Thursday, 29 September 2016

Baird's Bounty

The fresh pleasant morning air made me miserable yesterday morning! Why can I not be birding or ringing on such a lovely day I asked my inner voices? The envy demons continued to moan about the unfairness I have to endure sacrificing such mornings to go to work, yet there are so many retiree's and benefit birders that don't deserve it nearly half as much as me! As the afternoon progressed the weather deteriorated and so did my green eye'd thoughts. To add to this depressing concept my place of employment required me to stay overnight, leaving time limited.

Meetings and jobs finished early and I had a "bugger it" moment, "I am going birding". My location plan was simple and easy to get to from work, not far from home and I had a sneaky feeling would throw up an object of my desire! The object in question was a colour ring and the location, The Gannel Estuary at Newquay. Bob had excelled this year in finding several ringed species and I was jealous! I needed to even the balance, re-earn my crown as colour ring king and earn back my nickname, "Ringo".

I sped from work in a bid to increase my birding time and managed to get stuck behind Grandpa Slow Coach three times. Finally I arrived at the Estuary and disaster! The tide was right in and bigger than I thought and hardly a Gull in sight! I contemplated driving off and writing the day off as one of envious misery! A small group of Black-headed Gull's settled on a grassy knoll just beyond binocular range so in a bid to salvage my sanity I got the scope out and prayed for darvic glory. No such luck! I started scanning the far shoreline and picked up a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Grey Plover. Not the saving grace I needed, but pleasant enough to put a smile on my face. I continued to scan and picked up some more common wader species, albeit after cursing at paddle boarder's who decided they needed to be in the same spot as the roosting birds!

I was working my way back thorough the waders and came across a Calidris type, this looked interesting! Hard to judge size as it was on its own, but boy it looked long winged! "What else could I ascertain" I asked myself? The bird looked low and very parallel to the floor with no sign of a rotund shaped belly as you would expect on a Dunlin. The flanks and belly were clean and showed no signs of dark fleck marks. A distinct breast band was easily visible. I could also see what appeared to be a darkish cap to the head and a discreet supercillium. The scapulars and back plumage seemed to consist of bold dark feathers with broad pale edges. Boooomm baaabbbyyy! I had a juvenile Baird's Sandpiper in my scope.

I carried on admiring the transatlantic vagrant and made notes of its behaviour to accompany my plumage observations. It behaved so different to a Dunlin. It seemed erratic whilst feeding and far less purposeful than its commoner cousin. Twisting and turning whilst irregularly probing the sand in a machine gun like fashion with its bill.

Gee wiz that didn't that half make up for the doom, gloom and misery endured during the rest of my day! A quick phone scope photo session and back to work I trudge, elated. A short while later a phone call from Bob confirmed my belief that it was indeed a juvenile Baird's and that he had connected with it too. A staggering record for me and delighted to get one on the self found list. Fingers crossed the rest of the autumn is as generous.

Birds of note on the Gannel were 1 Baird's Sandpiper, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Grey Plover and 22 Curlew.

Very poor image of the bird due to the distance and poor weather

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