Friday, 30 January 2004

30th January Cockshut Road, Lewes 1.00pm – 2.30pm. Sunny and calm

Northern Long-tailed Tit 2 ex.

All birds appeared similar and although some differences were noted as they were constantly on the move it was difficult ascertain which individual was being watched at any one time. Size and structure very similar to British Long-tailed Tit though appeared noticeably longer-tailed. Eye very dark with a hint of a pinkish tinge. Bill and legs black. Overall far more contrastingly black-and-white in comparison to British Long-tailed Tit. Head, throat and upper breast white. One individual showed a small dark spot in the centre of the breast. Nape, mantle and rump black with the black of the nape extending to a point on the neck-sides. Scapulars pink.  Wing coverts and primaries black. Secondaries broadly edged white forming an obvious wing panel. Tertials often appeared wholly white though one bird at least, showed narrow dark shaft streaks.  Flanks,  belly and undertail-coverts a pale sugar-pink. Call very similar to British Long-tailed Tit.

Northern Long-tailed Tit

Northern Long-tailed Tit
Northern Long-tailed Tits at Lewes (Adrian Webb)

Sunday, 25 January 2004

25th January 2004 Newhaven Ouse Project 11.00am – 12.45pm. Calm, sunny and even slightly warm! Gills Lap, Ashdown 2.30pm – 3.30pm, Burgess Hill 4.00pm

Shelduck 2
Lapwing c.300 in nearby fields
Snipe 1 Ashdown
Black-headed Gull c.300
Common Gull c.250 mainly ad.w but a few 1st-w
Herring Gull c.25 mainly adults with most close to fully acquiring s/p
Scandinavian Herring Gull 1 adult winter 12.30pm – 12.45pm
Whilst scrutinizing the regular large flock of Gulls consisting of mainly Black-headed and Common Gulls but intermingled with lesser numbers of Herring, Lesser and Greater Black-backed Gulls we noticed a very large, dark-mantled Herring-type Gull with a strikingly pale iris. We immediately suspected it was an argentatus Scandinavian Herring Gull and set about comparing it with the other Herring Gulls alongside. It was considerably larger and bulkier than any of the argenteus Herring Gulls (appearing only slightly smaller than some of the Great Black-backed Gulls present) with its size, rendering it taller, making it easy to follow as it walked amongst the flock including behind argenteus Herring Gulls. It was clearly larger, heavier and longer-billed than the argenteus Herring Gulls, its bill being yellow with a dull red spot on the lower mandible at the gonys. Legs pink. Large-headed being heavily streaked brown being particularly dark around the (strikingly pale) eye. The brown streaking became heavy brown blotching on the lower nape and on the sides of the breast. The large dark-streaked head combined with a thickset neck gave a Glaucous Gull-like impression, but if anything, the contrast of the dark head with the very pale iris, gave it an even fiercer and more evil look! In contrast, the majority of the adult argenteus Herring Gulls present had already acquired their summer-plumaged white heads and although some retained some fine streaking. Overall, in comparison, the largely white-headed argenteus looked considerably rounder-headed and smaller-eyed giving a far cuter appearance. Upperparts including the mantle, scapulars and coverts were a uniform dark-grey with a deep bluish suffusion close to the colouration of the surrounding adult Common Gulls. The upperparts were therefore noticeably darker than the argenteus Herring Gulls having the typical pale-grey upperparts in comparison. The dark upperparts contrasted with a broad white tertial crescent. An obvious tertial step was prominent. Underparts and tail wholly white. Primaries extended beyond the tip of the tail with P10 appearing largely white and large white tips to other longest primaries. After c.15 minutes all the Gulls took flight, when at first we followed the bird through our telescopes as it flew towards us, but was then easy to locate in flight through binoculars appearing heavier than the accompanying argenteus Herring Gulls being noticeably barrel-chested and having a slightly stiffer-winged in flight, reminiscent of a Glaucous Gull. In flight we concentrated on the wing-tip pattern that revealed a reduced amount of black in comparison with the argenteus Herring Gulls. Whereas most of the Gulls circled and landed the argentatus flew-off strongly south until lost from view as it continued over the Tide Mills.   

