Saturday, 31 October 2015

31st October 2015 Beachy SE1 hazy

Brent Goose 1 appearing to land in top fields
Sparrowhawk 2
Stock Dove 4E
Pied Wagtail 4
Skylark 8E
Redwing 6
Chiffchaff 2
Goldcrest 4
Long-tailed Tit 10
Chaffinch c.30
Goldfinch c.400E
Brambling h
Redpoll h
Siskin h

Long-tailed Tit at Belle Tout

Old Trapping Area, JFC & JWK

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

27th October 2015 Beachy SE1-2

Marsh Harrier 1 female-type
Pallas's Warbler 1
Short-toed Treecreeper 1
Long-tailed Tit 10

Short-toed Treecreeper in the Old Trapping Area (John Cooper)
One of JFC's superb images showing the long billed appearance, brown fore-supercilium, off-white rear supercilium, dark brown forecrown, rather plain mantle with patterning virtually restricted to pale shaft streaks, white throat contrasting with greyish-washed breast and brownish-suffused flanks and isolated white spots at the tips of the primaries. In an attempt to compare critical detail the wing has been photographed off the monitor and shown below:
Beachy (left), Short-toed Treecreeper (centre) and Common Treecreeper (right)
Colour-coded captions below from
(Italics comparing to JFC's image of the Beachy individual)

Pink: the pale pattern on the alula is usually more extensive on the outer web on Common than on Short-toed, but there is considerable overlap. On the birds above, it’s not really working.
(Complete narrow pale fringe to alula visible on JFC's image)

Blue: this is quite possibly the most important feature and the one most likely to be assessed without a photograph to analyze. The pale bars on primaries 6, 7, and 8 (counted from outside towards the center of the wing) overlap to almost equal extend in Common, forming a “stairway”. In Common, there is considerable overlap between primaries 7 and 8, but almost none between 6 and 7, forming a large right-angled blackish “corner” on the folded wing. Note also that the border of the pale bar towards the tip forms a more prominent saw pattern in Short-toed compared to Common.
('Stairway' a very close match lacking the right-angled blackish 'corner'. Perhaps just as important are the shape of the tips of the pale bars being particularly saw-toothed at the tips)

Red: A small pale spot is usually present on the fourth primary in Common, but often lacking in Short-toed.
(Position of outermost bar a neat fit with Short-toed Treecreeper)

Green: the dark wing bar below the pale wing bar on the secondaries is quite evenly broad in Short-toed, but less well-defined and narrowing towards the primaries in Common.
(Dark wingbar clearly consistently broad and not narrowing)

Yellow: the visible spacing of the primaries 6 to 8 is rather even in Short-toed, but more uneven in Common, with the tip of p7 being very close to p8, and a big step between p6 and p7. This is sadly not visible on the pictures above due to an unfavourable angle on both pictures.
(If anything, the pale tips to the primaries appear even more isolated than that of the Short-toed Treecreeper)
There are more features on the wings, e.g. regarding the exact shape of the pale primary tips and the contrasts between the outer & inner web and the tip of the largest tertial.
(Inner web of the largest tertial clearly dark and therefore hardly contrasting with the outer web)
Short-toed Treecreeper (left Liege, Belgium) (right Beachy) from: 
Being of the closest of the forms B.c. megarhyncha of Short-toed Treecreeper to the south coast of the UK it is reassuring the individual photographed at Liege, Belgium proves a very close match. It is interesting to compare the many striking similarities including most-importantly the long-billed appearance of both individuals, the narrowing tips to the pale bars being pointed (saw-toothed) at the tips (more rectangular on Common), the consistently broad dark wingbar, the dark inner web of the longest visible tertial and the isolated white tips to the primaries lacking white hook-backs. In addition, the contrastingly white throat is striking on both birds as are the similarities of the near-identical pattern, colouration of and streaking to the crown, the shape and colouration of the supercilium, strength and width of the eye-stripe, patterning to the ear-coverts, colouration of and patterning to the mantle, the shape of the pale tip to the alula and colouration and pattern of the tail with regard to both the darker shafts of the longest tail feathers and in darkening distally on both individual.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

25th October 2015 Beachy Calm & Clear

Little Egret 1
Lanner 1
Merlin 1
Short-eared Owl 1
Golden Plover 1
Stock Dove 28 W
Swallow 5
Pied Wagtail 10E
Skylark 45E
Fieldfare 1
Wheatear 1
Dartford Warbler 3
Chiffchaff 3
Goldcrest 3
Reed Bunting 3W
Brambling 4
Redpoll 31W
Siskin h

Little Egret at Birling (JFC)

Lanner at Birling (JFC)
Failing to see Bob Smith's superb Bluethroat this huge Falcon attempting to bring down an adult Herring Gull in front of us at Birling proved bird of the day!

Falconer at Birling (JFC)
Whatever it was that the falconer was trying to tempt the Falcon with was clearly proving far less appetising than the local Herring Gulls as the Falcon appeared to pay no attention as it sped off towards Cornish Farm hotly pursued by the falconer in his vehicle!

