Lade - 0700hrs - cool, cloudy, drizzle, nw 2 - Several Chiffchaffs in the garden this morning, plus a steady stream of hirundines overhead and on south lake, mainly comprising House Martins.
However, all plans for further birding here were scuppered as news broke of the first proper rarity of the year at Dungeness...
Semipalmated Sandpiper, Burrowes - Arrived in Firth hide to the news that the Semi-p was on a far island and out of sight. However, eventually it moved into view, but all you could make out was a small sandpiper scurrying around amongst the foam. It then flew off and we had a nervous half an hour wait until it returned, thankfully right in front of the hide and showed like a good `un.
Conveniently it was with Dunlins for comparison and appeared to be much smaller and obviously a stint/peep. My heavily cropped pics above don't do it justice but in the field it was a neat, scaly looking individual which made it a juvenile. First impressions were the greyish tones to the upperparts (lacking any white stripes on the mantle), a distinctive head pattern and a thick bill base, all different from juv Little Stint. On closer inspection the crown, ear-coverts and lores were dark grey with a contrasting white supercilium. Feather detail was a bit difficult due to the range and light but eventually you could make out the white centred wing-coverts and tertials and dark markings on the lower scapulars; the webbing between the toes was just about visible on a couple of occasions.
A very smart bird indeed and much appreciated by the usual suspects in the hide; as one local wag commented (who shall remain nameless...), "everyone was so engrossed in studying the bird you couldn`t get a `peep` out of them".
Needless to say this was a personal Dunge tick and new for the year (203). Well done to PB, the finder.
Also on site, hundreds of hirundines, plus Ruff, Greenshank, Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, a Spotted Red and Whimbrel over, Black-necked Grebe and Black Tern, while 2 Spoonbills flew through earlier.