Further research suggests that this bird is likely to originate from the northern limits of the range of argentatus as those represent the largest and darkest-mantled individuals of the clinal variation exhibited by this subspecies. Furthermore, due to its large size, we suspect it was a male.

Lesser Black-backed Gull c.5
Great Black-backed Gull c.15
Skylark c.6 roadside
Stonechat 2 Ashdown
Coal Tit 1 Burgess Hill

Saturday, 24 January 2004

24th January 2004 Icklesham 8.00am – 11.00am, Pett 11.30am – 1.30pm, Bedgebury 2.30pm – 4.00pm

Red-throated Diver c.30 on sea off Pett
Great Crested Grebe c.350 on sea off Pett
Bittern 1 in flight three times at Pett
Greylag Goose c.2 Pett
Brent Geese 3 Pett
Shoveler c.4 Icklesham
Wigeon c.150 Icklesham
Teal c.25
Tufted Duck 2 Icklesham
Scoter c.150 on sea off Pett
Velvet Scoter c.9 on sea off Pett
Hen Harrier 1 male Pett
Sparrowhawk 1
Water Rail h Icklesham
Golden Plover c.25
Lapwing c.500
Redshank c.8
Curlew c.40 Pett
Ruff 1 Pett
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1
Song Thrush 1
Mistle Thrush 1
Fieldfare c.10
Cetti’s Warbler 1 Icklesham - poor brief view in response to playback
Goldcrest 1
Bearded Tit h Icklesham
Nuthatch 1 Bedgebury
Brambling 3 Bedgebury
Siskin c.6 Bedgebury
Reed Bunting c.30 Icklesham
Hawfinch c.7 Bedgebury

Sunday, 18 January 2004

18th January 2004 Bulverhythe 8.00-8.30am, Pett 9.00-10.00am, Northpoint 10.30-11am, Jury’s Gap 11.15am, Scotney 11.30am – 2.00pm, ARC 2.15pm – 2.30pm, Lade GP 2.45pm – 3.15pm, Dungeness RSPB 3.30pm-4.00pm, Castle Water 4.20pm – 5.00pm

