Thursday, 11 September 2008

A Knot on the Meadow

I'm still dutifully going down to my local patch, Port Meadow, each morning to see what's about and recording my sightings in my other blog: Port Meadow Birding. Recently the rain has extended the flood area a lot and has hidden the wonderful mud that makes Port Meadow so attractive to passing waders so there's not been so much wader activity and what little there is is also further away and consequently harder to see and to digiscope. Because of this yesterday I put my wellies on and resolved to walk along the west side of the floods to get closer to the north end of the floods where the birds seemed to be hanging out. I was hoping to digiscope some golden plover which had been present for the last few days.

There are lots of lapwings present on the Meadow currently.

Having walked to my chosen viewing spot I was scanning the north of the floods and seeing the ever-present lapwings, teal, wigeon, shoveler and gadwall and managing to locate a flock of 11 golden plover. I then spotted something to the right of the golden plover, sleeping with its head tucked it and half hidden behind some grass in an altogether uncooperative manner. It's colouring was different from the plover though given what little I could see there was little chance of ID'ing it unless it moved. Fortunately it decided to lift its head up, revealing quite a stout straight bill of about one head length in size (a very useful measure that I use when assessing waders) before going back to sleep. This was enough for me to see that it had rather a prominent light grey/brown supercilium with a dark crown, dark grey/brown upper parts and a paler buff front. As far as size was concerned it was defintely larger than a nearby dunlin that was skulking around and perhaps slightly smaller than the golden plover. I started to set up the digiscoping gear in the hope that it would show itself more clearly all the while going through the possible waders that it could be. As I was fiddling around the bird popped its head up and flew a few yards into some even thicker grass where it was completely hidden. Fortunately I was able to see the scaly grey back, the perhaps slightly rufous buff front with the white undertail section and also to notice its rather plump appearance. All this was enough for me to nail it down as a knot.

A distant record shot of some of the nearby golden plover which I took whilst waiting for the knot to show itself.

This was a nice bird to see for Oxfordshire as only a few are seen each year on the autumn passage and nearly always at Farmoor reservoir. It was also a first for me for the Meadow as well as another year tick which brings up my 200 total.

2008 year list:

200: red knot.

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