Sunday, 11 September 2016

Fifteen Species of Wader at Oare Marshes

24th August 2016

We had purposely delayed our arrival at Oare Marshes until 1.30pm as at this time the sun crosses the road and therefore when photographing on the main lagoon the light is behind you. Also today high tide was at 6.00pm and therefore, although there are birds present all day, many more arrive from 4.00pm onwards for their high tide roost.

Today there were no less than 15 species of wader present, although I only managed to photograph 13, still mustn't grumble. Avocets were well represented and are even more photogenic when they put on an air display. As before the large flocks of Black-tailed Godwits were on the distant islands, but showed well on their occasional circuit when disturbed.

Golden Plover numbers were building up nicely after their summer break and increased still further on the rising tide with more more birds flying in. Eventually, all the spits had a line of plovers and the larger islands were commandeered by the larger flocks.

In my experience the Greenshank is the one wader that you normally know of its presence by call. I could hear two birds calling as we waited by the road but could see nothing, but then picked them up flying low into the lagoon and was able to see them settle, allowing this shot

By far the commonest small waders were Dunlin and Ringed Plover, and they built up into quite substantial flocks as the afternoon wore on. The only somewhat unexpected surprise was the arrival of this single Turnstone in summer plumage.

Now on to the more specialty birds. There was only a single Wood Sandpiper which unfortunately spent most of its time in front of the large island to the north-west of the lagoon and therefore some distance away. This only allowed a few record shots. Notice its diminutive size compared to the rather tonking Lapwing.

There were also a few Ruff, which were far more obliging and would on occasions come up the creek towards the road. One of the young birds had trouble keeping its footing and had to use its wings to remain upright.

Now on to the final two. Although none when we arrived there were now 11 Little Stints, the most I have seen at one place at the same time in recent memory. Just look at their teeny size compared to the Dunlin.

But my favourite birds today were the four Curlew Sandpipers that, like the Little Stints, arrived on the incoming tide. There was one summer plumage bird, but kept it distance and never came near enough for a shot. What an absolutely fantastic day and I am already looking forward to my next visit.

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