Red-throated Diver c.10W past Bulverhythe, c.4 on sea off Pett
Slavonian Grebe 1 w/p Northpoint
Black-necked Grebe 1 w/p Northpoint – a very dingy dark looking individual especially ear-coverts, neck and flanks
Little Grebe c.10
Great Crested Grebe c.10 on sea off Pett, 1 New Diggings
Cormorant c.25 including birds at the breeding colony at Castle Water
Bittern 3 perched views of all three on the edge of the Castle Water reedbeds
Little Egret c.10 Castle Water roost
Grey Heron c.2
Mute Swan c.100
Bewick’s Swan 2 Jury’s Gap
Whooper Swan c.9 including a white 1st-w indicating an Icelandic origin
Bean Goose 6 flew across Scotney arriving from the south (some Geese, probably these, were heard calling just prior to them being noticed) but they were dissuaded from landing in the fields immediately to the southwest by the presence of two fishermen, so despite circling twice, continued to the west where they appeared to be dropping into fields dropping out of view behind the farm at the southern end of the GP. As we were watching them through telescopes we could clearly see that one of the birds had a primarily dark bill with a restricted orange-pink band towards its tip and combined with all the birds sharing dark heads and lack of pale grey upperwings we tentatively identified them in flight as Tundra Bean Geese. However, on flying directly away from us, as they headed west, one individual looked clearly larger than the rest, so we were interested in obtaining further views in order to try to establish the species/subspecies that were involved. We decided to quickly walk to the far side of the farm buildings and relocated the group of Geese stood together in a distant field. By walking west along the road and then north on a public footpath we approached the birds to c.150m with the sun directly behind us. Whilst first walking towards the Geese, they appeared quite long-necked with almost with a Swan-like profile suggesting the possibility that Taiga Bean Geese were involved. All but one appeared to have bills marked quite extensively with pale orange, the other showing a more restricted area of pinkish-orange. All showed a white flank-line suggesting they were all adults and all shared bright orange legs and feet. However, at our closest, the birds were obviously concerned by our presence and crouched in the rough field for long periods, at times proving difficult to see. They then took on a short-necked appearance although their dark heads remained a rather triangular wedge-shape. Their necks and breast were contrastingly paler with the flanks noticeably barred darker. Their upperparts appeared dark with scaly whitish fringes to the coverts and tertials. Bill shapes varied amongst the flock with one appearing triangular, thick and deep-based, whereas others, especially when viewed ‘side-on’, appeared quite long and narrow. With no other Geese for comparison it was impossible to judge size and on the ground it was not apparent which was the bird that had appeared so considerably larger in flight.   
Greylag Goose c.200 Scotney
Canada Goose c.10 Pett
Brent Goose 1 in fields at Pett
Shelduck c.15 Scotney
Wigeon c.200
Gadwall c.4 Pett
Teal c.30
Mallard c.5 Pett
Pintail 2 Pett, 2 Scotney
Shoveler c.10 Scotney
Pochard c.100 Northpoint
Ring-necked Duck 1 1st-w female Lade GP
Tufted Duck c.25 Northpoint, c.15 Lade GP
Scaup c.10 Lade
Long-tailed Duck 2 Northpoint, 2 New Diggings, Dungeness
Scoter c.80 on sea off Pett
Goldeneye c.5
Smew 1 Pett, 1 Northpoint, 1 drake ARC, 6 Lade GP
Goosander 1 redhead
Ruddy Duck c.30
Hen Harrier 2 ringtails Scotney
Sparrowhawk 2
Kestrel 1
Pheasant 1 torquatus Dungeness RSPB
Moorhen c.5 Pett
Coot 100 Scotney
Oystercatcher 1 Blverhythe
Ringed Plover 2 in fields at Pett
Golden Plover c.200
Grey Plover c.3 Pett
Lapwing c.250 Northpoint
Sanderling c.150 Camber Sands
Purple Sandpiper 3 Bulverhythe
Dunlin c.6 Pett
Ruff c.4 Pett
Snipe 1 Pett
Curlew c.20 Pett
Spotted Redshank 1 w/p Northpoint
Redshank c.6 Pett, 1 Northpoint
Turnstone c.12 Bulverhythe
Lesser Black-backed Gull c.5 Dunngeness
Herring Gull c.200
Great Black-backed Gull c.30
Auk sp. C.3 east past Bulverhythe, c.6 east past Pett
Stock Dove c.50 Scotney
Kingfisher 1 Rye
Green Woodpecker 1 Lade GP
Skylark 1
Shore Lark 1 w/p Pett
Meadow Pipit c.2 Scotney
Pied Wagtail 1
Wren 1
Dunnock 1
Chaffinch c.5 Scotney
Snow Bunting 2 Pett
Corn Bunting 110

Saturday, 17 January 2004

17th January 2004 Burgess Hill

Wren 1
Robin 1
Blackbird 1
Great Tit 1

Friday, 9 January 2004

9th January 2004 Burgess Hill 8.00am. Overcast

Peregrine 1
Blue Tit c.5
Magpie 2
Jackdaw 10

Thursday, 1 January 2004

1st January 2004 Headington, Oxford 8.00am – 10.30am. Cloudy but dry

Goosander 2 pair flew over the housing estate!
Red Kite c.10 M40
Sparrowhawk 1 M40
Buzzard c.4 M40
Kestrel 2 M40
Black-headed Gull c.10
Common Gull c.2 M40
Great Black-backed Gull 2
Woodpigeon 10
Collared Dove 4
Fieldfare c.2
Redwing 1
Mistle Thrush 2
Blackcap c.5
Rook 5
Carrion Crow 10
Starling c.10
House Sparrow c.5
Greenfinch c.5
Goldfinch 2
BALTIMORE ORIOLE 1 1st-w male UK484

Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore Oriole at Headington (Mark Stirland)