Sunday, 23 February 2014

23rd February 2014 Birling Gap SSW6 7.30-10.30am & Cuckmere

Red-throated Diver 5E
Great Crested Grebe 2E
Gannet 25E, 82W
Cormorant 5E
Little Egret 1E along beach
Brent Geese 59E
Scaup 5E (2 drakes)
Eider 4E (2 drakes)
Scoter 13E
Curlew 2E
Oystercatcher 15E
Black-headed Gull 23E
Common Gull 30E
Mediterranean Gull 8E (7 adults 1 second-winter)
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1 on beach
Kittiwake 32E, 2W (only a single first-winter seen)
Guillemot 3E
Auk sp. 6E

Spoonbill 1 first-winter
White-fronted Goose 3
Scandinavian Rock Pipit 3

First-winter Spoonbill in the Cuckmere
Eurasian White-fronted Geese in the Cuckmere
presumably a pair accompanied by last years offspring (right)
First individual
Second individual

Third individual
The obvious moult limit in its median coverts and narrower pale tips to its greater coverts render this a first-winter individual in contrast to the two adults above
Scandinavian Rock Pipit in the Cuckmere
The pockets of saltmarsh alongside the River Cuckmere are reliable locations for this form and these three were located feeding together over a mile and a half from the coast. We considered all three had commenced their pre-breeding moult into summer plumage to varying degrees whereas A.p. petrosus hardly undergoes any spring moult (Vans Duivendijk 2010). All three were attaining a grey cast to their crown, nape and scapulars. Their supercilia appeared both pale and strong especially when viewed head-on (being most apparent on the first adult to least apparent on the first-winter individual) and flared behind the eye on the two adults. Their underparts are taking on a spotted appearance against a whitish ground colour and the first individual was developing a pinkish suffusion across its breast being most apparent when viewed head-on. All three were losing their malar stripes. The fresh set of tertials visible on the second adult individual are a further clue to its form as littoralis frequently renew them as part of their pre-breeding moult whereas petrosus typically don't moult any wing feathers - Alstrom & Mild (2003) only saw a single specimen of petrosus that had renewed just its central pair of tertials. Additional support for their identification as littoralis is provided by the extensive yellow bases to their lower mandible, broad white tips to their median and greater coverts and their white outer tail feathers. Whilst the first individual bears a superficial resemblance to a Water Pipit it shows a dull brownish-grey rump and retains the diffuse, blurred, broad streaking to its sullied flanks and underparts.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

22nd February 2014 Birling, Princes Park & Rodmell

Mediterranean Gull 1W adult summer
Razorbill 1 on sea
Auk sp. 3E
Stonechat 1 male

Razorbill off Birling
unfortunately attracting the attention of a first-winter Great Black-backed Gull every time it surfaced

Princes Park
Black-headed Gull 1 HYT Danish-ringed
Herring Gull 1 A7FM was present on 16th February 2014
Both back at Princes Park for another winter having seen both previously here

Little Gull 2 - 3 adult winters
Chiffchaff 1 singing



Adult winter Little Gulls at Rodmell
Despite being an adult, as JFC pointed out, this individual was showing paler underwing-coverts than the accompanying adult. Olsen notes that some adults do show as pale underwing-coverts as second-summer birds.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

16th February 2014 Birling, West Rise & Newhaven

Canada Goose 1 on beach at foot of cliff!

West Rise Marsh
Smew 1 drake

Purple Sandpiper c.12

 Purple Sandpipers at Newhaven East Pier

Adult winter Razorbill on Newhaven West Beach

Friday, 14 February 2014

14th February 2014 Hythe, Kent

Chinese Pond Heron 1

Chinese Pond Heron at Hythe
Chinese Pond Heron at Hythe (Lee Gregory)
We enjoyed some time seawatching together with Lee at the Bridges of Ross last year and it was last night on seeing his superb images above revealing its chestnut streak extending above and behind its eye, the extensive rufescent breast-side streaking and its bill pattern and comparing them with Dave Gandy's images from Thailand at that prompted us into paying a visit this morning.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

9th February 2014 Littlehampton

Glaucous Gull 1 adult summer
Kumlien's Gull 1 juvenile/first-winter

Juvenile/First-winter Kumlien's Gull at Littlehampton

Juvenile/First-winter Kumlien's Gull at Littlehampton (Paul Snellgrove)
Paul very kindly forwarded a couple of his flight shots to add to the blog that reveal great feather detail. for more of Paul's images please see
Juvenile/First-winter Kumlien's Gull at Littlehampton

Adult summer Glaucous Gull at Littlehampton
Adult summer Glaucous Gull at Littlehampton

Saturday, 8 February 2014

8th February 2014 Littlehampton

Mediterranean Gull 1 adult winter
Little Gull 2 (1 first-winter)
Glaucous Gull 1 adult
Kumlien's Gull 1 juvenile/first-winter dark individual

Adult Glaucous Gull at Littlehampton

First-winter Little Gull at Littlehampton

First-winter Black-headed & Little Gull at Littlehampton

Adult winter Mediterranean Gull at Littlehampton

Juvenile/First-winter Kumlien's Gull at Littlehampton
When seen at distance and in strong sunlight as it fed amongst a flock of Black-headed Gulls its overall colouration was very creamy so reminiscent of a juvenile glaucoides

It often foot-paddled dropping its pink legs
It appeared of quite delicate proportions whilst flying amongst the Black-headed Gulls again reminiscent of glaucoides
Its darker outer webs to the upper sides of its outer five primaries were readily apparent as the bird approached us

Its head, neck, beast and belly appeared considerably coarser marked darker greyish than we associate with glaucoides 

Appearing full-bodied and not so sleek as glaucoides

Bill appearing black and slender nicely set-off by its narrow white nose-band

On the water it showed superb complete dark grey-brown centres to its primaries with contrasting narrow pale fringes around the entire tips so a close match to the pattern described for a dark individual

In more overcast conditions it definitely took on an overall more colder brown-grey appearance than glaucoides as described by Van Duivendijk

As described in Van Duivendijk and Olsen its primary projection didn't strike us as long as in glaucoides.

Its tertials appeared grey-brown centred with some pale notching along their fringes with broad whitish tips. A near-identical tertial pattern is shared with an overall very similar dark individual photographed in Ireland here:

As described in Van Duivendijk its bill appeared slightly heavier than glaucoides. At ant range it appeared all dark but close views showed it mirroring glaucoides in having a very slightly paler grey basal two-thirds
In more deliberate flight it then appeared far more stout, hefty, powerful and broad-winged than our impressions of glaucoides. Whilst overall darker too it only shows the merest hint of a diffuse dark trailing edge to its outer primaries and therefore much weaker than that of a Thayer's Gull. Furthermore there is only a vague impression of a very slightly darker secondary bar.
Juvenile/First-winter Kumlien's Gull at Littlehampton
The pattern of its outer wing with its pale inner primaries and darker outer primaries are portrayed being the reverse of glaucoides. Also its dark primary coverts are shown to good effect. In many ways its 'least pleasing' attribute was its tail pattern. Whilst basally often appearing quite dark the broad pale tips to its tail feathers created a broad pale terminal band captured much better by JFC here:
Juvenile/First-winter Kumlien's Gull at Littlehampton (JFC)