Sunday, 2 September 2012

Patch blitz

The other day Steve Gale texted me about the idea of trying to beat the record day count for CFBW. Steve is always dangerous on the patch, especially when in blitz mode so I thought I'd put in a special effort too, and asked a small handful of other locals if they were up for it. So, today Steve, Ian Jones, Paul Goodman, Phil Wallace and Roy Weller, amongst others, hit the patch hard.

It started well with the first of the day's two Yellow Wagtails flying over the car almost as soon as Phil and I parked up. Not too long afterwards, a Grey Wagtail, a far scarcer bird at CFBW, flew fairly high south east. Phil and I decided to walk around the fields south of Canons Farmhouse while Steve and Ian headed in the direction of Banstead Woods - we were walking around Heathside Field when a loud and unfamiliar call belted down at us from above. I looked up and saw a large-ish wader!!! My first thought, upon seeing the general size and shape, was Whimbrel but the bill was slightly upturned if anything... plain wings and a white 'v' up the back - a freakin' Bar-tailed Godwit!!! I scrambled for the camera and was lucky enough to get a small number of record shots as it bulleted away. I couldn't recall ever hearing a Barwit call before, so checked my apps to see if the call we heard was a typical Barwit noise and it was an exact match to the recording of the call on the BirdGuides app. Barwit was amongst the birds I have had at the back of my mind at the patch lately... I was looking for them in April and May but long since forgotten about them and assumed that if we were lucky enough to get a godwit at this time of year it would be Black-tailed. There have been no or very reports/movements of Bar-taileds locally in the last few weeks - completely out of the blue! It always seems you come across stuff once you've forgotten about looking for it and are very least anticipating it.

Bar-tailed Godwit

The day didn't end there and over the remaining hours of the stake out we enjoyed two Common Redstarts, two Tree Pipits, a Whinchat, seven Canada Geese, a flock of about a dozen Sand Martins and a few other bits. Ian and Steve saw the Red-legged Partridge and Roy snatched a Cormorant. As a group we finished on a total of 59 species (I logged 53), a new record by a margin of two, but, frustratingly, just one off the magic target of 60.

female Common Redstart