BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY THE FOREST OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND...........................................................................................................................AVOCET MARTIN JUMP

Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Wallcreeper.

Wallcreeper Antonio Puigg 

When I saw this excellent photograph of the Wallcreeper I imagined the bird had appeared to have clamped itself to the red rocks of the headland below the ancient abbey at Cockersands, and wondered if I could hold my nerve on finding one of these birds here sometime in the future....dream on!

The distribution of the Wallcreeper extends from Central-southern Eurasia, discontinuously from the Pyrenees to China, it is an extremely rare vagrant to Britain with records just about reaching  two figures and is a bird with an interesting history in this country.

The Wallcreeper was first described in Britain by a respected observer of natural history, and his accurate description of such a distinctive bird found in Norfolk in 1792 meant that the record was accepted, but not until almost 100 years later, the record actually relegated another Wallcreeper which until then held the distinction of being the first for Britain, that of a bird at Sabden below Pendle Hill, Lancashire in 1872. As described by  F.S.Mitchell, this bird had initially been seen by mill-hands at a cotton mill, attention had been drawn to them by its crimson-banded wings.

But the most famous Wallcreeper of all was a bird found in a quarry in Somerset in the winter of 1976/77 to return to the same quarry the following winter of 1977/78. But the news of this bird during the first winter was suppressed, but the twitchers got to know about it in the second winter and the bird was seen by hundreds of birders who were allowed access to a balcony high above the quarry floor thanks to the tolerance of the quarry employees. On one occasion 50 birders crammed into the balcony only to be shouted at from below to tell them that the balcony was regarded to safely hold only 10 people at any one time. The mad scramble to get of the balcony as quickly as possible was described at the time as equally comical as it was hair-raising. 

Interestingly and amazingly the Somerset bird isn't the only case of a Wallcreeper returning to the same site in successive winters, another famous individual wintered at a University in Amsterdam in the winter of 1989/90 and returned in the winter of 1990/91. The Wallcreeper is one of the most wanted species on the British List. 


Least Sandpiper Tim Kuhn    

A quick look at one more excellent photograph of another extremely rare vagrant to Britain the Least Sandpiper, the nearest one to be found in our area is of a bird at Old Moore RSPB Reserve in Yorkshire on 26 May 2011. Perhaps one day I'll find one on the shingle at Plover Scar at Cockersands below a Wallcreeper clinging to the headland face....now that would be ridiculous, and now I'm dreaming a lot more! 

Many thanks to Antonio and Tim for the usual excellence of photography I'm allowed to put up on Birds2blog.