Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Observing Oystercatchers at RSPB Langford Lowfields

After yesterday's pictorial report of what was going on within photography range of my mobile phone camera - about 12 inches in other words - I shall fill in the long distance blanks!

I cycled out via Langford viallage on the main road, enjoying the sight of swallows sat of various wires watching the very humid air going past, perhaps to enervated to bother with energy sapping activities like catching insects.

As I turned back onto the N64, the first of many chiff chaffs was heard singing away, if you can call that endless laser beam two note motif singing, and the sun came out. A comma was still on the wing near the reserve entrance, and as I trundled through the wood and down the path, through the sound of yet more chiff chaff calls, a very late flying brimstone was on the wing. Odd that brimstones should still be about while the orange tips appear to be over already, but then, it has been a strange strange spring.

Before I got the binoculars out, I busied myself with trying to photograph the various lovely common blue and blue tailed damselflies that were around the hide, as well as some of what I always refer to as "baby ringlets". Thankfully none of the dreaded deer flies were out for my blood, and I was able to scan the phase one reed bed without too many bites.

It was quiet out on the bed, a lot of coots with their attractive, fluffy red headed chicks were about, and the eclipsing mallards were all lazing about on the the sandbanks. A few tufted ducks were on the water, and the sand martins were scooping insects off the water. Sadly, no hobby appeared to feed off the large numbers of damselflies that even through 10x50s I could see were on the water's surface.

I then picked up a pair of oystercatchers on one of the large spits of dry land that slash across the reedbed. Their comings and goings were rather comical - they would probe the sand with their beaks a few feet apart, then it seemed as if that if one of them found a food source, the other would come scuttling over with this amusing hunchbacked style. They kept looking like they were going to trip over their own beaks. Great birds, smarty black and white clad, with their scarlet beaks and legs.

Then, a perfectly concealed small wader suddenly flew up from the sand - I'd never have spotted it if it hadn't moved. It had the classic chubby V shaped wader wings, a paler sand coulour underneath, and was barely the size of a blackbird. As soon as it landed a short way off, I'd lost it again. Perhaps it was a sandpiper, this would be my best guess, but I really don't know a lot about waders.

A pleasant mystery to end a great visit.

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