Sunday, 2 May 2010


I arrived at Wilstone at about 6:30 as the rain had slackened off and was surprised that I was the only person there. A quick scan revealed little other than a good number of Swifts and Hirundines so I walked round to the Jetty to see if any waders had been downed. Between the North Corner and the Jetty I flushed a flock of five waders and was surprised to see that they were summer-plumaged DUNLINS which circled round and were obviously reluctant to leave.

Just after I arrived at the Jetty I saw David Bilcock appear on the bank so I called him to let him know about the Dunlin flock. He walked round and duly saw them and then joined me at the Jetty. I said I would walk to the Cemetery Corner to see if other waders were sheltering on the rocks. David said he would stop there and look for Red-rumped Swallow as there had been one in Cambridgeshire yesterday. To which I replied it was probably still in Cambridgeshire as well.

I walked far enough along to be convinced there were no waders and heard a vague noise and as I was returning to the Jetty David calmly said "RED-RUMPED SWALLOW". I think he was so calm because he didn't quite believe it - I did! A few tense moments later I saw it and then I told David that I would ring a few people while he kept track of the bird. We didn't want it getting lost as people would soon be arriving. Having made a few calls I took over tracking it while David texted a larger number of people. That done he then took over again while I took a break. It was quite difficult to keep track of it at distance in poor light with so many Swallows and House Martins about and when it flew up against trees it was even worse. Anyway, just as Mike Campbell arrived, David lost it against the trees. Since at that point it was close to the car park we decided to walk to the bench by the path down to Meads and look from there. We met up with Mike and Ian and Steve arrived and after failing to relocate it there I said I would go back to the Jetty and look there.

I again flushed the Dunlin flock as I made my way there. After a couple of minutes I relocated it and gestured the others over. Needless to say there was some haste from the newly-arrived to join me. Soon after they did they were on the bird. As they arrived nine Dunlin were mentioned and we heard them and looked up and saw the nine Dunlin and I spotted a SANDERLING and someone else shouted Ringed Plover. These birds flew around and left shortly afterwards. When David joined us he had already seen the Sanderling and shouted to us but we hadn't heard him. More people joined us and at one stage the bird came very close to the Jetty and allowed us very good views. Eventually Ian and I left the group and we decided to check the bank by the overflows. The only wader there was a Common Sandpiper, but today nothing could be taken for granted.

Mike Campbell pointed out that the only previous record of Red-rumped Swallow for the reservoirs was at Wilstone on 17th May 1981 seen by G Brandejs (Roy Hargreaves).

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