We were supposed to be watching large raptors on the wolds yesterday, but drizzle & thick mist was predicted, so we shifted to a lowland site instead. This was a brand new venue for all of the afternoon session, & most of the am crowd.
It took the morning crowd ages to reach the hide, as there were plenty of birds to see on the way. We also heard Green Woodpecker & a Jay from the car park before we really got started. There were crowds of Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings, Linnets, Greenfinches, Pied Wagtails, Goldfinches, Meadow Pipits, and were were assured a Water Pipit. We didn't get a great view of the latter & it was too gloomy for pictures. However, I did hear a sort of "tsk" sound, a much harsher call than that of a Meadow Pipit.
A few yards further on we saw 2 waders on an area of flooded farmland. One of these was a Redshank, but what was the smaller, more elegant wader? On closer inspection it proved to be a vagrant from the U.S. - a Lesser Yellowlegs. We were able to watch it for a considerable time, as it seemed to be feeding happily alongside the Redshank.
On reaching the hide we saw thousands of Golden Plovers with smaller numbers of Lapwing, Dunlin, Teal, Shoveler, Black-tailed Godwits, Curlew & Heron. There were also at least 3 Little Egrets on site. A Marsh Harrier caused panic among the waders, and the sound from the Shoveler's wings when they went up was incredible.
The afternoon was a repeat run of the morning with few passerines near the hide, but a Ruff had joined the Lesser Yellowlegs & the Redshank.
The venue was warmly praised by many of the attendees, so it looks as though this may become a permanent fixture on the Autumn itinerary - one participant even described it as a "little gem of a reserve!" However, there was virtually no wind yesterday, so people weren't really seeing it under normal circumstances!
Better pictures of the Lesser Yellowlegs taken with a larger lens & in brighter conditions may be seen here: http://pewit.blogspot.com/2011/11/lesser-yellowlegs.html
Record Shot of Lesser Yellowlegs
Ruff (c) 2011 David Tasker
Record shot of Lesser Yellowlegs
Record shot of Lesser Yellowlegs (c) 2011 David Tasker