Thursday, 12 April 2012

Pit 60 Black-winged Stilt

It's been a long time coming: a decent Oxon bird and a county tick. But at last something has turned up and I got to see it too!

There had been a typical spring influx of black-winged stilts in the country with one at Chew Valley Lakes and one at Tacumshin. As they don't usually stay very long I'd said to Badger on Tuesday that I was fully expecting the Chew bird to stop off on my patch of Port Meadow on its way back home. Whilst I said this partly in jest, I did have a funny feeling about it all and I wasn't entirely joking. The distinctively marked and therefore easily recognisable Chew bird turned up at Radipole yesterday and then at Abbotsbury today so it clearly hadn't picked up on my psychic vibes but blow me if Antony Collieu didn't go and find one on his patch at Pit 60 at Standlake today. I got a text from Badger of a possible stilt at Pit 60 at around 11:50 and within 10 minutes I was on my way. Funnily enough I wasn't very confident about it all as I drove along - I mean how could a stilt only be a "probable"? Also, I'd not got a confirming text from Jason who'd set off well before me so I was starting to get worried that he was having to hunt around for it, though it later turned out that in his haste he'd left his mobile in his car (again!). I half ran down the length of Shifford Lane and made my way to the North hide though this turned out to be locked. I was just heading on to the East hide when I bumped into Ian Smith who'd seen the bird and who had a key to the hide. He opened it up and low and behold there was the stilt! It was on the far shore and into the sun so not great from a photographic point of view but I wasn't complaining! I spent some time there doing some digiscoping with various locals turning up all the while. After a while I decided that I needed to get back to do some work so I made the journey home, basking in the warm fuzzy feeling of a new county tick.

Some rather crappy digiscoped record shots...

..and some equally crappy digiscoped video footage (c) Gnome

Here's a much better photo taken later on by Peter Barker
when it moved closer to the East hide (c) P. Barker

This bird was a real blocker for the younger (in birding terms) generation of county birders so it was great to have one turn up - usually the inland counties really struggle to attract birds like this. I can't help wondering whether this might be the Tacumshin bird (last seen on Tuesday) on it's way back to the continent and stopping in for a re-fuel. Shame it wasn't quite actually on my patch but it wasn't too far off.

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