One of those odd things happened yesterday - I managed to hear of a decent rare bird on the Exe in time to go and search for it on the same day. A Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus), on Bowling Green Marsh. Oddly, it was a new Devon bird for me, so I was pretty keen to see it in that strange, somewhat obsessed manner of the lifelong birder...
Needless to say, I couldn't persuade myself that I'd seen it properly, so this morning I was back in the hide at first light. A massed pack of waders was on the pool, with about 500 Black-tailed Godwit, a couple of hundred each of Curlew, Redshank and Avocet and a smattering of Dunlin, Knot, Golden Plover and Lapwing. Everything hunkered down and snoozed for a while whilst the two of us present scanned the flock and enjoyed the whistling of the Wigeon flock - a bird that sounds uncannily like it's just been goosed!
After an hour, everything went nuts as a male Peregrine hurtled through the site and attempted to catch a fast breakfast, putting the smaller waders to flight and rudely interrupting the larger birds' sleep. After three racing passes in front of us, he disappeared back up the river and allowed everything else to settle. This obviously did the trick - all the birds were jumpy, running around at the slightest stimulus and allowing us to scan through properly; and eventually I managed to pick up the dowitcher amongst the Redshank, getting some decent views in the end. A nice juvenile bird, a little darker than I had remembered them being.
Incidentally, I discovered today that the word 'dowitcher' comes from an Iroquois Indian language, perhaps Mohawk, apparently meaning 'small brown wading bird'... and is the only Mohawk word in the English language. So there!