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Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Baird's Sandpiper

Hearing of a Baird's Sandpiper at Hickling, after work I paid an evening visit to Rush hills scrape which always a very pleasant walk. Parking at the church and following the footpath past agricultural fields and woods where I often encounter Marsh Tits, this evening they were calling their distinctive "pitchoo" calls. I walked to what must be the most badly designed hide you'll ever see. The open door is facing north so you always have to walk to the far side and then in. The hide is situated quite a way from the scrape so views are always distant. The birds that frequent the Scrape are mostly ducks and waders that feed in this productive area. Whilst inside you either have to stand tall (you need to be at least 5 foot 10 inches tall to view through the square holes (fortunately I am exactly 6 feet tall!) or crouch down and get severe neck ache looking through your scope!
Anyway, there were a lot of Lapwings on the Scrape, with 2 distinct lines of them at the back (of course!) of the Scrape, a few Ruff walked between them and hidden behind the furthest line were several Dunlin and the slightly smaller more elongated form of the excellent Baird's Sandpiper, shorter legs, and it was an adult bird with a uniform grey/ brown scaly pattern (recalling juvenile Curlew Sandpiper) and buff head and chest and slightly but noticeably shorter bills than the Dunlin. It gave the appearance of crouching near the ground with it's flattened oval shaped body. The Baird's Sandpiper is a native of North America and is a rare transatlantic visitor to these shores.
It spent much of its time feeding with 5 Dunlin usually behind some Lapwing but it's scaly back and noticably whiter underbelly meant it could be picked from the slightly larger and browner Dunlin (all in winter plumage) with some confidence even with a telescope with just 30X magnification. When a fellow birder kindly let me look through his Swarovski HD scope with 60X magnification it could easily be picked out.
It later flew to the far left hand corner of the Scrape right at the back where Little Ringed Plovers at least 2 were seen (but could only be picked out at this even further distance with the 60X scope).

1 comment:

Tim Allwood said...

Hi there

the Baird's is an adult