Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Piping hot

The Summer overlap has begun. Just as the weather has finally warmed up, and with migrants still arriving from further south, the first northern travelers are beginning to pass back through after their brief sojourn at the higher latitudes. The pool in front of the main observatory at Welney has shrunk, exposing a wide tract of mud on which the waders are feeding. Among the Lapwings and Avocets, a beautiful male Ruff probed along the shore, still wearing his ruff like a well worn Bedouin head scarf. Closer to me a collection of sandpipers fed and preened , and provided a perfect illustration of the similarities of three species.
The largest of the three is the redshank, and thanks to a very successful season there were plenty of fresh young birds, neatly fringed with green-gold, with legs that have not yet bloomed to full scarlet. 

Looking very similar, though much  smaller, a dainty Wood Sandpiper has returned from the breeding grounds in Scandinavia (or possibly Scotland even), a slender bird with spangled breeding plumage still evident. It's strong supercilium gives a slightly intense look to it as it pokes at the surface for small flies.

Two green sandpipers loafed on the muddy shore, before venturing out onto the water to feed. superficially like the Wood Sand, the Green lacks the obvious supercilium, and its spangling is not as bold. The dark underwings and broad tail bars are a real giveaway.