Saturday, 19 October 2013

A Semi-palmated Plover in Hampshire!!!

You can image my surprise when on the afternoon of Thursday 17th October, I received an email with pictures of a 1st winter semi-palmated plover at Black Point on Hayling Island. Not only was this another first for Hampshire, following quickly in the footsteps of the brown shrike, but this was also only the fourth record of this species in the British Isles, and only the second mainland record. The bird had been found by Andy Johnson at around 9:30, but after an hour it had flown off and had not been relocated.

Unfortunately I was office bound on the Friday, and would not be able to escape, so when news broke that the bird had returned to the same high tide roost, I was feeling pretty despondent. Fortunately, it was nearly the weekend and so I only had to wait until today to have a chance of seeing it. I arrived at Black Point early as I didn't want to risk missing the bird, or not being able to park nearby and having to walk miles. It was surprisingly quiet when I arrived, with only a few birders wandering around, but as the tide began to rise the bird numbers increased as did the birders. A small flock of common ringed plovers were the first birds to turn up, followed by dunlin and then a large flock of sanderling. 

This photo of the Semi-palmated plover Charadrius semipalmatus was taken 
by Andy Johnson on the day of the find. Note the difference in size, bill shape 
and the obvious white 'wedge' at the base of the bill.

After some initial stringing by the assembled birders, we had soon found the semi-p. It was feeding at the right hand (eastern) end of the flock, but just as I started to grill the bird it flew off. As the birds flew around we could hear the distinctive "chewit" call of the semi-p; in fact it was this call that initially alerted Andy to the presence of the bird on Thursday. The bird soon settled back down and we quickly got back onto it, unfortunately after a further 5 - 10 minutes the flock was flushed again.....this time the birds did not return.

Another Photo by Andy Johnson - Again the smaller size is
evident in this shot, stubby bill and the pale eye ring.
The white 'wedge' is again very obvious.

A few minutes later the ringed plover flock, with the semi-p, was relocated on the seafront between the Nab car park and Eastoke Corner, between groynes 24 and 25. It stayed there for quite a while allowing many to enjoy it. A cracking find well done Andy.

Another Andy Johnson photo showing the stubby bill, pale eye ring
and white 'wedge'.

But of course the semi-p and brown shrike are just the two National megas in Hampshire this autumn! The last couple of weeks has been unprecedented for Hampshire birding, and has seen a dusky warbler turn up at Sandy Point and a Radde's warbler turn up near Andover. The dusky was again found by Andy Johnson, and is only the second for Hampshire; the first was also at Sandy Point and found by Andy a couple of years ago. This latest bird was extremely elusive and tended to frustrate the birders who went to see it. Once again I was office bound and unable to see it, and by the time the weekend came it was gone, fortunately I saw the first bird but would have like to have seen another.

This image of the Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus was taken by Alan Lewis.
The bird had proved to be particularly elusive, but in this image it is possible to see
the dull grey-brown underparts, the dull legs and the buff-brown supercilium.

The other cracking find was that of the Radde's warbler at Anton Lakes Country Park near Andover by Joe Stockwell. Joe is the assistant warden at Portland Bill Bird Observatory and had come home for the weekend to visit his parents. A bit of early morning birding resulted in this find. The Radde's was also the second record for Hampshire, although the first was suppressed, for some unknown reason. This latest bird was found on Sunday 13th, but the on-set of heavy rain meant the bird became extremely elusive. I dipped it on the Sunday and had to make a second visit on Tuesday; the bird was very elusive but I eventually got tick-able views. Whilst there I also heard a yellow-browed warbler calling but did not try to look for it as the Radde's was proving so difficult to find.

This image of the Radde's Warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi was taken by Joe Stockwell on the
day of finding. Apparently Joe also picked this bird up on call first; this image clearly shows the
broad and pale supercilium and strikingly pale legs.

Unfortunately the Radde's Warbler twitch on Sunday 13th October will be memorable to many for the different reasons than the bird. It turned out to be a very sad day as one of Hampshire's top birders, Tim Lawman, collapsed and died at the site. I had known Tim since my early birding days visiting Titchfield Haven in the early 1980's, and he was a regular at the majority of Hampshire twitches. Tim currently holds the biggest published Hampshire bird list and was responsible for finding numerous rare birds in the County. He will be sadly missed by the Hampshire Birding community - RIP Tim.

1 comment:

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