Spotted Sandpiper at Stocks

I greeted the news of the Spotted Sandpiper on Monday evening with a mixture of feelings having been at Stocks Reservoir for an hour or so yesterday and not even seeing any Common Sandpipers (though I could hear them). I had honestly thought to myself - it would be a good time for a rare wader like an adult Spotted Sandpiper to turn up and later that evening I wasn't all that surprised when the news came through - spooky!

Anyway, I rolled up at 8am to find the car park empty. Had the bird gone? Was this all a ruse? I headed for the first hide and scanned the near shore that Common Sands favour but to no avail. I switched my attentions to the far bank and almost immediately picked up the presence of a couple of Dunlins and ... the Spotted Sandpiper - its yellowy orange bill with dark tip, bright supercillium and dark eyestripe, yellow legs and, of course, covered in spots! I headed for the second hide where I might get a better view and it performed well but out of range for my camera. Eventually it got spooked by a Little Ringed Plover and flew to the near shore out of my sight.

I waited a little longer and after finally catching up with the Cuckoo as it called and flew over the far bank (being harried by two Meadow Pipits), I picked the Sandpiper heading towards the first hide. I was in a position where I could see the bird distantly but the bank meant that anyone near the first hide wouldn't be able to see it.

I headed back down to the first hide and the first arrivals. Rob Stinger and his family were there and soon John Wright and baby Isaac arrived as well as a few others. Eventually the bird flew away to the far bank, so we could all see it again, and then back to the nearside bank where I managed to get a rubbish record shot. Perhaps I'll be able to get back there and be in place when it walks past the first hide.

Other birds today included a Tawny Owl near the church at Stocks in broad daylight as well as several Garden Warblers singing for all their worth at several sites. Yesterday evening, one was drowning out the traffic in the trees in the centre of the M65 J6 roundabout at Blackburn.


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