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Tuesday 20 May 2014


Covenham Reservoir, Lincolnshire

I had planned to go to Fen Drayton Lakes RSPB this morning, but ended up dithering! I don't like going inland and out of Norfolk. There was no news on the Black-winged Stilts when the pager kicked in at 7.45am, but that doesn't mean they were not there – not everyone conveniently puts news out! I was still tired from the weekend, so found it hard to get going this morning. I set off, but only got as far as the QEH roundabout, when I received two texts. Stopped and read them, one was from M.A.G. about a Black Kite at Sheringham.... hmmmmm..... the other was from Eddie asking 'had I gone for the Terek in Lincs? Looks great and close, get you up there Gal....' – enclosed with Eddie's text was a stonking photo on the back of someone's camera off Twitter. That was a very good question.... why hadn't I gone to see the Terek's Sandpiper, especially as I had never seen one! Also I hadn't realised until I put Covenham Reservoir in the sat nav, just how close this bird was! A two hour journey and I would be there. Changed my plans and off I went to twitch the Terek Sandpiper!

It was a beautiful drive – I love my sat nav, it's just so simple and stress free! Arrived at Covenham Reservoir carpark at about 13.15pm – there was only a few spaces left. Some birders having lunch in the carpark informed me I would need my scope, as the bird was further away now, having been flushed by photographers – here we go again! Climbing up all those steps and two stiles on a hot day was not funny or am I just really unfit, ok yes. Walking along the top path I could see it was a long walk when I saw a small crowd, way off in the distance!

What a beautiful place – I can see why this turns up some birds. As I neared the crowd I spotted Dean Eades who attempted to greet me with a hug, but to his disappointment I responded with 'bird first'!!! There it was, my first TEREK SANDPIPER, Wow this bird was special – stood out from the crowd so to speak and jaw droppingly gorgeous! The bill on that bird! This was an exciting day and I wasn't missing anything in Norfolk, so far! Other birds seen here were: Common Sandpiper, Sanderling, Dunlins, Redshank, Mallards, Tufted Ducks, Great Crested Grebes, Black-headed Gulls and Common Gulls. Also an Osprey was watched distantly by us all at 4.40pm which was an added bonus!

It was a pleasant and sensible crowd when I arrived and no one moved any further forward, which allowed the bird to feed as it pleased and also resulted in the Terek Sandpiper running along the water's edge in front of us several times! Although this was not the case earlier on this morning apparently, with a couple of well known photographers mis-behaving – usual stuff, going way out in front of others to get their frame filling pictures, flushing the bird and bad fieldcraft etc!!! Later on this afternoon several people arriving decided they wanted to be at the front and beyond and then wondered why the bird did not come back in front of us anymore – well it did, once only. It stayed distantly in the far corner for most of the time after people got closer. I decided to leave, as there was no point in staying any longer. I had watched this bird for several hours and wasn't going to get any better pictures now! I do wish people would try and understand a little bit more about fieldcraft. With patience and time, you can get those cracking photographs aswell – everyone is always in a hurry, waving hands about, moving quickly, talking loudly and then looking disappointed when the bird flies!

The Fifty+ Crowd enjoying the Terek Sandpiper.
Me enjoying the Terek Sandpiper – photo by Dean Eades.

Dean Eades, who put the first news out this morning.

The green bodied spider is: 'Araniella cucurbitina'

Terek Sandpiper Twitch!
The bird was running along the water's edge in front of us!

My first view of the Terek Sandpiper.

Terek Sandpiper and Redshank.


What a fabulous bird this Terek Sandpiper was and it looked even more stunning when the sun came out. I found this bird very difficult to photograph as the light was poor for much of the time I was there, excuses, excuses! Fascinating watching it run round with the other waders. I also got a few flight shots too, which I was quite pleased with. Took a video of the crowd. Met some lovely people – don't know their names, both of them standing next to me, a young lad who was obviously very enthusiastic and a man who follows my blog. Dave Holman and wife were there and earlier I saw Steve and Sue G.

At 5.30pm I trudged back along the bank – there were millions upon trillions of midges all the way back to the carpark! Got the deckchair out and had a cup of tea and my very late lunch! Birders still turning up to see this bird as I sat there. Left at 6.30pm arriving in King's Lynn at 8.20pm. Stopped at supermarket for supplies and re-fuelled the car ready for the next twitch! Arrived home at 9.15pm.

Some fabulous, funky pictures on the following link and what happened after I left:


  1. Thanks Dean – nice to see you again, twice in a matter of days!!!

  2. According to my spider book, it looks like Araniella cucurbitina- not a 'rare' alas, but nice.
    Enjoy reading about your birding adventures Penny- and the excellent photos.

  3. Thank you very much Michael for taking the time to help me out, I found out that it was a type of crab spider, but wasn't 100% sure! Glad you enjoy my ramblings!
    Cheers Penny

  4. Stunning pictures as always Penny.

  5. My 'first' was way back in the '80's and a Norfolk tick! - Maybe you should have taken Eddie with you, he might have had a word with them? If these togs are well-known who were they?

    Maybe it's time to name names - do you have any photos of them to post?

    Nice shots btw, i particularly like the comparison one with the Redshank.....

    Laurie :-)

  6. Hi Laurie

    Dean Eades did equally as good as job as Eddie would have done, I can assure you! No, I didn't get any photos. Thanks re photos, I like the one with Redshank too, gives an idea of size comparison as you say.
    Best Wishes Penny

  7. Just checked some old notebooks - 19 May 1982, almost to the day of the Covenham bird! I was Summer warden on Blakeney Point at the time and my brother was working @ Holme at the time and i remember visiting him and seeing a young girl with binoculars.....Unless my memory is playing tricks :-)

  8. I was 17 then!!! What was your brother's name... working for NOA or NWT or (NNT as it was then)?

  9. Gavin - he was working for the NOA, i remember cycling from Cley (having taken the boat from the Point on my day off) to twitch a Marsh Sandpiper that had been found during his stay.

    Talking of cycling, tell ETM he is not the only Brompton birder - me too altho my patch is nowhere near as productive!

    Laurie -

  10. Sorry, I can't remember anyone called Gavin working for NOA. Will pass on message to Eddie.