Saturday, 17 December 2016

17th - 19th December 2016

Monday, 19th DecemberAn (in!)action replay of yesterday - with another very gloomy and very still morning....then some drizzle from late morning.

A tale of two odd ducks - part 2: The 'odd Teal' was again present on Chalder Pond this morning, though proving surprisingly elusive. I attempted a few photos in the gloom which were down to my usual standard - but the bird looked decidedly less colourful or exciting today and importantly there was no sign of the vertical white bar between wing and breast, indicative of Green-winged Teal. The head pattern also looked less strong and clearly not complete, the overall plumage perhaps indicative of a first-winter bird. It was a bit puzzling and I must admit to leaning towards a hybrid or 'plastic' origin for this bird at times; however common sense was screaming it is far more likely to be a 1st- winter drake common Teal. I'd sent the pictures out for comment and also invited other views via the blog..... many thanks indeed to those who contributed. Amongst those offering opinions after consultation was LGRE, who felt it was indeed a common Teal....and on balance I think that's surely the right conclusion.... so we can put this one to bed - unless anyone else has a better theory! (OM)

 drake Teal (1st-w) on Chalder pond in the gloom, top three (OM), bottom (BI)

Which brings us to that 'odd Scoter' (see pic on yesterday's blog). Thanks are again due to those observers who forwarded opinions.... the majority view being Common Scoter, with one suggestion that Velvet Scoter should be considered and another observer commenting he thought it was likely a 1st-winter Surf Scoter (presumably what the originator of the query was also considering). It's hard to be certain based on the one photo, but the Editors are of the opinion it is just a Common Scoter and that Surf Scoter can be eliminated based on head shape and profile. We'd be happy to be proved wrong though and meanwhile we will be checking the Scoter flock from time to time, so watch this space. (OM)

Ivy Lake: Less controversial, but equally welcome, a Long-tailed Duck was on the lake at lunchtime today, just off the water-ski jetty at the western end, along with 20+ Tufted Duck and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. (AH)

Long-tailed Duck on Ivy Lake (AH), bottom (BI)

Ferry Pool: There were a Green Sandpiper, a Black-tailed Godwit, three Shovelers and four Teal among at least 200 Wigeon this morning. (AH)

Green Sandpiper (above) & Shoveler on the Ferry (AH)

Church Norton: It was very quiet on the low tide, though the trusty Whimbrel was in its usual haunt and at least 500 Brent Geese flew out of the harbour, some to settle on the beach and other on the fields.
Along the foreshore there were 100+ Grey Plover and Redshank and 300+ Dunlin, with a handful of Common and Mediterranean Gulls offshore and a couple of Meadow Pipits and a handful of Skylarks along the spit. (AH)

Whimbrel (above), Brent Geese, Dunlin & Mediterranean Gull at Church Norton (AH)

Coastguard Station/Medmerry Beach: The Common Scoter flock now numbering c.150 birds had drifted down towards the first groyne at medmerry beach early afternoon and unfortunately was quite distant in the gloomy conditions. No "oddities" could be spotted in the murk but there was also a Great Northern Diver and a Razorbill offshore. On the groyne were two Rock Pipits and by the Coastguard station were two Stonechats and a Black Redstart. (BI/ARK)

Rock Pipit, Stonechat & Black Redstart at Coastguards (BI)

Sunday, 18th December: Another mild, very cloudy and fairly still day, remaining murky all day, but with just a light northerly breeze......

We start today with a tale of two potentially 'odd' ducks on the peninsula over the last couple of days...
The first was a drake Teal found yesterday by SR amongst Mallards on a small pond at Chalder farm. It seemed to lack the lining around the face pattern of European Teal and the white flank line also, potentially good features for Green-winged Teal. Fortunately SR managed to obtain some images, which although not very good (her words!) still gave me enough cause to leave home when I saw them and head to the site. On arrival the bird was not immediately on view but then came out from some overhanging vegetation with Mallards - I watched it for less than a minute when something spooked the flock and they all took flight and headed off, not returning by late afternoon. I have my doubts this is a real deal Green-winged Teal (!) and is perhaps a hybrid or even an odd common Teal, but I'm not yet sure so enquiries are continuing. SR's images are attached below (slightly cropped) and comments are welcome.... (OM)

 Drake Teal sp. at Chalder Farm pond (Sidlesham) yesterday (SR)

The second potential oddity arrived with a text message forwarded to me via a Hants observer which said...."looking at the Selsey blog and the recent post with the Scoter flock pics... I reckon a bird at the top of the lower pic looks quite interesting. Quite a strong facial pattern and pale neck." I looked at the most recent blog pics of the Scoter flock (16th December) and then enlarged the image of the lower flock.....I think I can see the bird mentioned, but I'm not sure and I suspect this might be just a variation of Common Scoter plumage or a trick of the camera angle....but see if you can do better. Again, any comments welcome...... (OM)

