Thursday, 22 September 2011

Plan B

It wasn't to be - but then I half suspected that, after seven days, the Temminck's-cum-putative Long-toed Stint at Weir Wood Reservoir, East Sussex, might just move on overnight. So I waited on news before going - and waited, and waited. Had the bird stayed, it would have been too important to ignore, a much wanted Western Palearctic tick. But to be honest, I could also have done without slugging across the London Area in the morning rush hour to catch a glimpse of the tiny peep at a range of 400 metres. So with no sign at all of the bird today, it was off to the Lea Valley instead ...

As it flew in, this Hobby looked pretty good for an adult ...
... but note the slight brownish cast to the upperwings and the tail pattern and colour, suggesting a one-year-old bird with retained juvenile feathers. I don't expect to be seeing Hobbies of any age much later than this in London.
I called in at Rye House RSPB reserve, just beyond the northern fringe of London, for a couple of hours for today's birding fix. I was craving waders, which are largely absent from my Rainham Marshes patch at present with ongoing problems managing the water levels and habitat. There isn't a huge amount of suitable scrape at Rye House either, as the sum total of three Green Sandpipers and a Common Snipe demonstrates, but it was a chance for a bit more photography and a digiscoping practice session with some new kit (results to be uploaded separately in due course).

One of three Green Sandpipers at Rye House RSPB today.
A fly-over Siskin was an early-ish arrival, while departing migrants included Yellow Wagtail and a late-ish Hobby. At first glance the latter looked like an adult, but examining the photos more closely it looks better for a second-calendar-year bird - note the tail pattern and colour in the photos above, and also the brown wash to parts of the upperwing.

The day ended in similar fashion to yesterday, with breaking news of another mega - this time a Sandhill Crane at Loch of Strathbeg, Aberdeenshire. After last week's reports of a bird further south, and the strong winds two days ago which hit northern Scotland (where my brother was attempting to camp), it is tempting to speculate that this must be a second individual. With another in Finland which was then refound in Estonia, that's potentially three so far this autumn in the Western Palearctic. Whatever next? To find out, check back in 24 hours ...

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