Sunday 1 September 2013

Keep an Open Mind

Adey Baker and I did our regular Sunday morning walk at Croft Hill & Quarry today. We had Redstarts and the like in our sights, but we have learnt over the years that you need to keep an open mind. Often its a species that we hadn't even considered that makes the day. 

Apart from a few Blackcaps things had been very quiet, but a few seconds of high energy birding saved the day. On our way back from the embankment to the hill you follow a footpath that brings you close to the quarry edge. I looked out over the quarry and noticed two small groups of what appeared to be waders flying towards us and they were not very high in the sky. They were quickly forming up into one flock of seven birds. They had long straight bills, so I instantly shouted 'godwits'. They flew behind a tree and then back into view. We could now see them from behind, but instead of seeing black tails and distinctive white wing bars, we saw greyish brown wings with faint brownish tails and white wedges on the uppertail coverts and a little way up the back. I think both of us were a little stunned by the realisation that they were Bar-tailed rather than Black-tailed Godwits. The legs were not visible to us whereas Black-tailed Godwits have legs that project well past their tails in flight. We both agreed that they were Bar-tailed Godwits and happily ruled out other similar wader species. The views had been good considering, luckily they were not high in the sky or distant.

The timing of this sighting is spot on, as this is the peak time for this species in Leicestershire and Rutland according to statistics in Birds of Leicestershire and Rutland.

This is only the third record for the south-west Leicestershire area after four at Frolesworth Manor lake on May 14th 2001 and a single at Brascote Pits from May 6th to 12th 2012.

Bar-tailed Godwit, Norfolk

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