Sunday, 4 December 2011

Twichin' a ride

No car again today but I was not deterred. With the Western Sandpiper still present my goal was Cley. I found that it is far easier to get there on public transport than I first thought, total cost from Brundall to Sheringham return on train £7, return on coasthopper from sheringham to Cley was £2.60 and going to Cley by public transport gives you 50% off ticket price (not advertised that well!). All in all the day cost about £12, probably cheaper than the petrol to get there and back, faith in public transport restored?!

Anyway back to the birds...
I got to Cley at about 10.30 walked in the hide, put my bins up and saw the bird for 5 seconds and then it flew away! the hide almost emptied as those in there first had had good views, with increased space i got into a good position and waited. about 20 mins later a few Dunlin returned then I got onto a smaller bird flying around the scrape, I said quietly this could be it coming in now, it landed and bang, there it was about as close as it could be, great views and well grilled. I now need to swat up and try to convince myself that the bird I saw was a Western Sandpiper and not a semi p. Whatever it was, it was an interesting bird, it looked like a squashed up little stint with a long bill and running around feeding like it was on speed! The shapes this bird was pulling were really distinctive looking and quite squat but had a feeding pattern that is best described as stitching, like a sowing machine. Another notable feature was that it was catching lots of thin worms and pulling them high out of the mud before eating, unlike the Dunlin, which presumably were also catching worms but just sucking them up not visible to me. Plumage wise it was interesting and quite changeable in different light as these little waders always are, distinctive features included streaked capdark eye smudge giving an almost evil look, light streaking on breast sides, scaps were well patterned and some looked ginger, not sure of shapes as the bird was always on the move, long bill, decurved at the tip, quite long legs, able to wade out, the photos show the rest, just about....
The 'runt' Dunlin flew in and was with the other Dunlin very briefly, at first I thought it was the Western due to the size but it clearly was not, I could not relocate this bird but it certainly looked interesting in the brief view I got. Other birds worth noting included the Green Winged teal an interesting leucistic brent goose, and a greenshank, it had muddy legs which looked very yellow underneath, I assume it was just a greenshank though, the first I have seen for a couple of months.

Green winged teal sticking out like a sore thumb, even when sleeping