Friday, 15 November 2013

Long-billed Dowitcher

The long staying Long-billed Dowitcher at Pennington Marsh had become a bit of a bogey bird for me. My three previous trips were "dips", too little water, too much water and too late and yet again too much water.  Martin had elected to do the Great Grey Shrikes at Waltham Brooks but for me they were just a photo opportunity when the LBD would be a life tick - no brainer. I left before 0600 and was at Keyhaven Marshes, the latest location for the bird, just as the sun rose.

When you are on your own, searching for a shy bird over a large expanse of ground is difficult, after a couple of hours I was rather disheartened. All I had found was a single Redshank, a dishevelled Shelduck, two hen Pheasants and a distant Roe Deer. On my slow trudge back to the car park I met a local birder who said "wrong place mate - you want to be on Butts Lagoon". So I picked up the pace but as I reached the car I met two other birders who reckoned they had the latest gen - "you want to be on the second lagoon(Fishtail) mate". So I got in the car totally confused and drove round to Sturt pond to try and locate the Red Breasted Goose - no chance.

Back to Pennington Marsh and Fishtail lagoon - another negative. The water levels are still very high so using my rather twisted logic I searched all the lagoons looking for a bit of dry land and a wader of any description. Finally on Butts lagoon I located about 10 Common Snipe and several Lapwings so I decided to stake out this patch in the hope that the LBD would be here. After about half an hour the commotion of squabbling Snipe attracted my attention and sure enough a grey bird with yellow legs dashed through and hid in the reed tussocks. Finally I had enough of a view to confirm it - at long last a Long-billed Dowitcher.  The bird was reluctant to come out, happy to snooze in deep cover, suddenly all the birds took flight, possibly spooked by a raptor. I managed to track the bird in my viewfinder as it made a rapid flight out and an equally rapid return to its favourite cover.

Not a surprise, when this bird arrived it was in summer plumage and it is now well and truly in its winter grey garb.

In its favourite roost
"Snipe sized"

 All the right ID points: Long bill, grey-green in colour, slightly decurved
                                      White trailing edge to wings.
                                      White "cigar".
                                      Prominent supercilium.
                                      Greenish yellow legs.

At one stage this was all I could find!!


  1. But you did get some good pictures.
    That one of the flock taking off is a good one.

  2. Congratulations on your perseverance and the reward of a Lifer. Not only that but some pretty good photographic evedence as well. Great stuff Dave,

  3. Pleased your hard work paid off Dave; some good shots of the bird as well. The Redshank photo is also very good.