Wryneck – Farlington Marshes, Hampshire

Wrynecks were starting to be found at migration hot spots and in mist nets up and down the country and at 10:40am on bank holiday Monday Bird Guides reported that a Wryneck had been found around the information hut at Farlington Marshes.

Given that they can be quite elusive I decided to wait for a second sighting before heading down there. Nothing followed and at 3pm I texted Clay to see if he had gone. All but one of the top ten year listers in Hampshire still needed Wryneck for the year. Clay hadn’t gone and like me he was waiting for more news. A little while later a Bird Guides message reported that the bird had been seen again at 2pm although it was now 3:30pm. We decided that with bank holiday traffic probably at its worst we would delay going for a bird which was proving elusive. At 8:25pm a nice photo of the Wryneck was posted on the WhatsApp group which certainly whetted the appetite.

I left my phone by the bed side overnight and at 7:50am Dave Ryves reported via WhatsApp that the Wryneck was still present. I jumped out of bed, texted Dad to see if he could come and also Clay to see if he wanted a lift. Dad couldn’t come first thing but Clay swapped a few things around and he arrived at my house at just before 8:30am.

We arrived at Farlington and joined a small group of birders who were concentrating on the bramble bushes to the east of the information hut. The bird had been seen flitting back and forth, occasionally flying over the path, across a short patch of reeds and towards a hawthorn bush in the adjacent field although the main bramble bush seemed to be the favoured area and this is where most birders were congregating.

After a while I headed away from the brambles to check out the hawthorn bush. There were plenty of Whinchats and Blackcaps moving through. I noticed a larger bird fly out from the bush, it landed briefly on the fence before settling in the top of a small shrub. This was the Wryneck and so I whistled to the main group of birders who were still at the brambles. I then jogged the 50 yards back to the brambles to retrieve my telescope while the birders jogged passed the other way to take my place. I returned to the assembled birders, now at the back of the queue but thankfully the Wryneck was still in view and I found myself a gap. The Wryneck continued to pose nicely with it’s head and neck stretched out slightly and it’s sharp bill held upwards.

While watching the Wryneck a birder came back from the Deeps saying that he had seen a possible Little Stint and his photos looked good and so we headed off. We passed a perched Osprey on Binness Island and fifteen minutes later we were watching the obliging wader although with no other waders present it was difficult to judge the size.

A couple of Common Sandpipers did appear later showing us just how small the stint was. This was an adult bird with no ‘Vs’ on the mantle or scapulars, just a mix of summer and grey winter weathers. The bill was short and very slightly down curved. The legs were black, the flanks were clean and white and it showed neat and slightly buffy breast patches.

Two year ticks for the day means that I will finish August on 233 for the year. In my record 289 year I was on 245 at this stage. I think somewhere around 260 may be achievable this year. My Hampshire Year List is now up to 200.

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