23 Sep 2013

Peak wader time and a Yankee Sandpiper

Al Conlin texted me last week - its coming up for peak American Wader time on the Wirral coast as the commoner waders start flooding in to the Dee Estuary and the autumn gales start blowing strays and waifs across the Atlantic - he texted me to let me know and expectations were high.

With a slight SE wind blowing Saturday morning hopes were high for a bit of passerine passage on Hilbre before the tide. A few Robins and a couple of Chiffchaff's later it was time to beat a hasty retreat from the island as the incoming tide rapidly flooded the track. No sooner had I got home and washed the sand off the Landrover then Alastair rang to say a probable Semipalmated Sandpiper had been found by Jane off Hoylake prom. A quick call to Allan and we were on our way albeit very conscious of the fact the ebbing tide would mean the waders getting further away. Sure enough 5 minutes from site we received a call saying the bird had flown further out. Our luck was in though and just as we arrived Allan relocated the bird............a long way off!

It was very active amongst the roosting flock of Dunlin, Curlew Sandpipers and Ringed Plovers. It was very easy to pick out as part from its diminutive size it was the only bird moving. Cranked up to 55 x on the 'scope it was just possible to pick up the palmation's as the bird walked away from you. The cold grey tones with no rufous in the scapulars suggested an adult moulting out of summer plumage. Photography was out of the question so I settled for a record shot through the phone.

Other commitments meant I couldn't go and help with the search Sunday. A very frustrating day for the observers on site as it appeared to show distantly and then promptly disappeared as they moved to view from a better position. Hopefully it'll get relocated.

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