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Beach Life and Audio-Stringing

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Submitted by Gavin Haigh on Mon, 18/05/2020 - 19:15

Yesterday's post made me do a bit of self-examination. If there really was a Wallcreeper reported somewhere, how much would I feel the urge to twitch it? Even in 'normal' times, how far would I travel for one? I've never seen one; it would be a total lifer. The answers are: 'it depends' and 'not very'. If it was local and I was one of the first to know, I'd go. Other than that I probably wouldn't. And that's how I feel about a non-Covid-19 scenario. As things stand, I would virtually need to be in on the find to even contemplate it. It's the thought of a crowd that puts me off. So, with happy social mingling off the table, and my 'Bah! Humbug!' persona to deal with, I'll just have to get my jollies some other way I guess...

One other way is to go out very early on a May morning and walk along a beach. I was comfortably back for breakfast.

There is still potential for a really good find at this time of year, but in reality things are likely to be slow. I've found I am getting a lot of pleasure from trying to take advantage of photo opportunities, even with common birds, and this compensates quite well for the lack of migrant action. I don't particularly go out of my way, just try to capitalise on any chances. A few from today...

This morning's one and only Wheatear.

And again.

There were a few Reed Buntings using the beach, but they were pretty uncooperative. Eventually one pitched up in some thrift, right on the seaward side of the beach flora. It gave me just one chance for a photo...

Reed Bunting and thrift.

I'm no photographer, but I somehow find that composition very pleasing to the eye. While I was faffing about in David Bailey mode I expect rarities were buzzing past continually.

I've only seen a handful of Sanderling so far this spring, so flocks of c20 and 47 were very welcome. Also three Dunlin tagging along with them. The smaller flock barely touched down, and was rapidly away E, but the larger flock hopped along the beach in fits and starts, and eventually I was able to view them from a low cliff. I got about three shots before they had sprinted out of range...

Sanderling. Constantly legging it everywhere...

Back at home I picked through last night's nocmiggage between mouthfuls of coffee and toast. A nice Coot (which I had heard live) and Moorhen, plus a quiet and intriguing noise which I felt I ought to know but couldn't quite place. On the Nocmig WhatsApp group one experienced birder said 'I can't decide whether it's a baby Starling in a nest or a Nightjar Gavin!' Well, there are no Starling nests here...

Trouble is, the bird evidently is not very close, and it's what you might term a partial call. Likely the microphone hasn't quite 'heard' all of it clearly. So here it is, alongside two pukka Nightjar calls from Xeno Canto (XC483258 recorded in Sweden by Mats Rellmar). Is there enough there to claim my second nocmigged Nightjar?

First call: my bird.
Next two calls: Nightjar.



To my ear it has a Nightjar 'quality' to it, and the spectrogram pattern looks very much like part of a fully-formed call, but...

I think it might have to go down as the audio equivalent of 'untickable views'. What do you reckon?
Source: 
Gavin Haig