Monday, August 8, 2011

It was inevitable that an August holiday would lead to us missing a few birds on Bardsey, and we have, with a fall of roughly 1000 Willow Warblers and a scattering of common migrants keeping the remaining staff busy. No doubt the first rare of the autumn is just around the corner. So to console ourselves we decided to try and see some decent birds this holiday, preferably things we haven't seen much (or anything of) in four years on Bardsey. A normal season on Bardsey sees about 21 species of wader recorded, including wintery species such as Woodcock and Jack Snipe. We've seen 31 species in the last two weeks.

Despite the fact that Pectoral Sandpipers are our commonest visitor from America, there have only been four records on Bardsey with two on the 15th September 1960, one on the 11th September 1975, one on the 2nd October 1982 and one on the 22nd September 1987. There have been about seven confirmed British sightings this August including this bird at Cley. (c) Richard Brown

We've seen some pretty scarce and stunning waders, but our favourites were a species which breeds in the UK. They look superficially like mini bustards which led to them being classified as such, but we now know them to be waders which have evolved to fill a similar ecological niche as bustards, specialising in arid habitats. Our Stone-curlew is therefore slightly unusual as far as thick-knees go in that the arid place they've selected in Suffolk is far from dry in the winter. The way they've evolved to cope with this is to migrate to other arid regions further south for our winter. This is unusual in other members of this family which are generally sedentary. We saw 23 at Weeting Heath but they were generally quite subdued, as might be expected from a species which is mainly nocturnal.  (c) Richard Brown

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