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....

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Broad-billed Sandpiper at Kimnel Bay!

When news of a Broad-billed Sandpiper seen at Gronant emerged late on a Saturday evening, I was hopeful it would stick around in the area and that I’d finally be able to grip back on the Hoylake bird I missed out on 5 years ago! Unfortunately, the fact that it was still there early on Sunday morning didn’t surface until well in to the afternoon (much too late to travel over especially when a delicious lamb roast was cooking in the oven courtesy of my Mum) and with no sign on Monday, that appeared to be the end of any chances I had of catching up with a Broad-billed Sandpiper any time soon!
Broad-billed Sandpiper - Kimnel Bay
The Broad-billed Sandpiper! 
What I hadn’t bargained for however was eagle-eyed Alex staking out Kimnel Bay and Rhyl Harbour in an effort to relocate it the next day, and sure enough, around high tide just before 7, I received a photo from him depicting one Broad-billed Sandpiper, head tucked under its wing and happily roosting on the pebble shore near Horton’s Nose. Argh!
Broad-billed Sandpiper - Kimnel Bay
Alex's photo he sent to me!
Half way through cooking 5-spice chicken and noodles, I had to wait until we’d gobbled the last strand down before setting off in pursuit of this attractive vagrant shorebird. With Alex heroically staying on site until I got there (3 hours in total!) I had a running commentary on the way over – the bird seemed very flighty and on more than once occasion was flushed and flew away further up the beach. Then, when we were just 7 minutes away, Alex relayed news that it had flown away high to the west after being harassed by a Ringed Plover – nightmare!!

Pulling in to the Rhyl Harbour car park and heading up the path to Kimnel Bay, the Dunlins that the Broad-billed Sandpiper had been associating with had returned, but there was no sandpiper in sight. With the light now fading and the evening dog walkers heading out in force, it was a race against time to see if we could relocate it. With Alex rushing off down the beach where it had last headed, we soon encountered a mixed group of waders feeding in one of the pools further down the shore- it had to be amongst them, surely! With Alex getting a brief glimpse of the Broad-billed Sand in the scope and confirming that it was still there moments before two large dogs flushed the flock, it seemed inevitable that the birds would get spooked and we’d miss our chance – so near yet so far!

Luckily however, the birds stuck around, and with the dogs heading off in to the distance we could focus our efforts on relocating that Broad-billed. Several Turnstones pottered around the rocks looking for morsels while Dunlins scuttled amongst them – then, what was that - a small silver-grey bird dashing across the sand caught our attention. With a strong pattered back and bold stripes across the head it was immediately obvious we had our target! Bingo! One Broad-billed Sandpiper showing nicely!
Broad-billed Sandpiper - Kimnel Bay
Broad-billed Sandpiper - Kimnel Bay
The arrowhead streaks on the flanks were obvious too
With the light now fading it was difficult to get any good photos, but I managed a few record shots as it scurried about on the sand, at one point even flying right towards us and landing on the rocks in front, providing excellent scope views of what is definitely one of the more attractive sandpipers.

Alex's video of the Broad-billed Sandpiper

Broad-billed Sandpiper - Kimnel Bay
A great find by Alex and a well-deserved reward for patching the area so thoroughly – proving that if you put the effort in and search enough times you’ll eventually strike gold and come up with something special! 

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