Sunday 21 July 2019

Semipalmated Sandpiper and Pacific Golden Plover, Norfolk

The plan this morning was to spend the morning at Titchwell and try again for the Semipalmated Sandpiper. As we approached the reserve news broke "Adult still distantly on freshmarsh from path by Island Hide" We made our way along the path and began scanning for the bird. There were plenty of Dunlin present, mainly adults but with some juveniles among them. A single Curlew Sandpiper was a welcome addition to the year list when it was found feeding among the Dunlin and Godwits. After a lengthy scan, the Semi P could not be located. Then news came through that the earlier report was, in fact, a Common Sandpiper.
High tide was forecast for around 9am, so we walked round to the Parrinder Hide where the light and viewing conditions were much improved. Several scans through the flocks of Dunlin, Godwits, and Avocets failed to locate the Semi P. Avocets were present in huge numbers and when another flock of 25-30 birds flew in they put all the Dunlins up into the air. Shortly after they settled back down on the marsh the Semipalmated Sandpiper was found among them!

Semipalmated Sandpiper

We also had the pleasure of spending some time chatting with Gordon Hamlett, author of the "Best birdwatching sites guide to the Scottish Highlands" A book that proved invaluable on our first trips to Scotland and continues to do so.

Shortly after midday, we decided to make our way to Breydon water hoping to locate the Pacific Golden Plover. We parked in the rugby club car park and started the 2.5-mile walk along Angles Way towards the pumphouse. We were walking at a quick pace but halfway along the footpath, we came to a halt when Brian spotted a Swallowtail Butterfly! I had tried and failed to see these on several occasions in the last couple of years. Admittedly I hadn't made great efforts to visit at the right time or picked the warmer days. It flitted from flower to flower and then briefly came to rest on the footpath.

Swallowtail Butterfly

We walked on and eventually reached the pumphouse. A further 100-150 yards beyond this point we could see a small group of birders. They all had their scopes pointing towards a horse field South of the River Yare. After some general directions from the other birders, I had my first ever views of  a Pacific Golden Plover in the scope. It was roosting in the company of two  European Golden Plovers. It awoke briefly and allowed for some excellent scope views as it walked a short distance before returning to its slumber. So another lifer and another species that comes off the dipped list.

Pacific Golden Plover

Two great days of birding, producing five-year ticks and a life tick, with the added bonus of my first-ever sighting of a Swallowtail Butterfly.

Saturday 20 July 2019

White-rumped Sandpiper, Frampton Marsh

June had proved very productive. Iberian Chiffchaff, Black-headed Bunting, Subalpine Warbler, Lesser Grey Shrike, Black-winged Pratincole and Little Bustard all seen. The run had to end at some point and it did. 
Today was our first birding trip for three weeks and we decided to head for Titchwell hoping the Semipalmated Sandpiper had stayed overnight. We arrived around 8am and scanned the Freshmarsh hoping the Semi P would drop-in. High Tide an hour later saw a sizeable flock of Knot join the Spoonbills, Spotted Redshanks, Dunlin, Godwits, Ruff already present. We scanned the Freshmarsh for the best part of three hours but failed to locate the target bird.
When news broke of two White-rumped Sandpipers present at Frampton Marsh we decided to head off along the A17. After parking the car in the old car park, we had excellent scope views of one of the White-rumped Sandpipers having walked no more than a yard from the car! 

White-rumped Sandpiper

A walk along the sea-wall searching for Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints proved less productive as the cows had walked straight across the marsh and flushed everything. We headed back towards the car park and managed excellent views of the Summer plumaged Long-billed Dowitcher. 

Long-billed Dowitcher

Heading back towards the reserve centre we managed to locate the pair of Black-necked Grebes with their two chicks and also located a Little Stint feeding along a muddy spit for another year tick.

The Semipalmated Sandpiper at Titchwell was reported later in the day, but we were closer to home than Titchwell when the news was spotted.