24 Oct 2013

24 Oct 13 - Beginners Luck

I've just completed over 3 months working in London & Birmingham and as a reward I had promised myself a nice camera & lens for bird photography. So it was up early to get out on the first day with the new toy to have a play with it. Southerly winds suggested a coastal location, but an early morning rising tide had me heading to Middlebere.
Middlebere: The view from the Avocet hide showing the Middlebere creek which is one of the last areas of mud in the harbour to be covered on a rising tide (with the Arne RSPB reserve beyond)
A typical selection of species were present including a good numbers of Teal with a few Wigeon, brief views of male Hen Harrier and 1st Winter Marsh Harrier. Waders included 31 Avocets and 120+ Dunlin and a Green Sandpiper.
Fox: This young animal came to check out who was birding in the hide
The highlight of the morning came in the form of a showy Kingfisher which perched up in front of the hide: a species I've rarely seen at Middlebere.
Kingfisher: The all black beak indicates this is a male
Things quietened down once the tide had finished rising. I checked the pager as I was leaving & there was a message of a probable Pallid Swift at Stanpit. This was a long wanted County tick after dipping on the 2 birds on Portland in Nov 84. Swifts often move on quickly so I decided to head straight there rather than wait for confirmation of the id. I ran into Ian & Jean S as I arrived, who said it hadn't been seen for an hour, but fortunately, another local arrived saying it had been over the Honda garage about 10 minutes earlier, before disappearing. Headed off in that direction & not finding anywhere to park, I ended up in the Two Riversmeet car park. A raised bank was the obvious viewpoint & quickly located the Swift in the distance. It took a long time to get decent views & make myself happy it was a Pallid Swift: not helped by switching to the camera every time it came closer.
Pallid Swift: The contrast between the paler secondaries/inner primaries and the darker outer primaries & underwing coverts is a key feature. The bird also was closer to a Sand Martin colouration on the body (which wasn't as obvious on these over exposed photos)
Pallid Swift: Upperside view
Pallid Swift: Note the diffuse pale throat & big beady eye
Pallid Swift: Showing the spread tail
Nick Hopper rang as I was leaving Christchurch to say he had just found a Pallas's Warbler at Studland. Fortunately there was enough light to get over there & located both Nick & more importantly the bird on the path to Old Harry. Only the 3rd Studland record & the second I've seen at Studland. It finished off a great days birding.