20 Oct 2013

If plan A doesn't work try plan B....... Then C. Semi-palmated Plover,Hampshire

News of a Semi-palmated Plover being found in Hampshire didn't fill me with much enthusiasm. I'd already done an early stint on Hilbre Friday and was spending the day ringing waders on the N Wales Coast Saturday. I honestly didn't expect it to be found again but sure enough if showed over the high tide Saturday and a plan was developed involving Fred & Malc. Fred had a survey to do near Southampton so if was decided we'd take his company vehicle, do the survey at first light, get to Hayling Island for the tide, see the bird, home by 4 pm. Job done. The best laid plans and all that......
Setting the alarm for 04.00 stupid o'clock  I duly picked up Comberbachs finest and arrived at Fred's on the dot at 5.30. Off we set down the M6 only for the car to start swaying alarmingly followed by a graunching noise from the rear suspension. Something was seriously wrong and it felt as if a major suspension component had come adrift. Not wishing to risk the long journey south and back we limped back the way we'd come to pick up another car from Fred's companies premises. Plan B. Only the fecking gates were locked and we couldn't get in.....we were were doomed. Plan C involved going back to Fred's house and picking up his wife's car.
At last we were on our way. No time for the survey. That would wait until after we'd, hopefully , seen the bird. Unfortunately the third choice mode of transport possessed no map or sat have but there were a suitable array of kiddies books and toys to keep me amused in the back whilst Malc & Fred tinkered with the intricacies of the sat nav on a smart phone. At last we arrived at the designated spot only to find a load of people actually standing on the sand spit where the bird was want to roost - including a handful of numpties that decided breaking the skyline and standing on the highest point was the ultimate in birding fieldcraft. A few Ringed Plover and other waders turned up but as the tide flooded they got jittery as, with everyone on the spit, they had no where else to go. Along with the fieldcraft was the usual misidentification such as 'it's next to the pale Dunlin' . It was a Sanderling for fecks sake not a pale Dunlin. After awhile all the birds flew and after asking the numpties to move to give the birds room in case they came back we decided to cut our losses and look further down the beach where it had been relocated yesterday. Most others stayed hopefully scanning the rapidly diminishing spit but from further back.
About a dozen  drove into town and parked up before walking down the shingle beach towards the mythical groyne 24 where we saw a small group of Ringed Plover & Dunlin hunkered down on the beach amid the spray. As we crouched down ourselves out of the wind someone picked it up flying in and everyone soon got on to this diminutive banded plover. The photos don't do it justice as it was actually very distinctive.

As more people turned up disaster struck as a white terrier ran through the whole flock flushing them. Seeing an angry group of birders standing less that 100 m in front of him the owners did the sensible thing and put fido back on a lead.

Luckily the waders came in and settled again . This time even closer. After an hour or so and with time pressing we left to carry out Fred's ecological survey and set off for the long journey home.

I didn't take the camera as I knew photography would be difficult but managed a few shots with the Kowa iPhone adaptor that fits the Swarovski scope. All in all a successful day despite the less than perfect start.

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