Tuesday 27 October 2020

Tuesday 27th October

During a half hour period from 15:10, a juv Baird's Sandpiper was seen, sometimes only briefly among a swirling flock of c.350 Dunlin around The Bight, persistently disturbed from roosting on the waterline by foraging Carrion Crow and then to make matters worse, by a passing Merlin. Toward dusk, disturbance  abated but only two-thirds of the flock were present, along with the remaining juv Little Stint and juv Curlew Sandpiper, but the missing third of the flock spooked up the estuary, presumably took the Baird's Sandpiper with them. Many waders commute between the bottom and top end of the estuary, as seen earlier this year when a flock of Curlew Sandpiper, flushed from Dawlish Warren by a dog-walker on the golf course, re-located a short time late to Bowling Green Marsh, five miles to the NNW.  In August 1993 a Baird's Sandpiper at Dawlish Warren one day was seen at Bowling Green Marsh the next day and then back at Dawlish Warren the day after that. There are four previous records of Baird's Sandpiper here, one remained for only one tide (in August 2000) and the last record in autumn 2001 was a long-stayer.

Apart from 21 Ringed Plover and seven Sanderling also within this wader flock, most other waterbirds understandably received little attention. Dawlish Warren is notoriously harsh on birders for playing all too often only fleeting host to rarities and at least two birders actually on site failed to connect with it, and this was especially exasperating for one regular birder who saw the Baird's Sandpiper twice but constituted UTV's.  This is a common lexicon of birders and it stands for 'un-tickable view', describing the unpleasant and sometimes upsetting experience of failing to get enough detail on a bird to be sure of its identification, independently.  The last word is the important one that de-couples whatever other's say the bird is from the individual's personal experience of that bird.  Particularly with rarities, the line recognised by birders that should not be crossed is that if you can't identify the bird for yourself with reasonable confidence based only on your experience of that bird, then you can't tick or count it. This, of course, isn't limited to the actual timeframe of seeing and/ or hearing the bird, and legitimate 'ticking' of birds (or removal from lists) afterwards, after careful reflection is commonplace, and can even be years later, based on awareness to crucial details that have since transpired about a particular bird's identity and status.    

A site record of 44 Cattle Egret descended to loiter for a time in the saltmarsh corner at high tide before they flew north to their nocturnal roost on the Powderham Estate, and in a similar fashion to yesterday some first paused to forage around cattle in Eastdon Fields.

In the morning a 3.5 hour seawatch lacked quality in only 220 Gannet, 104 auk spp. that involved large proportions each of Guillemot and Razorbill; 93 Kittiwake, 20 Common Scoter and two Great Northern Diver. In the woods, four Goldcrest, two Bullfinch, two Chaffinch and a Chiffchaff. And in Greenland Lake a flock of 38 Goldfinch, nine Greenfinch; some Cirl Bunting and a Reed Bunting.

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