Monday 20 September 2010

A busy weekend - White-rumped sandpiper and King eider.

Oare Marshes, Kent.

On Friday I went to Oare marshes to see the white-rumped Sandpiper. I did see one last year at Abberton Reservoir (if seeing a tiny dot on the far side of the Reservoir counts). At Oare, the bird was much nearer, but it is a small bird so it's difficult to get a reasonable photo. It's actually smaller than a dunlin. When I arrived, one or 2 people were looking at a redstart in a bush near the road. I decided to get the Sandpiper in the bag first, so made my way to the sea path just beyond the sluice. The white-rumped Sandpiper was showing very well at a distance of 60 m or so. I watched it for a while and took some photographs before heading back to see the redstart.

White-rumped sandpiper.

The redstart was proving a little elusive but very entertaining. I hadn't had an opportunity of observing an adult redstart in action before. There was a lot of tail flicking of its gorgeous red (well, actually more orange than red) tail. It also pounced on insects on the ground.

Common redstart.

While watching the redstart it became apparent that the bush contained other birds as well. A gorgeous lesser whitethroat emerged to eat some berries, and it was joined shortly afterwards by a common whitethroat. I watched these birds for over an hour before going to scan the main flood.

Lesser whitethroat.

I was hoping to see little stints , but no luck. A large flock of golden plover flew in. There were half a dozen ruff, a common snipe, as well as the usual lapwings, black-tailed godwits, a couple of avocets, little egrets, teal, shoveller, cormorant, etc.

Golden plover.

Minsmere, Suffolk.

I started early on Saturday to go to Minsmere for the King eider, hoping to narrow David Campbell's lead in our British lists. The bird had been seen anywhere along a 3 or 4 mile stretch of coastline. I arrived at 8.15 but the centre didn't open until 09.00. I decided to go straight to the sluice where a couple of people were already on the bird. I had a quick look through their telescope in case it flew off before setting up my tripod. The eider was quite distant, over halfway to the horizon so these pictures of it are very poor.

King eider.

Having bagged the King eider, I walked further along the beach where some early birders were looking for 2 Lapland buntings. The sand and shingle area between the beach and the path was covered with large clumps of reed grass. One of the birdwatchers found a bunting which, although I couldn't see it, was clearly heading my way. I sat down on the beach, lowered my tripod and waited. A little later a very nice Lapland bunting appeared between the tufts and I was able to take a few photos. It was being stalked by several photographers now and it quickly disappeared again.

Lapland bunting.

One of the birdwatchers mentioned that a large flock of bearded tits was in the reeds by the sluice. I walked down with another birdwatcher and we came across the flock very quickly.

Bearded tits. Male above, female below.

They didn't stay long so we scanned the lake. My companion picked out a very strange looking hybrid goose, which looked like a cross between a barnacle goose and a Canada goose.

Hybrid goose. Probably Canada/barnacle.

After breakfast at the centre I walked around the reserve again. The king eider was still present in the afternoon. There was a single bar tailed godwit, a couple of avocets and a spotted redshank, but nothing else of note.

On the feeders back at the centre I noticed a great tit with a strange fleshy tube beneath its bill. It had a similar lesion on one of its wings. It was eating from the feeder so I hope it will live.

Deformed great tit.


  1. Some truly excellent photos that sum up autumn here, Phil

  2. Thanks, David. Yes, it's a great time of year.

  3. Looks like you had a lot of fun!

  4. great stuff, and great photos. paul


Welcome. If you have a Google or Gmail account, use this form to comment on any blog posting. Comments are moderated first so there will be a short delay before they appear.