Saturday, 2 October 2010

Buffy-ruffy-breasted duffy

the title is in  honur of mi madre's attempts to remember the name of the bird Dad and I went to see this morning.

I got a call from Matt Eade yesterday at about 18:00. Saying there was a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Arlington Reservoir! However, I had walked home in much the same weather prevailing at the time, and had no intention whatsoever of seeting foot out there again!

Thnakfully, the weather had cleared up by this morning, so Dad, Nick Pope and Me all headed off for Arlington about 08:30. A soon as we arrived, a group of about 25 birders could be seen on the dam about 100 metres away. The BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER was showing stunningly well, although a brown bird walking about on mud can be elusive if you take your eye off it! It showd down to about 20 metres most of the time, in the company of two Dunlin, a Ringed Plover and a not-so-healthy looking Avocet, while a Pochard was on the water with 20+ Tufted Duck. All the birds in red were site ticks for me, with Avocet and Pochard being great local birds. Both, Pochard especially, are very hard to pin down in the local area, with my only previous record beinng two on 17 Jan this year at Cuckmere Haven. At Arlington were a few Swallows, (but no House Martins), with about 150 of them counted between Arlington and Seaford from the car.

The twitch was a light-hearted affair, even by sussex's genial standards. However, one unlucky birder dropped a lens cap. And it bounced down the dam, flushing the Buff-breast from a rather convenient spot it was feeding on! Without much doubt the best accidental flush I have ever witnessed!!

However, apart from attacks my stray lens caps, the bird showed in full glory. BB Sand is a lifer, and quite possibly the most gorgeous looking wader in the world in autumn attire! The creamy plumage, streaky head, mustard yellow legs and delightful looking wing-patterning all make this one good-lookin' bird. We never saw any in Canada, but they are rare on migration here. In fact, I'd be prepared to wager the Atlantic coast of Ireland or The Scillies are the most reliable sites in the world for autumn Buff-breasted Sandpiper. The majority, like American Golden Plover, have a migration route that swngs out ovr the atlantic and back down to South America, hene these two birds are highly likely to be blown off course.

But enough of the education, here are some classic Pentax X70 style photos!

The Buff-breasted Sandpiper

The not very healthy looking Avocet. It was either moulting or had lost feathers some other way

and one more of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper

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