9th July

The non-event of early autumn passage continued apace with a handful of departing Swifts and hirundines - namely, 12 Swifts, 21 Swallows and 2 Sand Martins - the only sign of movement today. Three Common Scoter and a Manx Shearwater passed by offshore and a Redshank was the only wader of note at Ferrybridge.

Today's Redshank at Ferrybridge was a nicely golden-spangled, fresh juvenile © Debby Saunders. This struck us as pretty early to be getting a youngster at a place where they don't breed - in our junior days Redshanks used to breed at Lodmoor and along the Fleet but we aren't aware that they do so these days (...is that right?)...

...We'd like to think that we have a fair understanding of passerine plumages and moults - mostly through getting to handle so many of them - but our knowledge of many waders is sketchy at best; in particular, this year, we've been trying to get our head around the sometimes weird appearance of many adult and first-summer plumaged birds. We photographed this adult Redshank - notice how radically different it looks to the juvenile above - at Ferrybridge back in mid-June and, because of the mixture of barred and plain feathers on its upperparts, took it to perhaps be in first-summer plumage; however, we've subsequently learnt that in fact breeding adults only acquire a few dark, barred feathers on the upperparts, with the remainder of the feathers there being either retained non-breeding plumage or newly-grown feathers that look like non-breeding ones. If you happen to sit all day in a hide overlooking mudflats then this sort of stuff is no doubt old hat but it had been rather lost on us when we're more used to long range views on the Ferrybridge sandflats where the hapless birds usually have togger's lenses stuck up their arses or are being chased about by Blue Rinses and their out of control dogs © Martin Cade: