24 Jun 2018

24 Jun 18 - One That Got Away

I had a mid morning call from Paul Morton from the Birds of Poole Harbour team. He had just seen an email from a member of the public. A distant summer plumage Plover, but which he though looked like an American Golden Plover. The initial photo taken by Debbie Derrick has been published on the BoPH June 18 Sightings page. It had been seen on 4 occasions between 18 & 22 Jun. Looking at the photo, it certainly looked a reasonable identification, albeit it was distant. I was about to leave when Paul rang back. He had forwarded the photo to Killian Mullarney & Paul had a thumbs up to the identification.

It had been photographed on the outer side of Redhorn Quay, which is the point that separates Brands Bay from what most locals regard as the outer Brands Bay (but pedantically is Plateau Bay). I arrived about ten minutes later & headed straight for Redhorn Quay, while local Poole Birder, Shaun Robson headed to Jerry's Point. Jerry's Point is closer to the ferry & gives views over the outer part of the Studland peninsula. We both had excellent views of people, uncontrolled dogs & people who are into the latest craze of standing on boards & paddling around on them close to the shoreline. But sadly, no sign of the American Golden Plover. We both planned to meet up in the Brands Bay hide. This gives better views of Brands Bay, but I had already had a fairly reasonable view of Brands Bay so I was fairly confident it wouldn't be on view from there: I was correct. On the way to the hide, I ran into my mate Peter Moore who having arrived & already heard the negative news was getting distracted with the Silver-studded Blues. It seemed the best option in the circumstances.
Silver-studded Blue: They seemed to be having a good year locally with the current heatwave
A had another look at Brands Bay in the early evening as it should have quietened down & there was footie to keep most of Joe Public indoors. Unfortunately, still no joy. Then it was onto the Middlebere hide in the hope it might have relocated to Middlebere on the rising tide. Again, no luck, but there was a reasonable selection of Waders to keep me occupied & a 1st Summer Spoonbill.
Spoonbill: 1st Summer. This was presumably the individual that had been moving around Poole Harbour in recent days. It disappeared to roost soon after I arrived. Middlebere is a popular Spoonbills pre-roost site, but they don't roost there
After grabbing a few photos of the Spoonbill, I carried on scanning the exposed mud in the hope that the American Golden Plover would arrive. As a result, I never saw the Spoonbill depart. Subsequently, this would have been interesting to have seen it go to see the extent of the black in the wing tips. At the time, I aged this Spoonbill as a first summer on the basis of the bill colour, lack of plumes & white breast. As I'm writing this Post I thought I would have a quick check on ageing of first summer Spoonbills & found an article on Surfbirds by Alexander Hellquist. This shows that ageing isn't as straight-forward as I though & second summer individuals Spoonbill should also be considered. First summer individuals sometimes show a white tuft instead of full plumes, but often won't show a crest, do not show the adult's yellow breast band, have an extensive yellow tipped bill with a grey base, grey legs, a (brownish) red iris (far too far away to determine iris colour) & have extensive black in the wing tips (not seen in flight). In comparison, second summer individuals generally show a short white plume, will not show the adult's yellow breast band, have more yellow in the bill tip than adults, have darker grey legs than a first summer (but no others for comparison), have an intensive red eye & little in the way of black in the wing tips. There appears to be a bit of fleshy pink colouration in the base of the bill (which juvenile individuals show) & coupled with the lack of a crest (although that isn't diagnostic), then I guess this is still a first summer individual. But I would welcome any comments.
Spoonbill: 1st Summer
Spoonbill: 1st Summer. A closer crop. Does the pinkish edges to the bill & the lack of any crest make it more likely to be a first summer
Spoonbill: 1st Summer
Spoonbill: 1st Summer. A closer crop. The bill tip looks fleshy, but there is generally a warm evening light at Middlebere at this time of the year
There was no sign of the American Golden Plover, but I was pleased to see a flyover Great White Egret which was in heavy wing moult on the innermost primaries. We weren't aware there had been a Great White Egret in Poole Harbour since early Spring, so had it just arrived or been overlooked. I saw it again in flight on the following evening. I've now given up on the search for the American Golden Plover & as the tides aren't great for Middlebere at the moment, I've not been down to see if I can get more views of the Great White Egret. Only four years ago, we had the first properly twitchable Great White Egret in Poole Harbour. After four years of overwintering involving up to three individuals then we are now fairly balse about local Great White Egrets: how times change.
Sika Deer: Seen enjoying the evening sun on the following evening's visit to Middlebere (25 Jun 18)