Long-toed Stint (Photo by Mick Davis)
I'm pretty sure most of you will realise this is the rarest bird that Weir Wood has ever featured, but sadly not many connected due to a few human failings.
The Long-toed Stint was found by Peter Johson on 15th September 2011, at just after 5pm. Peter rang me, as he wasn't sure what this wader was. I had taken half days leave, predominantly to get the Sabines Gull at Brighton Marina but the lure of a long staying Long-tailed Skua at Dungeness become irresistible once I had my fill of this extremely rare Sussex tick.
Peter rang me just after 5pm whilst I was at Dungeness. We decided over the phone it was probably a Temmincks Stint and put the news out as a "Probable Temmincks Stint". I then phoned Nigel Drvier and Jake Everitt to see if they get down their to help nail the i.d. Jake went down, but Nigel couldn't make it on the first night.
I later got another phone call from Jake and he said the consensus of opinion is that its a Temmincks Stint. I needed Temmincks Stint for my Weir Wood list, so was praying it was going too stick the night.
Fortunately it did, Nigel saw it first thing and put the news out. I went to Weir Woood during my lunch break on Friday 16th. I saw the bird on arrival, it was the same distance as the Red-necked Little Stint I found earlier in the month. I was letting people look through my scope as they couldn't see it through their bins. I stayed at Weir Wood for half an hour and tweeted about the birds presence whilst I was there.
I saw no reason to doubt the identification. The bird was surrounded in heat haze, but I thought I could see some pro Temminck's Stint features.
The Bird was present for the next 3 days. During this time I was birding in Cornwall / Scillly. News was put out every day by someone. On Tuesday 20th September 2011, LGRE had just seen the Pallid Harrier at Burpham and rang me whilst I was at work to find out the exact location this Stint was at Weir Wood. I described I saw it between the two rafts and the next minute he connected. A few minutes later he rang again and told me to get down there as this bird was either a Least Sand or a Long-toed Stint.
I left work at 5pm and I was down there in 15 minutes. Also in attendance was Ian Barnard, Paul Marten, Jake Everett, Nigel Driver and a few others. LGRE concerns were quickly agreed by all in attendance. I didn't want to back down initially but LGRE made some good observations and it was clear that this was no Temminck's Stint.
Later on Tuesday evening, the news was put out as a possible Least Sandpiper. During Wednesday many Sussex listers made the effort to come down, plus some out of County birders. A grade 1 birder got better views in an out of bounds area, and he confirmed it as 100% certain as a Long-toed Stint. At 4:31pm this was mega'd by RBA. An estimate was made of 70 people connecting after this news was broadcast. I was contemplating going back down for another look, but I guessed there was going to be hassle as many would not be happy with the distant view from the viewing platform and some twitchers might also be tempted to trespass. So I decided to stay clear.
The next morning I popped into Weir Wood to get some crowd shots, 110 nationwide twitcher’s made the effort and it was really nice to see so many familiar faces at my local patch. I just wish the Stint behaved and stayed one more night. But sadly it didn't.
I hope an i.d. error is never again at Weir Wood....its embarrassing for everybody concerned.
If anyone is not sure about i.d., always use the words:- "Possible" or "Probably". No need to rush an i.d. If better views are needed, then don't be afraid to say "I'm sorry I'm not sure, I need better views to be sure".
Chris, Mya & Helena Craig
Neil Howes, Brett Richards & Tony Shepherd
My Scilly hero Dave Mac. He found the Northern Waterthrush at Lower Moors at 3:45pm. I saw the Northern Waterthrush perch on the same tree 45minutes later.