Monday, November 30, 2009

Not Terns again!

Down to Baiter to have another look at those Terns!
Another interesting bird has turned up. This is a bonefide adult bird still with its unmoulted summer primaries, interesting because it is the only one I have seen in this state of plumage out of 10 or so birds that have been around.

Interesing also because according to BWP the primary moult starts as early as mid July and should be completed from end of October to December.
This is where I mention acuflavida again! Apparently the American birds do moult much later.
Dutch birding also makes the comment that any bird seen with unmoulted primaries going into January should be given particular attention. Lets hope it stays around, keeps its primaries and goes a bit balder!
The first visible primaries on this bird could be new although they are markedly different in summer plumaged birds anyway as the outers are not moulted prior to breeding . This can be seen in the pic below of a sum plum bird on Brownsea.

Going back to the above bird, it does look like there is quite a gap from the tip of the last grey primary to the tip of the first dark one, also there are only 3 visible dark primaries. It does look as though this could be a dropped feather particularly if one looks at the sum plum bird below where the gaps are pretty equal and there are four visible dark primaries. Click on the images to enlarge.

It must also be said here that the head pattern does look quite interesting with quite a strong demarcation on the head, although there is flecking on the black area. This shot in flight though does give it that American bald headed look.

The last interesting thing about this bird is that it shows small dusky areas on both outer tail feathers, this can just be seen on the shot below. (click to enlarge). As mentioned earlier this is another feature of adult acuflavida.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More wind but this time some birds

Managed to get in on the Leach's action today.
These shots are of a bird seen from the shelter of the Brownsea Ferry Hut at Sandbanks, looking south. After initially being quite active this bird gradually spent longer and longer periods just sat on the water.

A second bird that was some way further into the harbour. You can just about see the pale covert band

Had a look in at Poole Park for more wafes and strays. However only a few locals around.

Back to Sandbanks for another look, no sign of any more Leaches.
Purps as tame as ever but light failing now

Friday, November 27, 2009

Redwing surprise

Started in pre-dawn darkness at Upton Heath to count the Carrion Crows coming out of the roost at the southern end of the Heath.
What was soon apparent was the regular calling of Redwing. As dawn broke flocks of 5-10 birds were moving, going west into the brisk west wind. By 07.30 the flocks were now 30 and 40 birds.
In total 1674 birds moved west till 08.45 with the largest flock over 90 birds. By now the sun was out and the below shot is a part of that 90 strong flock (click to enlarge)

The Carrion Crow count came to 278 birds. Later in the year these birds will be joined by Jackdaws and Rooks who are currently roosting at Stony Down plantation

With Spot Sands in Devon and Pants shire thought had better check the birds at Holes Bay.
First bird a standard 1st year bird with well marked tertials

The second bird was also a similarly marked 1st year bird.
The third bird however did provide a bit more interest as the tertials looked pretty plain.
Also is that a short tail? and the legs do look quite yellowy!

This second shot however reveals the tail to be pretty long. It also shows the tertials with thin lines of markings along the edges. It also has white tips to the coverts instead of the buff tips of the young birds and an overall less patterny appearance. All consistent with an adult Common Sand.

Just incase there are still any nagging doubts this flight shot sorts that out. The white wing bar carries almost to the body. On a Spot Sand it should bearly reach the secondaries

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

South Haven

South Haven at first light to see what birds coming in and out of harbour. 6 Divers went into harbour including a Black-throated and a Red-throated. 78 Shag also in. 3 Sandwich Tern out.
Also some vis mig occuring with 282 Goldfinch moving into the brisk southerly wind between 07.15 and 08.45.
Didnt have time for photos unless it was particularly slow moving

All a bit boring really

This was just before I got pelted with halestones

Whats this on the beach!

A Carrion Crow choughed with his find

This Crow carried these what look like some sort of fruit around for quite some time, not really sure what to do with them

This is what happens when you try and count Rooks

Monday, November 23, 2009

Baiter Terns re-visited

Windy conditions again meant that the Sandwich Terns were back on the grass.

First year bird with dark primaries and dark centres to tertials.

This bird was begging to the bird on the right for quite some time.

One would assume it was one of its parents but the shot below shows the bird to have dark in the tail.

I was lead to believe that adult birds have white tails. Is this really another 1st year bird born in the same summer, what about a second year?? Or is it an adult that has developed dark in the tail as part of its winter plumage like American Sandwich Tern.
The question I suppose is would a young bird single out an unrelated bird to beg to that isnt its parent? If they dont then this would make it an adult bird with dark in the tail which is interesting.
It would be interesting to know if adult sandvicensis can develop dusky areas in the tail in winter as there have been quite a few birds at Baiter that would easily pass as adult winters however checking back through all the photos nearly all have shown some sort of dark markings in the tail.

Below is a bird with one completely white outer tail feather and one with a dark mark.

Confiding Brent feeding on its own near the beach

On the beach

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Dunlins roosting on one of the groynes

Bit choppy out there

There were at least 7 Purple Sands mostly just keeping out of the wind. One or two did pop their heads up briefly

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Baiter Terns

Baiter certainly seems to attract its fair share of birds in inclement weather. Today the loafing Gulls were joined by five Sandwich Terns sitting out the very strong winds although for a change it was sunny.

Three of the five Terns

The bird below shows more extensive yellow in the bill including along the cutting edges. It also had bright yellow primary shafts.
This bird is just completing its primary moult with both P10s only half grown. You can also make out dark on the outer tail.

Close up of bill and wings. P9 has a particularly striking yellow primary shaft

A different bird here. With the white tail presumably an adult

Below is the same bird with what appears to be thin white edgings on the inner webs, apparently a diagnostic feature of acuflavida American Sandwich Tern!

This shows the pattern a bit better. Here the white edgings on the inner webs of the outer most four primaries stop before they get to the outer web, rendering half of the wing tip grey. On sandvicensis (next pic) the white should continue to the outer web to form a white 'hook' rendering the wing tip white.

The white edgings are clearly broader on this sandvicensis and hook over the outer web

The problem is that the bill and head pattern is completetly wrong for acuflavida which show a much broader based dagger bill and strong contrast between an almost pure white forehead and unflecked black area.
So it isnt an acuflavida. The only thing I can think of is that it could actually be an immature bird which do show thinner edges to the primaries, although the all white tail doesnt fit. On the shot below one can see dark centres to the secondaries which is a feature of younger birds. (But also a feature of adult acuflavida)

This one is definitely a first winter!

Couple of Brents coming in to land

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Old Harry

On Corvid duty this morning. Out to Old Harry to see if anything was moving. Arrived at around 08.30 and was greeted by 4 Redpoll moving west.
Quite early on a Peregrine flypast. Click on pic to see more than one generation of coverts

This was followed later by a Juv. Similar markings but everything in brown.

Nearly everything was moving west in off the sea into the brisk westerly wind.
When making landfall many birds pitched up for a while including a pair of Brambling and a Reed Bunt which came in together

Another brief visitor was a Black Redstart which quickly made its way west. A Great Spotted Woodpecker also came down. I wasnt looking at the time but when looked up it appeared to be taking off from the cliff edge before moving west.

Fishing Shags

Vociferous Geeb

This Rock Pipit wasnt bothered by my presence. At one point coming too close to be photographed

Carrion Crow