20 Sep 2011

Yankee Doodle that'll be dandy. Part 1.

last year, whilst on Shetland, a Solitary Sandpiper was found in Devon. Unfortunately for me it didn't hang around long enough and I missed it. Solitary Sandpiper is a real scarcity with less than 40 records in the UK - the majority of these being on the Scilly's! News that one was showing down to 3 -4 metres on Newford duck pond had me toying with the idea of day tripping the islands. A window of opportunity was found and the plans were hatched with Groucho for a quick raid on Cornwall as the weather conditions looked promising for something else to turn up.

Sitting in Hilbre Obs Saturday morning the news that not only had a Black & White Warbler been found but a Northern Water Thrush as well. That was it  - we  were off. Flights were booked from Lands End to give us a good 6 hours on St Mary's. No problem. The Solitary had been present all the time on a muddy little pond and should be easy enough and the rest of the time could be spent searching Lower Moors. With a couple of mates (Ash Powell & Dan Pointon) already on the Islands and promising to give us up to date news  what problems could there be?

Sunday morning saw me picking up afore mentioned Groucho and setting off for Cornwall. First stop Drift Reservoir where we planned to look for a Semi-palmated Sandpiper and Lesser Yellowlegs that had been seen the previous day. Meeting a couple of lads we'd first met on our recent Scilly's pelagic trips we were soon pointed in the right direction to find a ridiculously tame Semi-palmated Sand hanging around with a similar;y unperturbed Dunlin.

 Dunlin - crouching and keeping a wary eye on an overhead Buzzard.

Note the semi - palmations in the above photo!

Next it was time for the Lesser Yellowlegs and we yomped around to the otherside of the resrvoir with Chris Griffin and his mate to find the bird showing equllay as well with the added bonus of a Spotted Redshank and Common Rerdshank alongside for comparison.

 A cracking little bird and very confiding.

With the light fading fast it was time to head back to our accomodation in Hayle. Hayle has a speical place in my memory as my Grandparents had a cottage here and I spent many happy hours birding the famous estuary as a youngster. We drove past the old place and were pleased to see (apart form the now paint and windows) that it hadn't really changed. Even the front wrought iron gate with my Grandparents name welded into it was still there! A quick couple of pints and an early night was in order. With all three target birds still on the Scillys things were looking promising for the morning. Fish and chips and a few pints of cider saw me ready for a good nights kip. That didn't materialise as Groucho inssited in drinking a dodgy pint from the end of a barrel of Tribute..................................................

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