There were five Pacific Golden Plovers on Saturday afternoon, a patch first, and following last week's Whimbrel, clear evidence that migratory waders are making pit stops at the reservoir. In addition the presence of three River Lapwing was very pleasing. There were also big numbers, at least 50, of Small Pratincoles. I was pleased to note a first, solitary Brown Shrike of the season and the distant call of a Chinese Francolin. Add in lots of Yellow Wagtails, Zitting Cisticolas, Little Ringed Plover, Lesser Whistling Ducks, Little Egrets, Openbills, Little Cormorants and a solitary Pied Kingfisher. A few buttonquails flashed out of the undergrowth but too quick for me.
I rather fancy there were Richard's Pipits as they did appear to have bigger bills and their movements appeared to be different from the usual Paddyfield Pipits. They proved difficult to photograph and most importantly they were reluctant to close their bills! This one, photographed above, also appears to have a very upright stance; however the bill doesn't appear to be very stout. The darker upper bill and the yellowish lower also supports Richard's.......I don't know! Maybe Birdforum can help! ( 12.09.12: the Birdforum gurus are unanimous is declaring this to be a Paddyfield Pipit. There's now a good thread on Birdforum with useful comment and an excellent link to a very authoritative summary by Dave Bakewell.)
Early Sunday morning the reservoir was at its most serene. Warm and sunny. I was struck by an aerial cluster of 250-300 Oriental Pratincoles; these birds usually assemble here around this time and I expect their number will increase over the next few weeks. There were lots of Small Pratincoles too, between 80 -100. I set up the hide and managed to get a few shots of some of the more common birds. On my way out I flushed 3 Rain Quail and some other buttonquail species which once again were too quick for me. However I now have a definite marker and will be back to explore this in future.
Small Pratincole - juvenile