I had a couple of hours spare yesterday morning and after a failed doctors appointment I headed down to RSPB Cliffe Pools not so much for the chance of the Marsh Sandpiper but primarily to see the two families of successfully fledged Black-winged Stilts on the pools by the Black Barn.
I risked the track down there in the new wheels and stopped first to check out the radar pool for the Sandpiper. It was already quite hazy and although I did find the Marsh it was way off. Greenshanks either dozed on the banks or raced around like loonies with up tilted bill tips scything through the water but it was otherwise quiet.
Flights of Black-tailed Godwits were still coming on off the Thames but there were no caladrids to check through.
Once at the view point I was immediately aware of calling Stilts and over the next hour I enjoyed watching seven young and at least two adults feeding actively just below me in the shallows.
What a magical sight and testament to the effort put in by my colleagues and their volunteers over the weeks leading up to the hatching.
Having only seen day old chicks before (that never lasted long) this was a real treat. Like may species the juveniles call was nothing like the adults being a soft plaintive piping. They looked really odd in flight too with shorter trailing legs, brown scaly appearance and white trailing edge to the wing. They actually looked more like an odd Greenshank.
Common Sandpipers and Avocets shared the pools and a Spoonbill preened on a distant island while Beardies pinged around me to round off a pleasant escape.
I am glad I got to see them at last and to bear witness to the start of what may hopefully one day become common place...