Saturday 30 June 2012

Southwick and Shoreham and another CR Lesser Black-back (25-30 June 2012)

Monday 25 June.  No sign in the evening of the ringed Lesser Black-back 9P7 on the Adur but 2 Common Sandpipers at dusk.  The low tides have now slipped to after dark.   Three Peregrines on Southwick Power Station Chimney and 3 adult Ringed Plover.

Tuesday 26 June.  Black Redstart singing from the top of a sand pile by the Hanson/Tarmac building and even better 3 adult Ringed Plover and two still fairly small chicks (being brooded).  A Gannet and 9 Sandwich Terns offshore, 1 Peregrine on the chimney.

Wednesday 27-Friday 29 June.  Up to 4 adult Ringed Plover but the chicks hopefully keeping well hidden.  Up to 20 swifts over our road.  1 Peregrine on the chimney on 27th. Puncture on the way home on Friday.

Nothing from Estonia where 9P7 might have been ringed.  Both David Cooper and Alan Kitson thought it more like graellsii than intermedius.  I'm not too good on my grey scales. Is it Kodak 9-12 or 11-14 (GBbG is 13.5-15.5)?

Saturday 30 June.  7 Little Egrets on Widewater and the family of Mute Swans still have 5 large cygnets otherwise very quiet.  An afternoon  visit to the Adur at low tide added a further twist to the possible Estonian gull saga with another colour-ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull there with a similar code, this time 9H3.  What odds seeing two birds ringed in Estonia?  Much more likely that there is a UK scheme using similar codes that isn't included on the cr-birding website.  I'll investigate further next week [Tuesday 3rd July update: 9H3 and 9P7 are from Guernsey, unfortunately not as exciting as an Estonian control would have been. Monday 9th July update: 9H3 ringed as 4+ year old female at Chouet Landfill, Guernsey 18/05/11, seen Burhou, Alderney 15/07/11; 9P7 ringed as 3+year old male Chouet Landfill, Guernsey 19/05/11, seen Torreira beach, Aviero, Portugal 22/08/11, Figueira da Foz, Coimbra, Portugal 08-14/11/11].  This one looks more like a graellsii to me too so the other probably was as well?  Also on the Adur a juvenile Mediterranean Gull and another North Thames Herring Gull.

Lesser Black-backed Gull 9H3 on the Adur
looking a shade or two darker than in the previous image
showing its ring clearly
Gulls on the Adur at low tide.  The extreme left hand bird is colour-ringed ...
TM7T from North Thames
juvenile Mediterranean Gull on the Adur

bill appearing not to be fully grown
very delicately plumaged
a noisy reminder that the Adur isn't just gulls

Tuesday 26 June 2012

not an Estonian CR Gull

An unfamiliarly colour-ringed gull (white 9P7 on black) was digiscoped on the River Adur opposite Shoreham Airport at low tide on Sunday morning (09.30ish).  I identified it as an intermedius Lesser Black -backed Gull given its dark but not jet black mantle and bright yellow legs.  Nothing that follows has really changed my mind although the potential of it having been ringed in Estonia is intriguing.

A check on the web-site only lists similarly coloured/coded rings as being used for large gulls by a Lithuanian Ringing Scheme although these listings are not always exhaustive.  I emailed the Head of the Lithuanian Bird Ringing Centre yesterday, was told it was ringed in Estonia and given contact details.  I'm waiting to hear back from Estonia. [Monday 2 July update: it isn't from Estonia, not a great surprise given the similarly coded bird seen on 30th.  Enquiries are continuing ...

Tuesday 3 July update: it is from Guernsey]

If the bird was ringed in Estonia, and it may not be from an Estonia scheme, it would be in the range of fuscus (Baltic Gull, no accepted Sussex records) rather than intermedius although its mantle appears too pale for that taxon.  Heuglin's Gull (no accepted British records) might come into the equation although this bird's mantle appears a shade or two too dark (but see which doesn't look that different to the penultimate photo below)?  Even with a more comprehensive set of images the best identification feature is clearly the ring.  No wonder the first thing I look at on larger gulls are their legs!

The bird was looked for again without success last evening although it might still be around as low tide was at 10pm and with the first sandbar only starting to be exposed after 9pm there were not that many gulls in the pre-roost gathering .  Late morning would now be a good time to look.

A full set of all seven digiscoped images I took follow, not all are sharp unfortunately.  Images 2, 3 and 7 are probably the least true to the bird as they were probably auto-tone corrected to try and make the ring code more visible, the overall effect being to lighten them slightly. 

