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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS at Tacumshin - Killian makes it 26 !!

Having spent a good part of yesterday birding at Tacumshin I was surprised by the apparent absence of Buff-breasts at any of the spots they normally tend to be found. It wasn't until I was heading back to the east end in the late afternoon that I first glimpsed the flock, circling around in the distance almost above the east end channel. It was clearly a substantial flock, but when I got a bit closer and scanned the area I could see only six birds, the rest presumably being hidden in a dense swathe of Sea Aster. After a while three more emerged into view, but it wasn't until something spooked them that another bunch suddenly jumped up from the back of the Aster and joined the nine out front. I counted carefully (there were some Ringed Plover and a Dunlin or two among them) and reached a total of 22 birds, including one with an injured leg; all were juveniles. Then a single bird flew in from the left and joined them, so it seemed that the full complement of the previous day's record flock of 23 was still present.Within a minute or two they started to spread out, with the majority melting back into the Aster to become invisible again. I hoped they might all get up once more, as it was when they were in the air that the size of the flock was most impressive. After about 15 minutes they suddenly took off and flew directly away, toward the east end pool, before banking right over Sigginstown island and then turning back, passing me at very close range before they disappeared westwards, against the sun. I took a series of photos as they did so, the last few being a hopeless blur.

It wasn't until late last night that I had a chance to check the photos. I must have missed a few birds when I counted them on the deck as when I exclude the single Dunlin and two Ringed Plovers in their midst, the total number of Buff-breasts in the photos is 26!

With the addition of two Semipalmated Sandpipers, a White-rumped and an American Golden Plover the number of American waders present at Tacumshin yesterday was at least 31 birds. Kerry has had the quality in the past few days, but Tacumshin has the quantity!

Killian Mullarney