Friday, 24 February 2017

24th February, 2017 Beachy Head and Tidemills, Newhaven Sunny, clear and cool NW1-2

We sea-watched from 07.10-08.10 but with a NW wind our expectations were on the low side although 4 Eiders were somewhat of a surprise. We then walked the Birling to Belle Tout loop, Belle Tout wood and the Cornish Farm field.

Red-throated Diver 1 E
Great-crested Grebe 10 (7W and 3 on the sea)
Gannet 2 E
Eider 4 E @ 07.45(1 Sub ad drake and 3 females)
Common Scoter 39 E
Red-legged Partridge 1
Kittiwake 60 W
Auk Sp. 2
Skylark 70
Meadow Pipit 4
Rock Pipit 2 Birling
Goldcrest 1
Raven 1
Goldfinch 60 Cornish Farm field
Linnet 60 Cornish Farm field
Yellowhammer 1
Corn Bunting 9 Cornish Farm field

On our way home, we stopped off at the Tidemills and after 10 minutes the male Serin flew in and settled on top of one of the walls near the footpath. After a couple of minutes several walkers came along and flushed it. We waited another 20 minutes but no further sign.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

18th February, 2017 Beachy Head and Lower Cuckmere Misty out to sea otherwise sunny and mild S-SE 1

We sea-watched from 07.00-09.00 in misty conditions. RE joined us for some of the time and then he covered Birling lane, Birling to Belle Tout loop. Just small numbers of Red-throated Divers moving also Brent Geese.

Red-throated Diver 29 (22E and 7 on sea)
Great-crested Grebe 4 on the sea
Gannet 40 E
Brent Goose 240 E
Wigeon 7 E
Pintail 3 E
Common Scoter 6 E
Red-breasted Merganser 3 E
Curlew 4
Kittiwake 20 E
Auk Sp. 45E
Guillemot 41 E
Razorbill 5 E
Green Woodpecker 1
Rock Pipit 1
Stonechat 2
Song Thrush 2

More Brents on the move past Birling

On our way home, we walked half way down the Lower Cuckmere in the hope of photographing the White-fronted Geese. The sun had now come fully out and although the geese were still present we were having to look into the sun. We didn't attempt to look for the Twite.

Brent Goose 1
Cackling Goose 4
Barnacle Goose 9
Canada x Barnacle hybrid 5
Grey-lag 2
White-fronted Goose c30
Mediterranean Gull 1 adult


White-fronted Geese in the Lower Cuckmere

Thursday, 16 February 2017

16th February, 2017 Beachy Head Overcast mild. SW 0-1

On a calm mild morning, we sea-watched from 07.00-09.00. Yesterday's large passage of Auks, was not repeated today although still reasonable numbers of Red-throated Divers on the move.

Red-throated Diver 153 E
Great-crested Grebe 10 on the sea
Gannet 10 E
Brent Goose 20 E
Shelduck 1 E
Common Scoter 28 E
Mediterranean Gull 2 adults in s/p.E (my first for this year)
Auk Sp. 70 E (only Guillemots I/d)

Stonechat 1 male along the road

On our way home, we called into Newhaven Harbour. Reasonable numbers of Gulls present but no unusual gulls seen with 2 English L.B.B.Gulls present.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

15th February, 2017 Beachy Head Overcast with sunny periods mild SSE-S 3

Sea-watched from 07.30-10.00. Much activity with large numbers of Auks on the move, and Red-throated Divers and Brent Geese in fairly good numbers. Difficult to record an accurate number of Auks as at one time as they were virtually coming through non-stop, with the main passage during the first hour of light. I estimated 2,000 Auks although this was probably an under estimate and both Guillemots and Razorbills were involved. I tried hard to pick out a Puffin but with no joy. A single Velvet Scoter was my first for the year.
A visit to the Old Trapping Area produced just 1 migrant Song Thrush.

