Sunday, 27 April 2014

Black-winged Stilt

We set off today with rather ambitious plans. Rye Harbour for the Kentish Plover and Little Stint; Dungeness for the Black-winged Stilt, and the Little, Arctic, and Common Terns; and Sandwich Bay for the Blue-winged Teal and Garganey. Its not really us, its not what we do. Its a twitch, there would be little time for photography and little time to observe the birds, but we had to go, the Black-winged Stilt alone was worth the trip.

The day did not go to plan. We never made it to Sandwich Bay, we wasted time chasing a bird that was not on our list, and we wasted time because neither of us was willing to move on without getting pictures of the birds, however bad those pictures turned out to be. But we did see some great birds.

Our first stop, Rye Harbour, was where it all began to go wrong. We could not find the Little Stint or the Kentish Plover and we should have accepted that and moved on. Instead we were tipped off by the warden to a Temminck's Stint and Curlew Sandpiper. A long walk and extensive search and an hour and a half later we had little to show for our efforts. We saw Avocets, distant Little and Common Terns. and a Whimbrel but none of our target birds.



In the end we had to accept defeat and move on even though three of the birds we were searching for had been see by others. The consolation prize was that Dave managed to pick up  a House Martin as we arrived back in the car park, another first for the year.

A quick stop at Scotney Pits gave us nothing new and on arrival at Dungeness we headed straight off to see the Black-winged Stilt.

Black-winged Stilt

The pair were still there so it was a life tick for me. We should have been able to get some great pictures but just after we arrived the Nuclear Power Station started venting steam and the noise caused most of the birds to relocate. The Stilts were still visible but they were further away. I don't know if it was the beauty of the birds in flight or the thought that I might be getting showered with nuclear particles but I just watched them go and forgot to take a picture.

Black-winged Stilts

There were a  small group of birders gathered there but most were waiting for another bird, a Wood Sandpiper, that was skulking in the reeds. As before we could not let it go and we stood around for about two hours waiting for the bird to appear. The best shot I got in that time was the one below. People who had seen it earlier confirmed that it was a Wood Sandpiper but there is nothing here that I can use to identify it.

Possible Wood Sandpiper

Even when the power station stopped venting steam about an hour later the bird stayed hidden in the reeds. Fortunately there were plenty of Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers and Cettie's to keep us busy although as usual the Cettie's managed to avoid having their pictures taken.

Sedge Warbler


Having wasted a couple of hours and with the rain setting in we aborted the last part of our trip and retired to the ARC hide. This gave us Black Terns and there were probably Arctic Terns as well but we could not separate those from the Common Terns at the distances involved.

So not a completely successful trip but I came away with six year and one life tick so I can't really complain.

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