At the Wetlands again… -15-16/ix/16

I visited the reserve again on the 15th and 16th , though on the 15th I birded the Goldcliff lagoons for an hour only after attending a course nearby. The conditions were also less than perfect, with bright sunlight and heat haze hampering my efforts, which may have been why I didn’t see the Pectoral Sandpiper which had been reported there in the morning.

I did see some good birds however, with the most interesting being a self-found juvenile Curlew Sandpiper. Oddly, I picked the bird out in flight initially, and it circled the second lagoon several times before landing. When it did eventually land, it was clear that it had a badly broken leg, and ended up struggling in the water for a short time before apparently giving up and lying on its side on the shore. There were plenty of other waders present too; 4 Ruff (1 adult male, 2 juvenile males and a juvenile female), 3 Spotted Redshank (2 adults, 1 juvenile) (which gave good comparison opportunities with the Redshank (see image below)), 4 Greenshank, 15+ Black-Tailed Godwit, 15+ Knot, a few Dunlin and Snipe, and good numbers of Lapwing and Redshank. It was difficult to keep track of the numbers though because they were constantly being flushed by a juvenile Marsh Harrier, which showed very well at times.

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Passerine migrants included good numbers of Yellow Wagtail, a Wheatear, 2 Skylark, several Chiffchaff though these were also being harassed, this time the culprit was a juvenile Sparrowhawk.

There were good numbers of dragonflies about too including a very photogenic Migrant Hawker.

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I went back early in the morning in the hope of nailing the Pec Sand. However, I started with a brief visit to the cemetery at Goldcliff in the hope of some good passerine migrants. It was very quiet there however, and I left with a single Chiffchaff to show for my efforts.

Moving on to the lagoons, there was clearly a few new birds about, though most were the same as yesterday.  4 Ruff  and 3 Spotted Redshank were presumably the same birds, but Greenshank numbers had increased to 10. There were similar numbers of Black-Tailed Godwit and Knot, but there were substantially more Dunlin present, and these also held good numbers of Ringed Plover. As on the previous day, the juvenile Marsh Harrier put in several appearances, showing well on and off.

Migrant passerines were once again present in low numbers, with a few Yellow Wagtail and Wheatear, Chiffchaff and Blackcap, and a flyover pair of Siskin.

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I spent some time at the seawall, and when I returned a few new waders had appeared including a pair of juvenile Little Stint, but the highlight was the juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper which finally appeared at the back shore of the first lagoon and showed well through the scopes around the sluice. The pectoral line caused by the breast barring, the green-yellow legs and the creeping gait were all seen well as the bird was observed in the open for a prolonged period.

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This was my second at the site, though the first showed briefly and distantly in strong heat haze in the late summer of 2013, so it was good to get to see one well at this site!

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