27 Sept 2021

Wilsons Phalarope, Cheshire

We'd got back from Scotland the previous evening, after a long drive and epic journey round the NC500 taking on Orkney on the way, and  I was unpacking the car after breakfast when the news came through that Graham Jones had found a Wilsons Phalarope at Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB just a few minutes away from the house. Abandoning the unpacking I grab binoculars, scope and camera and set off. Luckily the bird was on view, albeit distantly, when I arrived and  I was soon watching my 2nd Wilsons Phalarope for Cheshire - almost 40 years to the day as I saw my first ever and first Cheshire one at Frodsham as a student at Manchester University! 

There have been 11 previous records in Cheshire and this makes it 12. The last one was in 1991 so this was a very popular bird for a younger generation of Cheshire birders! I've seen 6 in the UK with the last one being at Seaforth Docks in 2009. In recent years they've become much scarcer in the UK. They're beautiful little birds and like our more familiar Red-necked and Grey Phalaropes will feed by spinning on the surface of the water to disturb invertebrates up from the mud on the bottom. They also feed on and and have a very distinctive feeding action - almost like a small egret chasing prey!

After almost 3 weeks away it was also good to catch up with a few friends I hadn't seen for awhile. Another good wader for the CAWOS recording area after recent Long-billed Dowithcers and American Golden Plovers.

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