Monday, 21 October 2013

Semipalmated Plover in Hampshire.

After going to Stiffkey instread of Hampshire on Friday Gary was itching to go look for the Semipalmated Plover on Hayling Island, but with things planned it was not until 4.30am on Sunday 20th that my taxi to the south coast arrived. Driving down the weather was awful with torrential showers, thunder and lightning. After a breakfast stop we arrived at Black Point on Hayling Island around 9am and would have a 3 hour wait until high tide. Slowly the tide pushed he waders off the mud and sand flat forcing them to roost on the beach. Sanderling, Grey Plover, Dunlin and 30 or so Ringed Plover eventually all came close, but despite 100+ birders looking at everyone, no one could call the Semipalmated Plover. Around 11.45 with most birds roosting high on the beach a Carrion Crow spooked everything up and the birds all moved off. We all packed up our scopes and headed half a mile or so along the beach a favoured place for the Ringed Plover to roost at high tide. Here we found c20 Ringed Plover and their slightly smaller cousin, the Semipalmated Plover. The birds had no where else to go with the tide now at its highest and offered great views despite once being cased off by a dog. It turns out the SPP was probably across the bay earlier in the morning at Thorny Island, so the main flock watched for 3 hours hadn't held the bird.

The weather had held out so we decided to try and find the 5 reported Parrot Crossbill along with a Two-barred Crossbill at Hamsted Forest in Kent on the way home. Arriving at the forest we first walked the wrong track before a kind dog walker pointed us in the right direction. On parking at the correct end of the forest, the rain started to fall. We soon found the assembled birders, who very soon left us, as the rain became harder and harder. Hiding under and umbrella but still getting wet, we waited 40 minutes before the rain finally stopped. Almost as soon as the rain stopped we heard the call of a Parrot Crossbill. A few Common Crossbill flitted along the clearing back edge, and among them a male Parrot Crossbill perched up. Although slightly distant the much more chunky beak was clearly visible, compared to the Common Crossbill in the same tree. After enduring the rain we decided to wait a little longer, hoping for better views and possibly the Two-barred to reappear. However by 5.15pm the clouds had started to form again so we headed back to the car, heading home via the Dartford crossing we completed a full lap of the M25 and arrived hope about 9pm.

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