Collared Pratincole at Wheldrake Ings

Andy Lakin, a visiting birder from South Yorkshire, found another star bird for the recording area on Sunday 13th June. A good number of local birders and many from further afield were able to connect with it during the day and early the next morning before it disappeared. Many thanks to Andy for putting the news out so quickly and for the following account:

“On 13th June 2021 I had decided to try for Quail in the LDV. I headed down to Tower Hide and decided to listen from outside. Just then a large group of mainly Lapwings got up fairly distantly straight out from the Hide. With the naked eye I could  just see what was causing the commotion but no detail. Once I got onto it with my bins I could see it had long pointed pale brown wings with contrasting much darker flight feathers, a squarish white rump and a long deeply forked tail . It was obviously a Pratincole Sp but I knew I had to eliminate the much more unlikely Black Winged and Oriental Pratincoles. I didn’t get the underwing at this point but the long tail was a very good pointer towards it not being an Oriental.”

“I’m not on Twitter so put the news out via Rarebirdalert. As I was doing this the bird had disappeared, I thought it had gone towards Swantail Hide or gone straight through. On entering Swantail Hide I could now see the pool where the Lapwings had got up from. The viewing was very difficult due to the distance and the heathaze. I scanned the area but couldn’t see the Pratincole, but after 5 minutes the bird got up and flew around with a flight very similar to a Marsh Tern. The reddy brown underwing coverts were now obvious,  eliminating Black Winged Pratincole but I couldn’t see the white trailing edge to the wing due to distance. Soon afterwards some  local birders arrived ( Jono Leadley, Rob and Jane Chapman and Adam Firth) got onto the bird from the riverside path. Apparently the bird showed a little closer and they were able to pick out the I.d features including the white trailing edge to the wing to nail the bird. At the time I didn’t realise any birders had arrived, but I was very relieved when the message came on the pager that it had been confirmed as a Collared. I wasn’t aware that if accepted this would be a first for the York area assigned to species level with a previous claim accepted as Pratincole Sp.” 

“The Collared Pratincole continued to show on and off often on the deck obscured by vegetation but also flying around regularly for a few minutes at a time. Eventually it flew a little closer and combined with the heathaze subsiding a little  allowed me to pick out the white trailing edge to the wing! There was a very nervous moment when the bird flew off in  a Southerly direction before being lost to view very distantly. However it did return  later and was still present the next morning before flying off at c8.30.”