Herewith, a blown-up version of the 'odd Scoter' - I think it is just a Common Scoter. They are quite variable, with some starting to attain male plumage. But all comments welcome. (AH)

Chalder Farm: No sign of the Teal early this morning but there was a female Shoveler there and 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers. (SH)

Selsey Bill: 0745-0900hrs (JA/SH) A quiet morning!
Great Northern Diver - 2os
Brent Goose - 4E
Red-breasted Merganser - 5os
Sparrowhawk - 1 area
Mediterranean Gull - 2os
Pied Wagtail - 1 p

Park Farm (Selsey): The Dartford Warbler was still present, as were 3 Stonechats. (SH)

Coastguard StationThe Common Scoter flock - c70 birds - were well offshore this morning, but a Black Redstart unexpectedly popped up in the garden of 'Land's End Cottage,' before promptly vanishing again. (AH)

Medmerry: Easton Lane to the Stilt Pool - It was very quiet in the murk this morning, with a couple of Fieldfares in the poplars, and around 300 Golden Plover flying around with 500+ Lapwings being the highlights. Three or four Stonechats and a dozen Meadow Pipits were the only other small birds seen, and around the Stilt Pool there were just 80 bathing Brent Geese, eight Gadwall, two Shelducks and around a dozen each of Lapwing, Teal and Wigeon, with a few more of each, plus a couple of Shoveler out on the reserve. (AH)

Fieldfare (above), Golden Plovers, Stonechat, Gadwall & Brent Geese at Medmerry (AH)

Church Norton: Early on there were five Velvet Scoter and five Eider offshore, plus a distantly calling Raven, and the Long-tailed Duck was in the harbour again. (A&YF/DM/DIS/RI)
Later on there were just four Common Scoter on the sea, with nothing else identifiable in the gloom, and it was very quiet in the harbour. (AH) 
Also a Peregrine, a Buzzard, 2 Redwings and 3 Stonechats. (SH)

Ferry Pool: Just a flock of 200 Wigeon and nothing else this morning! (AH)

Wigeon on the Ferry (AH)

Saturday, 17th December: Still generally mild and dry, though mainly cloudy, with just a very light southerly breeze....

Selsey Bill: (0730-0815hrs) (SH/PB/AB)
Great Northern Diver - 1os
Great Crested Grebe - 2os
Brent Goose - 17E
Common Scoter - 14E,5os
Red-breasted Merganser - 5os
Mediterranean Gull - 1os

Selsey (west) -  Coastguards: The main slipway is currently now closed due to sea-defence works, so view from adjacent areas.
From the end of Warner Road, just east of the Coastguard Station, there were  88 Common Scoters offshore along with a Great Crested Grebe and three Red-breasted Mergansers, whilst four Brent Geese and two Common Scoters flew west. (SR)

Park Farm, Selsey: The long-staying Dartford Warbler was still present, along with two Stonechats and a Mistle Thrush. (S&SaH)

Medmerry: Breach area - The two Black Redstarts were again present by the sea-defence rocks, and there also a pair of Stonechats and ten Meadow Pipits about. (AB/PB/JA)

Church Norton: Offshore early this morning there were five Velvet Scoters with 12 Common Scoters, a Razorbill, a Guillemot, 13 Slavonian Grebes and two Red-throated Divers, with another three of the latter west. (AB/PB) 
There were four more Slavonian Grebes and a single Eider near the harbour mouth and two Goldeneye just inside the harbour itself and along the top path were three Stonechats and two Skylarks. (BI)
Later on the flock of six Eider were distantly viewable, along with a Guillemot, half a dozen Slavonian Grebes and Red-breasted Mergansers, plus there were three Red-throated Divers on the sea and five went west, with a Great Northern Diver heading east. 
A Redwing and half a dozen Goldcrests were in the churchyard, and there were at least half a dozen Bar-tailed Godwits among the many waders in the harbour, and the Long-tailed Duck was again present. (AH)
Along the Severals there was a Kingfisher, three Stonechats and half a dozen busy Long-tailed Tit flocks, and also three different Peregrines were seen. (S&SaH)

Redwing (above), Goldcrest, Turnstones & Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover and Dunlin at Church Norton (AH)

Ferry Pool: There was just a single Green Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit and Teal on the pool, and c100 Wigeon on the field. (AH)

Black-tailed Godwit (above) & Wigeon at the Ferry (AH)

Sidlesham Churchyard: Quiet today, with just a handful of Goldcrests, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a flock of Long-tailed Tits plus the usual corvids, including c30 Rooks and the same of Jackdaw.(SR)

Chalder Farm: On the pond near the farm  a drake Teal was in with the Mallards, a Sparrowhawk and a Buzzard were nearby and there were c50 Pied Wagtails about. (SR)

There were 55 Wigeon feeding on a nearby cultivated field. (S Allday)

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