9th SEPTEMBER 2012
In the week the news of a Long Billed Dowitcher was reported, then on Thursday the news broke that the Long Billed was now re-identified as a Short Billed! Now as the last bird on the mainland was back in 1999 this was a Mega, so arrangements was made between the Clams that we would go for it on Sunday.
Then news broke of a Baillons Crake at Rainham Marshes, so I called Captian Clam and we decided that we would go for the Crake first and then the Dowtcher, I sent a text around the Clams pick up time of 3am !
We arrived at Rainham at 0545, and we were directed towards the hide from where the bird was last seen.Inside the Hide it was full of Birders and they were pointing to the right, we asked is the bird on show? someone said that it was seen down in the ditch 5 mins ago ( I dont know how as it was barely light) so we made our way over to the right hand side of the large hide and gained a reasonable viewing point of the small ditches and pools in front of the hide.
After an hour and half we hadn't seen the bird, we had a few Sedge Warblers, 2 Water Rail , Little Grebe's, Coot , Moorhen , 8 Snipe flew over , 1 Green Sandpiper, Little Egrets everywhere and 2 Peregrine Falcons were hunting over the marsh catching Dragonflies which I hadn't seen before so that was nice to see.It was now 8am so we decided to move on and go for the Dowicher as it was a three hour drive away.
Two hours into our journey we checked Birdguides to see if the Dowitcher was still showing and to our horror .... Baillons Crake seen 0950 !! showing WELL??? ... Never mind we said trying to reasure ourselves, we have the Dowitcher to get and its by far the rarer bird!!
Over the next hour Captain Clam tried to write a song about Dipping on the Baillons to the music of Bonie Tyler's "Bright Eyes" .. It didn't really work, it just drove us all insane for an hour!
We arrived at Lodmore at 11.30, parked in the car park and walked down the path along side of the west scrape, there were about 30 Birders looking across the reserve, we asked if the bird was on show but was told that it had not been seen since 10.30 ! No not two DIPS in one day please!
We set up our scopes and started scanning across checking every piece of waters edge and reeds, we had a Greenshank briefly far over the back, Green Sandpiper , 2 Black Tailed Godwit, 20+ Dunlin, 5 Ringed Plover, Sandwich Terns, 3 Med Gulls, a Hobby and the usuall mixture of wildfoul , but still no sign of the Dowitcher!!!
Another half hour passed, then a shout further up from us " Its here!" we slowly walked up set up our scopes on the reeds about 100 yards away, and there it was sleeping within the reed bed. It sat there for about half an hour, moving on occasion showing us its head and we could also see the main ID feature, the barring on the Tertials, Later the bird started to feed and we had good views ... SEEN IT BANG !
We watched the bird for about and hour and then decided to go for some fish & Chips at Alfs near Wyke Regis (best in Weymouth ). After we had stuffed our faces, we went up to Portland Bill but there wasn't much about and with the time now 16.30 we headed back home.
Great day in the end, Dipped on the Baillons, but Bagged a Short Billed Dowitcher, Clamtastic!!
All the best