Monday, 16 January 2017

10th, 13th & 18th January, 2017

10th January, 2017    Widewater

We visited Widewater but other than the usual waterfowl just a pair of Red-breasted Merganser. Little evidence of any movement out to sea.

Pair of Red-breasted Mergansers

Mute Swan

13th January, 2017       Beachy Head
A short sea-watch was a waste of time. Covered Birling lane and the Cornish Farm field. With the cold frosty morning and a small amount of overnight snow we were hoping for some hard weather movement but unfortunately no sign of this. The field was again productive with 200 Skylarks, 50+ Corn Buntings, 50 Goldfinches and 30 Linnets. It then started to rain so we called it a day.

16th January, 2017        Newhaven
With news that the male Serin had again been seen just south of the railway crossing and with the weather improving, we decided to visit this afternoon. It was showing on and off, and was often singing. Rather distant views at first from the footpath usually in one of the back bushes and often taking flight  circling right over our heads and making a double call-note. After an hour or so it landed on a near-by wall for around 5 minutes allowing better photographs.
We then visited the harbour car park but the tide was still well in although 2 Purple Sandpipers could be seen on the east pier with several Turnstones.



Male Serin at Newhaven.

Friday, 6 January 2017

6th January, 2017 Pett Level and Scotney Gravel Pits Dull overcast cold with periods of drizzle

We visited Pett Level early morning and met up with Roger and Bob who were already there, and we saw the following:

Barnacle Geese 6 came flying in from the north and landed at the back of the levels, perhaps new arrivals.
White-fronted Geese party of 11 including both adults and juveniles.
Taiga Bean Goose 5 partly hidden behind a bank.

I took the following pictures at a fair distance in grey early morning light of the Taiga Bean Geese.
Over the last 30 years or so I have seen a number of Bean Geese in Sussex, a number of which have been claimed as Taiga-fabilas although the majority if not all in my opinion were Tundra-rossicus which in my experience the bill colour can be very variable.

Showing the long orange bill. Tundra-the bill appears more stumpy
with a thicker lower mandible.

Long fine neck, Tundra has a shorter thicker neck

This individual shows virtually a complete orange bill and although
Tundra's bill can be very variable with the amount of orange
showing on the bill. I can never recall one showing a complete
orange bill.
The bird on the right shows the longer bill and a flatter forehead
typical of Taiga, it also shows a long rear-end,
and long wing tips. In Tundra they have shorter wings.  

At least 2 of the five were showing all orange bills. It has been
estimated that around 60% of Taiga's have complete orange bills.

Left-hand bird showing the broad flatter bill. 

We then moved onto Camber pits and located the fine Red-necked Grebe, and although at first showing at a distance, on our return visit it swam across to our side. I was delighted to see this, as it is the first I have seen in about 8 years and in recent years they have become a lot scarcer in Sussex, and are now treated as a full description specie by the S.O.S.


Winter plumage Red-necked Grebe at Camber

We then moved onto Scotney Gravel Pits and on one of the back pits a Black-necked Grebe was showing distantly and a flock of 35 Brent Geese flew over, as did a Marsh Harrier. The feral flock of about 100 Barnacles with the usual hybrids were also seen.  
We decided to leave Roger and Bob who were going on to visit Dungeness as I wanted to have further views of the Red-necked Grebe and the Taiga Bean Geese. As I arrived back at Pett Level the rain started and we soon located the Taiga Bean Geese but unfortunately they had joined up with the White-fronts and were now further away.

Flock of Brent's flying over Scotney

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

4th January, 2017 Old Lodge N.R. Ashdown Forest

We met up with Richard and visited the Old Lodge N.R. on a dull and dreary morning. We walked around the entire nature reserve, but very low numbers of birds seen which included Long-tailed tits, Great-spotted Woodpecker, but no Bramblings or Redpolls were seen but the highlight were 5 Crossbills including 2 males which showed well  along the top path for around 10 minutes.

Crossbills in the Old Lodge Nature Reserve.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

3rd January, 2017 Beachy Head and Tarring Neville Very sharp frost becoming sunny and mild W0-1

Arrived at 9.00 am and did a short sea-watch but other than 3 Scoter W, 1 Gannet, 2 Auks,  5 Fulmars, and 1 Little Egret little else seen. We then covered Birling lane, Birling to Belle Tout loop, Belle Tout wood and the large field near Cornish Farm. No sign of any Dartfords, although good numbers of birds in the field including 200 Skylarks, 40 Corn Buntings, 70 Goldfinches and 30 Linnets. 2 Stonechats nearby. We were hoping for some cold weather movements but just 2 Song Thrushes seen at Birling.

As we were leaving Newhaven on the A26 towards Southease we saw 2 Cattle Egrets feeding with cows at Tarring Neville on the left hand side of the road and they were still present when we left.

Two Cattle Egrets feeding with cattle along the A26 as we 
were driving past Tarring Neville. 

Saturday, 31 December 2016

31st December, 2016 Dungeness

We decided to visit Dungeness with David and Brenda in the hope of seeing the Stejneger's Stonechat as the DNA results have now confirmed the identification as a Stejneger's Stonechat.
We made our way to the area known as the Kerton Triangle and we joined a number of birders already watching the Stonechat.

It was extremely active and in association with a male Stonechat. It would often disappear for several minutes and appeared to be feeding quite a lot on the ground. It would fly considerable distances and although we obtained good telescope views it proved very difficult to photograph especially in the dull overcast conditions. My following pictures have all been very heavily cropped, and were taken on a high ISO.

Stejneger's Stonechat

In flight showing large pale rump

taken by Terry Laws on the 29th.

We then visited the Reserve where we had good views of the drake Ring-necked Duck, 2 Great-white Egrets, and the roosting Long-eared Owl. As we drove along the beach road a large flock of gulls produced a 1stW Caspian Gull and an adult Scandinavia Herring Gull.
We then moved onto Scotney where we met up with Matt and Paula where we had the usual flock of 70 Barnacles plus the usual hybrids and 2 Bewick Swans on the Sussex end which they both departed towards Dungeness. We stopped briefly at Pett Level where a Marsh Harrier drifted over..

Drake Ring-necked Duck

Long-eared Owl

Adult Scandinavia Herring Gull (argentatus)
larger size, heavier bill and darker mantle

1stW Caspian Gull

1stW Caspian Gull with Herring and G.B.B.Gull

Two Bewick Swans flying off Scotney.