10 Oct 2014

10 Oct 14 - Inland Dorset Grey Phalarope

I was just leaving Knoll Beach, Studland after finding the Yellow-browed Warbler there, when I had a phone call from Paul Morton, who runs the excellent Birds of Poole Harbour charity & website. Paul rang to say he had just heard of a Grey Phalarope locally. It was a likely species to see given the strong Southerly & South-Westerly winds in the last few days & several Grey Phalaropes had been seen around Ferrybridge & Chesil Cove, Portland earlier in the day. But these are expected sites. I had been hoping to find one earlier in the day around Studland, but without success. But what was surprising when Paul said it was at the Dorset Wildlife Trust, Tadnoll-Winfrith reserve which must be about 10 miles from the coast. He gave me the phone number for Ali Quinney who had found it that morning & Ali was very helpful on the phone & she proved directions to the bird hide, as I hadn't visited that part of the reserve before. About 40 minutes later I arrived at the hide & found it swimming on the back scrape.
The view of the two scrapes from the hide: It was not as bright as this photograph suggests & the Grey Phalarope was on the back scrape
The Grey Phalarope was actively feeding as it worked its way around the scrape. It was constantly on the move & was the only bird there, apart from when a pair of Mallards dropped in later on. Unfortunately, the light was poor as it was late afternoon & threatening rain, hence the grainy photos. I had hoped to try for better photos the following day, but it was looked for without success early on the following morning.
Grey Phalarope: It wasn't close
Grey Phalarope: 1st Winters would normally have dark tertials and wing coverts at this time of the year, so the lack of contrast in the upperwing makes me think this is an adult
Grey Phalarope
Grey Phalarope
Grey Phalarope: Note, the stout, blunt bill & the hint of rufous in the upper throat
Grey Phalarope: A clear view of the back of its neck
Grey Phalarope: Not sure I've ever seen the underwing before. Apparently, it's whiter on a Grey Phalarope than on a Red-necked Phalarope, especially on the primaries
Grey Phalarope: Part of the dark grey upperwing is visible on the left hand wing
This is a great inland Dorset record & well done to Ali for finding it & thanks for getting the news out.