Monday, 20 July 2015

July 20th Cley

Reed Bunting
If you struggle with your wading birds, your not alone. Although I consider myself good enough to ID waders with a reasonable level of confidence, now and then it is good to be surrounded with other birders in a hide for a second opinion. My mum on the other hand, needs all the help she can get. Waders vary a lot in plumage at this time of year, with each individual looking different to another of the same species. At least today at Cley, the waders are at decent enough range that our binoculars can pick out the details and my scope is also on hand for an even clearer view. My camera was a bit hit and miss due to distance and heat haze, but are good enough to ID with.

While looking out of the hides, the easiest birds to pick out were the ones that are white. Instantly drawing your attention were the eight sleepy spoonbills on one of the islands. They are so big and white that you can not mistake them for anything else. Beneath their long legs, the ground was black and white. Avocets were keeping them company. Meanwhile, close to the hide, was a little egret fishing while looking elegant in its breeding plumage with its plumes waving in the breeze.

Avocets with a Spoonbill
Juvenile Avocet
Little Egret
Next island to the left of 'Avocet Island' was an island covered in red plumaged birds with long beaks and legs. These were black-tailed godwits. Most of them were still looking smart in their brick-red breeding plumage, even if they were too tired to show it off to us this afternoon.

'Godwit Island'
Black-tailed Godwits with Great Black-backed Gull
Other easliy recognisable waders we can see out on the scrapes today were; lapwings which are green with a long, thin crest on its head, dunlin which are small and dumpy birds with black bellies and the black and white oystercatchers with their long orange bills. With a little more observation and you can pick out the ruffs and greenshanks from the crowd. The ruffs all look different from each other at the moment and look rather patchy, but this patchy-ness in their plumage can help tell you that it is a ruff and not a redshank. The greenshanks, meanwhile, are big with grey-green legs, dark grey back, white underparts, a pale but streaky head and neck and a long, slightly upturned beak.

Common Sandpiper
One of the trickiest groups are the sandpipers. Today, we were fortunate to see three species on the scrapes; Common, Green and Wood. They bob their tails uncontrollably, which is characteristic of a sandpiper. With these three species, I have a good tip to help you remember them. All three are different in sizes and I remember them through 'Godilocks and the three bears. The common sandpiper is the smallest (Baby Bear) and has a white crescent in front of the wing. The green sandpiper is medium sized (Mummy Bear) and is white-speckled, dark grey-brown above with a bright white belly and greenish legs. And finally, the wood sandpiper is the biggest (Daddy Bear) of the three and has a cream-spotted, brown back with long yellow or orange legs. The wood sandpiper is the scarcer of the three and is one of the few waders that nest up in trees.
Green Sandpiper (from last year)
Wood Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper (again)

All the waders then suddenly took up to the air at once and scattered back down to the scrape, making them look even busier than they were before.

If you love gulls, then you may like this little gull. These gulls are like tiny versions of black-headed gulls. When they fly, take a look at the underwings, which can be black or smudgy-grey. It is something that can stand out easily if seen well.

Little Gull
Finally, here is one final wader for you. It is a juvenile little ringed plover. At least I think it is. Juvenile ringed and little ringed plovers can be hard to tell apart. The eye-ring and the black bill does make me think it is a juvenile little ringed plover though.
Juvenile Little Ringed Plover

Either Sea Bindweed or Field Bindweed (not sure)

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