When we watch a local patch over time we can get not only very familiar with what should be where and when but we can even be a bit complacent. This is when a visiting birder drops in to the spot you have visited over months only to find the good bird you have hunted high and low for, but missed.
At Boulmer, these days there is not a drop of fresh water on the headland such is the efficiency of the land management . Gone are the days of the Bow mere flash behind the pub after a lot of rain. It simply gushes out across the beach and into the sea. In autumn it was our only hope of getting some fresh water waders such as Ruff or Wood Sand. It even had a lovely Bairds Sandpiper once that showed very well for a few days.
Now, we chance upon fresh water birds as lucky fly overs heading to more suitable habitat.
On Sunday I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.
|Boulmer Haven in the drizzle.|
John and myself were keen after some heavy rain in the hope of a passerine migrant or two so began at Seaton Point first thing. It was very dull, the sky brooding and looked full. It soon became apparent that our annual optimism was more pie in the sky as all we could find were a few Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs and the local Whitethroat families. In the caravans, its a bit of a maze and we got separated while checking odd bushes. I ended up overlooking the beach and sea right on the point. Immediately a call drew my attention to two birds flying at eye level heading my way. As I lifted the bins I knew what this was. Front bird was a Redshank unusually quiet, but about 2 feet behind it was a mythical Boulmer wader! Just a juvenile Spotted Redshank, that's all! The 'chew-it' call that drew me to it was the only sound it made as both birds slowly passed me. I tried to get a flight record shot but the camera just wouldn't lock on to them before they vanished north towards the haven.
Spotted Redshank is a patch tick for me ( and would be for all of the current small cohort of present day Boulmer crew) and is the first here since 1998.
Wader numbers had greatly increased since our last visit, so we abandoned the passerine hunt to see what we had poddling around the shore. Apart from the Spotshank, there were 2 Ruff, 1 ad Little Stint, 200+ Ringed Plover, 50+ Dunlin, 6each of Bar tailed Godwit, Whimbrel and Knot, 1 sum plum Grey Plover and 1 Purple Sandpiper. A Snipe came in off to pitch into the rock pools for a spell before continuing west. Not bad.
A juvenile Mediterranean Gull was on the waters edge while a scan and wait off shore had 1 adult Little Gull, 1 Sooty Shearwater N very close in, 2 Manx Shearwater and 1 Bonxie intimidating the auks in the feeding frenzies.
|Spotted Redshank passes.|
The morning might not have given us what we hoped for but it still delivered a nice bagful to be going on with...