Sunday, 29 March 2015

29th March 2015 Rodmell W7

Common Sandpiper 2 along river

Saturday, 28 March 2015

28th March 2015 Beachy & Crawley SW3 Fog

Redshank 1h
Stonechat 2
Chiffchaff 5
Firecrest 3
Yellowhammer 1
Corn Bunting 6

Manor Royal, Crawley
Alpine Swift 1

Alpine Swift at Crawley

Sunday, 22 March 2015

22nd March 2015 Beachy NE4 Cold and overcast

Sparrowhawk 1
Kestrel 1
Black Redstart 1 male
Stonechat 6
Song Thrush 3
Jackdaw 1 showing characters of 'Eastern' Jackdaw

'Eastern' Jackdaw in the Top Fields
Whilst in early Spring worn Jackdaws can show a narrow pale collar on its lower neck, the pale collar on the individual seen today appeared too prominent being both broad and whitish. Whilst the angle of the bird in the above image is unhelpful in showing the extent of its pale collar, in direct comparison with a Jackdaw, it does reveal the silvery rear-head and nape that are also features associated with 'Eastern' Jackdaw. For a discussion of  'Eastern' Jackdaws and the difficulties posed by the intergrade issue see:

Saturday, 21 March 2015

21st March 2015 Newhaven, Beachy, Cuckmere & Rodmell

Richard's Pipit 1 adult
Song Thrush c.20
Redwing 110
Fieldfare 1
Bearded Tit 3

Sparrowhawk 1
Common Buzzard 1
Kestrel 1
Curlew 2W
Stock Dove 2
Meadow Pipit c.100 in off and then N
alba Wagtail 2 in off
Black Redstart 2 males
Stonechat 5
Blackbird 6
Song Thrush 1
Chiffchaff 2
Raven 5+
Chaffinch 28E high

Male Black Redstart at Belle Tout

Egyptian Goose a pair and 5 goslings
Garganey 2 (a pair)

Golden Plover 11
Dunlin 3

Sunday, 15 March 2015

15th March 2015 Beachy, Cuckmere & Lewes Brooks NE4 Overcast

Red-throated Diver 1E
Great Crested Grebe 1 on sea
Sparrowhawk 1
Stonechat 8

Egyptian Goose 3
Chiffchaff 2
Reed Bunting 10

Lewes Brooks
White-fronted Goose 4
Chiffchaff 5

Swanborough SF
Grey Wagtail 2
Chiffchaff 5
Siberian Chiffchaff 1 in active moult

Saturday, 14 March 2015

14th March 2015 Beachy, Ouse Estuary Project & Rodmell NE3 Clear

Red-throated Diver 1E, 2W, 6 on sea
Grey Heron 1W
Buzzard 1
Sparrowhawk 1
Auk sp. 1W
Redwing 1
Stonechat 14
Black Redstart 1
Meadow Pipit 2N, 15
Chaffinch 14E
Yellowhammer 1
Reed Bunting 3

Ouse Estuary Project
Buzzard 1
Ruff 1
Water Rail h
Richard's Pipit 1 adult

Golden Plover 1
Chiffchaff 2

 Adult Richard's Pipit at the Ouse Estuary Project
Eventually a superb performer having been kindly called back by Ian Barnard having chosen the wrong time to wander off to look for Gulls at the harbour! Not hearing it call it was nice to see its long hind claws  whilst it was perched on the fence effectively eliminating any chance of it being a Blyth's Pipit! Its median coverts and tertials all looked the same generation to me with broad buffy edges so being an adult surely there's a good chance it's the same returning individual seen at the very same site in late March 2014.

Golden Plover at Rodmell

Thursday, 12 March 2015

12th March 2015 Birling Gap SE2 Clear 6am-7.30am

Red-throated Diver 8E
Gannet 12E,1W
Brent 150E
Canada Goose 2E then W
Greylag 1W
Scoter 6E
Gadwall 4E
Shoveler 8E
Curlew 5E
Common Gull c.400
Black-headed Gull c.200
Meadow Pipit 1N
alba Wagtail sp. 1N
Raven 1

Brent passing Birling Gap

Sunday, 8 March 2015

8th March 2015 Newhaven, Beachy & Cuckmere WSW3

Newhaven Harbour
Mediterranean Gull 2 ad s/p
Kingfisher 1 flew across the sandy beach
Cetti's Warbler 1 in song in the small McDonald's reedbed!

Red-throated Diver 1E
Great Crested Grebe 1 on sea
Buzzard 1 originally sat in Belle Tout wood
Red-legged Partridge 2
Mediterranean Gull 1E ad
Razorbill 1E
Auk sp. 1E
Stock Dove c.20
Woodpigeon c.250
Skylark c.50
Meadow Pipit c.20
alba sp. 2 in off
Stonechat 20 including 2 males seen to fly off high north from near the Old Belle Toute lighthouse
Firecrest 1
Raven 4+
Chaffinch c.10
Yellowhammer 2
Corn Bunting c.20

Firecrest at Birling
An early Spring migrant whose passage in the County peaks in March.

Female Stonechat in the Hotel Garden
Another early Spring migrant. There was a good arrival of this species today this being the 20th we saw between Birling Gap and the Beachy Head Hotel - exceeded in Spring only by 24 seen on the 4th March 2002. How many went unseen today in Whitbread Hollow and Cow Gap?

