After adding FERRUGINOUS DUCK to my year list with relative ease, the birding was to become a bit more difficult as the afternoon went on. It is always a bad sign as you pull up on site to find every bird in a five mile radius flapping around in panic as a Peregrine passes through. In situations like this though it is always advisable not to replicate the mood of the fleeing birds by taking a deep breath and remaining calm. As the swirling flocks of Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover started to settled back down in the corner of a flooded field near Great Heck, it was time to get scanning.
A single Egyptian Goose was found amongst a small group of Greylag Geese and a covey of 8 Grey Partridge was nice to see. The only other wader though was a single juvenile Ruff. As I continued the search I eventually picked up part of a face and the tail tip of a very pale plover species. The trouble was, the mystery shorebird was 90% obscured by a huge clod of mud. Luckily though there was an obvious European Golden Plover standing just a few feet away as a useful comparison, it had to be a moulting adult AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER (282). I managed to get all other birders onto it before I headed further down the lane to gain an improved perspective and the identification was finally clinched.
The bird refused to stroll out into the open while we were on site but after another walk further along the road, the offending clod was eventually neutralised. The bird did not really associate with the nervous EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER flock while we were on site. It also seems more camouflaged amongst its muddy environment than its Eurasian counterparts. To add to the elusiveness it also spent times crouched down low especially if a raptor passed overhead. If you are looking to pay the bird a visit my advice would be not to give up and try to view the plover groups from different sections of the lane.