Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Fuzzy Fuscus - Possible Juvenile Baltic Gull?

As coincidence would have it I was picking my way through some of my accumulated images from this year the other day, deleting the dross and re-looking at the odd bird I found interesting; in some cases just trying to remember why I found them interesting. I came across a short series of images of a juvenile gull from 6th September that I found near Ashington and got quite excited about at the time.

Later an outbreak of fuscus on the Frontiers blog from Ian McKerchar 'coming out' and sharing his (very good-looking) juvenile fuscus candidate, added fuel to the fire and I resolved to get the following images onto the blog and join the fuscus-fest.

I should say from the off I knew because of the distance between me and this gull (c.150m) and the resultant image quality that I didn't have enough to really make anything of it. Watched for a few minutes before it moved over the crest of the field and lost to view.

What can be discerned from the above are some of the features that struck me in the field, structurally the most obvious feature is just how long-winged this juvenile looks with primaries extending well beyond the tail giving a very tapered look to the rear end. This was a fairly small individual as can be seen from the comparison with the Black-headed Gull just behind in the first image.
The head was obviously whiter than typical graellsii juveniles with a dark mask around and behind the eye. The upperpart feathers, mantle, scaps, coverts and tertials were all edged with cold-toned greyish white. Bill was fairly thin and weak-looking. The head shape however, as reflected in the second image can't be described as 'common gull-like'.

This individual certainly stood out as being different to other Lesser Blacked Gull juveniles I was seeing around that time. I've no experience of fuscus juveniles but it was an interesting looking bird and as is often the case time spent afterwards reading left me hopefully better prepared for the next one.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Run of the Mill

With some early morning cloud cover I opted for a sea-watch first thing though in the event there was little happening. Fluffed what would have been the best bird of the morning as I only got onto a very black and white looking diver flying north after it was past, didn't look large but I note a single Black-throat was seen past Seaton Sluice and this may well have been that individual. Aside from that

Red-throated Diver - 4 south, 3 on sea
Med Gull - adult blogging offshore; 3 around car park
Skua sp. - 1 distantly
Mistle Thrush - 1 in off the sea

The north bay and golf course/Ash Lagoons produced next to nought, a couple of Purple Sandpipers roosting on the high tide and several hundred flighty Golden Plovers over the Ash Lagoons.
Papped Purp

Elsewhere the quietness continued, 175 Coots at QEII Country Park and 330 Teal at Widdrington Moor along with a healthy raptor count over the grasslands of 5 Buzzards, 2 Kestrels and a Sprawk.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Late and Lately

I've found this Autumn frustrating, perhaps my expectations were too high, perhaps I've just made the wrong decisions on the right days, who knows? After a run of Yellow-browed Warblers my chosen home produced little of note. By the time mid-October came around I started getting a little fed up and itchy feet and spent a few days nibbling at the edges of other folk's finds.

A day up on St. Abbs NNR at Mire Loch provided some brief but pleasant views of the adult male Sardinian Warbler with a supporting cast of 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, Mealy Redpoll and the arse end of a rapidly disappearing Red-breasted Flycatcher. The journey home gave me time to ponder and a stop at Beal Point was refreshing with Rock Pipit and Little Egret.

A few days later and the chance of a double header at Hartlepool with a Pallid Swift seen going to roost on St. Hilda's Church and nearby a Western Bonelli's Warbler saw me beg a couple of hours from a colleague and do an early morning hit and run on both species. I may have stayed longer if I'd known what was to unfold.

I've already posted images of the Sibe Stonechat but along with ADMc was back for seconds the following day after we tried and failed to connect with Stringer's Rough-legged Buzzard. Some consolation was had in the desert dunes of the Long Nanny with a single flushed Richard's Pipit.

So after a patch break I finished up a shift today and opted for a quick late afternoon visit. A circuit around the Spital end was fruitless with a single female-type Blackcap the only bird of note.
With good light I settled for a half hour at Church Point, a single adult Med Gull came south amongst a steady passage of Herring Gulls. Just south of the point a juvenile Great Crested Grebe became species 146 at Newbiggin/Woodhorn this year. Eight Purple Sandpipers fed on the rocks to the north.

Tomorrow is my first Sunday without the either of the boys having a football match and with the hour going back and providing some extra light, hopefully a few hours may turn something up.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Siberian Stonechat - Sugar Sands

First-winter found and news put out very quickly by Pembrokeshire birder David Atkins at Sugar Sands today.
 Underwing action

 Tail & Rump