Saturday, 7 September 2013

Waders And The Lost Lark

The title of this post came out of a ridiculous game we played to pass the time during an August holiday on Scilly, putting bird names into song and film titles. Winning song entries included: Coot 66 and If You Wanna Be My Plover by The Spice Gulls (suggested by George, aged 10); Dove Is In The Air; (Girls Go Crazy 'Bout a) Sharp-tailed Sand; and Kittiwake Me Up Before You Go-go. You get the idea.
Juvenile Dotterel photographed on Bryher in August
Having milked songs to death, we progressed to film titles (Starling Wars, The Spotshank Redemption, etc etc). Fittingly, giving Ian Fleming's inspiration for his most famous character, the James Bond movies provided a rich seam of potential (Goldfincher, Skylarkfall, Mooncraker...). You'll be playing it yourself soon, mark my words.
I was too early for Dotterel on a trip to Scotland in spring, and wasn't expecting much in the way of landbirds on Scilly in August, so this was a bonus
After driving each other quite mad with a week of this, our last day saw us on Bryher, where a juvenile Dotterel and a Short-toed Lark had been seen on Shipman Head Down. This is a large area of heather-clad high ground at the north end of the island, with convex slopes on all sides. I wandered around for an hour failing to find either bird, and was on the point of rejoining the family on the beach when I stumbled across the Dotterel on the path a few yards from where I had started looking.
The Dotterel with the sea in the background
Dotterel are often confiding but I had to be patient and stay low to gain this one's confidence enough to get close, and despite sporadic cloud cover, the constant feeding action of the bird and my own chronic indecision about camera settings, I was eventually able to get some decent shots.
I posted a square cropped version of this shot on Birdguides a couple of weeks back which proved quite popular - photographer Artur Stankiewicz commented he'd like to see more of the background - so here you go Artur 
The Short-toed Lark eluded me, although it was still present later in the day, but I wasn't complaining. With a hatful of rare seabirds and a Dotterel under my belt, I saw better birds on this trip than on some of our late October visits to the islands.

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