Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Bonaparte's Gull in and around Seaburn has been present since the 5th. Although very mobile, there are only two dates up until today when it hasn't been recorded, namely the 9th and the 12th, or in other words the two days we went to try to see the moulting adult but failed. Furthermore we left Chris's house on Hartlepool Headland the day before he trapped an Icterine Warbler and a rather skulking Melodious Warbler showed briefly back on Bardsey. It's fair to say our birding has hit a rough patch and when, ten minutes after hearing about the Wilson's Phalarope at Greatham Creek and setting off north, further news broke that it had flown east and out of view, we were beginning to suspect we had somehow upset the birding Gods. Rich was considering turning back but we ploughed on. Upon arriving at Greatham Creek there were a few birders on the bridge, but we'd heard rumours that it had been viewed from a hide down the road. A quick phone call to Toby, the Phalarope's discoverer, revealed it had probably been found again. We pegged it down the track at the same time that the Phalarope, which had been sat on the shingle, decided to fly towards where we'd just set off from. Luckily, it followed a Redshank back to the shingle and we got distant but good views of it feeding and preening. We watched this stunning wader until the local constabulary moved us on because we had inadvertently threatened national security by walking with 'pipes' out towards the industry. Two coppers did use our scope to add Wilson's to their lifelists before sending us on our way though.

Distant views of the adult Wilson's Phalarope. Alexander Wilson was born in Scotland, the son of an illiterate distiller, but moved to America to find employment as a schoolteacher. He developed an interest in ornithology and decided to publish a book illustrating the birds of North America. From 1808 until 1814 he published the nine-volume 'American Ornithology' which depicted 268 species of birds, 26 of which were new to science. Wilson's Storm-petrel, Wilson's Plover and Wilson's Warbler all commemorate his name. (c) Richard Brown

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