04 September 2010

Red-necked Phalarope.

It turned up at Slimbridge on Tuesday. Naturally, I assumed it would be long gone by Saturday... but not so. At 0930hrs this morning I was watching a very smart juvenile Red-necked Phalarope (lifer 198; year tick 175) from the Zeiss hide. I've never seen a wader move so quickly through the water. If you looked away from the scope for even a few seconds, the next time you looked it was some distance away. The heat haze wasn't a problem at that time in the morning, and so the views were good. Most striking were the buff stripes. Another bonus lifer!

I tried to take photos, but the bird was too far away and too small. Nevertheless it being a nice lifer I have to post my effort. This... ahem... is it:

Wader-wise, also present were four Golden Plovers (one still losing summer plumage), one juvenile Little Stint (a fine example), 6-8 juvenile Curlew Sandpipers, one Ruff, numerous Black-tailed Godwits and many, many Dunlin and Lapwing. A Buzzard showed up and spooked the Lapwing, and bizarrely (I thought) tried a bit of hovering.

I moved onto the South Lake Observatory and saw three Spotted Redshank and one Curlew Sandpiper. The latter showed very well, allowing possibly my best views of the species yet:

I intended then to leave. I knew a Wood Sandpiper had been seen on the reserve yesterday, but all the talk was that it hadn't been relocated today. On my way to the exit I passed the sightings board and noted that it had been seen today...

(note the Aquatic Warbler that stayed for five minutes midweek!)

...but where? By chance I ran into Dave Paynter and asked him. The bird was at the northern end of the reserve and thus out of bounds to visitors. He was about to take the morning Landrover Safari out there, though, and said I could tag along in the Landrover. Great!

The Safari was pretty good, but unfortunately the closest we got to the Wood Sandpiper was hearing it call as it retreated out of sight! Plain bad luck!

Also seen along the way were numerous Kestrels, one Sparrowhawk, and three Hobbys - one distantly, and two hunting over the flashes. These provided glorious close views - possibly the best I've ever had. Actions and plumage. Adult birds. We watched them catch their prey and devour it on the wing. Finally, along the estuary edge a large Raptor erupted out of a patch of reeds before instantly disappearing back down again. It did this a couple of times, and I was the only person to see it. Based on nothing more than observation I strongly suspect it was a Marsh Harrier.

No comments: