Monday, July 30, 2018

Extra time WP tick

I had little expectations to go birding in the UK again, but yesterday a Semipalmated Sandpiper that was found by James McCallum at RSPB Snettisham made me reconsider my priorities... In an atypical display of responsibility and maturity I didn't go yesterday, but this morning I was on site at dawn. First thing there were very few birders (I guess many were waiting at home for news). The tide was advancing up the Wash, and I was scanning the mud like crazy. After a while I spotted THE bird feeding among Dunlin and Ring Plovers - it was distant but I knew exactly what to look for, and as soon as I got onto it everything fell into place - stockier than Little Stint, nice and grey above with no rufous scapulars, thick bill and really obvious flank streaks. Too distant to see the palmations and for photography, so I took in all details I could with x70 magnification on my Swarovski ATX95. I saw it for maybe 20 seconds, and I think another birder got onto it as well; then the whole flock took off with the rapidly rising tide and I lost the bird in a scenario similar to this:

I spent the next couple of hours scanning through the roosting flocks at high tide. Very challenging task to say the least:

Scanning back and forth I did add some quality - a 2cy Roseate Tern (in the field I first had some self doubts but after reading a bit more if seems fine), 2 Arctic terns, 1 Black Tern, 15 Curlew Sandpipers and 2 Little Stint scattered in the Dunlin flocks, 10 Spotted Redshanks and one Turtle Dove that flew south. I was getting a bit worried that I couldn't relocate it, neither did other birders scanning. I was happy to hear that after I had left the bird was relocated in the early afternoon.

Attention: horrible phone scoped images. I really need to buy a phone with a proper camera.

Curlew Sandpiper roosting among Dunlin (adults and a juvenile)


There were several thousand lovely red Knot. Only this grey job was near enough to phonescope.

Snettishem is a special reserve. I must admit that I find the pans unattractive; but the spectacular murmurations of Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit over the Wash always impress. Overall it was an enjoyable morning with 81 species - check my eBird checklist here. Thanks to James (good to meet up one last time in the field, mate) and to other birders who worked pretty hard this morning.

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