Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Early Jack Snipe

September 23rd - winter species have been dropping in and often moving on over the past couple of weeks: Wigeon have peaked at about 25 birds so far (on the 18th, the same day as the Brent Goose), but there are often only single figures; Teal also peaked at about 40 birds (also 18th), but there are usually fewer; there are occasional Shoveler records and still only a handful of Pochard, whilst Snipe appeared to peak at 17 on the 19th and numbers seem to have fallen away since, with 15 seen on the 21st and this morning only 11 could be seen feeding around the base of the spit.

I had scanned these birds from the bench a couple of times to confirm the number and then moved to the viewpoint.  There have been 1-2 Common Sands present for weeks and again, I saw one this morning.  From the point, I scanned back through the Snipe on the spit and then continued scanning further along the edge where the vegetation becomes more rank and reedy, as this often holds further birds.  I soon came across another snipe feeding along the edge, but it was quickly obvious that this was no ordinary Snipe but a Jack Snipe, its dark crown being the initial diagnostic feature.  I moved back around to get a closer look - I do like these little birds.  It was slowly feeding, out in the open, along the edge of the bank, bobbing away as they do and it was nice to be able to scrutinise its plumage features as it did so.  I took a record shot, but not too easy of a small bird still a fair way off.

This is only my third patch record of this often elusive species, which used to more commonly observed here.  Maybe the maturing vegetation has had an effect either on numbers or viewing conditions.  It remained all day and apart from when it went to sleep slightly behind leaves, stayed in a little stretch of the bank and showed to all comers.  Again, a slightly early date to pick this up as they are just coming in on the coast, though my first record here was Sept 30th 2010.

To cap off a good morning, as I walked further around the lake and scanned back over the spit, I found a male Stonechat feeding on the small stretch of longer vegetation that hasn't yet been mowed down.  Two year ticks in the morning.  The bird was well over 200 yards away, so my record shots are just that! In fact the second shot was from the eastern side of the lake, which is even further.

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