Juvenile/1st winter Short-billed Dowitcher - Lodmoor RSPB, Dorset
The infamous tertials of Short-billed Dowitcher was instantly evident when the bird was turned to it's side
When the bird arrived it was in fresh juvenile plumage but has subsequently started it's moult into 1st winter plumage with some moulting of the scapulars and upper mantle feathering. The body feathers appeared to be very much 1st winter also.
An extract from my notebook describing the plumage of the bird and distinguishing features I picked up on: 'Juv/1stwinter bird. Partially completed wing moult with most of scaps and some of upper mantle moulted. Classis SBD teritals with black centres and golden brown barring similar to rest of juvenile wing coverts. Obvious supercillium on grey head with obviously darker car. Bill seemed broad based with yellowish fade towards base. Barring subtle but obvious on breast and flanks. Yellowy-green legs that must be short on tarsus as bird seemed very squat, even when alert. Feeding with Snipe, Lapwing and BHGulls and appeared larger and stockier than Snipe and was only slightly smaller than Lapwing.'
2 Med Gulls flew low overhead whilst we were watching the Dowitcher.After watching the Dowitcher, we made our way to Portland Bill with the hope of some migrants and some seawatching. We dipped a Red-backed Shrike and failed to see any Balearic Shearwaters on our seawatch, but were amazed by a feeding flock of 40+ Mediterranean Gulls and 10-15 1st winter Yellow-legged Gulls offshore.
Heading back towards the north, we stopped off at Greylake and were rewarded with brief, but pleasing views of a Spotted Crake.
We were intending on getting to the Pallid Harrier in South Yorks. for dusk in time to see it roost, but were held up in traffic and it was going to be marginal, so we took our time and stayed the night in Doncaster ready for dawn.
The bird was seen for 15-20 seconds as it flew off to feed out on the fields, and what turned to be a departure from the site for ever! We were very lucky
Similarly, the Dowitcher disappeared the following day too, so we were able to see both birds on their last days! Two really great birds and lifers and a really enjoyable weekend. Thanks to Chris for the invite, doing the driving and stumping up for the hotel!