Thursday, 8 April 2010

Southern spring continues

Today's male Black-winged Stilt at Rainham.

It's been a manic post-Easter rush at the office as we finalise the May issue of Birdwatch for press, but a brief side trip to Rainham this morning was worth the effort - thanks to a find by Peter Hale and a call from Howard Vaughan, images of the first Black-winged Stilt to reach London for 12 years will now make our next South-East report.

This photogenic wader, which stayed all day, was the eighth record (but 11th individual) for the London recording area, and could well have been the bird seen at Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, earlier in the week. It is a male, perhaps a second-calendar-year bird, and it continues the fine run of Mediterranean overshoots to hit the site in the last five days, after Hoopoe (found by David Callahan, who accompanied me today) and Alpine Swift.

I dipped the Hoopoe on 5th, by which time it had gone, but had an early Sedge Warbler instead as partial compensation. Today, as we left the site, a singing male Common Whitethroat was another early warbler for the site, and a further addition to my 2010 Rainham patchlist:

109. Sedge Warbler
110. Black-winged Stilt
111. Common Whitethroat

The stilt was also a London tick, taking my overall life list for the capital to 272 species; my 2010 London year list now stands at 148 species.

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