28 August 2010

Waders at Slimbridge.

0650hrs: Frampton Sailing Lake and no Arctic Terns. Still, it's always a pleasure to watch Common Terns feeding. Mist was rising off the lake, and all was well. I wandered over to Court Lake, to be greeted by nothing more surprising than a dead Swan on the bank. Mauled by a dog, no doubt... I noted two or three Chiffchaffs along the edge of the Sailing Lake.

0815hrs: Middle Point. Only myself and two others had come down to watch the high tide. Surprising, after all the good stuff reported during the working week. There was great movement back and forth (never stopping right infront of the hide) of Dunlin and Ringed Plover. In excess of 100 birds. In amongst them we spotted a lone Little Stint (year tick 170), and briefly one Greenshank. As the tide rolled in, a small party of Knot cruised past alongside the usual rafts of Curlew and Shelduck. A Grey Heron was mobbed by a Black-headed Gull. Actually, it was attacked!

1015hrs: Once the tide had covered the estuary (birds seemed to congregate towards the left, out of site), it was time to retreat to the Holden Tower. Many more Knot, Curlew, Ringed Plover, Dunlin... a single Green Sandpiper and two Sanderling occupied the last remaining scrap of shore (year tick 171). The Sanderling were identifable by size, colour and behaviour.

The heat haze looking towards the river was getting worse by the minute, and soon the hide became next to useless.

On the shore I could see a WWT vehicle giving four lucky people fantastic views of the waders. I imagine there are hundreds of birds trapped there on the high tide - invisible to everyone else. Why the heck isn't it possible - outside of the occasional wader viewing trips - to pay a little extra and get down there? It seems to me that one of the best sights the reserve has to offer is closed off. I'd pay. Anyway one of the lucky few, I noted, was The Gloster Birder. I would later learn from the Slimbridge website that they had seen two juvenile Curlew Sandpipers.

Just before I left two Wheatears cruised over the Dumbles.

1100hrs: I moved onto the Zeiss hide. This is where it got frustrating. Those in the hide when I arrived reported seeing THREE Curlew Sandpipers infront of the hide only a few minutes before I arrived. I guess they'd gone back out onto the estuary as it began to uncover once again. I stuck around for a little while, as Curlew were coming and going so movement wasn't one way just yet. Needless to say, they didn't come back. A lifer missed.

Big plusses from the hide were seven Greenshank (the most I've ever seen in one place), four Redshank, six Ruff, large numbers of Black-tailed Godwits, three Buzzards (a family party) and a Kestrel.

A Ruff is hassled by a Lapwing:

Redshank, a Black-tailed Godwit and Greenshank:

1130hrs: Finally, the South Lake held yet more Blackwits and three Spotted Redshank.

I'm thinking of doing the same thing again tomorrow but going to Saul Warth first thing and the Zeiss hide immediately after Mid Point. Holden Tower is frustratingly distant from the waders, and completely incompatible with tripods.

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