Saturday, 10 December 2011

Starter: Mediterranean - Main Course: Wader Medley - Des(s)ert: Wheatear

Newbiggin beckoned today.

A single Mediterranean Gull splashed around with Black Headed Gulls off Church Point.

As I walked along the beach, there were lots of Dunlins, my first Sanderlings of the winter, several Golden Plovers, Redshanks and Ringer Plovers, four Bar Tailed Godwits, one Curlew and lots of Turnstones.

On reaching Beacon Point, there were more of the same, plus a small flock of Purple Sandpipers and three Grey Plovers flew by. I sat on a rock and waited for the tide to push the waders closer. No need for binoculars as Dunlins, Turnstones and Purple Sandpipers were almost at touching distance - a great opportunity to study the detail of their plumage and watch them feed. At one point, I had both Meadow and Rock Pipit in view at the same time.

I asked some passing birders about the Wheatear. Evidently it had flown over me and down the beach whilst I was watching the waders. I wandered back down the beach, but no sign. Then a passing birder told me that it was back in its favourite stop. My old bones were going to be challenged by the trek, but I decided that the opportunity of a terrible blog title was too good to miss.

After about 500 metres I met a guy; "Is it still there?" "Yes". So onward I trekked. Another 200 meters and another guy; "Is it still there?" "Yes". Eventually I reached my goal. And there, in a cove, a Wheatear strove, with a ring... no not really (sorry Mr Lear if you're spinning in your grave).

When I see a bird for the first time my concern is whether I will see enough of it to recognise it if another opportunity arises. The Desert Wheatear is very distinctively different from its common cousin. This bird really puts on a performance, flitting around and really showing off all of its plumage and jizz. Lots of tail bobbing and very active poking around in the flotsam and the rocks. Well worth every aching bone.

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