Friday, 30 September 2011

September 2011

The first half of September was nationally poor, so I relied heavily on the home county (Hampshire) to provide the interest. Alot of hours were put in seawatching from Milford and Cutbridge but the rewards eventually came after several days of strong south-westerlies in the form of Long-tailed Skua (10th), Sooty Shearwater (11th) and Balearic Shearwater (12th) amongst other bits and bobs. Other county highlights this month were Grey Phalorope (10th) and Baird's Sandpiper (14th); both of which were at Pennington Marshes. Mid-month and the hurricane season in the States was in full swing, so surely a series of low depressions whipping across the Atlantic were going to bring something. First of all was Greater Yellowlegs in Cornwall (13th) that was dipped my minutes - a Sabine's Gull was a minor consolationThe following Saturday Dan Houghton and I were heading to the west country again when a Northern Waterthrush broke on the Scillies. Unfortunately due to the flight/boat timetables we were unable to day trip and would have to stay until Monday which Dan couldn't do due to work. It was tense times as a Black-and-White Warbler had just been found in the same place. We needed both!! We popped into Drift Reservoir to discuss matters where Dan managed to wangle things with his supervisor and so we were all set to go, but not without seeing the Lesser Yellowlegs first! Flying was the only remaining option so within the hour we were on St. Mary's. It took a couple of hours to locate the 1w female Black-and-White Warbler which fed continuously in sallows. However the Northern Waterthrush was alot more elsuive in thick cover but luckily I managed a brief view at dusk on a small secluded pool but Dan missed it!!
Day 2, and the priority was to get Dan the Northern Waterthrush, after staking out the same pool again shortly after dawn we were treated to a 15 minute exclusive viewing of the Waterthrush which showed a point blank range. The trip continued to surprise and improve with other quality highlights being Solitary Sandpiper and a joint self-found Blue-winged Teal at Newford Duckpond, Bee-eater at Borough Farm, 2 Pectoral Sandpipers at Porth Hellick and 4 Buff-breasted Sandpipers and a juv Dotterel on the airfield.Day 3 drew a total blank with the Waterthrush although it was still knocking about, but gave even better views of the Black-and-White Warbler. A Red-eyed Vireo re-appeared at Lower Platform and a Woodchat Shrike was a late addition to the trip list!! The following day (20th) I dashed across the border to Burpham, West Sussex for an obliging juv Pallid Harrier which was my third lifer that week. My fourth came very quickly afterwards with another visit to the Scillies (21st) for a 1w female Baltimore Oriole at Mourning Point, St. Mary's. And a night time dash across to Weir Wood Reservoir, East Sussex followed only to dip the cock-up that was the Long-toed Stint. The bird has only been wrongly IDed as a Temminck's Stint for 7 days!I had to go back up to University in Cumbria on the 25th which co-incided with the long drive to Loch of Strathbeg, Aberdeenshire for the adult Sandhill Crane which took temporary residence. Despite many quality birds this year - this is my best, never did I think I'd get another shot at this so soon after the 2009 bird on Orkey. Chuffed to nuts!! The adult Black Scoter off Blackdog completed the set for Scoter in Britain and Ireland this year.

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