Sunday, 8 August 2010

Waders on the move

A look at the tide tables this morning made up my mind for me. I decided to risk missing something good at Bockhill and go to the Backsands Scrape at Sandwich. With high tide at about 10.30 a.m. I aimed to get there by around 9 a.m. I had a quick snack after finishing my moth traps and then put my bike in the back of the car. I reckon I is about 1.5 miles from where you park your car to the hides, and in general the walk is not that interesting, apart from the occasional Hare to crosses the path. Although I haven't done as much biking as I should have done I thought today would be a good start, and with only a light breeze it was a pleasant ride, which saved me around 20 minutes

I went into the closest hide and there was Dylan, already watching and waiting for the birds moving from Pegwell Bay at high tide to the security of the scrape. In front of the hide a Common Sandpiper wondered past but it seemed that the majority of the birds were on the other side of the scrape performing to the individuals in the hides opposite. Dylan had to leave for a domestic commitment and I decided to move to the other hide where there seeded to be more birds and better light.

As has become usual the first birds that were obvious were a group of Little Egrets. Gone are the days when they were a rarity, the may well soon out number Grey Herons, if they haven't already done so. The rising tide was bring in some

The rising tide was bringing in some birds and the ringing calls of Greenshank brought in another three of this species, two of which I lost as the flew over and the third dropped in about halfway across the flood.

It soon flew to the far corner and joined the Group of Greenshanks already present. To day they weer all intent of a lazy Sunday morning and none came out to feed in the frantic way the sometimes do,

A couple of Oystercatchers seemed to be asleep on one of the islands, although the one above seemed to have mastered the are of walking round still with it's beak tucked under its wing.

There was one lone Ringed Plover wandering around, and several more Common Sandpipers.

I saw some Common Sandpiper behaviour I'd not seed before. after a noisy chase one bird seemed to cower right down on the mud, almost in a submissive way.

The second bird, still make a lot of noisy "piping" displayed by spreading it's tail and flashing the white outer feathers. This almost seemed like a mating display but I assume it had more to do with feeding rights.
After the "formal" type display there was a bit of jumping up and down and posturing.

There were of course several common Redshanks and two or three Green Sandpipers around but it was particularly good to see a Wood Sandpiper, above giving a nice size comparison with a Common Redshank.
Wood Sandpipers migrate south in the Autumn, but their main route keeps then further east than the UK, so although not rare they are by no mean as numerous as some of the other waders that have a more westerly component in their journeys. The picture above would make a good quiz question, all the clues are there. I hope they hang around long enough to give some good views with Greed Sandpipers.

This bird was feeding quite actively, picking off small items from the surface of the water.

Given reasonable views it is easily separable from Green Sandpiper, by it's slimmer and more elegant appearance and it's pale wing linings. It also has fine barring on the tail. compared to the Green Sandpiper where the heavy dark tail banding and dark wing linings give it a very black and white appearance in flight.

Another of the less common waders present was a Spotted Redshank, above joined by two Common Redshanks. In general Spotted Redshanks feed in deeper water than Common Redshanks and feed in what I though was a pretty characteristic way. I was somewhat surprised to see the two Common Redshanks it was feeding with apparently copying it's feeding method.

Spotted Redshanks are like slimmer more elegant redshanks, with a longer finer bill. I think that the bird above is a juvenile bird. The summer adults are very striking, all black with some white flecks. In autumn the adults moult to pale grey, going through some interesting combinations on the way.

Sitting in the small forward photography hide we got some really fantastic views of these beautiful waders, if the water levels remain good we could be in for some cracking birds on this scrape.
As I was preparing to leave, something spooked the Little Egret, or may be they were moving out to better feeding as the tide went down.


Warren Baker said...

quite a wader fest there Tony, something my Id skills need brushing up on.

Mike Watson said...

Very nice juvenile Spotted Red Tony! Already well on its way south in early August. Keep up the good work! Mike