Sunday, 1 May 2011

Waders of the Lost Ark

I'm not a 'twitcher' - but as a new month dawned and with the prospect of another 'tick' on my Dorset / May list, at first light I was on the edge of Lodmoor looking for the Long-billed Dowitcher - OK I am! With a stiff breeze from the east cutting across the moor, a sky that looked decidedly as if it were going to open any minute and no sunshine I, and as far as is known everybody else, was to be disappointed. Maybe, after a fantastic stay since November 2010 the Dowitcher might just have succumbed to its migratory instincts and has headed north? That's as maybe so I'll be back for another look tomorrow.

A quick look around saw the pair of lingering Wigeon are still with us, but last weeks headlines had been with Waders as many thousands of

Bar-tailed Godwit (here just 19 were in company with about the same number of Dunlin left) have passed over the county with just a few, along with the odd,

Black-tailed Godwit stopping to refuel, but this was nothing compared to what would break later in the day.

A quick look at the Common Tern colony before heading to Portland where

one of the paddocks at Sweethill was carpeted with Buttercup, Clover & Daisies.

My arrival at the Bird Observatory coincided with the capture of a fine male Whinchat

which The Prof (Peter Morgan) kindly allowed a couple of us to photograph.

The other photographer was eminent company indeed as I embarked on the rest of the day with

author and naturalist Richard Crossley who I hadn't seen for a couple of years.

It was just by chance that his latest work (above) was only published this February and is indeed an excellent guide for novice and journeyman alike! Richard was most interested in obtaining more photographs for his up and coming work featuring the common birds of Great Britain along with some of the more regular 'vagrants', so recruited my help to direct him to some of the local hot-spots. Lodmoor was high on the agenda, but driving past Ferrybridge would have been foolhardy, especially what we found in store.

Firstly, a number of Little Terns were favouring the sandy fore-shore to carry out their

'courtship displays' and

flying skills.

On the west side of the shore 132 Bar-tailed Godwit had dropped in, sporting various plumage patterns including

Winter Plumage

a Transitional Plumage

and this stunning Summer coat!

All of these birds were extremely confiding and seemed untroubled by our presence. Closer inspection reveled

a single Red Knot, also in Summer plumage

which, when its legs cleared the water was seen to be 'ringed'.

It is hoped, in time, that some detail of where it was 'banded' and something of its history will be reveled.

Next to drop in was a party of 5 Turnstones, also in their Summer attire

which also set about a bit of 'displaying'

and generally jumping about.

28 more Red Knot joined the other birds

which were also quite approachable. There were also 6 Sandwich Terns, 4 Oystercatchers, 7 Dunlin and 22 Whimbrel, but it was now time to move on. On Lodmoor, between us we were able to photograph this

tiny female Shelduck with her ol' man,

2 Grey Plover, one of which was also in Summer plumage

and unusual for me to find this male Pochard out of the water

and the female close by.

Seems it wasn't just me that though the sight of this duck out of the water was strange as this male Gadwall was giving the Pochard some serious grief.

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