Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The Hard Way

Since my last visit to Blackpill about a month ago, there are certainly more waders at high water, but nowhere near the numbers I would have seen here in the 1990s. The reason may be the increased disturbance from walkers, or the constantly changing shape of the sand-spit over the years, which no longer provides a temporary island refuge before high tide. In any event, apart from the every present flock of oystercatchers, I’m treated with fine views of knot, dunlin, sanderling and ringed plover, all in winter plumage. Spring tides push the birds quickly towards the shore, and timing a visit at high tide is critical so as not to miss the precious few moments when they come close.

A lone jogger, or loose dog, can easily spoil the fun, but I’m lucky, and able to capture those few magic minutes when these wild and jumpy creatures are really close. Without a telescope it’s essential to sit still and allow the dunlins to get as near as possible, and only then is it possible to see if there’s anything out of the ordinary amongst them. I certainly wouldn’t have picked out the little stint today without an intimate view. The smaller size of the stint is the give-away, and closer examination also shows the characteristic V-shaped stripes down its back, and much shorter bill than the bustling dunlins. We get Little Stints every year, but only in ones or twos, and it feels good to have found one without the aid of an expensive telescope. Doing things the hard way is often much more rewarding.

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