It has been a while.
With the stresses of uni now being a thing of the past, free time for writing for enjoyment has came about. So why not start with today!
I don't 'subscribe' to notifications for many people on twitter, I struggle to cope with the sound of constant notifications, however I have followed Steves @BelvideBirding account for a number of years. As one of the foremost birding sites locally, and with now regular visits during the summer months due to bird ringing, the updates have proved first class.
Just 2 weeks ago, a notification popped up 'Belvide mega', and a few hours later, following a couple of successful meetings, I was standing next to the small reedbed that held a singing Great Reed Warbler. Great! 3 hours later, staring at reeds to not even get a glimpse of it!
Needless to say however, a first record for the site, and a 2nd for Staffordshire. Surely a contender for bird of the year already?
Roll forward to today. [15/05/17] And there it is again. 'Belvide mega'. This time, Spotted Sandpiper.
I have put off twitching this species for a while, as with Rose-coloured Starling, it is a species that seeing them in their 'typical' plumage in the UK means their drab winter/ juvenile clothes. Interesting non-the-less, but a little below par for what can be stunning birds.
A quick text to Steve confirmed a summer plumaged adult, and I was on my way to Belvide a few minutes later. Twitching has dropped off my radar recently, so dropping everything to go and see it felt like spreading my wings a little. (feel free to mock me for that comment).
For anyone who knows Belvide, the walk to the west end is not for the faint hearted, the midlands equivalent to the trudge along the Blakeney shingle or the point at Spurn. In reality, the walk is only around 1.5 miles, childs play when considering I walked 8km in search of a Pallid Harrer last week (and didn't even see it!). However, at the end lies one of my personal favorite hides, the Hawkshutts hide. Being right next to some superb muddy shoreline, the views from here are often crippling. If coincided with an evening visit, with the light behind you and the reserve completely to yourself, it makes for some great birding.
A 'brisk' walk got me to the hide in record time, only even beaten by the occasions I have acquired the 'belvide bike', entering the hide to see the 'yankee Common sand' running straight towards us.
What a time to arrive!
For the next 2 hours, phenomenal views were had of a 'spotty' Spotted Sandpiper as it ran back and forth along the shoreline in front of us. Being a mere 40ft away on occasions, it was the best views many have had of this species on this side of the Atlantic. In this plumage, truly unmistakable! Stunning!
A great bird at a great reserve, found by a hardworking patchworker, bringing valuable points towards their Patchwork Challenge score. However, on a final note... Upton Warren still thrashed you on the all dayer...