What is happening with Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper? Hundreds are being noted up and down the country where usually only tens are counted. I would love to think that is because these arctic waders are doing well and everything is rosy in the world, but sadly that wont be the case. Some weird weather systems that we can't appreciate or register even in our daily digest of all things weather related in this country, had brought these annuals in hefty volumes.
My previous with both species had been one or two (or in the case of Curlew Sands 4-5 at Rainham), distant specks round the feet of their leggy cousins. Today I took the offer of a lift from James H to have an afternoon down at Oare. Kent has the best light for any wader watching in the Thames estuary–it's always to the south–and Oare has the best set up for close encounters.
OK I had gone on the off-chance of the Baird's being firmed up following a "probable" sighting late morning, but the chance of seeing dozens of Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper was enough to unloose the shackles of a lacklustre patch.
Hundreds of Golden Plover, good numbers of Little Ringed Plover of all ages, Godwits (always godwits here), Spotted Redshank, scores of Redshank (I don't think I've ever seen a flock, and by that I mean scores of birds, as large), tens of Ruff, Lapwing, Snipe, Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Dunlin, Knot–a veritable wader banquette and the main stars over 30 of each of Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper. While the Curlew Sands kept their distance the Stints occasionally came really close, but being the size of a sparrow, they could have come a lot closer to make photography easier. Some of the images that have been on the internet have been stunning, the scope views were just draw dropping.