Monday 14 May 2018

A few breeding plumage waders

I've only managed to get out to Heurajima once this spring; an uneventful trip before better weather brought some decent birds. Since then I've either been too busy or the ferry hasn't sailed so last weekend I decided to content myself with a trip to Mie to check out the wader passage.

The forecast predicted a 90% chance of rain from about 6am onwards but as luck would have it the rain held off till 1pm and didn't come down in road flooding torrents until 2pm. One benefit of dull, heavily overcast weather is Green Pheasants are suddenly everywhere, I stopped counting at 10 roadside birds. They can be next to impossible to find on clear days and trying to find them for visitors can prove a real time waster.

The downside of being easy to find to wet weather is they lack the vivid iridescence that makes them so striking.

But this post is supposed to be about breeding plumage waders, isn't it? There were about 300 red Red-necked Stints on the mudflats but you can't be everywhere at the right time and none of the Stints were close when I was at any of the three estuaries holding large numbers. Ponds and beaches were better for reasonable views of birds and for me a couple of Spotted Redshanks were the most attractive waders of the day.

Ruddy Turnstones were looking pretty good too, 66 birds was the largest group I came across. Again the light wasn't very helpful and it was difficult to get good shots of them.

There weren't many Lesser Sand Plovers around and most were on distant sand bars, this bird with the Turnstones was the only close bird of the day. I don't see many in full breeding plumage and rarely see birds with such extensive red on the flanks and lower breast.

Not the 'best' of the Common Greenshanks but the only one that came close.

Whimbrel were very common along the shoreline and in the fields. In my pre-camera days I'd have IDed them and moved on but one of the great things about taking pictures of common birds is I notice things I would otherwise have seen. In this case I was surprised by the difference in primary projection, which presumably has nothing to do with age; the first bird has three visible tips well beyond relatively fresh looking tertials whereas the second has only two just showing beyond more worn tertials.


  1. Spotted Redshanks look great in spring, shame I on;y ever really see them in autumn...........

    1. We get quite a few in spring but they're hardly ever as advanced as these two birds before they move on. They might have been even better in brighter conditions but I'm not complaining.