Sunday 6 September 2009

Traeth Dulas - Baird's and Curlew Sands!

A fruitless two hour session, pacing up and down the Montgomery canal had resulted in a total no show of the Purple Heron! My mind was drifting elsewhere, in the form of (a lifer for me) a juvenile Baird's Sandpiper, which had been present over at Traeth Dulas on Anglesey for the past few days. By 10.30 a decision was made to fire off there with Yvonne also falling into temptation.... Damon and Mike had set off there a couple of hours earlier after seeing the Heron (grrrr) ......

On arrival, the Baird's had apparently flown off at 9.30 (Damo and Mike missing it by minutes). With hopes of a return on the falling tide, a seawatch over at Point Lynas beckoned which, apart from cracking views of Manx Shearwater yet again, produced nothing of note......

News came out at 2.30 that the Baird's had returned and with drizzle starting to fall, we retraced our steps! It's always nice to get the bird on arrival and there it was - as descibed almost daily - Baird's Sandpiper 'showing well across the stream on the saltmarsh'. Problem was, the drizzle had now turned into horizontal stair-rods directly into bins, face, scope, lens or whatever was pointed in the direction of where it was showing!

Eventually, after an hour of of waiting, the rain suddenly stopped! Most birders had given up by now but at last - chance of record shots!! I hate to rush away from anything new, especially a wader so here was a chance to capture the moment.....

A pretty good first moment too!

The Baird's was pretty easy to pick out too. The clean pale underparts, buff streaked breast and scaly pattern to the upperparts with, visible from quite a distance, a prominent supercilium. The long primary projection and short legs gave the bird a distinctly 'long bodied' appearance.

A couple of flight shots!

Birds of a feather.... Sandpiper that is, certainly did seem to stick together and the Baird's was more often than not sticking with the Curlew Sandpipers than the Dunlin. The upperparts of both quite similar but overall size, bill and leg length instantly pointing to the latter.

It's not every day you have Curlew Sandpiper in front of you and five were present here!

That long curved bill certainly gave them an edge on the Dunlin - they were pretty adept at hauling the most enormous worms out of the sand followed by a dash to the waters edge to wash the sand off before swallowing!

A bonus flight shot as well!

An adult Mediterranian Gull was still slumbering on the saltmarsh as we packed in to drive home. It had been a frustrating start to the day but cracking end.......