Sunday 4 December 2011

Go West, Young Man!

I had been sincerely hoping that no good birds would turn up this side of Christmas. Then "Just another Semi-p" at Cley turned into a Western Sandpiper. Bugger. I thought about it on Saturday morning, but elected to give it a miss, and then cracked that same evening. I am a fool. Plans, as they say, were hatched. These involved getting up very much in the dark, and driving there in a semi-broken car with Hawky. The car very nearly failed at Lakenheath, but we nursed it there, and nursed it back. Muffin came too. Presented yesterday afternoon with the choice of going birding with Daddy, or going to listen to Mummy sing, he chose the lesser of the two evils. Talk about presenting a kid with an impossible choice. So, he is now the proud ticker of a Western Sandpiper, something like the eighth for Britain. I figured that the next one would probably be further away than Norfolk, so that makes it almost a certainty for London. He also ticked the drake Green-winged Teal, a distinction he shared with Hawky, who, birding for a quarter of a century, has finally put his all-time bogey bird well and truly behind him. It was my fifth....

So, what did I think? You are no doubt itching to know, to be enlightened. Ah. Well, I've seen a couple of Semi-ps this year, and this I thought was different. Clearly a challenging bird, but it did not strike me a crouchy and creepy like the Drift bird. In fact, the Collins description of miniature Dunlin I thought was spot on. Only when it faced me directly did I get any hint of rufous in the scapulars, but then again it was a dull morning. Having read internet "chat", I was on the fence, but there is no substitute for actually seeing it. Having done so, and not just because it's the rarer one (that I need), I would be voting for Western. Tick and run.

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