Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Sightings of the weekend: the write up!

The Kentish Plover twitch!

Friday 27th August:
Meeting up with John Hague at Cossington Meadows after a morning looking at the gulls at Shawell and seeing 3 Yellow-legged Gulls, we both hoping for some wader action or possibly a Redstart or Whinchat on the reserve. Scanning over the tern pool the only thing of note was a group of five Wigeons and six Shovelers, but not much else.
Moving into the upper marsh section, we slowly scanned the marsh, when suddenly John shouted Spotted Crake, Fu*king Spotted Crake! Now as he said this I thought he was joking, but then realised that he wasn't!! After a couple of minutes of "heart in the mouth" situation the Crake showed again briefly as it ran along the shoreline, and then the celebrations began. We phoned out the news of the bird and then waited for the usual faces to appear.The Crake showed again briefly 10 minutes later but the bird wasn't playing ball. So after this the first birders started to appear, Jez Robson, Roger Davis and most of the Groby crew(Allen,Ben,and Paul). For the next hour the bird didn't show and John had to leave due to prior arrangements. Then finally after another half an hour the Crake appeared again as feed and bathed on the shoreline. Cue some very distant digishots of the Crake to keep the records committee happy and happy faces from the other birders! Happy with what I had see I made my good byes to the other birders and discussed the new LROS annual report with the Groby crew as we walked back to my car, but hey that's a different story!

Saturday 28th August:
Originally I was supposed to be up early the next morning for some Vis-migging at the Mammoth, Watermead CP South, but as usual I couldn't get out of bed, so for the rest of morning I spent more time down the Soar Valley, but seeing very little and having a good chat with Colin Green about up coming Biscay trips. 
So early afternoon I set off to Eyebrook to hopefully see the Pec Sand which had been found the previous day.
The next part is based on my notes taken on the Kentish Plover sighting!!

Whilst watching the Pectoral Sandpiper at EBR (Eyebrook Reservoir) mid-afternoon which had been found the previous day, I noticed a small pale plover loosely associated with the wader flock which contained the Pectoral Sandpiper. The flock was composed of Ringed Plovers, Little Ringed Plovers and Dunlin.
At this point I said to Colin Towe,Chris Lythall and Paul Powell to take a look at this plover as I thought it might be a Juvenile Kentish Plover?
Over the next hour or so we discussed the ID of the plover and ruled out an aberrant Ringed or Little Ringed Plover as the bird showed features for a juvenile Kentish Plover, and we asked the question why this bird wasn’t a Kentish Plover?
By this time Roger Davis, Rod Baker, Dave Scott and John Thatcher arrived on site and they spoke of a similar bird they had seen earlier but could not ID, They jokingly said that it might be a Kentish Plover!
By now I had seen most of the distinctive features of the bird and was almost 100% certain the bird was a Juvenile Kentish Plover. At around the same time I took a few digishots of the bird, as did Richard Bayldon and Jim Graham.
The majority of the group were now happy with the ID of the bird, so I made a few phone calls to Andy Mackay, John Hague and Birdnet news service about the bird, and to put it out as a “probable” Kentish Plover at around 5.30pm.
As the Plover flew towards the inflow end of the reservoir it was noted how small and pale the bird looked the further away it was!
Distinctive features seen included:
The bird was noticeably smaller than the nearby Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers and slightly larger than the Dunlin. The bird was a pale sandy colour on the upperparts and clean white underneath. Also when seen close up it was noted to show pale fringing on the upperparts.  The legs were a greeny-grey colour and when the bird was noted running or walking along the shoreline it give the impression that the bird looked top-heavy.
On the upper parts you could clearly see the restricted breast-side patches and the white collar around the head and nape. The bill of the plover was black in colour and small and thin in shape.
Other features seen included a white stripe above the eye and in front of the eye.
At times when viewing the Plover, you could also see a faint gingery feathering around the back of the head and nape.
 The tail of the bird was short and give the impression that it was much shorter than the nearby Ringed and Little Ringed Plover. In flight the bird was noted to have a prominent wing bar and looked paler and smaller than the other plovers. On discussion with John Hague who saw the bird on Sunday it showed broad white side to the tail and rump, often visible when the bird was feeding.

Talking to Andy Mackay later in the evening, he let me know about an email he had received from another birder who had seen a small pale plover at around 12.30pm and thought it might be a “probable” Kentish plover at the same location. Maybe this was the finder of the bird?

So to conclude a great weekend in finding birds and sometimes you feel you were in the right place at the right time!

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