Wednesday, 18 July 2012

A shore thing...

This evening I retraced yesterday's footsteps and had a trundle around those Flats known locally as Panama.
Once again, the sun was bright and warm. This makes viewing small waders as they beetle around the muddy fringes of a rapidly diminishing wetland an absolute delight - each feather and subtle structural detail comes alive in the 'scope. However, it's bloody awful for digiscoping and everything comes out hideously contrasty and fuzzy. No mind.
There were still low numbers of birds present, but it was all about quality rather than quantity once again. Among the 50 or so peeps in the SW quadrant, there were two cracking semipalmated sandpipers. The remainder were made up of least and western sandpipers, with slightly more of the former than the latter species. Anyone wanting to scrutinise the subtle differences between smaller calidrids could do worse than visit Panama Flats right now while there are relatively few birds to sift through.

Yet another lesser yellowlegs pic...
Also probing around in the gloop were a lesser yellowlegs and a single dowitcher that was highly suggestive of short-billed.
A solitary sandpiper was still present, creeping around on the vegetated edges of the receding pool.
Over in the NW quadrant, a greater yellowlegs was busily fishing in the shallows.
As I walked along the central bund the swallows alerted me to the arrival of a sub-adult male northern harrier. It came in from the direction of Carey Road and briefly quartered the SE quad before gaining height and proceeding to circle high over the flats. The swallows then got really excited and as I looked up to see what the fuss was about a peregrine appeared. These swallows are really good at raptor ID, reserving their more manic calls for genuinely threatening species!
Soon afterwards, a tatty Cooper's hawk had a go at snatching a bit of supper from the gathered waders but went away empty taloned.

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