Yes, I have been away from home recently. To be more specific I spent a week in the depths of Hertfordshire on a management training course (which I have to say, was brilliant!). Fear not, as I’m not about to regale you with all the latest on coaching techniques – as this post is not about me being away from home….
It’s about a couple of birds that are much further away from home than just across a few Counties – they are on the wrong side of the Atlantic!
While I was busy studying, things were happening on the birding front back in Dorset. A rather small, rather non descript wading bird that had been supposedly happy in Weymouth since it arrived there last November, had obviously decided it was time for a change and headed to Poole Park.
The wader isn’t just any old wader though.. It happens to be a Long Billed Dowitcher, which should be in America.. It seems to have gone through a personality change as well. While it was in Weymouth it was usually visible, but not at close quarters. In Poole Park, it will happily feed with a crowd of photographers about 10 feet away. It’s getting to be a bit of a celeb as well. One of the guys there today had travelled from Tamworth, with his family – who were obviously wondering how they had been duped into coming all that way, to see a rather small, nondescript wader!
At the same time as the Dowitcher arriving, it seems that a juvenile Ring Billed Gull turned up as well – another American bird that had been blown quite a way off course. So, two American rarities in Poole Park!
If the Dowitcher seems unperturbed by the photographers, the Ring Billed takes the biscuit! I popped down on a weekday lunchtime to see if I could get a glimpse of it.. Stood next to a couple who were happily feeding the swans I scanned around the lake with no luck. Glancing across at the feeding melee next to me as the swans all piled in after the bread on offer, I was amazed to see the gull literally stood at the feet of the couple – looking up at them and waiting for more food!
There seems to be no doubt that this is a genuine wild bird – after all, who would want to keep a pet gull?! I guess the bird has worked out that the easiest way to get food is to join in when the ducks and swans get fed, and it’s certainly doing well out of it!
I’m back at Poole Park again tomorrow. Not in search of the wader or the gull, but taking part in a 10km run around the lakes. There will be a lot of people around – which may spell a feeding bonanza for the gull as no doubt there will be lots of duck and swan feeding going on as families wait for the runners to finish. Let’s hope the dowitcher feels equally at home – even if they are both many many miles away in reality..