Sunday, 16 August 2015

Green Sandpiper Pick of the Day

15th Aug.  It’s been a while since all three of the all weather birders had met up, but Sam, Tom and I were out in the sun today.  It was a slow start with little about other than Willow Warblers in the willows, although it wasn’t long until we were watching three Whinchat and a Wheatear west of the mounds as we walked towards New Hartley having spotted a few faces we know along the way.  I seem to remember a Kestrel catching the eye, but otherwise apart from the usual waders things were very quiet.  The wetland was being spruced up so we didn’t hang around there for long, although Tom had found Sedge Warbler there before we arrived and Pied Flycatcher had been reported.  We heard later that the Long Eared Owl had been seen again.

There were far fewer terns about over the sea today and I missed the small number of Common Scoter seen.  The flock of Knot at Seaton Sluice included one or two in partial summer plumage.  Other waders seen in the area were Oystercatcher, Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew.  The excitement of the day was provided by two Weasels showing well at Seaton Sluice, one being a youngster.  We were uncertain as to the prey they had caught.  One of them went rolling down the bank towards the mouth of the burn.  Grey Seal had provided some mammalian interest too, although only briefly.

Holywell Dene was fairly silent, although we did catch sight of a Sparrowhawk flying across our path and we occasionally heard birds high in the trees.

We were hoping that Holywell Pond would provide us with some notable waders.  Before we arrived at the public hide we were greeted by large flocks of Lapwing.  A family of nine Grey Partridges out in the open field give a fine sighting with the male bird typically guarding the young which occasionally stooped down and were lost to sight.   Once in the hide and saying hello once again to BD we saw that the lone Dunlin and one of the Ruff were still showing although not as well as on the recent evening visit.  Swift, Sand Martin, Swallow and House Martins were feeding in small numbers.  The usual waterfowl, Little Grebes, Grey Herons and gulls were present.  Goldcrest had been heard.

Green Sandpiper courtesy of Sam.
A short walk took us to the members hide where we found Song Thrush along the path.  It wasn’t long before we had our best sighting of the day in the form of Green Sandpiper showing really well and close to the left of the hide.  I can’t say I have ever seen this species so well as this before.  I’m never quite sure what the intention is for area around the hide.  It certainly lacks the appeal of years gone by, but we couldn’t complain this afternoon, as dappled sunlight lit the area of reed, other vegetation and water, showing the Green Sandpiper at its very best.  We had just been talking about a possible trip to Blacktoft Sands, but on reflection perhaps we have better birding opportunities on our doorstep and I can’t eve remember seeing Green Sandpiper so well at Blacktoft.  Mind you there are Montague Harriers to consider!  Anyway our little scene at Holywell was perfect with the reeds and grasses reflected in the water and the Green Sandpiper giving such a wonderful display, seemingly relaxed although every now and again bobbing that rear end.  It was perfectly aware I’m sure of our presence.  The scene was completed when a Water Rail came along the edge of the reed-bed also giving a wonderful close sighting just behind the Green Sandpiper.  Unfortunately I haven’t had my photography gear with me on recent outings, but Sam has provided an image of the Green Sandpiper.  This was one of my special birding experiences and the type of birding I so much enjoy, quality rather than rarity.  It wasn’t easy to leave, but we had to eventually, shortly after hearing Common Snipe calling.

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