Saturday, 19 October 2013

Do 2 semi-p's make a whole one?

News on the wires from Thursday of a semi-palmated plover at Hayling Island. Flew off, but was back again and well twitched on Friday. so, the choice was basically work-party or a mega on the south coast!!! Early start had me at the viewing point about 8.20 with about 20 other early starters. The bird was showing at high tide, which wasn't till about 12 or later so settled in for a long wait. For those who don't know, the semi-p is VERY similar to our normal ringed plovers, and this one was hanging out with them, and there were lots of them. So, as these things do, we merrily spent 2 hours desperately trying to convince ourselves (and bt 10.30 there were about 300 on site) that juvenile r-p's could be the bird. We mulled over sizing differences, beak size and shape, plumage variation and comparisons to photos already posted and at least 4 birds were seriously considered.
AS time went on as well as people more birds arrived. Eventually there was a flock of a few hundred birds - dunlin, sanderling and r-p's. No one made a convincing case thought for a candidate.
Then about 10.35 or so the whole flock took off for a quick tour of the sand spit and as they were coming down one bird announced itself with a piercing redshank-like call. This was how it first got id on Thursday and everyone immediately scanned the birds as they came down and very quickly we all got onto it. A much smaller bird, softer in appearance, shorter beak, plumage spot on, and the call clinched it. It only stayed for about 5 minutes though before the whole flock departed, much to the chagrin of those arriving late for the high tide!! It was relocated later though further down the beach.
So, a real mega and my first year-tick back from Scotland with the tail end of the migration still available.
and the title of the post? Well, that makes both semi-palmateds this year (this plover and the sandpiper at Abbotsbury, so can you add them together to make one fully palmated bird???