No sooner had I set up my scope than the pair flew together to a distant island and proceeded to go through the intimate behaviours of courtship and mating. I think my chin hit the floor at that moment! I hadn’t even had time to configure my camera properly but I was so pleased that I managed to capture something of the moment, slightly blurry and mildly out of focus but frozen for posterity nonetheless. I particularly loved how the male bird’s final gesture (accidental or otherwise) was his right wing placed around the female, as if offering a little post-coital reassurance.
|Context for the mating sequence, hastily digiscoped from approx 150+ metres away
I hear today that the birds have not been seen and have likely headed off. Perhaps they’ve realised they overshot their destination and are backtracking to mainland Europe. It’s a shame they’re oblivious to the immense joy they brought to many a birder on a chilly Sunday in April. Here’s hoping they fair well wherever they end up.
The all important Stilt stats
- The last Buckinghamshire sighting was in 1988 (1st summer pair @ Willen Lake, 7-18th June)
- The last Hertfordshire sighting was in 1998 (adult @ Park Street Gravel Pit, 27-28th May)
Where they should be...
|Distribution maps courtesy of HERE and Birdguides, HERE