Saturday, 27 June 2015

South Coast Megas

 Hudsonian Whimbrel...honest
 Greater Yellowlegs
 Greater Yellowlegs
I went down to the South coast with Liam as a combination of the long-staying Greater Yellowlegs at Titchfield Haven and Hudsonian Whimbrel (found by NGB George Kinnard) at Pagham Harbour were just too much to ignore.
We started at Pagham early doors, but we arrived just before high tide, so there was no sign of the Whimbrel as it was presumably in the long vegetation roosting. We then decided to try Titchfield whilst the tide went over. As it was on the flood viewable from public footpaths, we were able to get access before the reserve opened at 9am (and closed at 5pm) and avoided the £4 entrance fee (Thanks Amy for the gen). After a bit of annoyance from the bird walking out of view just before we got scopes onto it, we relocated and got fantastic views of what was a superb wader. In photos it really didn't look too impressive and I couldn't really pluck up the interest to go and see it, but I am really glad I did. In full summer plumage, it was a very smart looking bird and with slight primary projection, long bill, large size and overall lankiness, it was really educational to separate from Lesser Yellowlegs.
As we were onsite, news came through that the Whimbrel had been found again, so back we went. Sadly, that sighting was very brief and it landed in a creek and out of view almost straight away. We gave it an hour or so waiting and hoping it would move out of a creek, but eventually we gave up hope and decided that we'd utilise the rest of the day. Not ten minutes down the road, news came through again that it had been seen just after we'd left! Sod's law really!
I was getting annoyed by this bird now, but it would've been mad not to return. We took one scope with us and basically ran all the way to the assembled crowd. It had just flown, so we followed the stampeed of twitchers and got onto the two Whimbrels they were watching. I was confused as they looked identical and couldn't see the striking pale face and broad black striping on the face that seemed so obvious in photos. These were both Eurasian Whimbrels, I was sure of it. We soon got onto a third bird and this one looked so much more different. It was obviously rufous in tone, the pale on the face was almost white, the crown stripe was very broad and the bill seemed almost curlew length. It started preening and revealed a strongly barred rump with no white at all. Later on it flapped and revealed a similarly ginger banded underwing. This was the bird! So striking and fantastic to compare with the Eurasian Whimbrels. What a relief to see, but boy did it take some effort to see!
Due to lots of traffic problems, I was only able to get to one more site during the day and that was the Melodious Warbler that has taken up territory at Marsh Lane in Warwickshire. The bird was extremely vocal and it was incredible to hear how rushed it was. It did a lot of mimicking, but seemed as though it was trying to fit in as many impressions as possible! Quite remarkable. The mid-ranged primary projection, almost Marsh Warbler-like jizz to the face and warm green-brown and yellow plumage were easily noted. A nice bird indeed and one I've wanted to see for a while now.
 Melodious Warbler

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