Sunday, 24 October 2010

Master birder and Apprentice

The Clitheroe branch of the family were lucky enough today to enjoy a beautiful autumn day and some great birding as well.

We started by visiting Pegwell Bay and were there in time to watch the tide sweep up the beach, bringing many of the birds into much closer range. Others went out to Shellness Point and were swallowed up in the mass of Oystercatchers already assembled there.

The Lapwings, on the flood in front of us, along with Redshank and a few Golden Plover (noon in the group above) soon decided to move on to a drier resting place.

A few Curlews dropped into the long grass and soon disappeared. I suppose with a full moon it was quite a big tide. We didn't wait too long as we wanted to get along to North Foreland.

Jack is learning to look like a birder, with his scope slung over the right shoulder. Here he's striding out just like Dad.

As we walked back to the car park there were several Reed Buntings in the bushes, probably displaced from feeding on the salt marsh by the rising tide.

At Kingsgate Bay we caught up with a couple of Jack's targets that were giving excellent views. Although a common visitor on sandy beaches it is impossible to tire of watching target number one, a group of Sanderling feeding on the shore line.

Higher up the beach there were several Pied Wagtails enjoying the insects that inhabit the washed up sea-weed.

The second target was Purple Sandpiper, and although not present in the same numbers as the Sanderlings. two were to be found at the north end of the bay, mixing with a group of Turnstones.

As the waves came in the Sanderlings ran up the beech, each looking as if it was on little clockwork legs. Some of the Turnstones seemed to join in the fun and ran along side the Sanderlings although they were never quite so robotic.

As the groups reach as far up the beech as is necessary to avoid the on rushing water, there is a pause, before they turn round and run back down the beech to feed on the sand that has just been covered. Here they must find small tit bits that have been left by the retreating water.

This group appear to be waiting in eager anticipation, peering into the sea, hoping to find a newly arrived delicacy.
I only saw one Rock Pipit on the beech here, but there were probably more around. After seen Water Pipits at Grove Ferry yesterday it was interesting to see just how different they are.

Sanderlings breed in the high Arctic, and have a circumpolar distribution. It is a long distance migrant with a widespread distribution in winter, with some migrating to South America, Southern Africa and Australia, while others remain in southern Europe.

Kingsgate Bay was a success with everyone, as well as enjoying the birds Josh collected a few interesting items form the beach, including at least two different sorts of Mermaid's Purses. These are the egg cases from Dogfish and other small "Sharks" and from various species of Skate. I think that one that Josh found was from a lesser-spotted Dogfish, but we haven't yet identified some smaller ones that were in groups.

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