9P7 on the River Adur, opposite Shoreham Airport at about 09:30am on Sunday 24 June.  Images heavily cropped and some auto-tone adjusted

Sunday 24 June 2012

Shoreham & unfamiliar CR gull (24 June 2012)

Started at Widewater where an hours seawatch produced 29 Gannets, 4 Fulmars and 8 Sandwich Terns.  Also 4 Little Egrets and the pair of Mute Swans with 5 cygnets.  Two Turnstone at Shoreham Fort with 200+ gulls but no colour-rings in evidence.  Better luck on the Adur by Shoreham Airport with a North Thames Herring Gull and an unfamiliarly colour-ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull.  Also 5 Dunlin and one each of Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover and Curlew - more waders than I saw at Pagham yesterday. 

North Thames Herring Gull US8T on the River Adur at Shoreham Airport
Lesser Black-backed Gull 9P7 on the River Adur at Shoreham Airport
initially thought to be from a Lithuanian scheme, it wasn't, they suggested Estonia but it isn't theirs either.  Enquiries are continuing but it seems likely it has come from much closer to home.  It had - Guernsey.

Saturday 23 June 2012

Lidsey and Pagham (23 June 2012)

Sightings on and around Southwick beach while cycling to and from work this week have been a mobile singing Black Redstart on Monday (on grain silo in am) and Tuesday (by gate 3 in am and behind Tarmac/Hanson building in pm) , a pair of Ringed Plover with two chicks Tuesday-Thursday (there were three chicks last week but it seems likely one hasn't survived) and one young Peregrine usually with one adult on the Power Station chimney.  Nothing was seen on Friday although I took an inland route home as it was less windy.

Saturday 23 June I went to Flansham to look for the White Storks. They were not  apparent in the area north of Hoe Farm although another birder told me he'd seen two distantly by the railway line.  I got a reasonable view of all three from where I was directed to but the views were not satisfactory so I walked through the top end of the Bognor golf course, crossed the railway line and took the footpath to Lidsey level crossing.  Here they were resting in the nearest field and gave good but inactive views although the light wasn't ideal.  Also in the area were about 7 Mediterranean Gulls, 4  Reed Buntings and 3 Yellowhammers.

White Storks from near Hoe Farm

much closer, though in worse light from Lidsey crossing

it was better for digiscoping when the sun went in

I went on to the north wall at Pagham Harbour on the very outside chance that the very intermittent Glossy Ibis might be about, although it hadn't been reported there for at least a week.  It was the right idea but wrong timing.  No sign for me between 09:30 and 11:00 but annoyingly it was there at 13:15.  The tide was right put but curlew and Oystercatcher were the only waders seen on the east side of the harbour.  The few gulls seen included an adult Yellow-legged.
poor shot of Yellow-legged Gull at Pagham showing distinctive leg colour, dark mantle and restricted white on the primaries.  If Herring Gull types were always this easy! 

Monday 18 June 2012

Southwick and Shoreham (11-18 June 2012)

Cycling home from work was livened up considerably on Wednesday by a pair of Ringed Plover with 3 very small chicks.  I'd like to think they were the pair that had their nest predated 4 weeks ago.  Also 1-2 young peregrines on/in the Power Station chimney nestbox from Wednesday, 3 Swallows east (also on Wednesday), the odd Sandwich Tern along the coast and up to 12 Swifts over our road most evenings (when I remember to look).

Visits to the Adur at low tide on both Saturday and Sunday were disappointing with hardly any birds seen at all.  2-3 Little Egrets, few gulls (none with colour rings) and 2 Oystercatchers the only waders.

The west arm of Shoreham Harbour was closed on Sunday morning so after checking the beach (1 Turnstone, no colour-rings amongst the gulls) I seawatched from Widewater but soon gave up after seeing only 5 distant Gannets and 3 Sandwich Terns in half an hour.

west arm of Shoreham Harbour
improvements to the cycle lane at Widewater?
A walk through nice looking woodland at Nymans (near Handcross) with Megan was pleasant but as usual disappointingly birdless.  We saw Goldcrest, Coal Tit and 3 Buzzards.  On the way home a text from a long time friend Nigel Redman to say he'd had 5 Bee-eaters fly over his garden in Ninfield.  Brilliant but very gripping.  Perhaps I should have been slogging around Beachy after all as they were heading south-west.

After an expectedly disappointing week-end it was somewhat ironic that my best bird was a Black Redstart singing from the southern-most grain silo by Gate 4 at Shoreham Harbour as I cycled to work.  I thought I'd heard a single song of one distantly last week but it was hard to be sure in the wind.  Presumably it is the bird I last heard on 25 May about 1/2 mile further west.

