Saturday, 30 May 2015

Greater Yellowlegs

Only took me 20 years since my first failed twitch for a Greater Yellowlegs but today it finally happened. After last Saturday's no-show, just about the only day it has not appeared in the last two weeks we just had to try again, and there were a few decent back up birds in the area as well.
We travelled down to Pagham Harbour where one of (presumably) last years Black Winged Stilts could be seen on the Sidlesham Ferry pool by the road. On the way down I found out that a Red Necked Phalarope was also present, so two good birds in one spot.
When we arrived, the Phalarope was a little way away from the road, but was being continually harassed by Avocets and Gulls. Part of a small influx as several birds were reported today, this just happened to be the first one I have ever seen in breeding plumage. Seen quite a few on autumn passage, but we never managed to see any on the Outer Hebrides in May 1992, so it was a very nice start to the day. The Stilt was rather distant, at the back of the pool but flew a bit closer eventually. Seemed to be either a female or immature bird. A few Black Tailed Godwits, Redshank, Avocets two Ringed Plover and some Dunlin were also present. I did see what appeared to be a sandpiper, but having got the scope from the car it had disappeared so I don't know what it was.

With no news, we headed off along the sea wall to Church Norton, being serenaded by Lesser Whitethroats, Reed Buntings and Sedge Warblers. We had not gone far when Colin's pager went off so it was a quick return to the car and we were off to Titchfield Haven.
Parking was a bit of a problem by the time we arrived, with only a few spaces along the sea front. There was also a bit of a confusion about which hide the Yellowlegs was being seen from, largely due to the fact that it was a bit mobile and at one point was likely visible from three of them.
When i got to Spurgin Hide, it was the nearest bird, being maybe 30 feet away. Unfortunately the light was rather harsh, but it gradually moved around the small island in front of the hide and showed quite well feeding all the time. After maybe twenty minutes it moved to the back of the small island, being partly hidden by the yellow irises and appeared to fall asleep.

On the way back we stopped off to enjoy a lovely Curlew Sandpiper in full breeding plumage.

Last week we had intended to visit Bentley Wood but more or less ran out of time so we decided to call in on the way home.
It was rather busy as expected, and car  parking was a bit of a problem. There has been a lot of work over the last year, with more areas opened up around the eastern clearing, and it seems to be a bit drier than our last visit. Pearl Bordered Fritillaries were present in some numbers, but most were well past their best. They seemed to be very active as well, rarely stopping so getting the camera on them was impossible. Same with the many Brimstones. Managed to see singles of Common Blue, Holly Blue and a Broad Bodied Chaser and I headed north to try and locate the singing Tree Pipit-it was sitting half way up in a birch and very hard to see. Met up with someone who had pinned down a couple of fresh Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries and the remains of a bee swarm-dozens of bees in a Hawthorn collecting fragments of wax.

So the Yellowlegs is finally on my list. Tried for one in the mid 90's at Minsmere, but it had gone before I got there. One in Lincolnshire played hide and seek, I seem to remember heading up to Norfolk to be close should it re-appear. We failed to see the Cresswell  bird in 2011, having decided that Sharp Tailed Sandpiper, two Dowitchers, Spotted Sandpiper and a retrospectively ticked  Semipalmated Sandpier at Chew was more important, and when we did go, it vanished an hour before we got there. Add the two previous trips to Titchfield over the last month and the miles (and years) have really added up. Still got a few bogey birds though...........

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