Sunday, 19 September 2010

This birding lark is tricky (Pt 2)

Went to Deerness yesterday for a brief wander. Looked for passerines but my favourite two places produced just a Garden Warbler, along with Robin and 2 Chaffinch so went to the Point of Ayre car park to look for waders. I was very short of time so when I quickly located a lone plover down on the mud I rushed it a bit, that's my excuse anyway. Mmmm golden spangles on the tertials but looks much like a Grey Plover, bill quite long, eye quite large; now what's this? The primaries extend well beyond the tertials and are longer than the tail tip. I was getting quite excited, American GP is a species I've not been able to properly claim as a find. In the back of my mind I wasn't quite happy though, no supercilium and when the bird flew the auxilliaries looked black (that's not right they should be grey). I was puzzled, the bird had looked fairly small, the gold on the tertials surely rules out Grey Plover also? I lost the bird but eventually it flew past me going back towards the car park, the underwing was white and the auxilliaries were definitely black, then as it was well past it showed a whitish rump band, anyway the wing beat was far too slow, it was obviously a biggish wader. It had to be Grey Plover, what about those golden spangles then. A feature of juvenile Grey Plover that I'd not noted before, well it's a species I've seen very few of in recent years and I can't really remember having decent views of juveniles .... ever. You wouldn't logically expect Grey Plover to have golden spangles on the tertials in juvenile plumage would you? I remember a story about a very well known rare finder being ridiculed for this mistake in the past, I wonder if those taking the p knew of this feature?

Not having much luck finding passerines in our garden or our neighbour's trees. However, there was a Robin in our big Sycamore this morning and later on a Chaffinch dropped in from a great height. Down at Birsay this morning though it was a passerine bonanza with no fewer than 5 Willow Warblers around the Palace gardens.

It was The Links that provided the real entertainment of the morning with a smart male Snow Bunting and no fewer than 53 Lapland Buntings.

Snow Bunting

Lapland Buntings


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