Blog

Thu 22nd September 2011

Posted on September 22, 2011 at 4:10 PM

I do not have a very good track record of finding rare waders. None of the good birds I have ever found have been shorebirds - maybe it's just the type of birding I tend to do. But 2011 has been splendidly different. First there was the Black-winged Stilt I discovered at Pulias in May, then there was last week's Buff-breast, and then this week, I managed to complete the hat-trick!

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Lunchtime on Monday I went down to L'Eree to look for rare waders - I quite fancied finding a Semi-p Sand actually - but  there were zero waders on the Aerodrome and the Shingle Bank just had a single Bar-tailed Godwit feeding with the common stuff. Checking the watch, I had just enough time to have a 5 minute look from the hide at the Claire Mare, so I scuttled down the lane and opened the flap - not a sausage. Not one single bird. Then all of a sudden I heard a wader call from really close below the hide, and I did not recognise this call at all. Immediately a wader took flight from a few yards in front of me. It was pretty plain above as it flew with no really obvious white patches or wing-bar - only a very subtle pattern. It landed on the mud and straight away revealed itself to be a bloomin' Pectoral Sandpiper!

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Quite amazed, I realised that I had just 15 minutes before I had to be back in the classroom and I dashed back to the car and took a few record shots as it fed amongst the glasswort on the far shore of the mare lake.

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juv Pectoral Sandpiper - Claire Mare, 19 Sep 11

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That evening the wind picked up from the North and I had a 10 minute seawatch from the recycling centre at Chouet. A Great Skua soon passed and there was also other bits and bats - I wish I had the time to stay longer as it looked really good.

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On Wednesday lunch I went to see the Pec Sand again at the Claire Mare in the hope of taking some good photos, but it was exceptionally dull and the bird just never stopped moving. My photography skills are not good enough to be succesful under these conditions and the best I got is below.

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The number of quality birds around the country this week has been superb, and I have been yearning to go on a some mega twitches to see them all - but alas, this is impossible. So one has to keep hoping that some crippler manages to turn up here on Guernsey. You've got to keep believing, or it'll never happen. So despite being knackered, I had a half-hour round Lihou Headland today and flushed a Wryneck from the top of the hill exactly where I had two last year. It seems to be a good year for them on the island.

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Just realised that all the three self-found waders this year have been on a Monday afternoon. Surely not a coincidence, eh, eh?. . . .(except of course, like most 'mysterious' things in this world - it is).

Categories: Self-found Rarities, 2011 Autumn