Sunday 24 September 2017

Wessex waderfest

Dorset's extraordinary run of American waders continued into its fourth weekend with a Lesser Yellowlegs at Christchurch Harbour the most recent arrival yesterday. It all started with a Baird's Sandpiper on Brownsea Island which I managed to see back on 2nd September. After a gap of about a week, Stilt and Least Sandpipers were then discovered on the same day at the same site in Weymouth. During their extended stay a Buff-breasted Sandpiper arrived on Portland, then within the last few days a Spotted Sandpiper was found among the Common Sandpipers at Abbotsbury Swannery.
Spotted Sandpiper, Abbotsbury Swannery
A tricky bird to separate from Common Sandpiper - call was one of the factors which made Steve Groves think Spotted...
...yellowish legs, short tail and plain tertial fringes appeared to confirm it
This drake Scaup was also at Abbotsbury
Not quite yet in its smartest winter plumage
What was presumably the same Baird's was relocated on the Fleet last week, and what was presumably the same Stilt Sandpiper spent a few hours at Lytchett Bay, giving a few patch listers as well as county listers something to celebrate. Trying to photograph them all involved a fair amount of dashing around after work and at weekends and I never even got as far as looking for the Buff-breasted or the Yellowlegs.
I went back to Lodmoor to try to improve on my photos of the Stilt and Least Sandpipers
The Stilt Sand was much closer but the light was not great
A hint of the rufous cheek patch can be seen here
On a different evening, in contrast to the Stilt Sandpiper, the Least was in nice light - but much further away!
Not sure if these were an improvement on my original pictures
However, it was a first for Dorset, so good views took priority over good photos
Three visits to the Fleet hoping to improve on my appalling record shot of the Baird's Sandpiper also ended in failure. More successful was a late Saturday afternoon visit to the Swannery, where we had only just been shown to Helen's Hide by finder Steve Groves when the Spotted Sandpiper flew in and perched briefly on the shore under our noses.
Couldn't find the Baird's on the Fleet but enjoyed close views of a couple of Bar-tailed Godwit
These birds were feeding in Tidmoor Cove
Bar-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwits
Even Swineham got in on the wader action with a cracking species pair of Grey and Red-necked Phalarope spending the weekend on the same pool on Arne Moors. Getting them on the patch list required scaling a small oak tree and balancing the telescope on a tripod shaped bough to view over the Frome's riverside reeds! Of course, the provenance of the Phalaropes is more open to question, though with so many congeners from the Americas in the area, it is not totally out of the question that they too might have originated on the other side of the Atlantic. Had a Wilson's Phalarope joined them that might have provided supporting evidence for the theory - but alas it wasn't to be. Still, autumn is still young...
The juvenile Red-necked Phalarope was a new bird for me in Dorset as well as Swineham
The Grey (left) and Red-necked Phalarope often fed together on Arne Moors
Quite amazing that they settled on the same small pool especially as the Grey Phalarope had been present for about a week before its smaller cousin arrived
Red-necked Phalarope


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