Thursday, 11 May 2017

Curlew Sandpiper

Dungeness RSPB - muggy, hazy sunshine,  e 2 - 1200hrs -  News came through regarding a Curlew Sandpiper on Burrowes this morning, which was no great surprise considering that the habitat is superb for passage waders at the moment with plenty of low islands and good feeding for a tired and hungry migrant. When I arrived on site the bird was camped on a distant island, but it soon flew towards us and landed on a shingle spit just in front of the Visitor Centre affording cracking views for over half an hour. It was an adult individual coming into breeding plumage, sporting streaky flecks of red feathers down the flanks, a pale eyebrow, grey/brown blotched upperparts, a white rump in flight and a long de-curved bill.

                                Adult Curlew Sandpiper, Burrowes

  Curlew Sandpipers are mainly an early autumn migrant down here, associating with the likes of  Dunlins and Little Stints. Numbers vary annually and last year was a poor autumn for this species; a spring bird is much rarer making this little beauty most welcome. Curlew Sands are long distant voyagers (mmm, just had a Moody Blues moment...) wintering along the western seaboard of Africa and moving north-east to breed. They nest on the high Arctic tundra of coastal, central Siberia, so our bird still had a bit to go after briefly refuelling at Dungeness.
  There was also a host of other passage waders scattered around the lake, plus loads of Black-headed Gulls and Common Terns looking to nest, and a couple of Arctic Terns over the lake.

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