Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Yanks and Dung Dabblers!

Bob and I discussed our after work options for today, last night and with forecasted conditions struggled to make a solid plan. Wind and weather were poor and with only 2 hours of bird able light we couldn't travel to far. My gut feeling was that Davidstow should harbour a wader or two and with little else to go with this became the game plan. Chips down and both ready on time (a rarity in itself), we excelled at pace in Bobs silver bullet (aka the little Kia car) arriving at Camelford in good time. Grey and dreary but nevertheless some moderate visibility "we may find some birds" I thought! Then Disaster! As we turn off the main road near the airfield a thick blanket of fog engulfs us, the car and our hopes of finding any noteworthy waders . Bemused and disheartened we proceed steadily up the run way. We both pick up distant Wagtails and Wheatears, "well we are on point, there is still a chance of finding something" I muttered. Our first few hundred yards were relatively quite and it seemed to take forever to locate anything noteworthy. Then a couple of Ringed Plover made their presence known by calling to one another as we approached. Then we found our first goody in the shape of a juvenile dung dabbling Turnstone. Not the rarest bird in the world but only my 2nd and Bobs 1st on the airfield (20 years combined total checking it). We spent some time admiring it foraging in the horse dung before carrying on our wader quest.

Turnstone in Davidstow Fog!

We trundled on a little more hopeful of finding some more species despite weather conditions. We maintained our usual route and cautiously checked as we went. A short while on another birder was stopped and waved us over. We trained our bins on the area he was studying and bingo!           "Lesser Golden Plover Bob" I exclaimed. " I am certain its a yank". The Plover was a cracker, it was an adult and showed a large, strong supercillium. Sported extstensive black feathering and showed the elongated primaries going someway beyond the tail. Sadly we failed to get any pictures in the poor weather and when we went back to try a short while later it had departed. 

A short way down the run way we encountered another group of waders. Oddly the main species in this bunch were Curlew Sandpipers with 4 observed and 2 Dunlin and another Ringed Plover. 

Curlew Sandpiper 

Little else was found as we checked the remainder of the airfield until, in the dying light as we were about to leave a group of 10 waders flew in front of the car. We could here Ringed Plovers and Dunlin and something else that was a whole lot more interesting! Knot like in tone and style, but a little lighter and more sporadic. Then the light bulb moment! Buff-breasted Sandpiper. A great bird to end on and a much desired year tick for me😁! 

Our totals for the evening were 1 Adult American Golden Plover, 1 Buff-breasted Sandpiper, 1 Turnstone, 4 Curlew Sandpiper, 16 Ringed Plover and 9 Dunlin. Not bad considering weather and time constraints. 

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