Sunday 13 June 2021

Collared Pratincole at Wheldrake Ings - sublime scenes!

'Pratincole sp at Wheldrake Ings' was not the kind of message I was expecting to receive today and led to a rather anxious last few miles drive back to York from visiting friends darn sarf. I dropped off the family, grabbed my gear and shot straight to the ings. After a half run half walk down to Tower Hide, I got the news that the bird was still present but was out of sight in the grass on Swantail Ings. Together with Rob and Jane Chapman and Adam Firth, we walked down towards the old Riverside Hide to a spot where you were a little closer to the middle of the ings. As soon as I lifted my bins, the distinctive, elegant shape of the pratincole appeared, flying above the marsh. Fantastic! A pratincole, here at Wheldrake! Switching to my scope I quickly noted the rufous underwings, which excluded Black-winged Pratincole, followed by a glimpse of a white trailing edge to the wing, which excluded Oriental Pratincole and confirmed the bird as a Collared Pratincole! For the next 90 minutes, the bird showed well feeding actively over the ings,  in bouts of up to five minutes, spending the rest of the time sitting near a pool hidden in the grass. This was absolutely sublime and the first pratincole to be identified to species level in the York area, with another bird seen in late May 1980 being accepted by BBRC as 'pratincole sp'. Congrats to the original finder Andy Lakin. A pretty cracking end to a fantastic weekend. 

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