Sunday 20 January 2013

Tough choices

'Touch choices' is a phrase habitually used by Governments to describe, for example, doing something for the benefit of people, who get to vote, which will be bad for wildlife, which doesn't. In other words, not a tough choice at all, unless you're wildlife, in which case it's tough indeed.

The choice facing me yesterday morning was no tougher than whether to head off clockwise or anti-clockwise around Poole Harbour. I chose clockwise. First up, Holes Bay where a flock of 15 Spoonbills can be found at the moment, feeding just yards from a 4-lane dual carriageway. Whether it's the traffic noise, or that they have just forgotten Spoonbill etiquette, this flock can often be see actually doing something.

12 of the 15 strong canteen of Spoonbills in Holes Bay
This flock includes a colour-ringed bird,  ringed as a nestling in The Netherlands and now on its 6th winter in the UK

Wigeon loaf around the margins of the Bay next to the cycle path. As pedestrians, joggers or cyclists approach they scud out from the shore, then back in again as the danger passes. If you watch the sweep of the Bay a ripple effect of this can be seen over some distance as the wave of birds breathes in and out with the human traffic. The pair below were bolder, however, feeding around the outflow of one of the drains and allowing a close approach.

Wigeon - drake

Wigeon - duck

A sizeable flock of Dunlin was in Holes Bay, along with 100+ Avocet and 5 Spotted Redshank
Next stop was Shore Road near Sandbanks where a small selection of waders were present. This site is very prone to disturbance but unusually I enjoyed at least an hour there with the unperturbed waders before the first dog walker put them up. Perhaps the cold weather was keeping folk indoors.



A flock of 35 Sanderling included many ringed birds and one colour-ringed bird. I sent off details of this bird last night and a very prompt reply from researcher Jeroen Reneerkens reveals that it was ringed in the Dutch Wadden Sea, where Sanderlings arrive from the breeding area in Greenland in late summer, in August 2012. He adds 'after they have completed their wing moult they all leave the Wadden Sea from mid October onwards to winter at locations elsewhere, such as southern England'.

Part of the flock of 35 Sanderling present

The Sanderling were close enough to hear some soft calls

Sander-bling: four-colour rings and a big yellow flag made this one stand out from the crowd. A little disappointing to learn that it was only ringed last August in The Netherlands. Who knows where it had been before that?
Stars of the show for me today though were the Bar-tailed Godwits. Just 5 were present when I arrived and with a careful approach I was able to get reasonably close without much help from the Harbour's erratic tides, which threatened to push them closer but never quite made it. Then 75 more flew in and fed around me as I sat on the edge of the mud.

Bar-tailed Godwit

Bar-tailed Godwit

A beautiful bird in winter plumage. A summer plumaged Barwit hangs out with the wintering flock in Poole Harbour but was not present today.

Bar-tailed Godwit

No comments:

Post a Comment