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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Out and about in blustery Lincolnshire reveals a rare Long Billed Dowitcher plus lots of other waders and raptors

Talk about bright n breezy ... must have been getting up for force 7 or 8 when we went out a couple of days ago to a reserve in Lincolnshire called Alkborough Flats. Personally I hate being out in the wind and what with the squally showers that came over in the afternoon it made for a trying day in the field but we (that's me n Mark of course) saw some good birds and met a few decent and very knowledgeable Linconshire birders .... all sheltering out of the wind in one of the hides there.

Although we got chatting and enjoyed some good banter for a couple of  hours or so to one of said birders, to our shame we didn't really introduce ourselves but many thanks to him for filling me in about the subtleties of Caspian Gull recognition (I'll be on the look out from now on!) and also for pointing out the long staying Long Billed Dowitcher, an American vagrant that has decided to over winter in these parts.

Long Billed Dowitcher (top left)
Distant pic obtained but cleaned up pretty nice after messing around with it.

As you can see there were other waders present (Lapwings and Redshank in the pic) and in fact we had some very decent numbers both species and more on the day. Always difficult to estimate when there are large groups of birds flying about but here's some approximations ...

Redshank c300
Lapwing c2500
Golden Plover c3000
Dunlin c400
Sanderling c100
Curlew c400
Black Tailed Godwit c100

The Godwits took us by surprise and before we'd really got out eye's in ..... flying overhead and then directly into the sun just as we'd got out of the car. Would have made a super pic but of course I just wasn't ready. We weer reliably informed later that there were a few Bar Tailed mixed in with these birds .. so we're having them both!

In addition we had 9 excellent Spotted Redshanks (which I didn't realise overwintered this far North), a single Ruff, 2 Green Sandpipers, and of course the Dowitcher which was a 'lifer' for us both.

As far as photography was concerned, because of the wind factor, I was restricted to whatever appeared within range from the hide but have to say that during the morning at least the light was superb and enabled some decent shots of especially the Curlews .... here's a few.

...............not a particularly clear photo but included here for it's comedic value, this one was having a spot of bother with the wind!

These Dunlins had the best idea.... just stick together and stay put!

I took a fair few pictures of Lapwings, simply because the light was so good, however none came close enough to really fill the frame but this highly cropped pic of a particularly shining example of one of our most beautiful waders is a good 2nd best!

Equally distant was one this Marsh Harrier, one of at least 5 seen on the Humber on the day

Also recorded on the reserve we had a couple of Buzzards, a Peregrine, a single Sparrowhawk, 2 Grey Herons, c50 Skylarks, a couple of Corn Buntings, c2000 Teal, c500 Mallard, c50 Wigeon, c30 Shelduck, c100 Pochard, 1 Shoveler and lots of Gulls (no Caspians!)

We did a fair bit of driving about and birding from the car in along some of the back roads in Lincolnshire, picking up Buzzard, Greylag Goose, Cormorant, Fieldfare, Little Grebe, Kestrel, Mistle Thrush, Jay and also visited Laughton Woods  where we had a small flock of Siskins, Goldcrest, Redwing, Fieldfare, Chaffinch, Long Tailed Tit, Coal Tit and flushed a Woodcock.

All in all and given the testing and at times totally adverse weather we had a great day and amassed
a very creditable 67 species for the day.

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