Sunday, January 28, 2018

Unspotted sand

Had a great day out with Drew and Michael. Embarassing to say, it was my first day of proper birding in 2018... Have been so busy with the final stretch of my PhD. My main target for the day was the Spotted Sandpiper identified by my mate Neil Glenn a few days ago at the National Water Sports Center in Nottinghamshire. We left early and arrived on site at good time in the morning. We got on the bird immediately, with many others... It was pretty mobile but showed well enough. I was really glad to connect with it - a welcome WP tick and such a lovely little bird. First views were the closest. Such a sweet and round bunch of feathers. Note that extremely short tail (no tail projection beyond wingtip):

Very plain tertials, lacking the barred fringes of common:

Yellowish legs - looked brighter when the sun came out:

Brigher yellowlegs here, pale-based bill, nice supercilium and limited, plain grey breast patches:

I was a bit worried because of the huge wingbar - seems to be on the extreme end of variation. Still, the wingbar does reduce towards the inner secondaries, and doesn't reach the body. Sorry about the out-of-focus photo.

As far as I could find online and in literature, both species (spotted and common) are highly variable in this feature, so I guess this is acceptable for Spotted Sand. It was good to hear it calling, very similar to common sand but not quite - I find it hard to explain exactly what was the difference I heard. Maybe a bit more 'fluity'?

I must admit this was one of the weirdest places I have ever birded in. I knew that Spotted Sands sometimes show up in random places, but this is one step up. Interesting ambience to birding while white-water-rafters go by, and rowers shout in the back. I tried to catch a photo of where the bird was with a rafter going past. My phone camera was on panorama mode, so the result came out somewhat psychadelic.

Interestingly, there was also a Common Sand there. They even interacted for a little while, but I did not see them together.
After we had enough of the bird and the crowds, we headed on towards Rutland Water. I have visited Rutland Water so many times before, but I have never had time to bird there. I really enjoyed it today, so many good birds, and lots of common birds too. Strange feeling walking through where all the marquees are, felt like a ghost town.
Rarest bird was the long-staying American Wigeon on Lagoon 2. It showed well in the scope but too far really for photography.

This is only my second in the WP, after my first, in NL, almost exactly five years ago.
Lagoon 4 was fantastic. So much stuff in there, highlights being at least 13 Smew (3 white nuns), 3 Goosander, 3 Raven, Peregrine perched on the Osprey platform, and bird of the day for me - Barnacle Goose.

Redhead Smew

Barnacle Goose. Plastic fantastic

Very pallid Peregrine


Many thanks to Drew and Michael for a great day!

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