maandag 14 mei 2012

It is proven, everything is possible!

At the start of the morning, we didn't know yet how spectacular this day was going to end. That's what I like about birdwatching, surprise surprise!

My dad and I had made plans to visit the Red-throated Pipit that has been present at the Bennekomse Hooilanden near Wageningen for a few days now. The bird is present in some pitrus fields and is very territorial. Every now and then it's singing and shows well while displaying. Often it attacks other birds, such as Lapwings, Black-tailed Godwits and so on, one very confident bird!
Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus), singing

Around 8:05 we arrived and it didn't take long before we heard it calling and saw it land on the fence, some 30 metres away from us. It showed really well in the morning sunlight and we also heard it singing. I took a few recordshots and the bird flew back into the fields. It wasn't until 10 minutes later that the bird landed right in front of us in a small tree, and started singing from up close. I was able to take some really satisfying photos of this little stunner! Pretty exceptional, since most Red-throated Pipits recorded in NL are of those flying by, not perched! Nearby, there was a Snipe singing, a Hobby migrating by, and some very close Black-tailed Godwits.
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

After this succes we went back to our own county again and try for Middle Spotted Woodpecker at Voorstonden, a beautiful estate near Brummen. We walked into the estate and after hearing Black Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker, the Middle Spotted Woodpecker showed up. It landed in front of us in an oak tree, foraging actively and showing well. Cool, a new county tick!
Middle-spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius), male

Then we gave the Yperenplas near Wilp a visit. Not much of interest, though a pair of Black-necked Grebes was nice, a good bird for our county. Here I also saw my first pulli of Lapwing for the season, cute!

When birdwatching along the IJssel, the Veenoordkolk is one of the places we always check. It's probably the best place to see rare species that, for example only occur along the coast. Every year we have records of Snow Buntings here. Further species observed in recent years here are Rock Pipits, Bar-tailed Godwit, Lapland Longspur, Knot, Sanderlings, Mediterranean Gulls, Arctic Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Whiskered Tern, Little Tern, Grey Plover and so on. A pretty good list for one site!

This year we'd already seen Sanderling and Med Gulls here (both county tick), so that asks for more!!

We arrived at the Veenoordkolk around 12:00 and started walking around the Kolk. There was not much around, and we were pretty tired, but still, we walked on.  My dad walked in front of me and he found a sandpiper walking along the shore. I arrived with the scope and we started to look at the bird. My dad thought (from a distance) that it was a Sanderling orso but once we had a better look through the scope - we could only see the breast and the head - we thought it was something else. Temminck's Stint seemed the best option, as we could cleary see a well defined breastband, a bit yellowbrown coloured, an average bill, a supercilium and an overall beige kind of colour. Then the bird started walking and that's when we knew it was not something normal. The sandpiper was middle sized - not as big as a Sanderling nor as small as Temminck's - and had a very long primary projection. The legs of the bird were black, which I knew had to be greenish for Temminck's. The bird was moulting into summer plumage, showing black centres with a yellow edging on the scapulars. As already said, the bird had a well defined, poorly striped breastband with a light throat. My dad started taking photos while I observed the bird, and wrote everything I saw down.  We didn't have birdguide with us so we called Maarten Kaales to help us. I described what we were seeing and very carefully I opted: it looks a bit like a Bairds.. But since our experience with Bairds is 0,0% we weren't sure enough.Through Whatsapp I send Maarten the photos of Tammo, and that's when the real fun started.

In the mean time, the bird had flown off  to the Teugse Kolk. During its takeoff we could see the weak defined wing bar, and we heard the bird calling several times. Tammo was also able to photograph the wing, a very good ID-feature. I also called Tim to tell him, we probably had a Baird's Sandpiper!


Baird's Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii), adult summer plumage. Images by Tammo Meijer. Also see: http://dutchbirding.nl/gallery.php?p=pic&gal=1 and http://waarneming.nl/waarneming/view/68386358.

We relocated the sandpiper pretty soon and looked at the bird again and went through all ID-features. One very important thing we noted (after a question from Jaap Denee if the bird's belly was flat or round) was, that the bird's belly (including the breast), was entirely flat; when the bird was positioned right in front of us.
Half an hour later Maarten, Tim and Jurgen arrived to help us confirm the ID. Not much later we reported the bird as a definite Baird's on the Dutch Rare Bird Alert system. Two other good county species were a Ringed Plover and a Med Gull present at the Teugse Kolk.
The reinforcements arrived. On the photo (left to right) Jurgen, Tammo, Tim and Maarten.

From 14:30 on birders/twitchers started coming. Around 15:00 the bird took off and dissappeared, but was later found again at the place of discovery. The entire afternoon and evening the bird was twitched by many birdwatchers. It is currently still present (14-05).
 First twitchers arrived, just after the bird had dissappeared.
Looking for the Baird's!

If accepted, this is the 6th record for the Netherlands!

A full description will follow and the bird will submitted to the Dutch Rarity Comittee (CDNA).

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