journey back to the midlands via the M5. We were soon powering our way towards another Yank wader.

As it was a tick for me, my heart was in my mouth when the White-rumped Sandpiper was in the air seconds after walking all the long-windey way down to the flooded field at Stockland Reach. Fortunately the bird soon settled but was a bit flighty until it shook off a Ringed Plover that seemed to be causing some annoyance.

Better views were soon provided as the WRS settled in the company of a very crisp looking juv Curlew Sand and watching them both together was a fine wader treat on which to end a very enjoyable day. Little Ringed Plover was also noted here.

White-rumped Sandpiper digiscoped by Richard Powell
White-rumped Sandpiper - digiscoped by Richard Powell

Juvenille Curlew Sandpiper - digiscoped by Richard Powell

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