Another 5.30am alarm adventure beckoned, and I joined Nick and Tara on a trip that saw them visiting Dorset for the second weekend in a row. After coffee and almond croissants (I made a right mess) at Starbucks en route, we arrived at RSPB Arne for my second visit to the site. We had a quick listen out for firecrest, but with none forthcoming while Nick got the lowdown on the Stilt Sandpiper (apparently might have been predated the day before! I was sure the news would have gotten out if that was the case though), we headed off.
We watched the gathered waders at high tide for a while, with nearby darties calling but not showing themselves, before I spotted a male marsh harrier flying over. Green woodpeckers were seemingly everywhere after Tara pointed out the first one. There were hundreds of avocet and lots of waders, including a few smaller candidates, but we knew we were going to have to wait for the tide to drop a little to see if our bird was still kicking.
We made our way down to the hide, through a trench cut into the banking and took our places. However, hunger bested me and while I had my sandwiches early Nick and Tara scanned the assembled waders. Nick started making some encouraging noises and set the scope on some birds.. Tara and I checked them, but his particular bird had moved out of shot. He shortly readjusted and I checked again..YES!! Stilt Sandpiper in the bag, back from the dead. Noticeably different from the others present, but difficult to keep track of at such distance. Nick had done well to find it when he did as a harrier came through, presumably the male from earlier, and scared stuff away.
With that, we made a move and headed back to the car, checking by the rare raft spiders pond on the way. There was only one on view that we had time to check for, but what a creature!
Back at the car park we enlisted help from the local RSPB staff member whom Tara knew, and we tried playback in the area that he does the ringing. When that failed, we headed to a spot the other side of the car park and tried again. That time, instantly a small inquisitive bird came to see, and with it being so dark in the lane and the constant movement amongst the leaves and branches, I couldn't quite clinch the ID at first. It even put me in mind of a chiffy from below, and it was only being able to see the eye stripe that we were able to confirm it. It was a situation where my 10x bins didn't really help matters, but just goes to show again how difficult ID in the field can be given adverse conditions.
Our next stop was RSPB Lodmoor where we weren't quite sure on our plan of attack. We headed to the shelter, and met Adrian and some of the Glamorgan BC birders who tipped us off as to where the lesser yellowlegs was hanging out. There was an awesome amount of birds on display from the shelter, green sandpiper, snipe, GWE, spoonbill, kingfisher amongst others.
Shortly after arriving to where we had been told to expect the lesser yellowlegs, I clocked it with the naked eye, and confirmed it quickly with the bins. It stuck out a mile on a bank, and we had some great views before it dropped out of sight for a little while.
After re-emerging the bird was clearly on alert, as you can tell from the posture in this second shot when this juvenile gull flew overhead.
Little stilt, dunlin, ruff, and godwits were all in close, and I was amazed at what Lodmoor had to offer - much better than my previous visit!
After that we made our way to Portland where we stopped for a little while on Avalanche Road to explore the nearby copse for YBW. No luck, but we did bump into Trevor and co who told us that a YBW and several firecrest were at the observatory garden. At this point the sun had come out, and what was originally a grey day turned out absolutely stunning and we were soon on to firecrest in the garden near a feeder and we once again bumped into Adrian and the boys.
I had an absolute blast trying to take photos of the firecrest, and whilst none of the shots turned out as good as I might have hoped there were a couple that stood out. The next day they ringed over 60 there because they had a massive fall overnight!