Saturday, 27 February 2016

27th February, 2016 Beachy Head and Cuckmere Valley Overcast with sunny periods cold NE 4-5

A much colder morning than yesterday with a fresh NE wind. We sea-watched from 07.25-08.45 with just a small movement recorded with the highlight being 4 Pintail.

Red-throated Diver 12 (8 E and 4 W)
Great-crested Grebe 9 E and 4 on the sea
Gannet 20 (17 E including 2 very dark brown juvenile birds and 3 W)
Little Egret 1
Shelduck 1 E
Pintail 4 E
Common Scoter 6 E
Dunlin 2 E
Lesser Black-back Gull 2 ad graellsii on Birling beach (Probably yesterday birds)
Kittiwake 2 E
Auk Sp. 11 E

We then moved onto the Cuckmere valley and we walked the riverbank north of Charleston. Unfortunately no sign of the Water Pipit, although the wind made watching difficult, we did see 3 confiding Rock Pipits one of which showed very well which we considered to be of the Scandinavian race littoralis. It was 
in moult and I considered it had a different jizz to our Rock Pipit petrosus as it appeared a slimmer longer bird with very frequent tail dipping .
Scandinavian Rock Pipit is very difficult to identify from our Rock Pipit during the winter months but in Spring plumage they are more distinctive, and during the 1960's and 70's they were regularly seen on migration on Beachy Head although in recent years they have become very scarce at this location.
When it flew it made high pitch disyllable call several times similar to our own Rock Pipit


Scandinavian race Rock Pipit commencing its Spring moult

 Already a pink flush is showing on the underparts

Pale bill with black tip and moult on the belly

Pale greyish legs

Good eye-ring and at times appearing quite blotchy on the underparts.

Scandinavian Rock Pipit in the Cuckmere Valley

Two pairs of Egyptian Geese were also present