Today was the second time in 2015 that a particular north American wader passed through Hampshire County Council’s reserve at Titchfield Haven on The Solent. One Sunday back in January I had missed Greater Yellowlegs through not seeing the news in time to get down there. By the following day the bird, a lifer had gone. This time I picked up the news within an hour of it appearing on RBA and so got straight into my car and went.
My day had begun locally at Farmoor Reservoir where I met up with Tezzer and Mark. Some site passage specialities are passing through there at the moment but not while we were present. So we relocated to Linkey Down on the Chiltern escarpment where this spring’s first reported Ring Ouzel for that location had been seen earlier in the day. There we met several other Oxonbirders and thanks to the most sharp-eyed amongst the group I saw this species in our county for a fourth consecutive year *. I bowed out at that point, fortunately so given events a little further afield.
When I arrived on site just before 4pm, the Greater Yellowlegs was sleeping to one side of Titchfield Haven’s Meon Shore Hide that was bulging with birders. Fairly soon the bird began to move around, being a lot smaller and greyer in appearance than the Black-tailed Godwits with which it was associating. The GY had a quick and delicate action and the diagnostic, slightly upturned bill was noticeable. But it was too distant to obtain clear pictures, this one (below) being as good as things got for me today.
Various other birds seemed to object to the visitor’s presence however, until the “Yank” fled exclaiming onto the River Meon nearer the coastal road. But it didn’t stay there for long before going inland again. When I got back to the Meon Shore Hide the Yellowlegs was not on view, though it had apparently dropped back in before flying off for good (see here).
The scrapes at Titchfield Haven (pictured above) hold large numbers of breeding Black-headed and some Mediterranean Gull. This reserve was the first place, in March 2010 where I saw the latter species. Having picked out a nice group of them on the northern scrape, once the star visitor had been lost I walked round to the Pumfrett Hide to observe the gulls. These pictures (below) show how Med Gulls stand out amongst their Black-headed counterparts, with jet black masks, bright red beaks and legs, white wing tips and a different character. They are to my mind very striking and attractive birds.
I looked in at the Meon Shore Hide again after 5:30pm but there had been no further sign of the Greater Yellowlegs and the crowd of visiting birders had largely dispersed. I was pleased to have had a second bite at this cherry and to gain another north American addition to my life list, and so headed home mindful of this day’s narrow window of opportunity.