Sunday, 5 August 2012

Curlew Sand at Backsand

A quick stop at Restharrow scrape (1 garganey and 2 green sands) and the Elmes (nothing) then it was off to Backsand(again).

The walk down was pretty uneventful other than a Cetti’s warbler by Newdowns reservoir and 6 grey partridge along the track then it was just a matter of sitting in the hide and waiting for the tide to come up and push the birds onto the scrape.
When I arrived at Backsand there were only 3 common and 5 green sands but their numbers slowly increased peaking at 5 and 9 respectively. It was during one of the repeat counts that I found that a curlew sandpiper had joined the green sands,  to the right of the hide. Itwas a adult bird undergoing moult. I sat patiently waiting for it to come closer but it steadfastly refused to do so.

Curlew Sandpiper
The wait wasn’t totally uneventful because 2 little ringed plovers turned up and whilst these came closer than the curlew sand they too wouldn’t come close enough for a decent picture.

Little Ringed Plover
About 2 hours before high tide greenshanks started to come onto the scrape and once their numbers had swelled to 11 the curlew sand decided there was safety in numbers and went to join them - about as far away from a hide as it’s possible to get!  As high tide approached shanks of both kinds continued to come in and were joined by a black-tailed godwit; the final counts for the shanks being 23 green and 10 red.


One bird turned up that had me scratching my head for a minute   redshank sized but with yellow-orange legs  - until I remembered that juvenile redshanks have yellow -orange legs.
As the day progressed the birds came increasingly lethargic with only the common sands showing any inclination to come close. Luckily one decided it wanted to have a rest right in front of the hide and sat in a slight depression for quite a time before standing up and having a shriek or two.

Common Sandpiper
Other than the waders mentioned above there were 2 little egret,  ~ 10 lapwing, and 3 oystercatchers plus a family of mallard and the moorhens are still producing chicks.
The water levels are getting really low now and I hate to say it after the summer we have "enjoyed" but Backsand urgently needs several inches of rain. From a photographic perspective the problem is the channel between the photographic hide and the mud is now so narrow that very little will come along the edge of the mud – it is just too close to the hide. Today not even the green sands would venture along it, nor would the LRPs.

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