Monday, 23 April 2012

Cholsey 23rd April and news of the Black-winged Stilt

Rain, 8º, moderate E.

Lollingdon Hill had 5 Wheatears present today and a single Buzzard.

Tony Williams heard a Grasshopper Warbler on Cholsey Marsh yesterday.

2 Brown Hares present near Lollingdon Hill.

A scarce sighting of a Starling in the garden this afternoon and a Pheasant in the meadow.

News on the Black-winged Stilt from last week in Oxfordshire.

Although more-or-less annual visitors to our shores and one of the most familiar species seen by British and Irish birders on their holidays in southern Europe, Black-winged Stilts always attract a crowd when they turn up over here. These distinct and charismatic waders are made even more attractive by their propensity for turning up just about anywhere, from coastal marshes to the smallest of inland gravel pits. Perhaps because they are so distinctive, individuals (or small groups) are often tracked as they move around the country. As a result, it is a bird that many inland patch workers can realistically dream of finding and, this week, three managed to do just that, courtesy of one rather restless individual.

First arriving at Tacumshin (Wexford) on 30th March, the bird chose an extended stay at this excellent site until 10th April when it disappeared, presumably never to be seen again. Two days later, on 12th, the first stilt for Oxfordshire for 19 years turned up at Standlake Pits, where it showed well for much of the day and, judging by photographs, appeared to have a head pattern identical to the Wexford individual. This translated to an ESE movement of 350 kilometres in just over 36 hours! Unfortunately, for local listers, this restless male had disappeared by the following morning, only to turn up during the early afternoon at Rutland Water, some 120 kilometres to the northeast. If the species had been "unblocked" in Oxfordshire, its status in Leicestershire and Rutland was even more impressive — not only was it the first site record, but it was the first for the counties since 1987! However, the bird was not finished there: clearly not finding Rutland to its liking, it flew off to the northeast during the evening and Nottinghamshire birdwatchers were put on alert. The next morning, it surprised many by turning up around 27 kilometres to the ENE at the rather exciting new washland between Bourne and Spalding (Lincs) named Willow Tree Fen, where it remained to the end of the week. How long will it stay and where will it turn up next?

News courtesy of BirdGuides.

  Black-winged Stilt, Standlake 12th April 2012

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