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Monday, 12 September 2011

GREATER YELLOWLEGS in West Cornwall

After seeing Luke Dray's image on the Sussex Ornithological Society website and studying videos and images supplied by other Sussex birders, JT and I set off this morning to see this puzzling wader at the west end of Weir Wood Reservoir. What I hadn't realised is that Luke's so-called image was part of an elaborate scam and was in fact a cropped image of an adult Red-necked Stint photographed at Ballycotton, County Cork, nine years ago and stolen from the internet. Now whether Luke did this purposefully or it was an accidental attempt at trying to portray what the bird looked like, I do not know.

Anyhow, I joined 80 or so others in the main car park at Weir Wood and enjoyed over an hour of distant views of the individual bird concerned early afternoon. From what I could see of it at 60x, it was an adult LITTLE STINT only just moulting out of breeding plumage - a plumage very rarely observed in the UK in autumn. In my opinion, there were several reasons why it wasn't a Red-necked Stint.

1) It did not seem to have any streaking in front of the orange breast wash, with the bird being extensively white on the forehead as well as on the chin;

2) In terms of structure, it did not have the large-headed appearance of RNS and was miniscule in size and very much the shape and stance of typical Little Stint

3) The upperwing coverts and scapulars appeared to be very dark with pale fringes, little hint of any rufous or chestnut on them and there was no obvious contrast with an area of grey coverts often seen on moulting adult RNS

4) The bill was typical of that of Little Stint and did not appear to be thick at the base and broad throughout

The main interesting feature was the extension of orange/apricot on to the hindneck and ear-coverts. Again though, the colour of the breast was not as intensive as one would expect from the more reddish tones of RNS. A very interesting stint nonetheless......

At the other end of the country, and following the recent stormy Atlantic weather, West Cornwall plays host to an adult GREATER YELLOWLEGS this evening at Wadebridge, just south of the River Camel at Treraven Meadows and visible from the main car park at the start of the Camel Trail

A full summary will follow later...