Sunday, 12 March 2017

The Ingratitude of Waders

                                         An empty No 4 - of both water and waders

                  It is not since East Warwick was drained over 30 years ago that the reservoirs have put out such a welcome mat for waders. As this event resulted in the Prof seeing 11 species of waders while the reservoir was down, hopes are high now that both No 4 and 5 are showing extensive mud-flats.  - the more so as the latest information is that this might continue well into the Spring. But while the habitat looks fantastic, no one had yet told the shorebirds.....
                  It is not as if we did not have waders over the weekend. It is just that No 4 and 5 were very much no-go areas for them. The highlight was a party of five Avocets which SF found on the north end of Lockwood on Saturday which clearly must have flown over our new wader scrape first. Even when they flew off the bank, they preferred to settle on the water for a couple of minutes  - which is where I was lucky enough to see them - before disappearing. They are the first Avocets on the reservoirs since 2013 and my first here.  A Dunlin which dropped in a little later also preferred the small rocky edge on Lockwood rather than the mudflats on the other side of the road before it, too, departed.

                                                     Dunlin avoiding the mud

         We thought our luck had changed today when we heard and glimpsed a Ring Plover flying around No 4 and 5 which appeared to land on No 4. But when we got round there, it was nowhere to be seen and we later learnt had almost certainly headed north past Pete L on the Lockwood. The only other waders were the wintering Common Sandpipers which were on No 4 and 5 even when there was no mud and three Green Sandpipers today on the overflow channel.
                                   Not enough mud on No 5 for a single Ring Plover

                But the mud, potential and the beginning of migration did prompt a very good turn-out from birders over the weekend. And the many hours spent collectively did result in some other good birds. SF also saw a party of three or four adult Little Gulls on Saturday which dropped in briefly onto Lockwood while Lol B found a Rock Pipit early afternoon there today - both of which I managed to miss. Pete L also discovered the first Wheatear of the year, a spanking male, at the top end of Lockwood which stayed around until the afternoon while three Sand Martins headed north in the drizzle. With or without the mud. the next two months are the best time of the year on the reservoirs......

Today's 'litoralis' Rock Pipit in the drizzle (Lol B)

DB @porthkillier

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