First Black-winged Stilts since 1961 Grace the Harbour

On Saturday the 12th of April 2014 I was out for a leisurely walk around the Bestwall riverside walk near Wareham when I discovered something quite unexpected.  After spotting my first few Swallows of the summer, and the odd Sand Martin I suddenly noticed a couple of ‘white birds’ distantly on one of the flooded fields. Thinking they were probably just Black-headed Gulls I didn’t even lift my binoculars to look and was far more fixed on trying to a Garganey or Little Ringed Plover. It wasn’t until I started scanning the edge of the large pool in the hope of finding my target birds when all of a sudden a Black-winged Stilt suddenly appeared in my scope view, closely followed by another! My heart stopped for a few seconds with excitement knowing this species was long over due a re-appearance in the harbour with the last confirmed record being in 1961. The birds showed brilliantly that afternoon and all of the following day and were even seen mating on one occasion. Its also thought this pair were the same two birds that had been in Essex the day before their discovery and were back in Essex the day after they departed meaning they traveled from Essex to Dorset and back again in 3 days!

Paul Morton

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