The AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER stayed around for another day, which at least was more than the previous one in 2008 did - that one lingered only a couple of hours. However it was by no means an easy bird to connect with. The birders who arrived at first light found that the golden plover flock flew around almost constantly for over two hours without settling and quite a number of people had to leave to go to work without having seen it. However mid morning the bird was re-found by the handful of die-hard birders who'd refused to give up and it stayed around for long enough for those who were able to return to the Meadow to get back and see it. To add confusion to the situation the grey-toned golden plover from a couple of weeks ago returned as well and indeed at one stage it was reported on RBA that there were two American Golden Plover though eventually this was sorted out. Nevertheless, apparently some people left happily having ticked the wrong bird. The AGP was last seen at around 2pm and unfortunately for the people who arrived after that hoping to see it, there was no further sign by dusk. Some plover were still coming into roost as the light was fading so it's entirely possible that it is somewhere in the vicinity and it may well be seen again tomorrow. I'm not sure what tactics to recommend as I don't normally bird the Meadow first thing in the morning so I'm not sure how common it is for the flock to be flying around for such a long time to start with. I would guess that the thing to do it go early and be prepared to stay around for a while.
Trying to pick out the AGP as the light starts to fade
In terms of distinguishing it from the grey-toned golden plover this is not easy at a distance as the imposter bird has the same grey colouring (with no gold) as the real deal. You really need to look for the following features to be certain that you've got the correct bird:
- A strong supercilium
- A really long primary projection - the primaries are so long that they often cross over at the tail in the way that they would on a Baird's Sandpiper for example
- A dark cap and dark mantle - this is quite distinctive
- Proportionately long legs - the AGP is a "leggy" bird
- If you get to see the underwing colour then it will be grey rather than the usual white
- Structurally it's smaller than the normal golden plover
Apart from our star bird there wasn't a great deal to report: the 6 DUNLIN were still around and there are good numbers of SNIPE about still. The gull roost was a rather disappointing affair with little of note apart from a couple of COMMON GULLS. According to Lee Evans the plover flock was 699 birds this morning so a bit less than my estimate of 1000 birds that I've lazily been using for a while.
The American Golden Plover - note the long primary projection (c) Jason Coppock
Here's a nice photo showing the structural differences between a standard
goldie and the AGP (c) Jason Coppock
...And here's the Imposter bird, structurally the same as the standard ones though
almost identical in colour to the AGP (c) Jason Coppock