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