Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Great Yes!

Normal day at work, trying to solve a spatial analysis problem. Needed a coffee after lunch.
Call from James: 'Do you need Great Knot?!?!'.
Me: 'Yes!'.
James: 'Pick you up from yours in 15'!.
And we were off to RSPB Titchwell. Relieved by the understanding that the tide was going up and the bird was showing, it was a relatively relaxed drive for such a monster bird. As soon as we joined the crowds the bird showed itself well, albeit very distant. I understand that compared to the previous birds it showed comparatively well (some were affectionately nicknamed Great Dot), but still it was probably 400 m away? However scope views were great. Luckily it was always showing in the front row of the tight flock, sleeping most of the time and not doing much while we were there. It must be one of the best shorebirds on earth, and sadly it's also Globally Threatened (EN). Those lovely rufous scapulars, and the black mottling on the breast sides - phwoaar! And it's so big, and the bill so long - what a bird. Great find by Chris Booth - 5th for the UK. Congrats!
Photography was very difficult. I tried three options and results from all are rubbish to be honest, more like water colours. This is with my old phone through Swarovski ATX95, no adapter so extremely shaky:

This is with my old 7D connected to the scope with TLS adapter:

And this is a huge crop of a photo using my 500 mm:

This is the original - really distant!

I have spent so many days looking for this bird in Israel but without success (only two records to date, last in 1991). I missed the Breydon Water one in 2014 by just a few days (recce visit before our big move to the UK). So it was great to see this new bird to my WP list. I really wanted this to happen after I couldn't go for the Spotted and Buff-breasted Sands last weekend. And this is one hell of a compensation...

Is it or is it not the same bird that was on Texel, Holland about a month ago? Maybe, hard to say. This is obviously the parsimonous explanation to the occurence of such a rare bird in the same neighbourhood (Texel is about 270 km from Titchwell but that's nothing for a bird that migrates normally from NE Asia to Australia). However, if it is the same it has moulted quite a bit, and now it's hard to pick up any diagnostic markings on it to confirm this.

Numbers of happy twitchers did build up through the afternoon, and by the time we left there must have been several hundreds lined up there. Good to meet up with lots of friends - such a quality bird in an accessible site does attract the crowds.

I just love Titchwell. What a great reserve. Exploding with birds there. Must admit I did not spend loads of time scanning for other stuff but still I did pick up a Med Gull and three out-of-season Common Gulls, two Ruff, Red-crested Pochard. The shorebird roost was impressive with over 1000 Red Knot (only few red ones in summer plumage, mostly failed breeders?), and nice numbers of Barwits and Blackwits too.

Many thanks to James for this little adventure.

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