Friday, 18 September 2015

A right buff bird

I've just got back from taking August off in Oz, so the UK birding has been a bit slim. Autumn however is upon us, bringing with it the promise of rare birds turning uo anywhere and anytime. So, with the option of taking a Friday off I perused birdguides to find any juicy morsels.
First up was Dorset, with a buff-breasted sandpiper at Osmington Mills. This would be a lifer for me, and is in an area I know well.
A 5.15 start got me to Dorset by about 8. I had a small issue with finding the car park, but eventually I turned up in a nice sheep field overlooking Portland.

It took about 15 minutes to find the right field, along a track parallel to the coast. The sandpiper was apparently cosying up with a small flock of ringed plovers. I thought that was strange to start with, as you normally think of plovers as being on marshes and estuaries not a dry field on top of a cliff.
Who am I to say anything though. There was a small flock of about 10 plovers happily pottering about in the field.

Fortunately, alongside them was another bird - the buff-breasted sandpiper.

I spent about an hour in all watching it happliy feeding in the field. Another birder turned up as well, Mark, who was more local than me and was very excited to find the bird as it was a lifer for him.

A really nice bird and a good start to the Autumn.

this still left me the rest of the day though, so I headed off down the coast to West Sussex. Basically it was where I went for the Hudsonian Whimbrel in spring. this time though the main target was a grey phalarope. Normally these are either on the sea and distant or skulking at the back of a marsh. This one however was almost too close.

We stood by a pool next to a road, with cars hurtling past behind us, whilst the phalarope kept going back and forth happily feeding in the shallows. It was ridiculously close at times.

The second course on the pool was a rather elusive and skulking pectoral sandpiper, with an overflying merlin hunting hirundines adding a bit of excitement as well.
Finally I moved down to Church Norton. In the actual churchyard were a pair of flycatchers - a pied and a spotted.

The spotted was showing well but was also very territorial and everytime the female pied flycatcher settled it was moved on, so no photos!!
Still, a good start to the Autumn campaign.