2007 has been the Year of the Phalarope for me. I'd never seen any species of these dainty, quirky little waders before May, when a fantastic Wilson's Phalarope in full breeding plumage showed up on the Nene Washes just outside Peterborough. More details, including links to pics, are here and here.
On Saturday, I went to Blithfield Reservoir, near Abbots Bromley, Staffs, to see the first-winter Grey Phalarope that has been hanging around there. I know - that's the behaviour of a twitcher, but it's somewhere I go anyway now and then, and it was a lovely day and I fancied a long walk, so I thought why not? It was easy to find, bustling its way along the shoreline in the company of a juvenile Knot (much underrated birds, in my opinion) and incredibly confiding. I've not yet figured out my new camera sufficiently to be able to digiscope it, although you could get so close you could take record shots with just the camera zoom.
Sometimes it's a bit worrying when a bird lets you get that close, but this pair looked absolutely fighting fit, and their lack of fear is probably down to never having seen humans before up on their high Arctic breeding grounds.
I was able to watch them for about an hour, as they fed non-stop. The Phalarope occasionally popped into the water for a quick swim, and on one occasion had a bit of a go at the Knot, but otherwise it was all sweetness and light, both birds making the most of a fine-weather stopover on their long migration south.