I got to work a little early today and after adding the requisite 37 layers required for a walk in the British spring time I waddled along the river wall into the stiff westerly breeze.
The tide had just turned and there was a little mud exposed on the south side upon which some Sanderling were scurrying and a Turnstone was hunkered down with four Ringed Plovers. This was a good sign and I continued towards Aveley Bay but long before I got there a dog walker flushed a shimmering ball of Dunlin from the concrete Victorian seawall where they were obviously trying to wait out the tide. Five more Sanderling and a gleaming male Turnstone decked out in black, white and orange headed straight across the Thames but the fish ball returned and I stayed back to see what they would do all the while conscious that they needed to rest but there was always a walker and hound to keep them on the move so I soon moved on and left them be.
I can’t remember ever seeing such a large spring flock here and as I suspected in the field they appear to be of the British upland breeding race Calidris alpina schinzii that have shorter slightly less decurved bills than the birds we often see here in the winter months. Their black bellies are small and quite patchy and surrounded by white and in flight there seems to be quite a bit of contrast between the silvery wings and chestnut in the mantle.
I suspect that many we see this time of year may be this race but to be honest I have never really paid close attention until today when the spectacle of 112 of the little beauties swirling around in some rare morning sunlight made the differences all the more apparent.
I headed back to the Centre for the day with a female Cuckoo for company and four Whimbrels around their favoured posts and spent the day around the building watching Hobbies chase careening Swifts with kronking Ravens and soaring Peregrines and Buzzards up above as the storm clouds grew and the heavens finally opened as we closed up for the day.
|The light kept changing from about 3pm onwards|
And I shall leave you with Thunder and Sparrows - volume up all the way!