Friday, 13 May 2011
Another mega - SPOTTED SANDPIPER at Caldecott - pictures by Simon West
THURSDAY 12 MAY
My first day birding in the UK for a while (following a brief incursion into Bedfordshire with MJP and KO last night) and what a day. Despite dipping out on last week's Glossy Ibis, I was more than made up today when connecting with the first SPOTTED SANDPIPER to ever grace Buckinghamshire county....
The westerly wind that blew all day yesterday veered to a much warmer SW today, with brighter periods and some warm sunshine
CALDECOTT SOUTH LAKE (NORTH BUCKS)
Following Simon Nichol's revelations that Keith's early morning images were of a SPOTTED SANDPIPER, I had to wait until mid-afternoon before finally arriving on site. MJP, the Youngs and Francis Buckle were just leaving as I pulled up in my car and quickly helped out with exact instructions on where to find the bird. Walking just 75 yards or so around the lake edge, I met up with Ben Miller and was immediately directed on to the bird - wow - what a stunner! It was a pristine SPOTTED SANDPIPER in full breeding plumage - the first-ever recorded in Buckinghamshire. It was showing impeccably well - down to 35 yards at times - wandering along one of the jetties on the east side of the lake. Although superficially similar to Common Sandpiper and of course its Nearctic counterpart, the primary differences were as follows -:
1) Extensively spotted on the underparts, extending to the flanks, lower underparts and to the vent and undertail coverts;
2) Legs very pale and yellowish unlike the greener legs of Common Sandpiper;
3) Extensive pink bill with black tip;
4) Eye-catching, extensive white supercilium;
5) A shorter tail than in Common Sandpiper;
6) In flight, a more restricted pale wingbar, with the white petering out before meeting the body
The bird was showing very well up until 1554 hours - the point at which I departed. Other than Ben, just a handful of other observers were present, including Ian Williams who had managed to obtain an excellent series of images of the bird. It kept to this one area, either cowering or flinching (but not flying) when walkers or joggers passed to within just a few feet of it on the jetties. An exceptional find and a very unexpected addition to my County List.
Large numbers of hirundines were also over the lake as well as several Common Swifts.
COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT (BUCKS)
During 1600-1630 hours, the WOOD SANDPIPER seen earlier at both Wilstone and Pitstone Quarry was showing very well on the mud in front of the new hide overlooking the marsh. It was occasionally spooked by the local Common Redshanks but mainly fed unperturbed and was my first of the year in the county, missing the influx of the last week.
The Oystercatchers were still sitting, whilst other species noted included 2 lingering drake Shovelers, the pair of Great Crested Grebes and 6 Common Swifts.
JUBILEE RIVER AT SLOUGH/ETON (BERKSHIRE)
Just a couple of miles from the Bucks county boundary, I set eyes on my first-ever ROSEATE TERN in Berkshire this evening. Kevin Duncan very kindly waited for my arrival at the site (the Jubilee River as overlooked by the small car park by the A332 roundabout at SU 971 788) but just as I pulled up, the bird took that moment to fly east (it had been sitting on the weir buoys for the past 40 minutes). As it had done this twice during the afternoon, I figured it was fishing closeby, and set off with Kevin along the towpath. As suspected, I quickly relocated the bird fishing with four Black-headed Gulls just 350-400 yards further east along the river. It was showing incredibly well and was a second-summer or adult, with salmon-pink flushed underparts, very white upperparts and upperwings, an all-dark bill and bright red legs and feet. Rather than fishing, it was actually taking insects from the water surface and was successful in catching several. It repeatedly followed a circuit and remained on view for about 15 minutes, often at ranges of just 45 yards, before it suddenly flew east and disappeared towards Queen Mother Reservoir where it had first been recorded on Tuesday. It had one tail-streamer very much shorter than the other.
LITTLE CHALFONT (SOUTH BUCKS)
At least 3 Common Swifts over my garden this evening - the first of the year in the village.