1-24 September 2011 blog and sightings

17-24 September 2011
Another good week locally, Sunday 18th September being very memorable for the variety of birds around and yet another North American wader…juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper. A large number of birders were already enjoying the Dotterel and Buff-breasted Sandpiper so JSL and I headed off a short distance to count the wader roost. We were viewing from slightly different places as the flock were strung out and this bird stood out immediately. It was feeding on the wet mud with other waders and allowed some images/video to be taken even though it was raining and overcast. This should, if accepted constitute the second county record after JSL discovered one in 2006 (another bumper year for SPS in Britain).  It is likely that it has been seen before and since then but close or prolonged views were not attained. One possible was noted in the 1960’s but other encounters included brief but close views of a bird in the early 90’s, me included and I had distant views of a possible on two dates in Sep 2008. It was accompanying Little Stints. No such doubts over the 2006 and 2011 birds though.

Semi-p (the greyer bird with Dunlin)

7-16 September 2011
The seabird sightings continued near daily, I missed out on the best bird, an adult breeding plumage Sabine’s Gull and the juveniles seen on other dates around the Severn. Cannot play cricket and watch birds. I did spot an adult Grey Phalarope on one of the incoming tides and was present with a group when the Buff-breasted Sandpiper arrived in front of us all on 10th. This bird re-appeared and has shown daily to 16th at least, with a Dotterel as well. I have been on the other side of the estuary today (16th) with JSL watching a juvenile Spotted Sandpiper, a county first and good find for J Phillips.

Spotted Sand

Arctic Tern over the Dumbles
Around a dozen have been on show daily on the Severn

Lots of small waders have been in the estuary, up to 27 Curlew Sandpiper, a few Little Stints and flocks of Sanderling among the Dunlin/Ringed Plover. Also Whimbrel, Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot and Little ringed Plover notable on the scrapes.

6 September 2011
Since last week I have been looking forward to what the forecasted gales would bring in to Severn waters. Severn beach had a very good day but we also had a run of seabirds at lunchtime. Sadly the Manx Shearwaters are victims of these gales as young birds leave the Pembs Islands nest burrows. We saw at least two killed today, one by gulls/Raven and the other by Peregrine. JSL and I saw three Fulmar, 2 Gannets, 4 Arctic Terns but missed the juvenile Sabine’s Gull spotted by JK and JP. A Guillemot also went upstream from Sharpness and was seen off Hock Cliff. A good day for seabird watching. Also the Marsh Harrier was hunting over the reserve again this afternoon.

Gannet off Middle Point MJMcGill

5 September 2011
Spent lunchtime watching the high tide (not very high) but no seabirds. A juvenile Marsh Harrier spent much of the day around the Dumbles and Top new Piece.

Marsh Harrier over the seawall

1-4 September 2011
The showers have deposited many Wheatears locally. We have had counts of double figures daily along the Severn shore. Plenty of Yellow Wagtails too…70+ among the cattle. The hedges are full of warblers but the estuary was very much quieter for waders.

Northern Wheatear MJMcGill

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