Monday, 23 May 2016

Stilt Sandpiper

Stilt Sandpiper is a new bird for me. So today, I was happy to spend a couple of hours at Pennington Marsh, watching one foraging on the floods at the back of Fishtail Lagoon. It is certainly an odd looking bird. The books say it looks a bit like a Dunlin or a Curlew Sandpiper and I suppose that it does, although for me, the first bird that came to mind when I saw it, was a Ruff with a long bill.

Photographing the bird was difficult. It was too far away. I took about a hundred pictures and each time I pressed the shutter release I knew it was another wasted effort but I had to get a record shot of some sort. You just hope, that when you get them home on the computer screen, you find something worth keeping.

The next shot shows a size comparison with a couple of Dunlin. You can see that the legs are long but the bird seemed to prefer the deeper water for wading and feeding and I could not get a clear picture of them.

The picture below shows some of the identifying features. Long legs; slightly down curved bill; white rump; wings long, uniform brown above, with no wing bars and a pale trailing edge; white supercilium; and barred breast.

Great bird to see. I just wish that I could have got a clearer picture of it.

A quick walk around the marsh gave me the usual mix of birds but I also found a couple of male Garganey hiding in the long grass.

Waiting for the Gadwall to stop preening and pose for a picture -
but what is that in the reeds behind

Eventually one of the Garganey came out for a quick swim around

On the way back home I took a detour through the New Forest. I usually only go there in the winter, when it is a lot quieter. Stopping at Marks Ash Wood, I went looking for an old tree that used to regularly have a Tawny Owl perched up in it. I new exactly where to look for the tree but it was surprisingly disorientating, trying to locate it with all the leaves on the trees.

As I approached the tree there was a lot of noise from small birds mobbing some form of threat. My arrival must have been the final straw for the Owl, which promptly flew off, pursued by a small flock of harassing birds. Nice to know the tree is back in use but I will leave it until the winter before I have another look.

Next stop was the Milkham Inclosure. I often see reports of Crossbills from here so it was worth a quick look. There were no Crossbills that I could see but I did get two Cuckoos calling as they flew over my head. My first actual sighting of the year. It was just a pity that my camera was safely packed away in the back of the car.

 Eyeworth Pond is always worth a quick look. I usually go there for close views of  the small birds. They come in to feed on the seeds that local people put down for them. However this time I was hoping that the Mandarin Ducks had produced some offspring. They had, but mother duck was keeping them safe on the far side of the pond, close to their usual cover under the trees.

Also present was one of my old favourites. There were three of them but he seems to be on his own now. They may not be on the British List of birds but I still like them.

Muscovy Duck

and a nice Collard Dove waiting patiently for someone to feed it.

A nice day out, finally caught up with my first Cuckoo of the year and a life tick with the Stilt Sandpiper. Can't be bad!

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