Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Fall of Passerines, a Garden Tick & an odd Plover...

Lade - 0600hrs - warm, dry, sunny, nw 2 - sw 4 - Another glorious sunny day on the Marsh began with a garden tick, a Pied Flycatcher; actually it was in the neighbours garden, but let`s not split hairs as I was standing in MY garden when I saw it. Eventually it put on quite a show, sallying forth from the fir trees snapping up insects along with at least 10 Willow Warblers and 5 Whitethroats. There were more Willow Warblers over the pits, plus gardens on Dungeness, 50 in the Trapping Area, 50 around Long Pits and more reported in Dengemarsh Gully and elsewhere; a conservative estimate of 150 across the Peninsula is probably way on the low side. Also noted were more Whitethroats, Lesser Whitethroats, Garden Warbler, Common Redstart (Old Light), Whinchats (Galloways) and Cuckoo (ARC).
ARC - 1000hrs - From Hanson a decent selection of waders included 13 Dunlin, 5 Common Sandpiper, 5 LRP, 4 RP, 2 Greenshank and a Green Sandpiper. Plenty of Migrant Hawkers on the wing plus a Clouded Yellow. At the south end a Ruff, 2 Common Sands and a Black-necked Grebe amongst the diving ducks.
1530hrs - A phone call from PB necessitated a return to ARC concerning a golden type plover that didn't quite fit the mould... When  I arrived at Screen hide PB, SB and MH were already scrutinising the single plover on the shingle ridges c300m distant, but in good light.
It was an adult golden plover in moult and showed a broad white band down the side, around the face and on the forehead. The underparts were black with a paler vent and the back was spangled golden. Due to the range I couldn't discern any feather details; ie fine or coarse notched tertials. It didn`t appear to be longer in the leg, but this of course is subjective on a lone bird; I`m sure you can see where I`m going with this - could it be an adult Pacific Golden Plover in moult? And then a Marsh Harrier flew over and up went our bird...
The conversation then went something along the lines of - "it`s got a pale underwing and armpit - well that`s that then, it must be a Golden Plover `cos that`s diagnostic, as Pacific/American have grey underwings - didn`t see any feet sticking out the back end, so cant be Pacific as they`ve got long legs - it`s landed again - did anyone hear it call - NO! - I know the underwing looked pale, but could it be the effect of the bright sunlight... - it just doesn't look right - wish it was a bit closer - shame there aren't a few of its kin around for comparison - oh! its up again, definitely pale on the underwing - its` landed, still something odd about it, look at the white frontal band and forehead, have you seen a goldie like that...". And so it went on, we were wracked with doubt and the distance wasn't helping.
OL arrived on site and quipped, "good to see we`ve got the professionals on the case!" While MH reminded us that it was the same quartet that had confidently identified a winter plum Little Stint last autumn that mysteriously morphed into a Semi-p - or did the two-bird-theory come into play? With around 200 years of combined birding experience in the hide surely we knew what we were talking about, didn`t we?
Then SB went for the smart phone which showed pics of Pacifics with dark grey underwings and by the time CT arrived with the Birders Bible we`d all sort of agreed it was an adult Golden Plover in moult, but now I`ve got home and looked at my, albeit poor digi-pics, I`m unsure. At the range we watched it plumage and shape were all subjective, but it did appear to have a pale underwing with no feet projection beyond the tail on the brief flight views I saw.
NB: PB and CT remained for another hour during which time further pics were taken and comparison with another golden plover was possible, so best check out Plodding Birder`s blog for a further instalment.

                                golden plover, ARC, 14-8-13


  1. Combined birding experience of 200 years... Joker makes up for 150 of that!!

  2. I meant by his age Paul, not the birding prowess of the rest of you!!!