Monday, 5 December 2011

Heading east for a Western

Western Sandpiper
Ian picked me up this morning at 7.00am and we began our journey to Norfolk for a peep that has been the subject of one big headache until a couple of days ago when the identification seemed to have been clinched at the rarer of the two possiblities.

Western Sandpiper (left) with Dunlin

The journey was relatively smooth and we arrived at the Cley visitor centre shortly after 10.30am, got our permits and headed for the hides. Dauke's Hide was crammed and there were few small waders around. After an anxious wait, a flock of about twenty Dunlin flew in and the first-winter WESTERN SANDPIPER was soon picked out. It was a little way off at first but later moved closer and decent views were had. The long, relatively slender bill was of course obvious and at times it seemed a little leggy. I struggled to make out rufous tones on the scaps, to be honest, but it seems this feature is only readily visible on the closest views. I did note that the breast-side markings appeared rather fine and the white breast patches that people were citing as a feature. The head profile seemed quite Dunlin like. I'll trust the ID of those of who had better views and are more experienced in peep ID than me. I gather this ID is sound so it goes on my list unless the BBRC later decide not to have it.
Western Sandpiper

Water Pipit
We looked for the Green-winged Teal that Ian needed but didn't succeed. A flock of somewhere around a hundred and fifty White-fronted Geese and a Water Pipit were the best of the rest. I had a quick seawatch off Salthouse hoping for Little Auk, a bird I've been waiting friggin years for (while Ian looked for Twite) and a couple that I bumped into on the way back to the car tried to put me on to a couple on the sea but Ian wouldn't wait - I managed an inconclusive glimpse of one pop up in this time. This apart, the sea produced an adult Little Gull, a Red-throated Diver, a Common Scoter, a drake Goldeneye, two Kittiwakes, and a few Gannets.