Solitary Sandpiper in Lancashire

This morning, we were ringing a few birds in my garden. The weather had turned from the hot and sunny spell to a warm and drizzly one. There had been a strong passage of birsd over the garden the last couple of mornings with Meadow Pipits and Siskins the most noticeable but there had also been Goldcrest, Chiffchaff and a few Swallows around. Goldfinches have continued to come down including I reckon the same three juveniles yet to get their red face mask.

However, there were few birds moving around. There was clearly plenty of natural foraging to be had but we did manage to attract in a juvenile Grey Wagtail as well as a hand-full of other birds.

Just as we completed the second net round, I got a message - Solitary Sandpiper at Nateby. What!? We played it cool for an hour or so but things were quiet and we didn't feel at all bad about packing up and heading for Garstang.

I had been bemoaning the lack of American waders around Lancashire as there had 'only' been a Lesser Yellowlegs at Conder Green and an couple of Pec's in this spectacular autumn. Well a Solitary Sand certainly made up for that - a very rare visitor to these shores that seems to only turn up at the extreme ends of the country when it does. An excellent find by local birder Stuart Piner whilst doing a goose count, the bird fed on a mud-lined scrape near a wooded area - part of a stewardship project. It was rather distant and the drizzle and murk didn't aid viewing but a Solitary Sand it was and all the Lancashire birders had turned up. I suspect there'll be several more visitors from further afield if it stays a while.

Once I'd had my fill of that, I decided to head for Conder Green and the lesser legs. However, the tide was virtually at its full height when we arrived to we headed to the 'Cafe de Lune' for something to eat and to dry off (a great little spot by the way). About an hour after high tide, I was watching the mouth of the Conder where Curlews and Redshanks were dropping in having roosted on the far side of the Lune. Hundreds of Lapwings and several Golden Plovers were flying over the estuary and heading for their feeding areas and a Common Sandpiper bobbed along the shore that was now appearing. Redshanks were dropping in in ones and twos and after about twenty had arrived, I noticed something rather different - The Lesser Yellowlegs flew along the channel and dropped down out of site with a couple of Redshanks for company.

The rain was getting heavier and the light was fading. The bird clearly likes the steep sandy sides of these channels that are virtually impossible to see so I decided to call time. Two American waders in an afternoon in Lancashire - splendid!

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