Sunday, 15 September 2013

Spot Red at Rainham

Adult Spotted Redshank at Rainham RSPB today: up to three have been reported recently. 
Spotted Redshank is something of an oddity on migration. At favoured sites it is present in numbers from midsummer annually - obvious examples are the RSPB reserves at Titchwell (Norfolk), Minsmere (Suffolk), Old Hall Marshes (Essex) and Elmley (Kent) - but at other seemingly suitable wetlands nearby it can be relatively rare. My patch at Rainham RSPB is an example of this phenomenon. For the last two winters a single bird has overwintered on the Thames foreshore just across the river at Erith, but it rarely strays to the north side despite plenty of good feeding habitat; perhaps the absence of shopping trolleys, bollards and dirt bike riders is the problem. Passing migrant 'Spot Reds' are also a novelty at Rainham, so I was delighted to see this adult today while leading a walk with Bob Watts for about 20 people celebrating the birthday of upcoming young birder Henry Wyn-Jones. Such is the species' scarcity in London that it was a lifer for Henry, and views like this one are therefore especially welcome. It was one of 65 species I logged during the morning's visit, the other highlights including a Garganey, two or three Hobbies, two Common Buzzards, two juvenile Curlew Sandpipers (even rarer at the site than Spotted Redshank), 12 Greenshank (a very high count), two Black-tailed Godwits and three Yellow-legged Gulls (juvenile, second-winter and adult).

Here's a couple of Spot Reds I prepared earlier, for comparison: a nice dusky juvenile (above, Norfolk, 28 August 2011), and a first-winter, aged by its unmoulted juvenile wing coverts (below, Thailand, 10 February 2011).

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