A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

Friday, 2 October 2015

Wilson's Phalarope at Vange Marsh, Essex

With a potential first for Britain in the form of an Acadian Flycatcher at Dungeness last week sadly out of reach due to work commitments, me and Alex decided to make up for the loss by travelling to Essex for the reliable Wilson’s Phalarope that had settled at Vange Marsh RSPB.

Being a little further away than we would normally travel for anything outside of mega status, we were glad for the change of scene and being a species we were both still in need of, Alex drove us both down to the south east, having only been to Essex one before for the Serins back in March. Arriving nearly 4 hours later, we made the short treck under the A13 and over the railway line, before following the trail through the meadows to view the water.

A marauding Marsh Harrier flushing all the birds as soon as we arrived was a little concerning (4 hours for nothing?!), but Alex soon expertly picked the Wilson’s up in flight and thankfully tracked it through the scope until it landed.
Wilson's Phalarope - Vange Marsh, Essex
A (very) record shot of the Wilson's Phal
Present on the flash now for over a week, despite the distance (a factor that had been putting me off) we still got good scope views of this American Phalarope as it fed and span around in the water, dainty in comparison to the nearby Ruffs and Redshank, but still evidently larger than our more familiar Grey or Red-necked Phalaropes.
Wilson's Phalarope - Vange Marsh, Essex
Wilson's Phalarope - Vange Marsh, Essex
Wilson's Phalarope - Vange Marsh, Essex
It could be anything.... it is a Wilson's Phalarope.... honest!
With a much greyer head lacking a distinct mask, as well as an elongated slender neck and long needle fine pointed bill, we could still pick up the subtle key features even at a distance, Alex even observing the yellow legs in flight. Now advancing in to winter plumage, there was still just the faint hint of colour visible along the neck.

Whilst not as close as previous birds in recent times in terms of both views and distance travelled, and nowhere near as spectacular as the gorgeous female summer plumaged stunner on the Isle of Wight a couple of years ago, it was still great to see what is an almost annual rarity to the British Isles and a species I have been hoping to catch up with after deciding the Cleveland bird back in 2011 was a touch too far (despite probably being an hour less than what we travelled last weekend!)

With a fine supporting cast of waders including Spotted Redshank, Ruff, a Little Stint and both a Green and Wood Sandpiper, it is a shame that the water is so far away for viewing – a small bridge and hide provided by the RSPB could really open up the potential for this clear wader magnet, perhaps even allowing the UK’s next Red-necked or Long-toed Stint to be unearthed….

Wilson's Phalarope - Vange Marsh, EssexTo visit: Park at end of Chestnut Road (TQ733876, SS16 4XJ), walk under the A13 and over the railway crossing, then walk right along the meadow path and left to view the water.
View of the flash - very distant!

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