It was difficult to leave these surroundings and such light.
I reckon the rainbow was a celebration of me eventually finding a Green Sandpiper this year!
27th Aug. That old Carole King classic was on my mind when I looked out of the window early on Saturday morning. I was due to give a talk at St Mary’s Island and had intended to go down there early to grab a bit of the atmosphere and do some birding. I was more inclined to go back to bed when I heard the forecast for worsening rain which was forecast for the day, but no, I’m an all weather birder so whilst I didn’t get down quite as early as I planned I was still down there just as the rain stopped. The tide was out and the atmosphere was indeed very good. I also caught sight of a couple of interesting birds, one of them being a Yellow Wagtail on the rocks south of the island and in with the large numbers of Pied Wagtail. I hadn’t expected anyone turning up for the talk such had been the poor start to the day, but it proved to be a success with twenty-four participants. Just goes to show that the weather does not put off the interested!
The talk was followed by a short walk and despite most of the terns having left the area by now we still had numbers of Sandwich Terns and someone reported Arctic Terns flying south, but I didn’t see them myself. It was the waders that made the day for most however. It proved to be an ideal time to show some the changing plumage of the waders and the large flocks of Golden Plover proved a great attraction. Many of these birds still retained much of their summer plumage. Mixed in with them were a couple of Knot, one still in fading summer plumage and another seeming to have full winter plumage. Several Wheatears where found in the same area. Ringed Plovers seemed to be especially numerous amongst the expected wader flocks. We ended things off with a walk around the wetland which brought little other than Whitethroat and Goldfinch although some saw a Sparrowhawk, and a Kestrel flew overhead. The Curlew flock was checked for Whimbrel without success. It had been enjoyable watching the flocks of waders both on the ground and in the air as the tide came in.
After my duties for the morning were over I had decided to walk up to Holywell by the usual route. Thanks are offered to the birder who put me onto both Sooty Shearwater and Arctic Skua. I later found another Arctic Skua, although not the Manx Shearwaters that yet another birder had been watching. A small flock of Common Scoter flew north and there were good numbers of Gannet, Eider Duck and Guillemot and a few Razorbills.
The walk through the dene was very quiet although I did briefly see Grey Wagtails and eventually found Chiffchaff which had been giving out huit huit calls throughout the dene. Blackcap was also heard. The white rump of Bullfinch was briefly seen flying away on the Avenue path.
Before reaching Holywell pond I checked out East Pool, but found nothing more than Moorhens. The pool here seems now to have lost the good area for waders as it has become overgrown in the main. On the way to Holywell Pond I counted circa one hundred and seventy Lapwings in the ploughed field. Even though not that far away they could quite so easily have been missed and I guess they were by most passers by. The whole flock just blended into the surroundings so well. It wasn’t until I focused the scope on them that the brilliant colouring of the plumage was picked up.
I arrived at the public hide to be told that a Spoonbill had disappeared only ten minutes before my arrival. Apparently it had flown in around the same time as a Curlew Sandpiper and a Ruff. The latter two birds had flown off almost right away, but the Spoonbill has stayed a short time but not long enough! None of these birds returned whilst I, and others alerted to the Spoonbill, were around. More Lapwings gave a total of two hundred and thirty-five. There were flocks of Greylag and Canada Geese and the pair of Mute Swans was there with the grown brood. There is a growing number of Teal on the pond now along with Mallard, Shoveller, Pochard, Tufted Duck and Little Grebe. Numbers of Lesser Black Backed Gulls grew as I watched and Grey Herons were active.
I took a slow walk along to the members hide as by now it had turned into a warm and bright evening. The morning weather forecast had been completely wrong, as there had been no heavy showers at all once the heavy rain of early morning had ended. I found a Great Spotted Woodpecker high in the trees next to the new feeding station. After a while I took a walk back to the public hide as didn’t want to miss any waders that might be around. On my return I found only the Lapwings. Then around 18:45 I watched as a wader flew in and landed in front of the hide. It was a Green Sandpiper. At last I had my first Green Sandpiper of the year. Definitely the bird of the day for me. I watched it at length before deciding to make off. A rainbow appeared in the sky to the east as the sun shone in the west. The lighting around the pond was bright and clear. It hadn’t been easy to move off. The wet morning seemed to be a long way off in time now as I wandered around to Holywell Village. Sand Martins and House Martins were added to the day list of sixty-eight. I'd found a few butterflies during the day too, in the main Wall Brown. Butterflies where the last thing I had expected as I had left the house in the morning!