Red-throated Diver 130 (110E and 20 on the sea)
Great-crested Grebe 3 on the sea
Gannet 35E
Brent Goose 315E
Wigeon 8 E
Common Scoter 14E
Velvet Scoter 1 E
Curlew 1
Kittiwake 85 E
Auk Sp An estimate of 2,000 E with both Guillemots and Razorbills identified although with the large flocks involved it was extremely difficult to accurately estimate yet alone identify.

Brent Geese on the move.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

14th February, 2017 Beachy Head Overcast cool murky out to sea ESE3 to SE 4

We sea-watched from 07.15-09.15 with a large passage of Red-throated Divers which is our second largest day total since regular watching commenced in 1960. Also another close Black-throated Diver. We then walked the Birling loop and met up with Richard B. and back to Birling through the Cornish Farm field.

Red-throated Diver 403 E (On one scan through my scope from East to West I counted 100 moving past in 5 minutes).
Black-throated Diver 1 E @ 08.25 (close in with 6 Red-throated Divers)
Great-crested Grebe 32 (7 E and 25 on the sea including a party of 13)
Fulmar 15 E
Gannet 105 E
Curlew 1 E
Common Gull 26 adults in field at Birling
Auk Sp. 125 E
Guillemot 7 E
Razorbill 144 E
Green Woodpecker 1
Skylark 150
Meadow Pipit 4
Song Thrush 1
Goldfinch 80
Linnet 60
Yellowhammer 2
Corn Bunting just 3 in Cornish Farm field.

On our drive home near Southease we passed a dead Short-eared Owl by the side of the road, but we were unable to stop due to heavy traffic.

Monday, 13 February 2017

13th February, 2017 Beachy Head Sunny cold although murky out to sea E 4-5

We sea-watched from 07.30-09.00 just small numbers of Red-throated Divers moving and a few Auks.

Red-throated Diver 47 (42E, 3W 2 on sea)
(Possible Black-throated Diver) 1 E
Great-crested Grebe 5 on the sea
Gannet 25 E
Pintail 6 E (3 drakes)
Common Scoter 1 E
Razorbill 28 E
Auk Sp. 10 E
Stonechat 1 along the road

On our way home we briefly stopped off at Newhaven harbour with around 60 G.B.B.Gulls and 1 English L.B.B.Gull but no sign of any unusual gulls. 

Friday, 3 February 2017

3rd February, 2017 Beachy Head and the Lower Cuckmere Clear sunny and cool S-SE 5

We sea-watched from 07.15-08.45 with generally a light passage with the highlight being a close winter plumage Black-throated Diver with a Red-throated Diver for comparison.

Red-throated Diver 49 (44 E, 1 W and 4 on the sea)
Black-throated Diver 1 w/p E @ 07.30 with a Red-throated.
Gannet 76 E
Kittiwake 130 E
Auk Sp. 70 E
Razorbill 13 E

We then decided to visit the lower Cuckmere to see if Matt's Geese were still present, and I located them on the river. Luckily no one was walking along the river bank and I was able to approach them fairly close allowing for a series of photographs to be taken. They took flight once when all the gulls flew over and the geese landed on the river and swam past me.
Although all the geese were together, the 9 Barnacles kept in a fairly tight bunch and the 4 Cackling and 5 hybrids also kept mainly together. I concentrated the photographs mainly on the Cackling types.

Nine Barnacles at the back, with the hybrid CanadaX Barnacles

All 18 Geese with the Barnacles again at the back.

Three Cackling types front left (small size).

3 Cackling types (left) with 3 hybrids

Two Cackling types (small bills and short necks)



One Cackling-back bird

Two Cackling types with 3 hybrids and a Barnacle

One Cackling type (middle) with two hybrids

Cackling type right hand bird

Over the years we have been involved in the identification of several Canada Geese races. They tend to be very difficult and the following are pictures of these individuals.

Cackling taken in January, 2015 in the Cuckmere. This individual
spent several years in Sussex and was considered to be an escape.

Two parvipes (at the back) with a Greater Canada Goose taken
in the Cuckmere around 10 years ago.
(not certain what race the front left hand bird is).

Todd's Canada taken in May, 2015 on Unst.

Lesser Canada taken on Unst in May, 2015