Day 50. I was hoping for some lovely weather to go with today's landmark but alas it started pretty grim. And that includes the birds too, as morning seawatching was very quiet, hardly anything moving at all. I guess the easterly winds do have some downsides, and quiet seawatching is one of them. Red Throated Diver close in was nice though, you could almost make out the summer plumage!
However, just as we were wrapping up seawatching a couple of day visitors came in and told us about a Little Stint on canal ponds. I headed over while the others continued seawatching, but to tell them if it were the case. Indeed it was the case, as I arrived to find the bird along with a small group of Dunlin and no less than 13 Snipe. It was too distant to really get any great shots, though they are certainly an improvement on whats been before. It was certainly the best view I have ever had of one, and the first time I have ever confidently been able to recognise it. The stripes down the back were very clear, along with the scaling and pale colouring. The size also stood out, seeing it run around with the dunlin and yet being half the size was something new to witness, having previously only ever seen them on their own. I grabbed a few shots, not brilliant but much better than anything I have had in the past.
The Stint was great to see, the first time I have been properly able to appreciate one. However, as I mentioned, there were a lot of snipe on the scrape. And when Snipe are there, most other birds fall into the back seat, in my eyes anyway. I was treated today to 13 individuals, some of which came incredibly close and I was able to take increase the number of photos in my snipe gallery. Just look at them, they are just so lovely!
It was my plan to go and find migrants on Sammies point, as it was an area that needed to be patched. It just so happened that I was almost at the paddocks to see what migrants had dropped in when the unthinkable happened.
The radio buzzed with news that an Icterine Warbler had been caught at kew and that it would be released in 10 mins. I hate running for birds, but this would have to be done. I ran pretty much the whole way back to find Mick Turton leaning on his car. I asked if the bird had been released (Since I had no idea of time having had to focus on my lack of fitness). He informed me that the bird had been released and had flown over the hedge. I was a broken man! He had a little chuckle to himself, of course the bird had not yet been released, a little birder banter I think...
Paul came round about 5 mins later with the bird to show to a small group. It was an agitated thing, so Paul had to hold its wings down. But I was still able to see the head and tail, getting a few photos to improve on the record shots that I had gained 2 days ago. It was a different bird to that individual, meaning I have now seen 2 Icterine warblers. In the hand you get a different appreciation for birds, and as such I put myself in a better position to identify one next time.
I returned to sammies after the bird had been released to give the place a thorough checking. I found good numbers of migrants, with Whinchat, Redstart, Pied and Spotted Flycatcher all found in different numbers. There were also a few Mediterranean Gulls flying over, so a good helping of great species.
After the excursions of the morning I could not face much more walking after sammies and so headed back to the warren for so much needed rest. After about an hour recovering from my run I decided to take my washing up to Kew, picking up a few Pied Flycatchers and Whinchats on the way. I bumped into Steve who told me about an adult male pied fly in the roadside bushes, but I could not find it on the first attempt. I had intended to try again, but the radio struck again with news of a Wryneck at sammies (!). I grabbed a lift off a couple of birders and headed straight there, just in time to get one good view of the bird before it dived into a ditch not to be seen again that evening. I still saw the bird and all its features but the view was all too brief.
I got a lift back down to the terns, of which we had a decent night with around 3000 Terns moving south, including 4 Black Terns. But the real highlight, and I mean real highlight was when Mick (who was up the coast) radioed that a Spoonbill was flying down south. We all followed it from a speck until it was almost above us, giving me the best view of the species I have ever had and a chance to properly get a view of the bill, not something I had got at Fairburn.
It was the best view of the species I had ever had ( though that's not saying much) and thoroughly unforgettable, as these recent days all have been.
In the evening I went down with Paul and Tim to see if we could ring some terns, but we failed to catch any and called it quits quite early. We did see plenty of Shooting Stars though, including one absolute monster, the biggest I have ever seen. A great end to the day.
Canal Scrape: Little Stint, Common Snipe, Dunlin, Redshank, Coot, Wheatear, Mallard, Woodpigeon, Willow Warbler
Mooching About: Whinchat, Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Shelduck, Mediterranean Gull, Black-Headed Gull, Little Egret, Redshank, Grey Plover,
Seawatching: Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Black Tern, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Black-Headed Gull, Common Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Spoonbill,