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Welcome to my blog. If you live in Surrey and birding is your obsession (to get out of bed at some ridiculously early time of the morning, no matter what the weather, to go and look at birds isn't normal behaviour, believe me) and you're still a bit of a novice (like me) then, hopefully, this blog is for you.



Saturday, 19 August 2017

THE FINE ART OF MISIDENTIFYING BIRDS

Well, I've had another couple of birding sojourns this month, both at Oare Marshes. But before discussing the sightings there, I'd like to refer back to the previous post.

I joyfully described viewing a first Wood Sandpiper on the local patch, when in fact it was a juvenile Green Sandpiper. This bird had been spotted the day before by Gordon Hay and I'd been sent a voicemail message to explain where the bird was. What I didn't listen to was another message about an hour later from Gordon to say this wader was misidentified.

Predictably, I went along and found the juvenile bird and convinced myself this was, in fact, something else. This is a trait I'm sure (or hope, at least) the majority of birders fall into from time to time.

I've always accepted birding requires a high level of skill, particularly with identifying species, and I have to admit, while enjoying the pastime, bird id – which is quite fundamental to the hobby – isn't one of my strengths. And if you don't go birding that often, like with anything in life that requires skill – no matter how good or bad you are – you will only improve with practice.

As result, I cock up now and again. It has happened before. Last year I convinced myself I was watching an Arctic Tern feeding over Spynes Mere, when in fact it was a Common. This, I suppose, is forgivable to an extent, but I've mistook all manner of birds over the years, some of which I have no enthusiasm to relive here.

Anyway, we move on, tail between legs. Or actually not. As the rest of this post will explain.

I like Oare Marshes, mainly because these days I'm a lazy birder and can't be arsed to walk far. And at Oare, if you feel that way inclined, you don't have to walk at all. Which was exactly my state of mind on the 7th (my birthday). I only intended to stay for the morning before heading back home, but ended up extending the visit for an extra couple of hours.

I parked the car on the lane alongside the East Flood, and that is where I stayed for the next four and half hours.

Busy at Oare Marshes
So what did I see? Plenty of waders, including the usual suspects, as well a Spotted Redshank, a Little Stint and a Curlew Sandpiper. I also saw a Turtle Dove as soon as I arrived. This added to the pair I enjoyed at the end of May, photos of which I have added below.

Two Turtle Dove at Oare Marshes in May
What I didn't see, however, was the Bonaparte's Gull. Hard as I tried, I just couldn't find it – but then nor did anyone else who was visiting at the same time as me. I also didn't see a Roseate Tern that a few surrounding me had convinced themselves they were looking at and walked away happy with their find. I was desperately hoping it was one, but in the end it was a juvenile Common Tern – as was the adult bird close by, and not an Arctic as some suggested.

Also some thought the Little Stint was a Dunlin, but having seen quite a few I knew what this was. Birding is a bloody obstacle course. It certainly was on that day.

Long-billed Dowitcher at Oare
Sixteen Whimbrel
Then last Monday, on the way back from taking my mum for a hospital appointment in Margate, I dropped in at Oare again on the way home. Another Bonaparte's dip took place, but at least I got decent look of the Long-billed Dowitcher, 16 Whimbrel, as well as some really nice views of a Yellow Wagtail. Misidentifying one of those really would be a skill.

Yellow Wagtail. Probably