Sunday 18 May 2014

The Pectoral Sandpiper at Middleton Lakes RSPB

It was a late start at Middleton Lakes RSPB this morning due us having Nadia's brother, sister-in-law and our beautiful baby niece Ellie in tow. Not a great deal was spotted in the mid-morning heat other than a couple of Little Ringed Plover and Common Redshank. Unfortunately we missed a couple of snazzy male Ruff in their fine breeding plumage on Jubilee Wetlands and it was way too hot to walk Ellie all the way over to North Pit to see a female Ruff. We decided to head back home for a while and I would make my way back down to Drayton Bassett later in the day.

Around tea time I received a text from the self proclaimed 'Voice of the Tame Valley' Tom Perrins stating that him and Julian Allen had located a probable Pectoral Sandpiper feeding around North Pit. A few minutes later the identification was confirmed and I wasted no time in getting on site.

Yellow Wagtail (male) - Middleton Lakes RSPB, Staffordshire.
Photo by Dave Hutton

Whilst undertaking the long stroll around to the new Lookout Hide a few Oystercatcher and Common Redshank could be seen defending their territories from a marauding Carrion Crow or two and the confiding Yellow Wagtail was found again singing from his usual perches. Upon entering the hide the scarce Nearctic wader could be seen feeding out in the middle of the pit thanks to some excellent directions from Andy Hale

This was my first ever Pectoral Sandpiper for the Tame Valley area after missing the last spring bird on Fisher's Mill Pit on the 26th May 2002 (PD Hyde). This particular individual was initially misidentified as the LEAST SANDPIPER that had been present for the previous few days. There have also been further records of this species in the autumn on 2nd October 1999 (J Allen & AG Williams) and the 30th September 2011 (many observers).

Other birds on site included 22 Ringed Plover, 8 Little Ringed Plover, a single Dunlin and a couple of singing male Grasshopper Warblers, one of which showed tremendously well as we made our way back to the car park. It was a great finale to a fantastic weekend of sunshine, birds and insects, all within a few miles of home.

Grasshopper Warbler (male) - Middleton Lakes RSPB, Warwickshire.
Photo by Dave Hutton

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