Saturday 9 June 2012

TURKEY 9 June 2012: Nemrut Dagi to Adana

Our last day.  We birded around Pension Cesme before breakfast then slowly left Nemrut Dagi stopping frequently on the lower slopes.  We saw 7 Rufous Bush Chats, 8 White-throated Robins, a male Finsch's, 6 Black-eared and a family of 4 Kurdish Wheatears (the latter on the cliffs below the pension),  8 Upcher's Warblers, 3-4 Rock Nuthatches, 3 Pale Rock Sparrows and 3 Cinereous Buntings.
Rufous Bush Robin on the lower slopes of Nemrut dagi

we were pleasantly surprised the Rufous Bush Robins, like White-throated Robins, were not as skulking as we were expecting. Like here Nightingale and Cetti's warbler took that prize
the day's Rock Nuthatch test
we were quite happy this was Western based on its thin bill and eyeline
this one was more puzzling although the longer, heavier bill and thicker black eyeline might suggest eastern
one its own though the right hand of the two appears less convincing, at least in the eyeline department

We stopped a couple of times on the plains on our way south seeing a Calandra Lark and reasonable numbers of Spanish Sparrows.  Our flight wasn't until 3 am so we were in no rush to get back to Adana airport.  We had the option of returning to Durnalik or trying to find some wetlands south of Adana - a couple of minor diversions to lakes on the way being unproductive.  We reached Adana at about 5 pm and after failing to find a White-breasted kingfisher site headed down to the Tuzla delta.  Here in the last two hours of daylight we saw a reasonable selection of gulls, terns and waders including Spur-winged Plover, 3 Greater Sand Plover, 2 Broad-billed Sandpipers, 300 Kentish Plover, 110 Mediterranean and 150 Slender-billed Gulls and 2 Caspian, 1 Black and 14 Whiskered Terns.  We also saw 3 rather puzzling presumed  first-summer large white-headed gulls that unfortunately flew off while we were still struggling to identify them.

Greater Sand Plover at Tuzla estuary, it didn't move as much as anticipated in the overlong period between taking the photo and the camera's shutter actually operating 
unidentified large gull with Slender-billeds. The large gull options in the eastern Med would seem to be fuscus Lesser Black-backed, Heuglin's, Yellow-legged (the commonest at his time of year), Armenian and Caspian.  This bird didn't seem to fit any particularly well, its windows in the inner primaries in flight counting against the first three while Armenian should have a stubby bill and the gizz and its dark underwing seems wrong for Caspian
unidentified gull, presumed Caspian, with Mediterranean and Slender-billed
unidentified gull, presumed Caspian although with fairly dark underwing, with Slender-billed 
presumed Caspian Gull with Mediterranean and part of a Slender-billed.  Headshape, small eye, long legs and hindneck streaking would suggest this species.  It had a white rump, solid terminal tail band, windows in inner primaries, dark tertials with white crescents  but the underwing was darker than expected
presumed Caspian Gull with Mediterranean.  

Friday 8 June 2012

TURKEY 8 June 2012; Nemrut Dagi

All day on Nerut Dagi, starting off around Pension Cesme before breakfast, to avoid the sun-rise tourist rush, then most of the rest of the morning around the summit after better views of Kurdish Red-tailed Wheatears.  We then worked our way slowly down back to the Pension and finished the day in the orchards below it.  Birds seen included 3 Alpine Swifts, 10 Shore larks, Tawny Pipit, 12(!!) White-throated Robins, 3 Red-tailed, 2 Finsch's and 5 Black-eared Wheatears, 4 Rock Thrushes, 6 Orphean and 4 Upcher's Warblers, 5 Pale Rock Sparrows, 12 Snowfinches, 2 Crimson-winged Finches and 10 Cinereous Buntings.
Nemrut Dagi summit from above Pension Cesme
view from Nemrut Dagi east towards the Ataturk Baraji
view SE from Nemrut Dagi
the traditional view of the eastern terrace and the summit
stone heads on the western terrace
stone heads on the eastern terrace
more heads on the western terrace
the western terrace with Nick just about visible on the left
Red-tailed Wheatear at the summit
showing red tail

Red-tailed Wheatear half way back to Pension Cesme
showing the white in the outer tail feathers
a very smart wheatear indeed
flighty Snowfinch near the summit
young Snowfinch
Shore Lark at Nemrut Dagi
nest of Shore Lark
Rock Thrush or bowerbird?
Pale Rock Sparrow at Nemrut Dagi

and a very distinctive buzzy song too although it wasn't always easy to tell where it was coming from
Cinereous Bunting at Nemrut Dagi

they were common immediately above Pension Cesme
male Black-headed Bunting at Nemrut Dagi
female Black-headed Bunting at Nemrut Dagi
Black-eared Wheatear at Nemrut Dagi

White-throated Robin at Nemrut Dagi
a somewhat dishevelled individual