From August 26:
“The phone line reported a spotted crake at Titchfield Haven. It had done so for a while. Right, I thought, I’m in the area now, I’ll go for this.
“As I opened the car door on arriving at Titchfield, a very stiff breeze greeted me and slammed the door against the sea wall. Not much chance of passerines today, I thought. The lady at reception did not know where the crake was but the phone had said the Meon Shore Hide. That is where pretty much everything is anyway, so off I strolled.
“As I settled into position I noticed a group of half a dozen waders in front of me, so I focussed on them first.
“Hmm, a curlew sandpiper. Another curlew sandpiper. And another. They’re all curlew sandpipers! Wait a minute. Where are my dunlin for reference? They must all be dunlin. I’m wrong. But no. There’s that peachy wash, the clean underparts and the more elegant, attenuated look. They really are all curlew sandpipers.
“Such was my train of thought. I only see curlew sandpipers once a year, so I am bound to be suspicious. However, there were plenty of dunlin elsewhere on the scrape for comparison — even a couple still in breeding plumage. And what was in front of me were several curlew sandpipers — quite unexpected.
“What of the crake? I asked the others in the hide. It had shown quarter of an hour earlier, right at the back of the scrape, of course. It was bound to show again soon. Meanwhile there was a little stint to search for — easily found by checking out the smallest bird, excepting the wagtails.
“It’s funny. A pair of avocets seemed almost incidental to all this — probably because they are so easy to see and identify. But they were a first at Titchfield for me and they are very striking.
“Still no crake though. A false alarm proved to be a snipe. A snipe! I had not seen one of them for a few months. I never seen them in the summer. The afternoon yielded three of them finally, so they were back as a common bird until next spring.
“In just over an hour the crake did not appear. I cannot complain. It was my first attempt at it and I had been more than lucky in the past with first attempts. The red-breasted starling at Andover and common crane in Worcestershire sprang to mind. I would be back in the area soon, so there would be more chances. Still, it would have been a smart little bird.”