Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Stilt Sand and Marsh Sand in Leicestershire, what the F**K!! 27th May 2008.

Stilt Sandpiper what the fu*k part 1

Marsh Sandpiper what the fu*k part 2

Part 1:
The day started quietly, as I was working at home downloading my orchid photos from the previous day exclusion to Kent.
When suddenly at around 11.00am, Andy Mackay phoned me on my mobile to say that Steve Lister had just seen a Stilt Sandpiper on lagoon1 at Rutland Water, "WHAT THE F**K!" I shouted, I thanked Andy for the message, and said I would meet him at Rutland Water asap.
To put this into context, this sighting was a first for the county, a first for the midlands region, and probably only the 25Th time this rare American wader had been recorded in Britain.
Driving reasonable quick to Rutland Water, it only took me half an hour to get to the site from my house,where I was told that the bird was showing from Harrier and Mallard hide.
Stopping briefly at Mallard hide, I spoke to Andrew Harrop who was watching the bird,and kindly put me onto the bird, which was showing distantly from edge of the scrape near Harrier hide.
Thanking Andrew for putting me on the bird, I then moved on to Harrier hide to get a better view of the Sandpiper.
Arriving at the hide, as you can imagine, it was pretty pack with a good number of the local birders viewing the bird.
Although the Sandpiper was still a bit distant, you could clearly see all the distinctive features of this good looking Yankee wader.
With the pressure off I watched the bird for the next half an hour, and noted down the features of the bird.
Whilst talking to the other birders I found out that one of the Fulmars, from the previous day was still in South Arm 3.
So myself and Allen Pocock decided to move down to Gadwall hide to look for the Fulmar.
Reaching Gadwall hide, we scanned the nearby water, and picked up the Fulmar just off a fisherman's boat in the middle of the reservoir.
Like Sunday's sighting this was a county tick for Allen as like myself he had missed the last three twitchable Fulmars recorded in the county.
Walking back to the centre, I picked up another year tick in the form of a Turtle Dove which calling from a nearby tree between Tern and Harrier hide.
After speaking to Jez Robson who was watching the Turtle Dove as well, he informing me that the Temminck's Stint was still down at Cossington Meadows, which he had seen earlier in the morning.
So on leaving Rutland Water, I drove back to home via Cossington Meadows to look for the Stint.
Reaching Cossington, I was soon at Plover Meadow, and found the Stint almost straight the way, as it feed over the muddy pools. Other notable sightings on the meadow included a single Common Sandpiper, and six tundra-type Ringed Plovers.
A quick search around the rest of the reserve I saw a Greenshank on the Upper Marsh and a "Gropper" still reeling by Lower Marsh.
Returning to my car, I got home around 4.00pm, and decided to have an afternoon siesta after I had been running around like a blue arsed fly for the last few hours.

Part 2:
I was suddenly woken up by my pager going off at around 6.30pm and I looked at the message, Marsh Sandpiper on Lagoon 1 at Rutland Water!, What? was I dreaming, rubbing my eyes again, the message definitely said Marsh Sandpiper at Rutland Water.
This was when the headless chicken syndrome kicked in, I first phoned Andy Mackay for him to say yes it was one, as Matthew Berriman had just phoned him about the sandpiper, I then told him I would pick him up from house as it was on the way to Rutland, then phoned John Hague to let him know about the sandpiper (who almost choked on his pasta when been told of the bird).
Picking up Andy at his house, we were at Rutland Water again by 7.15pm.
Arriving at Harrier hide, the hide was full with all the usual faces and the sandpiper was feeding well on the scrape. RESULT and another county tick to boot!
Watching the Sandpiper for the next half hour, it was joined by three Black tailed Godwits,a summer plumaged brick red Knot, three Dunlins and at least sixteen Tundra-type Ringed Plovers all feeding around the scrape.
Walking slowly back to the car, with John and Andy, we commented that this day will go done in history as Leicestershire was the place to be on 27Th May 2008, well in ornithological terms any way!
To put this in context, I don't think Leicestershire birding has ever had two county first on the same day, let alone at the same site or from the same hide on a truly remarkable day.

I would like to thanks Matthew Berriman for the supplying the photos of the Sandpipers and for finding the Marsh Sand!

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