3 January 2016

Three days in and already being contentious

Still looking for Skylark and Meadow Pipit I skidded my way down to the Alex via the ditch of despair (Tony had the former here yesterday) and found nothing.  I checked the gulls for the Caspian and again nowt. Sludging my way round to the east side in the rain, I saw a wader like bird fly woodcock-like across from the island. It was dark, the background was dark, and the light dark. I assumed it would just head off over the scrub to the east and that would be it–a fail! It, however, landed by the birches at the top of the scrub mound. Woodcock then surely! Luckily there was a path leading to where I assumed it landed. I wasn't expecting anything to be there so was taken aback when a bird flushed from under the birches. Snipe! It had gone quickly, though not that quickly behind the trees over the rise.  I expected it to appear calling out the other side where it would have circled before heading off somewhere quieter.  It didn't.

Hang on though, the prominent white outer tail didn't appear right, nor it's size and chunky nature. The wing bars to appeared more prominent that for Common Snipe, probably helped by the dark band below it.  No obvious back patterning and no wheezy, irritated call, but audible wing noise. Not a Woodcock–too small, not a Jack–too big. Jono answered my pleas for help, but the time he arrived I had covered most of the remaining ground between the scrub and the road. By this time the rain was more persistent and it was time to move on. I learn later from reading up on the bird that they seldom if ever fly more than 30 metres when flushed, so its probably sucking up worms as type in someone's garden or cemetery.

Off course I know what I think I know it was, but L(GRE)thbridge is always cautious on these things as he gets the "what the fuck is Nick up to now?" grief. So if we don't find it again over the next few days it may still magic it's way on to my list if nowhere else.

A winter Great Snipe? Hasn't been one since before 2001 (RBA website), but looking further I find this from British Birds (Volume 69, Number 10, 1976):

DIM Wallace

I don't see much chance of getting this past any rarity committee unless we do find it again, but it aint going to show like the Kilnsea bird of 2013.

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