Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Shennanigans at the Terek Sandpiper twitch.

Yesterday I spent the morning getting wound up watching Chris Packham's video blog expose of the Maltese hunters. I was frustrated, saddened and angry after watching all seven episodes back-to-back so I was in need of some entertainment to lighten the load. It came in the form of a Terek Sandpiper at Covenham Reservoir just north of Louth in Lincolnshire. Up until the end of 2012 there had been 75 accepted records of this bird in the UK ( plus another five in Eire making around 80 in the British Isles) so this was around about the 76th depending on how many, if at all, were accepted in 2013. This bird is more than likely the same bird that turned up at Amble Marshes near Wadebridge in Cornwall on the 16th May. It looks like it is making its way out of Britain due east. Terek Sands breed along rivers - such as the Terek, hence its name - and lakes in the boreal taiga zone and winter in east Africa, Asia , Arabia and Australia. It looks like a Common Sandpiper with an up-curved bill. A great bird to see in Britain, this one turned up at a reservoir.
Covenham reservoir is a huge concrete basin with concrete banks and a concrete walkway around the edge. This meant that wherever the bird tried to feed along the water's edge it was exposed and in the open and all of the photographers and birders who wanted to could get really close to it. And loads of them did. So the bird would try to feed a little, get spooked by a battery of lenses and scopes peering at it from a few feet, fly off over the water and flutter back to the water's edge at some other point. There then followed the spectacle of birders and photographers rushing off for the nearest point to the bird and off it went again. And so on and so on. If you stayed put the bird would soon come to within range of a decent 300mm lens but the temptation to go and stick their lenses up its backside proved too irresistible to some and then the fun and games really began and I forgot all about the Maltese hunters...There were threats...there was a lot of swearing...there was some bleating... and one bloke in particular was in danger of being drowned by a very pissed off and irate local photographer who had been there for four hours and who had not got a shot of the bird 'cus the other bloke kept scaring it away. After an hour I couldn't make my mind up what I was enjoying the most: the Sandpiper or the belly-aching, shouting, moaning and argy-bargy. Ah heady days!
As I write this the day after visiting the reservoir the bird is still showing well so it probably was not that bothered by all of the attention. I might go back to see if there are any photographers face down in the water!

Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus Covenham Reservoir, Lincs

Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus Covenham Reservoir, Lincs

On the way home it was but a short detour to Frampton Marsh RSPB reserve. Here I caught up with an adult breeding plumaged Spoonbill. Although the bird was fairly distant all of the breeding plumage features could be seen quite well. An ochre breast patch and a yellow-ochre throat patch as well as the bright yellow tip to its weird bill gave this otherwise all white bird a bit more of a contrast. This bird could well be a male as it had quite a long bushy crest. It didn't do much during the hour that I watched it. It just stood in the water pulling shapes! We all have our favourite but unfortunately the picture quality is not much cop due to the extreme cropping.

Spoonbill pulling Shape # 1

Shape # 2 - Careful

Shape # 3

Shape # 4

Shape # 5

Extreme Shape #' 6

Shape # 7 - Elegant

Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia in Breeding Plumage pulling shape # 8

Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia in Breeding Plumage and having a laugh. Shape # 9

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