Gibraltar Point 26th August 2023
As Shorebird Warden for Gibraltar Point, my job involves monitoring and protecting the birds which breed in the Shorebird Sanctuary, an area off limits to the public during the breeding season. On the 26/08/23, I arrived in the sanctuary at 7am to look for the last 2 near-fledgling Ringed plover chicks before scanning the rest of the Wash and doing a full bird count. As the tide was out, it was quiet close in with only the 2 chicks, 2 juveniles and a handful of adult Ringed plovers feeding, when a small plover joined the chicks and started feeding with them. It loosely associated with the flock and was obvious it wasn’t quite right for a Ringed plover. I took several photos of it through my scope and sent them to the team for confirmation it was a Kentish Plover when someone came down to check, but the view was quite poor by the time they showed up. After a while it was confirmed that this bird was a juvenile Kentish Plover.
The Kentish plover fed close in (c.10m) for an hour and a half, frequently running around in between feeding in short bursts along the edge of the mudflats with the Ringed plover group, before retreating 100m west around 8:30am, slightly out of view. Once the team member arrived, it was relocated and we moved further round to get a better view. It then started to rest on one leg, trying sleep only 10m away from us again. It sat here for at least another 30 mins, but was soon joined by a juvenile Ringed plover and a Black-headed gull. As the gull approached the pair, it spooked the Ringed plover which flew 10m west, but the Kentish stood its ground, keeping an eye on the gull as it walked past. It then joined the Ringed plover, continuing feeding and running across the uneven mudflats, often out of view. The entire time I was watching the Kentish plover, it only stretched its legs/tail feathers out twice and spent only 2 seconds preening. By 10:30am, I retreated to the watchpoint to continue monitoring the young Ringed plovers but it never reappeared, with no further sign of it by noon. It had likely retreated further into the Wash, with no sign of it on the following days either.
Bethany McGuire (Shorebird Warden, Gibraltar Point)