Saturday, 2 May 2015

Local birding - Pectoral Sandpiper and a dastardly Bufflehead - 1st/2nd May 2015

 Last night on the way home from work I stopped in at Marshside to try and see the Pectoral Sandpiper. Just this week when the Rainham bird turned up, I was puzzled by spring Pec Sands and then realised that three of the four I have seen have been in Spring and in Lancashire! When one turned up at Marshside I couldn't resist so popped in. When I arrived it had just been flushed, along with the other 1000 or so calidrids, by a Peregrine onto the out marsh, so I had the hide to myself. After about twenty minutes, a flock of 30 or so waders came in and I picked up a call I was unfamiliar with but I recognised it from a previous search on Xeno-canto. A scan of the flock of Dunlin showed a slightly larger bird with a warmer tone, longer wings and pale belly. It landed and showed the yellow legs, yellow base to the bill, warm cheeks, tapering back end and most importantly, the strong contrast between the belly and breast streaking. My best views of Pectoral Sandpiper to date. Fantastic birds and I hope to finally find my own at some point in the near future.

Saturday came around and I was laying low after a tiring week hoping something would 'break' on the pagers and ideally not too far away. At half 8 I got my wish with a Bufflehead at Woolston Eyes! I was informed about the bird that toured the UK last year with a bright green ring on the left leg. The original finder was fairly happy it didn't have a ring, so access to the otherwise private nature reserve was granted at a cost of £2 per person. With several decent birds onsite and it not being all that far away I decided to take the risk. I joined Graham Clarkson, Paul Brewster, Scott Reid, Alex Jones, Steff Leese and Chris Piner on site and had really nice views of the Bufflehead as well as the male Ruddy Duck that took a shine to the bird! I had the ring in the back of my mind so paid a lot of attention to the legs and only really got good views of the right leg which was unringed. The left leg was harder to see but from what I could see, it didn't have the 'bright green' ring. A short while after I left the site, I was alerted that a photographer got a shot of the left leg and it was indeed bearing a green ring....oh well! A nice bird, a nice site I've been to only once before and nice to catch up with mates.

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