Friday, 10 January 2014

A few words from the winner.....

Andy Johnson has been in touch with us and has a few words to share:

"Huge thanks to everyone who voted for the Semipalmated Plover as the PWC 2013 best find – very much the icing on the cake for what was a long-awaited ambition! I’m also glad that so many people got to see it during its 13 day stay. Congratulations to all the other candidates on their superb finds, especially Nick Crouch, whose inland Pied Wheatear deservedly came close to taking the honours, and Sean Morris whose Mourning Dove will be hard to beat in terms of rarity value.
Thanks also to Ryan, Mark and James for organising PWC and dealing with what must be an enormous amount of admin (and far more than originally hoped for, I’ll bet!) - good work! 
Good luck to everyone in 2014! Andy"

A cracking find and congratualtions again to Andy, the Semip fought off some very stiff competition! If you want to hear more about how it was found and what it looks like, take a peek below at the finders account.

Around 9am on Thursday 17th October, whilst doing the rounds of my patch at Sandy Point, I decided to see what was gathering at the Black Point high tide wader roost on the spit to the west of Hayling Island Sailing Club. This is something I try to do every day if I can, as the roost holds good numbers of up to eight wader species on a daily basis. I try to count each species as best I can, and of course I’m always hoping to find something good amongst them (although the best I’ve managed in the nine years I’ve lived here were both in 2009: a Kentish Plover in May and a White-winged Black Tern in September).

There were over two hours to go to high tide, but from the bottom of the causeway I could see a fisherman at the end of the spit had already flushed everything, and a couple of dog walkers were finishing off the job (both frequently a problem here). Nevertheless I went up to Sparkes Marina to see if there was anything left. When I got there I could see there were about 20 Ringed Plovers flying around the spit. Then I heard a clear, unequivocal "Chewit!". I should perhaps say at this point that this was something I’d specifically been waiting to happen ever since I’d started watching the Black Point high tide roost. The roost holds excellent numbers of Ringed Plovers – peaking at up to 300 in the autumn – and, depending on the tide height, often affords excellent views. So as soon as I heard the call, I thought "This is it!!"

I looked to where the noise came from to see the last two remaining ‘ringed’ plovers take flight – one clearly a lot smaller than the other! They flew round and round for what seemed an eternity, but eventually landed on the near edge of the mud, around 60m away. I swung my scope onto them and got onto the smaller bird to specifically look for a white wedge above the gape… it was there! Clear and obvious!! Elation turned to edginess, however, as they quickly took flight once more, and joined three more flying round and round again. Eventually all five settled at the far end! My only choice was to walk all the way down Wittering Road and back up the causeway to Hayling Island Sailing Club. This takes around 15 minutes, during which I was thinking "If they’ve flown off by the time I get there, then that’s that! If they’re still there, I’ll nail it!!"

I got to the spot, and they were still there… got myself into position about 45m away, scope up, start from the left "Nope… nope… no… GOTCHA!!" Britain’s 4th ever Semipalmated Plover!!!

1 comment:

  1. Well done to Andy, a great find and deserved winner - you'd have got my vote if I hadn't voted for myself!