Sunday, 10 December 2017

Solitary Snipe

A fantastic weekend this one, thanks entirely to a successfully twitched Solitary Snipe Gallinago solitaria all the way round there in Hualian. The logistics of reaching the bird looked like a total nightmare, but fortunately all such considerations became academic when I was kindly offered a lift by Cai Zhi Yuan and Yan Xiou Qin towards the end of the week. As news of this bird was well and truly 'out', I was fearful that the long journey might result in a dip (the bird having reportedly been flushed repeatedly by photographers on the Friday and not seen at all during the afternoon), but fortunately it had returned to its favoured area overnight and was there and waiting for us first thing Saturday morning (visible pottering around on the rocks even during darkness thanks to street lighting). With so many people around, it was naturally wary and never came especially close, meaning that record shots would be the best I was ever going to manage. Still, it was a cracker to observe, and delightfully comical whilst walking around with its exaggerated bobbing gait. Sadly, it went to sleep in deep cover mid morning and became inactive for a long period of time. As we intended to return home within the day, we left the site at noon for the long drive back, picking up three bonus juvenile Rooks Corvus frugilegus at Feng Lin en route.

After a long lie in Sunday morning, I headed up to Chiayi in search of big gulls in the afternoon. The old watchtower at Bu Dai held about twenty or so late afternoon, but as most were distant I only came away with a handful photos worth posting. The adult mongolicus gulls present have all completed their primary moults, though some retain some quite heavy streaking on the neck (some even heavier than in the second adult below). There were some more interesting looking birds around than the ones posted (including one with a very long tongue down the underside of P10), which will require relocating over the next week or so. Hopefully, I'll be able to track down the nice first-winter that was hanging around today again, and get more from it than just underwing shots.

There were both typical and atypical taimyrensis gulls kicking around today, too, but unfortunately I only got decent shots of typical birds. The adults (or near adult in the first case) below are still only at mid-primaries in terms of moult, with some secondaries still growing. The first-calendar year is also a typical bird, being still juvenile and not yet having replaced anything.

The old watchtower gulls in particular tend to remain faithful to that area throughout the winter, and I'm sure most of these individuals will start to become familiar in the long, boring posts about big gulls that are most certainly set to follow this one! Above photos taken on the Mei Lun River and at Feng Lin, Hualian, and Bu Dai, Chiayi County 9-10/12/17.

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