Monday, 10 October 2011

Solitary Crane

It's been a great autumn for American rarirties in the UK. Well, I'm not so sure the Yank birds are happy about being blown across the Atlantic and finding themselves in Blighty, but Britain's twitchers are. And, err, that includes me.

The big one (in more ways than one) was a Sandhill Crane - a bird of North America and north east Asia (and most definitely not of Britain). This leggy beauty had spent a week or so in Aberdeenshire, delighting the birders with the time, dedication, and petrol money to get there to see it (i.e. not me). Then, on the 26th September, it started making its way south along the east coast. It took a week to get to Boyton, near Woodbridge, Suffolk, where I eventually caught up with it. It had come tantalisingly close to where I live during that time (well, within 2 hours drive), but once it had settled in Suffolk, the next step would be France and the opportunity to see it in the UK would be lost.

Before the Crane, I went to see a Solitary Sandpiper - another american bird. It spent a week at Humblescough Farm, Nateby, near Garstang, Lancashire. The farmer, Rob Cornthwaite, deserves great credit for first finding and identifying this bird, and then inviting everyone to see it. Not an easy bird to ID from distance: sort like a cross between a Common and Green Sandpiper, but the long, long primary projection, smallish head (making the bill long longer), and the finer barring on the tail/rump all made it a clear-cut ID.

Here are my less-than-brilliant record shots of the Sandhill Crane:

Here's some video too, a bit shaky because I filmed it through my scope without an adapter (my usual camera still isn't working after getting wet on that seabird trip in September).

And here's my really great shot of the Solitary Sandpiper:

Err, yeah, a bit of an ID challenge eh?! I should stick to drawing...

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