Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Enter Sandpipers

After using a classic metal album title for my last blog post, I thought I try again for this one. If you've no idea what I talking about, it's a play on words from Metallica's cheesy breakthrough track Enter Sandman. Sorry...

Two sandpipers added to my life list in May, which was nice. First up was a Terek Sandpiper at Covenham Reservoir, Lincolnshire, on the evening of 20th May 2014. Terek Sandpiper is a species I've longed to see, but always assumed if I ever did I'd end up with distant views of a brief coastal visitor. I certainly didn't think I'd get views as good as this.

Terek Sandpiper, Covenham Reservoir, Lincolnshire - Tuesday 20th May 2014

The bird was found on the evening of Monday 19th May, and left mid-morning on Wednesday 21st, so I was lucky I could get there after work on the Tuesday. As I arrived at 19:30 at the northeast corner of the reservoir, the bird was distantly moving south along the east bank, There were a few birders pursuing it, which, I was informed by others already on site, was a thankless task. Best to sit tight and wait. Not such a bad idea as I enjoyed cracking close views of a Yellow Wagtail on the wall in front of me.

The bird eventually flew to the north bank and gradually made its way towards where I was stood. This pattern was repeated a few times while I was there, and only on a few occasions was it clearly the fault of photographers getting too close. Most of the time, the bird was obviously spooked by a gull of wanted to check out a different feeding area.

Most of the time the bird was very active, running along the shoreline at speed, whipping its remarkable bill into the water or at flies close to it. It had an interesting, slightly jerky gait, but was very elegant. Its long legs and bill, and slim, clean appearance was reminiscent of Marsh Sandpiper to me. Although there's no danger of confusing those two: the Terek's legs were bright orange, its grey mantle had a subtle pattern, and the upturned bill was as striking as the guide books suggest.

All the while it was accompanied by a Dunlin, which was busting a gut to keep up. They were occasionally joined by a beautiful summer-plumaged Redshank.

Terek Sandpiper and Dunlin, Covenham Reservoir, Lincolnshire - Tuesday 20th May 2014

Terek Sandpiper and Redshank, Covenham Reservoir, Lincolnshire - Tuesday 20th May 2014

Redshank, Covenham Reservoir, Lincolnshire - Tuesday 20th May 2014

On Monday 26th May, I managed to bribe the family with a day out if I could first go to Nosterfield LNR. The reason? A Broad-billed Sandpiper. Not a big rarity, but a bird that was a more frequent visitor to Britain in the 80s and 90s, since when the sightings have reduced. And, of course, a bird I had never seen.

The weather was lovely, sunny and warm (so it was easy to convince the family to come), though the views were distant. After some great help from @stevejamesPCC to actually get on to the bird, it was straightforward to pick out the ID features. The small size, very short dark legs, stripy head pattern, long straight bill (I could only just pick out the distal downwards kink), grey mantel and yet quite strikingly white below. The gait had a Jack Snipe vibe about it (with no bobbing up and down though). On a couple of occasions it crouched as the Lapwings and Avocets circled noisily overhead.

Too distant for photos unfortunately, but a nice bird all the same. And nice to see it on its second and last day of its stay at Nosterfield.

No comments:

Post a Comment