Thursday 7 October 2010

SEMI-PALMATED SANDPIPER & Pectoral Sandpiper in Essex

Prime Essex birding habitat - Abberton Reservoir
See that island in the middle?  There's a SEMI-PALMATED SANDPIPER on it.

WOW!  At the moment this ugly looking 'rezza' near Colchester is possibly the wader capital of England.  Due to a load of construction work taking place, it has been drained in order that they can raise the water levels.  The first stop for Steve Richards and I was along the causeway where we soon picked up a nice juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper feeding on the muddy margins, our first Yank of the day.  Other highlights in this area were 10 Red-crested Pochard, 13 Northern Pintail, 8 Little Egret, 25 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Ruff and 3 Spotted Redshank

 Pectoral Sandpiper - Abberton Reservoir, Essex
Photo thanks to Sean Nixon

We then moved up to the Essex Wildlife Trust visitor centre where we were soon scanning through the hundreds of shorebirds on site.  After some careful scrutiny we eventually picked up the main target of the day, a juvenile SEMI-PALMATED SANDPIPER (284).  Due to the distances involved it was a pretty tricky task to keep relocating the bird amongst the flighty groups of Dunlin.  With patience though you could identify the American vagrant by its podgy, hunchbacked jizz and its less hectic and more methodical feeding action in comparison to the 8 Little Stints that were also present.  Other notable sightings included 3 Egyptian Geese, 7 Northern Pintail, 3 Little Egret, 10 Avocet, a single European Golden Plover, 320 Ringed Plover, 75 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Spotted Redshank, 2 Curlew Sandpiper and 2 Black Tern.

juvenile SEMI-PALMATED SANDPIPER (right) with juvenile Little Stint - Abberton Reservoir, Essex - October 2010.
Photo thanks to Adrian Kettle


  1. 'kin hell Arch. Podgy hunch backed appearance. Was it wearing an orange teeshirt with 'I'm with stupid written on it?' (sorry Gary) Shetland here we come!

  2. Funny guy! Now stop it Phil, I tell the jokes around here! Good luck in Shetland our kid.