Golden Plover over Birling (JFC)

JFC and Short-eared Owl (upper JFC)
Common Buzzard at Birling (JFC)

Saturday, 24 October 2015

24th October 2015 Beachy SW3 Overcast

Kestrel 3
Merlin 1 female type
Short-eared Owl 2 high E
Swallow 7
Pied Wagtail 9 W
Wheatear 1
Goldcrest 10
Firecrest 1
Raven 1
Goldfinch 50

Great Grey Shrike 1
Chiffchaff 1

Sunday, 18 October 2015

18th October 2015 Beachy Calm & Overcast

Little Egret 3
Swallow c.50
House Martin c.500
Wheatear 1
Pied Wagtail 35E
Tree Pipit 1
Ring Ouzel 2
Song Thrush 2
Skylark c.25E, c.30 in field
Dartford Warbler 6+
Chiffchaff 12
Goldcrest 8
Goldfinch c.350 E
Siskin 10 + h
Redpoll 1 + h

Wheatear at Birling

Dartford Warblers at Beachy

Saturday, 17 October 2015

17th October 2015 Beachy NE3 Overcast

Common Buzzard 1
Kestrel 4
Peregrine 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Swallow 40
House Martin 100
Ring Ouzel 10
Fieldfare 10
Song Thrush 6
Dartford Warbler h
Blackcap 1
Chiffchaff 12
Goldcrest 3
Brambling 2h
Goldfinch 100
Redpoll 5h
Siskin 2 plus others heard
Reed Bunting

Jackdaw at Beachy

The narrow pale collar on its lower neck and its slightly paler grey mantle and underparts contrasting with its deep black crown, throat and wings are features associated with 'Nordic' Jackdaw C.m. monedula. However, for a discussion of  'Eastern' Jackdaws and the difficulties posed by the intergrade issue see:

Friday, 16 October 2015

10th October 2015 Skaw, Lamba Ness, Haroldswick & Cullivoe

Whooper Swan c.10
Pink-footed Goose 2
Wigeon 4
Tufted Duck 1
Kestrel 1
Golden Plover c.200
Willow Warbler 1
Blackcap c.10
Redwing c.40
Wheatear 2


9th October 2015 Baltasound & Norwick

Teal 4
Goldcrest 6
Swallow 1
Chiffchaff 2
Blackcap 6
Redwing c.30
Robin 1
Brambling 4
Twite c.10
Reed Bunting 1
Little Bunting 1

Brambling at Vaylie

8th October 2015 Cove

Sooty Shearwater 1
Pink-footed Goose c.400 S
Wigeon 1
Bonxie 1
Coal Tit 4
Goldcrest 10
Yellow-browed Warbler 1
Ring Ouzel 1 male
Brambling 1
Siskin h
Redpoll h

Coal Tit at Cove

Yellow-browed Warbler at Cove

Pinkfeet over Cove

Girdleness allotments

Evening aboard the ferry of dreams!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

4th October 2015 Beachy SE1 Clear

Golden Plover 1W
Swallow c.100
Sand Martin 1
Skylark 34W
Pied Wagtail 45E
Song Thrush 1
Blackcap 3
Chiffchaff 40
Goldcrest 20
Blue Tit c.40 with small parties moving off high inland
Continental Coal Tit 2
Siskin h


Continental Coal Tit at Birling
Whilst finding a Yellow-browed Warbler yesterday was nice, I was no less pleased that these Continental Coal Tits had remained in situ since my parents found them on Tuesday 29th September. Whilst that might reflect my own interest in scarce forms, it probably also reflects there having been three times the number of Yellow-browed Warblers than Continental Coal Tits seen at Beachy since 2000 and these being the first Continental Coal Tits I've seen since 2008 - there have only been two seen at Beachy in the intervening period. Whilst ageing and sexing in the field would appear  difficult, the pointed tail feathers just about visible above would indicate a first year and the glossy black cap, jet-black throat and broad white nape-patch are all consistent with it being a male.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

3rd October 2015 Beachy SE1 Hazy

Sparrowhawk 1
Peregrine 2
Golden Plover h
Swallow c.800
House Martin c.300
Pied Wagtail 12 E
Wren 8
Robin c.20
Black Redstart 1 
Wheatear 2
Common Whitethroat 3
Lesser Whitethroat 1
Blackcap 6
Yellow-browed Warbler 1 
Chiffchaff 30
Goldcrest 16
Firecrest 1
Continental Coal Tit 1 
Raven 2
Goldfinch 50

Clouded Yellow 1
Bottlenosed Dolphin party of 6-8 off Birling

Continental Coal Tit at Birling

Lesser Whitethroat at Beachy Head (JFC)
First seen by my parents yesterday it sports an obvious contrast between its white throat and buff-dusted sullied underparts, a brown-tinged crown, sandy upperparts and has only poorly contrasting ear-coverts so would seem likely a blythi. More on blythi here: