Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Snap, Crackle and Pectoral

17th July.  No finer way to start the day than with some cereal and a lifer.  I’m not too proud to admit that a sighting of a Pectoral Sandpiper would in fact provide me with a lifer!  So after the cereal my old friend Lee and I headed north to Cresswell full of confidence that we would soon be watching the Pectoral Sandpiper…………..

On arrival at the causeway I wondered if it was even worth getting the scope out of the car as surely the Pectoral Sandpiper was going to be seen so easily that any such device would not be required.  I lifted it out anyway.  We crossed the road and looked.  What we found was a lone Redshank and a herd of cows heading down the field for a drink at the pond edge!  We were soon joined by a number of other equally disappointed birders, but at least they appear to have already seen this bird on previous days.  Lee got his eye on what he initially thought might be the bird we were after but it turned into a stone.  We knew the bird had been seen this morning, but someone suggested the fine weather had encouraged it to leave.  Yes, it was fine today and it was good to feel the sun on the skin, if somewhat a shock to the system.  One or two fellow birders made off very quickly.  We hung around for a while and watched the Linnets and Pied Wagtails.  I was just going to suggest moving on and calling back later when Lee, who had been watching juvenile Pied Wagtails, suddenly found a wader in the background.  Yes it was the Pectoral Sandpiper!  It didn’t fly in, so must have appeared from a dip in the landscape.  So we started the day with a lifer after all and I have to say I found it quite an attractive bird.  Not like a Dunlin (I had half expected it be just that) at all and quite a distinctive species.  As Collins Bird Guide says, when upright it is very like a small Ruff in appearance.  Oh well, everything comes to those who wait and it was a good clear sighting giving a Collins Guide view.

We moved off and headed for East Chevington wondering if the Red Backed Shrike was still about.  If it is we didn’t find it, but we did find more sun and my first Roseate Tern of the year.  It was amongst large numbers of Sandwich, Common and Arctic Terns.  Otherwise the area was generally quite, but we did spot a couple of Mediterranean Gulls.  I’d heard a Sedge Warbler on arrival and we caught a brief sight of one or two later.  There were numbers of Reed Bunting.  Little Grebe was seen along with the likes of Grey Heron and gulls.  So maybe not that quiet.

Next stop was Druridge Pools.  There was no sign of any owls.  The walk to the other hides was aborted due to flooding of the pathway.  I decided that to get up there would require us to treat it as an army obstacle course and if I’d wanted to do that I’d have given up birding and joined the army.  I was told that some one had attempted the route with dog in one arm telescope in another.  Another birder arrived in wellington boots which seemed to have been a wise decision, but personally I preferred not to wear wellington boots on one of the few sunny days of the summer!  I was getting really warm by now, but felt a bit of a cool draft down my back.  I soon realised that it wasn’t a breeze getting up but the fact that my  shirt bought at Next had ripped open down the back.  Now this is no Mark’s and Spencer rubbish, and when I shop at Next I expect better quality.  You can’t trust anywhere these days.  Time wasn’t wasted as I caught sight of a Cinnabar Moth.

We arrived back at Cresswell and headed for the hide finding Tree Sparrows along the way.  The sand bank area held two Avocet, Oystercatchers, Lapwing, twelve Dunlin, Turnstone, Redshank, five Black-tailed Godwit and Curlew.  Also seen here were Sandwich, Common and Arctic Terns along with four Mediterranean Gulls and five Little Gulls, one of the latter being an adult.  There was a number of Shelduck, mainly juveniles on the water.  I remembered that these birds form a crèche.

No sea watching was done today but instead we made for Beacon Lane and Arcot.  OK then, so I’d read that Crammy Birder had seen a Little Owl in this area.  I didn’t!  In fact it was very quiet.  We did see the first Blackbird of the day and watched a Song Thrush bathing in a puddle.  I was told by a passing driver who stopped to speak (he either had to stop or run us down on the narrow lane) that there are plans to develop this area with 1,000s of houses.  Not more damn houses!  Anyway he looked at me and said ‘but don’t worry it won’t be in your life time’.  I’m still wondering what he meant by that the cheeky devil!    Much of the area near Arcot seems to be a quagmire, not helped I suspect by the introduction of the cattle and horses.  I have to admit I wasn’t there very long so can’t comment too much, but I’m wondering what they have done to the area with fences having been put up. The cattle seem to be in the area where I have seen Grasshopper Warblers in the past.  I did hear Willow Warbler and briefly saw Sedge Warbler and Bullfinch.

So a good day was had with fifty-eight species, a lifer and two for the year list.  No photos today ‘cos’ no camera.  It didn’t rain in the afternoon as had been forecast, but have no fear it’s raining now!  High pressure on the way however.  On arrival home I met my neighbour who had been enjoying the sun.  I made her day by telling her its ‘gonna’ rain heavily tomorrow.

Note to self………must do some sea watching soon!


  1. Your right about the Pec being a really distinctive species. Spend two days watching it! A real little beauty.

    Druridge is as good a place as any for a spot of sea watching too! lots of Divers in at the moment and Puffin, Gannet and Scoters always knocking about :)

    Nice post!

  2. Thanks.:-)
    It had slipped my mind that I had read in your blog that you had recently recorded Great ND. If I had remembered I'd have taken a look.
    I was told by another birder that he had recorded circa 100 Sanderling (in summer plumage) on the beach today.
    Very nice area. Keep your blog going.:-)
    Cheers Brian.