Wednesday, 8 May 2013

A Little Beauty!

As I approached the old barn at Willow Farm I could see the silhouette of a little Owl on the far side. When I'd past the barn and looked back it was in full view. At the Restharrow Scrape hide there was little to see at first and I told Steve Ray, who'd just arrived that the Owl was in its usual place. I was surprised when he told me that it was never there when he looked for it, he must choose the wrong moments to look.

 At that moment I saw a Lapwing on the far island chase something to the back and out of sight. My impression was of a small wader but I didn't get it in my binoculars, so it was a wait until, the aggressive Plover chased it again. This time it flew to the nearer island, but landed out of sight. Watching in flight I was pretty sure it was a Stint, and probably a little. This was confirmed when it came into view and then, nudged by the resident Lapwing it joined us on our side of the water for a couple of minutes.

 As I've said before, I love waders and this sparrow sized calidrid is almost as good as it gets. They breed right up in the Arctic zone, from northern Sweden across to beyond the Taymyr Peninsular and to the New Siberian Islands (I can't spell the Russian name for these). In winter they move to temperate and tropical climates from the Mediterranean, through Africa, the Middle East and the Indian Sub-continent.and Burma. Some remain in SE England, foolishly believing our climate to be temperate!.

 It wasn't in complete summer plumage, the face and upper breast is yet to get its buffy orange colour.

 The beautiful chestnut fringing of the coverts, lower scapulars and tertials showed up well.

 Unlike the Temminck's Stint the Little Stint has black legs. There are four small calidris waders with back legs, the two Americans, Western and Semi-palmated. Both are slightly larger and both have partly webbed feet that would show up on the picture above. The fourth is the Red-necked Stint, which by now would be showing a reddish upper-chest and a freshly moulted bird would have a much greyer mantle.

 After the Stint had departed the previously aggressive Lapwing came over to the edge in front of the hide and worked along the edge picking tit-bits out of the mud.

On my way back I noted that the Owl was still in place.nicely framed as he dozed. I wonder if it was there when Steve passed?

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