Wednesday 4 September 2013

Taking the Semi-P

A Semipalmated Sandpiper was found late on Sunday at Abbotsbury Swannery by Steve Groves and what was presumably the same bird relocated to Brownsea Island on Monday. This was possibly the first British rarity identified by webcam when Paul Morton picked it up on the well-positioned Birds of Poole Harbour camera in the Dorset Wildlife Trust reserve from his office in Poole. (Imagine the possibilities if I could rig one up at Swineham: I wouldn't even have to get up in the morning, I could just pan and zoom with a cup of tea in bed.)
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Back to the Semi-P, on which there was no news either way from Brownsea this morning, despite having Paul on webcam alert, so with the afternoon booked off I thought I had better go and look for myself in case it was skulking at the back of the lagoon and flew in to parade in front of the hide as it had done yesterday afternoon. As my foot touched the island's quay, and a cheery National Trust volunteer offered his greetings, the pager bleeped 'Dorset SEMIPALMATED SAND...'. Thoughts of 'Bingo!' were quickly dispelled when I read the rest of the message: '...Abbotstbury Swannery'.
Semipalmated Sandpiper with Dunlin behind - note size difference
I pressed on to the lagoon where I was able to satisfy myself that there was no chance of a second bird still on Brownsea, and resolved that an 'interesting small wader' which some visiting birders had been studying was a fairly regulation juvenile Dunlin. I considered baling and heading for Abbotsbury, concluding that to leave Brownsea on such a beautiful day would be criminal, and to then head to the other end of Dorset for a county-tick would just be ludicrous. Ludicrous, but not impossible...
Semi-P top left with Dunlin and Curlew Sandpipers
Arriving at one minute to four (last entry), I reasoned that it would be worth shelling out the entrance fee if the bird was in front of the Meadow Pool hide with the sun behind me, rather than viewing cheaply but distantly from the road into the sun. A good decision: it was walking directly in front of several grinning birders in the hide just as I walked in.

Curlew Sandpiper

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