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....

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Kentish Plover - Audenshaw Reservoir, Manchester

Coming back from a meeting at work on Monday morning to discover an excited message from Alex exclaiming a fine male Kentish Plover had been found on Audenshaw Reservoir in Manchester, it was therefore a tense wait until the end of the day to see whether the bird would still be present and whether or not we would get there in time.

Luckily however, despite the inevitable tedium of the M60 and the associated almost standstill rush hour traffic, we arrived at Audenshaw Reservoir to news that the Kentish Plover was still there and showing well on Reservoir 3. Eventually locating the right hole in the fence to get in (it has been a good few years since my last visit and the old gap had been mended) we were soon on our way around the expanses of water and over to the western edge of the reservoir running alongside the motorway in pursuit of our plover.
Kentish Plover - Audenshaw Reservoir, Manchester
Kentish Plover - Audenshaw Reservoir
After a 20 minute walk in the biting cold and bitter wind (who’d have thought it was April?!) we caught up with the small group of assembled birders and scoped out along the shoreline to try and pick out the Kentish. Bingo – we soon had our target, and the bird proceeded to show incredibly well, feeding along the water’s edge right in front of us and taking advantage of the high quantity of flies congregating above the water’s surface.
Kentish Plover - Audenshaw Reservoir, Manchester
Kentish Plover - Audenshaw Reservoir, Manchester
Kentish Plover - Audenshaw Reservoir, Manchester
With both Little Ringed and Ringed Plovers associating on the same stretch of bank as the Kentish, the differences between the three were extremely apparent – the much cleaner white of the Kentish Plover stood out from a distance, and the rich ginger cap, incomplete black breast band and the neat black markings on the head were also clear to see.
Kentish Plover - Audenshaw Reservoir, Manchester
Kentish Plover - Audenshaw Reservoir, Manchester
Having seen Kentish Plovers in both Spain and Portugal, as well as the extremely similar Snowy Plover in America (both species themselves split from the African White-fronted Plovers) it was great to finally see a British bird at last – although I don’t think any of us expected for one to turn up on the concrete banks of Audenshaw reservoir of all places!
Kentish Plover - Audenshaw Reservoir, Manchester
Kentish Plover - Audenshaw Reservoir, Manchester
Kentish Plover - Audenshaw Reservoir, Manchester
Kentish Plover - Audenshaw Reservoir, Manchester
A far cry from a shingle beach down south - the concrete edges of Audenshaw! 
Kentish Plover is also a fantastic bird for the North West - the previous county record for Greater Manchester was over 35 years ago, while another unexpected individual was recorded on my local Neumann’s Flash way back in 1991. The female at Cockersand Abbey in May 2011 (slightly before my twitching days) was the last twitchable North West opportunity however, and this was a bird I regrettably didn’t travel up for at the time.

Once a British breeding species with a particular stronghold at Dungeness in Kent up until the 1930s, Kentish Plovers sadly now only occur annually in very small numbers on passage, usually at coastal locations in the southern counties. The birds will often get pushed on by tidal movements (only being one-dayers as a result) so this was a bird that I had been struggling to get back for the last 5 years, especially as very few tend to reach the northern counties!
Kentish Plover - Audenshaw Reservoir, Manchester
Kentish Plover - Audenshaw Reservoir, Manchester
Still present the next day and showing well on the banks of Reservoir 3, this was a brilliant local bird that any North West birder would have been mad to miss, and although it appears to have departed on the morning of the 27th, the majority who needed it will most certainly have left happy after achieving stunning views of what was a fantastic little bird!
  
Alex's great video of the Kentish Plover

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