Friday, 7 February 2014

Spotted Redshank

I picked up Dave this morning and we headed off to Hampshire to visit the Pennington March, Inchmerry, and Lepe areas. It's always a big area to cover but today with the flooded fields it was huge. There were lots of birds but they were thinly spread and we spent most of our time searching flocks of geese, ducks and the more common waders hoping to find something unusual. Top of our list was the Long-billed Dowitcher at Pennington. It looked an impossible task and so it proved to be. It is a skulking bird and difficult to find at the best of times. Its usual haunts were all flooded so it was probably out on the fields but despite an extensive search we could not find any sign of it.

The highlight of the day was watching two peregrines fly through chasing and diving then locking talons as they flew together. It was a fascinating sight and it was only after they parted and flew away that I remembered that I was standing with a camera in my hand. It was probably best that I had not tried to get a picture. I doubt that I could have got them in focus and in trying I would have missed the spectacle.

By the middle of the afternoon we were heading home. It had been a good days birding but we did not have a single picture between us. To break the journey we stopped off at the Nore stream. The tide was just coming in and there are a trio of reliable birds that you can usually find there on the high tide. The Spotted Redshank has been there for years but it is now regularly joined by a Little Egret and a Greenshank.

Spotted Redshank

We got two, the Spotted Redshank and Little Egret, but the one we really wanted, the Greenshank, did not come in close. It is an unusual place to see the birds. There are lots of people and dog walkers around but the birds seem to have gotten use to them and will allow close approaches if you take your time. You have to be prepared for the occasional dog jumping in and chasing the birds, and the occasional cross word between birders and dog walkers, but the birds are reliable and always come back.

I have usually found Greenshanks to be a harder bird to approach so this is a site I will be revisiting in the future to get a picture. One final tip, look for a high tide in the morning. The light is usually better and allows greater detail. See my blog of 25 February 2013.

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