Sunday, 20 October 2013

Thorney (Semipalmated dot)

Sunday 20th.  The Hayling Island Semipalmated Plover had been expertly picked out on Pilsey Sands by Barry Collins.  A lunchtime high tide and not altogether bad forecast made it worth trying on the rising tide. The walk out to Longmere Point does not get any shorter.  John King and I arrived at about 08:45, soon after David Cooper and Brenda Kay.  DC soon picked up a smaller bird amongst the Ringed Plovers and got us onto it.  Unfortunately it was 200-250m away making seeing any critical detail almost impossible and although the tide was coming in it was still over half way out.  The bird flew a few times and came a bit closer.  It was sufficiently different from the Ringed Plovers that we managed to keep on it, or quickly relocate it, and we watched it continually for just over an hour.  Just after 10:00 all the waders flew and we were unable to refind it, even when the tide pushed the remaining birds closer (Barry had similar views to us when he first picked the bird up on Friday but it kept coming closer for him and he eventually saw it down to 20m and heard it calling).  A first for Sussex and barely a dozen turned up to look for it, says a lot about the County doesn't it!  The tide came right in, the bird was seen back on Hayling, a few heavy rainstorms past over, the tide went out (rather more slowly than it had come in), a lot of Ringed Plover returned but we had no more success in picking it out.  At 16:10 with the light getting much worse, the waders generally moving further out with the tide and another rain storm approaching we called it a day.  Rather frustrating to say the least.  Other birds seen at Thorney were a flyover calling Snow Bunting, 425+ Sanderling, 350+ Oystercatchers, 25 Sky Larks but just 3 Knot.
dot watching at Pilsea.
 I'm pretty sure the Semipalmated is extreme right bird but it was hard to tell through the back of the camera when digiscoping and half of the images I took were of Ringed Plover
one of these birds is almost certainly the Semipalmated Plover (not the one on the right). Comments above about taking images of the wrong bird are not thought to apply here.
Semipalmated Plover on Pilsey Sands.  It came a bit closer but then I was more interested in scrutinising it.  The small size, neat breast band, attenuated rear and dull legs were visible most of the time (through a 20-60X zoom) even at 250m range.  Careful scrutiny also revealed a small stumpy bill, contrasting paler edgings to the coverts, marginally paler mantle and shorter legs.  It appeared a very timid bird, perhaps no surprise given the greater bulk of its companions.  several times it crouched and spread its wings when a ringed Plover came too close.  It also made several 'nervous' short flights.

Saturday 19th.  In three hours around Shoreham in the morning I saw a Wheatear and 2 Rock Pipits at Shoreham Fort, nothing at New Salts Farm, a Sparrowhawk, 120 Lapwings and a Reed Bunting on the Adur and 2 Swallows, 4 Song Thrushes and 2 Chiffchaffs at Mill Hill.  A couple of slow-worms on the allotment and a hedgehog in our garden at dusk (light too ad for photos) when I returned from visiting my dad.
Wheatear at Shoreham Fort in very poor light

Monday-Friday 14-18th.  A Peregrine on the Power Station chimney most days with 2 on 16th.  A Wheatear on Southwick Beach on 14th and a Grey Wagtail on 18th.

Sunday 13th.  A brief visit to Shoreham Fort before the rain came in produced a Rock Pipit, 2 Sandwich Terns in the harbour entrance and 10 Brent Geese W.  Just the Mute Swan family (still 5 large cygnets) at Widewater. 

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