White-fronted Goose 1
Brent 2
Black-tailed Godwit 3 on floods, 28 flew over high heading north
Stonechat 3 females together

Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits in the Cuckmere
I always enjoy witnessing migration in action but as the Spring passage of this species is overland I've rarely seen anything of it apart from grounded birds such as three seen today whilst checking the Gull flock on the current floods in the Cuckmere. However, better was to follow, as whilst watching the three a tight flock of 28 were seen to fly strongly north up the valley until lost to view. Anticipating the three would choose to join them it was a surprise that they didn't. 

Eurasian White-fronted Goose in the Cuckmere
With a good few Greenland White-fronts scattered around the Country it's a pity one hasn't been unearthed in Sussex as a twitchable individual would be warmly welcomed and seems well overdue...

Saturday, 7 March 2015

7th March 2015 Birling 7am-8am SSW5-6 & Cuckmere

Red-throated Diver 9E, 2W
Gannet 3E, 1W
Brent 42E
Scoter 5E
Auk sp. 5E
Mediterranean Gull 2E ad s/p
Corn Bunting 15
Raven 5+
Mediterranean Gull 1 ad s/p
Caspian Gull 1 3s
Yellow-legged Gull 1 2w

Its structure immediately commands attention by virtue of its small pear-shaped head showing a long and low sloping forehead and never-ending lores that combined with its long bill gives the classic snouty expression. Its long thin neck shows the additional 'Adam's apple' bulge at the front. Its rather long and slightly decurved gape line is also visible.

Its long bill appears slim with a weak gonydeal angle and a gently curved tip to its upper mandible. The red spot on its bill is clearly restricted to its lower mandible. Caspian Gull is often described as a gentler looking, more elegant bird than Herring Gull neatly encapsulated by this image.

Males are longer-billed than females and it's hard to imagine they come much longer-billed than this individual! Slightly more side-on it appears flat-backed with only a slight tertial step and is clearly long-winged with only small white tips to its primaries.

Stood at this angle it takes on an ungainly appearance being curve-necked, deep-breasted and showing an obvious ventral bulge.

Whilst near-adult the subterminal dark bar on bill and dark marks on a few of its coverts, restricted dark centres to its tertials and dark marks on its tail age it as a third-year. The combination of its bright yellow bill with a red gonydeal spot and lack of hindneck streaking effectively age it as a third-summer rather than third-winter. Its mantle shade and colour closely resembled nearby argenteus.

Its long spindly legs of a pasty pink complexion give it the typically gangly impression.

On seeing these images a friend described its tiny dark eyes as clearly being pierced by small calibre fire! Traces of dark are just visible on its tail feathers.

 Third-summer Caspian Gull in the Cuckmere
A fortunate capture with its wings open reveal a small mirror only to p10 and extensive pale tongues on the inner webs of most of the outer primaries. The pale tongues are separated from the tiny white tips to its primaries by a very narrow band of black cutting across p6 to p8 - the oft-described black hooking-back from the outer two primaries as just a black trailing edge. It also nicely reveals its protruding chest, slim-bodied and long-winged appearance.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

5th March 2015 Southampton & Pagham

Ocean Dock, Gate 4, Southampton Docks
Glaucous Gull 1 first-winter at 2.30pm

Pagham Summer Lane

Barnacle Goose 1
Pale-bellied Brent 1
Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent hybrid 1
Dark-bellied Brent c.1,200
Based on just the above image this bird would appear to show the most obvious features of a Black Brant namely a large obvious white neck-collar and contrastingly white flanks...
...the above mentioned features are still holding good and easy to infer smoother darker upperparts too...

...the lower border to its white neck-collar appears broad and unbroken and possible to construe its upper border is virtually complete... or is it...
...on enlarging the same image the upper border suddenly appears absent altogether in the centre of its neck... undoubted obvious neck-collar but clearly an incomplete upper border. Its mantle is now appearing rather greyish and lacking any chocolate-brown hint and therefore near-identical to the accompanying Dark-bellied Brent and its flanks are appearing far less contrastingly whitish but taking on a greyish hue...

...same image enlarged showing neck-collar pattern... stronger light now appearing near-identical in overall colouration to the accompanying Dark-bellied Brent sharing their greyish upperarts and similar contrast between their black necks and underparts.

Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent hybrid at Pagham


Pale-bellied Brent at Pagham

Barnacle Goose at Pagham

Sunset at the North Wall

Sunday, 1 March 2015

1st March 2015 Lewes Brooks & Newhaven

White-fronted Goose 4
Wigeon c.350
Teal c.100
Shoveler c.20
Hen Harrier 1 ringtail
Black-headed Gull c.250
Mediterranean Gull 3 (2 ad, 1 2w)
Lapwing c.150
Fieldfare 5

Brent 15E
Sanderling 1

Displaying Continental Cormorants near Lewes Brooks
Continental Cormorants P.c. sinensis colonised the UK in the early 1980's nesting in trees and bushes on inland waterbodies. The colony at Lewes Brooks was established in 2002.
Continental Cormorant P.c. sinensis near Lewes Brooks
Apparently pure carbo must have a gular pouch angle of less than 65 degrees and pure sinensis an angle greater than 76 degrees. Reassuringly the above individual's gular pouch angle looks closer to 85-90 degrees. Anything between 65 degrees and 76 degrees is considered not safely identifiable and is thought to include some hybrids. Here's an illustration of the all important gular pouch angle included from Newson et al. "Subspecific differentiation and distribution of Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo in Europe". Ardea 92(1): 3-10:

Eurasian White-fronted Goose at Lewes Brooks