The autumn is rapidly advancing, seemingly bypassing me in the process. Over the past week, east coast birders have finally enjoyed some decent action, while the odd Nearctic arrival has kept those out west in the game. Due to work and an untimely bout of flu, I missed out on getting to the coast last weekend, while Rich and Dante gripped me off by finding a Radde's Warbler at Dover. It was with relief, then, that I had a morning spare today, allowing me just enough time to check my favourite spots in Peterborough.
A couple of hours sifting through the gulls at Tanholt produced three Caspian Gulls – a fine adult (I never see many of these), a well-marked third-winter and a beautiful first-winter that bore a yellow ring. The latter read P:S09, unsurprisingly rendering it Polish rather from one on of the minefield colonies in Germany, where birds more often than not look underwhelming. The views at Tanholt are good if you have a 'scope, but generally the birds are well out of range for an SLR – thus I was quite satisfied with this record shot of P:S09 as it cruised by.
I always find it challenging to tear myself away from gulls, yet I eventually did so just before midday. After getting a bit of work done, I headed down to my old patch at Baston & Langtoft Pits to see if there was anything of interest. Interest there was, albeit not in the form I had anticipated ... when you see a small wader in October, slightly larger than a Dunlin yet noticeably pale below, you'd be forgiven for thinking it might be something quite good. Naturally I was excited, then, to see such a thing careering around the wader pit. Was it going to be a Pec...? Well, no ... a distinctive burst of calls quickly identified it as a Wood Sandpiper. This is by far and away my latest ever in the Peterborough area – in fact I think by over a month! To put it into context, a quick search of the BirdGuides.com sightings database reveals that six Wood Sandpipers have been seen across Britain and Ireland since 1 October (the BLGP bird included). Compare that to 18 Pectoral and eight Buff-breasted Sandpipers. Sometimes life just isn't fair ... but I can't complain too much. The bird was a little sketchy at first but soon became accustomed to me lying in the mud and tolerated my presence to under 10 metres. The sun eventually went in and I was able to get some pleasing shots in neutral light. Confiding waders ... you can't beat them!