I don't really know why I wasted my time heading all the way over to Draycote this evening. I didn't even need Red-necked Phalarope for the year.... I must be crazy. Mind you, I have only seen this species in Shakespeare's County once before. Back in 2000 a moulting male turned up at Kingsbury Water Park on the 24th April. I saw the same bird again the day after when it moved across to Fisher's Mill Pit, now part of the Middleton Lakes RSPB complex.
I arrived on site to find just one other local birder on site. Dog Doherty quickly got me onto the bird as it bobbed around in the middle of the vast reservoir. With it being just a speck in the distance my attention was quickly drawn to half a dozen Black Tern (272) instead. These birds showed way better, down to just a few yards at times. After a brief shower of rain, a juvenile Little Gull then dropped in to join the terns feeding around the perimeter of Biggin Bay and down towards the sailing club. I then relocated the phalarope once more but due to constant harassment from the roosting gulls it became very flighty. Frustratingly I lost the bird again as it dropped into the middle of a distant gull flock.
Red-necked Phalarope (juvenile) - Draycote Water, Warwickshire - September 2010
Photograph by Warwickshire's finest - Dave Hutton
At this time Pezza Perrins appeared and soon afterwards I received a call from Stevie Dunn. He enquired whether I had any contacts at Draycote Water. I told him yes, me and it so happened that I was on site. A while later both Stevie and Mike Feely appeared, pacing towards us. They had travelled over seventy miles from Nottinghamshire for a precious year tick. The trouble was none of us had seen the phalarope for over thirty minutes. I could see the panic and pain in their contorted little faces as the sun began to fall in the western skies. With time running out, I finally picked up the bird in flight again and luckily both of my year-listing brethren managed to get on to it. Once again the phalarope was extremely distant. If it's still present in the morning I'd be very surprised. I predict that it'll become a tasty midnight snack for some hungry Laridae.
Other species of note included 6 Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin, 2 Northern Wheatear and a fewYellow Wagtails.
Red sky at night, Red-necked Phalarope delight!