16 Sept 2014

16 Sep 14 - At Last A Brands Bay Goodie

Brands Bay is the Southern most part of the Studland coastline on the inside of the harbour. It always looks fantastic, but sadly its track record for good Waders has been very poor. In about 7 years of regular watching, I'm yet to see a Yankie Wader there & the only rare Waterfowl I've seen have been a Black Brant & last Winter's Surf Scoter. But I persist as one day there will be something good there. The best bird I'm managed to find there was a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling about a 1/2 mile away at the back of the bay & edging onto the Greenlands Farm area. It stuck around for 2 days at the start of Oct 10 & was the first twitchable record for Poole Harbour & only the third sighting. I rarely carried the Lumix in those days, so no personal photos, but some nice shots on Nick Hopper on his blog.
Brands Bay: Panoramic view from the hide (21 April 14)
But I've seen a few other patch goodies over the last few years, with Barnacle Goose, Red-crested Pochard, Garganey, Honey Buzzard, Golden Pheasant (on Furzey Island, but viewable from BB), Jack Snipe, Black Guillemot & Barn Owl there. So I was really pleased to go into the hide recently to see the Great White Egret in the bay: my 150th species for Brands Bay. At first it was about half way back in the bay, before moving to within about 150 metres at its closest approach. Then it moved to the start of a channel to the left of the hide, before flying up there & out of view, about 5 minutes before local Poole Harbour lister, Shaun Robson, arrived. He had been away the previous week & so this was his first attempt to see it for the harbour list. We tried the side channel, but it was probably back on Littlesea & Shaun was out of time. Guess it will stick around for him.
Great White Egret: Even at the back of the near half of the bay, it was obvious what it was when compared to the Little Egret in the photo
Great White Egret: A large crop at the same distance
Great White Egret: It then walked down the channel & got a fair bit closer
Great White Egret: It then flew closer & came down in the near channel
Great White Egret: The buff edges to the secondary coverts and some of the secondary median coverts are obvious
Great White Egret: The pale fleshy-yellow above the knees is visible for the first time. Up to now the photos have really only shown the black legs & feet
Great White Egret: Just the hint of a black tip to the bill. Something else I've not seen up to this point
Great White Egret: Close up of the bill. I can now see why I hadn't seen the black tip in previous days
There is often a Black-tailed Godwit flock in Brands Bay, apart from after late May when the last stragglers depart for Iceland until their return in late August. The other time they are really difficult to see is at the start of the year, when the whole of the Poole Harbour flock departs for the Avon Valley, before returning after a couple of months. I'm sure they do this to make the traditional mid Jan Winter Bird Race harder for us.
Black-tailed Godwit