Adventures in an empty corner

Birding musings and ramblings around South-east Cornwall - the empty corner of the county.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Ruffing it!

Looking out of my back bedroom window I can see the Tamar estuary up as far as Skinham Point. This means that I can see the entrance to Kingsmill Lake, and I have often put the 'scope up to have a look at the Avocets and Black-tailed Godwit as they congregate at the mouth of the lake on a rising or falling tide. Over the years I have seen some decent birds from home, including Cattle Egret, Osprey and oddities such as Velvet Scoter. What I seldom do however is actually take the trouble to walk out to the lake to see what is in  there. This is unforgivable given that it is so close and in the past I have found Least Sandpiper, Bonaparte's Gull, Pec Sand and numerous Ospreys in there.

The report of a Ruff there at the begining of December was interesting but hardly earth shattering news so I didn't bother to go and have a look at a bird which had already been found by someone else. Last night however I had an email from Mike, who originally found the bird, enclosing a photo which clearly showed a Lesser Yellowlegs. Mike said that he had only seen the bird on four occasions since the first sighting and each time it had been at a great distance. He had always suspected that it wasn't a Ruff but because of the viewing distance and his unfamiliarity with American tringa species he preferred to exercise caution. Yesterday however it came close enough to get a digiscoped photo which allowed me confirm his ID.

This morning I was down there to catch the falling tide to try and relocate the bird. I always have a great time when I get to the site so it is even more perverse that I go so seldom. Today was no different with decent numbers of Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit. Searching around turned up a couple of Knot and a Spotted Redshank. A nice male Shoveler was a surprise here and a dozen or so Greenshank completed the wader line-up. After an hour or so I was joined by Mike who had brought Ray along with him. Ray saw the last Yellowlegs on the Tamar in 1958 which was on the Devon side. I've never been convinced by the record from Millbrook -to me it was a Juv Redshank, but it was accepted by BBRC so technically this bird would be the second for Caradon.

After a further twenty minutes or so I suddenly saw the bird feeding on the edge of the saltmarsh. It was at least 250m away but was identifiable all the same. Mike got on to it and Ray got it just before it disappeared up a channel. This was to be the pattern of the morning - a couple of minutes on view followed by fifteen minutes of waiting for it to reappear. We used the time when it was out of view to phone around a few locals and put the news out to Birdline SW. Keith arrived in the hide, followed soon after by a reappearance from the Yellowlegs,and this time it flew a short way allowing us to see the white rump. It was still a long way off but at least we were getting views of it in the open

It had been a good morning, and it was particularly nice that before I left Steve arrived and was able to get to see the bird - even if it had only been there for 90 days!

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