Thursday, 23 September 2010

Turf hotel - Spotted Sandpiper!!

After stopping the night with friends near Exeter, I did battle with the Countess Wear mayhem and headed off for Exminster Marshes and hopes of a special wader?

I don’t know if you can park nearer but I didn’t fancy leaving the car anywhere ‘unofficial’. The sign at the Exminster Marsh reserve car park indicated 1.8km to go to the Turf Hotel….. I gave it a go, yomping camera gear and scope in anticipation…..

The well berried hedges held a few Warblers but I didn’t linger and 25 mins later following a never ending grassy track reached my destination! The tide was just starting to drop as I searched the shoreline. After 15 mins or so of ‘nothing’, I sat down on a ‘platform’ overlooking the estuary and then my luck turned, some movement caught my eye – a Sandpiper!

With Common Sandpipers in the area, a close inspection of the bird was necessary. I’ve seen one before and an instant gut feeling kicked in – this was a Spotted Sandpiper! It was the legs, more than anything, a rich orange yellow which immediately caught the eye.

Then (having done my ‘homework’) close inspection of the tertials which were ‘spot on’ with completely plain edges (notched in Common sandpiper)

The wing coverts too had a very striking barred pattern, a similar appearance is seen in juv Common Sands but the contrast in colouration is nowhere near as great.

Closee detail.....

Just a matter than of getting some appealing images of the bird feeding and small crustaceans seemed to be on the menu!

I never did get the perfect crab shot, usually mutilated beyond recognition! Hmm, unless something else mega turns up in the area, I might just nip back the following morning?

A Hobby was seen distantly over the marsh on the walk back to the car, busy catching dragonflies like this female Migrant Hawker....

The rest of the day was spent checking out the estuary and Dawlish Warren which produced few Wheatear (an obliginhg individual below) and Stonechat in the dunes and nowt special out to sea!

I ended up at Bowling Green Marsh with the high tide wader roost starting to build up (large numbers of Curlew plus Black/Bar tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Redshank before I had to leave…..

MORE Spotted Sand to come (including that crab!)