7th – 8th December 2014 – Local twitches   Leave a comment

I have returned from southern Argentina late on the 6th, my last foreign trip of 2014. I still have to edit the many photos that I took in this scenic and wildlife rich part of the world, but I will be posting them here in due course.

In the mean time here is a report on some of the birds that we have seen since my return. During 2014 I have concentrated on foreign birding and whilst at home, local ringing, but a few goodies still around on my return induced me into the field last Sunday and Monday.


Bean Goose Joe Mitchell

A pair of Bean Geese were found in Swineham/Aren Moors area recently. They were too far away when we saw them for photos but these shots were obtained earlier by 12 year old Joe Mitchell, published here with permission from his dad Jol. There has been debate as to whether these birds with their fairly long bills were of the taiga, rather than the expected tundra breeding race. This is of some importance as most world checklists consider then to be two different species. Expert comment however, has led me to believe that they are of the tundra group (or species) on account of the lack of a deep chest and the shape of the bill, in particular ‘grinning patch’. In a discussion  a couple of years ago with my friend Paul Harvey on Shetland, I learned that many of the Bean Geese that occur in Shetland cannot be assigned to one form or the other and perhaps originate, unlike those birds that winter in Holland and the south of UK, from any area in Siberia where the two forms interbreed. Perhaps the BOU have been wise not to follow the major world checklists in splitting Bean Goose into two species.

Velvet Scoter G Upton cropped

Velvet Scoter are regularly seen in very small number in Dorset in winter and on passage but these two females at Ringstead bay where the first I had seen in 2014. Photo by Geoff Upton used with permission.

IMG_3946 George

Our next destination was the fields near Redcliffe Point just to the east of Weymouth to look for a Richard’s Pipit that has taken up residence in the area. Here you get a great view of the Osmington White Horse, a 280 x 320 ft figure of George III said to have been constructed in 1808, supposedly to commemorate the King’s patronage of Weymouth. One local legend has it that the man who cut the figure committed suicide when he realised that he had portrayed the King riding away from Weymouth rather than towards it.

Richard's Pipit Sergey Pisarevsky

The Richard’s Pipit showed well in the scope but was flushed several times by dog walkers before I could photograph it. Others have claimed it to be an adult based on the lack of juvenile median coverts but it just might have been have been a first winter bird that moulted all of the coverts. Photos from Internet Bird Collection by Sergey Pisarevsky of an adult photographed in Russia. Notice the large size compared to Meadow Pipit, upright stance, streaked back and pale lores.

IMG_3953 Barred Warbler

Moving on to Portland Bill, we had very good views of this first winter Barred Warbler from the Obs patio, for some reason this bird has a dislodged primary on the left wing.

IMG_3960 Barred Warbler

Barred Warbler is a scarce visitor to the UK, with first winters occurring mainly in northern and eastern areas in September and October. Adults with their startlingly pale eyes and barred breast are almost unheard on in the UK, at least in the south.

IMG_3964 Barred Warbler

First winter Barred Warblers seen earlier in the autumn have wholly black eyes. This individual seems to developing the pale eyes of an adult already. I have seen 18 Barred Warblers in the UK and about 25 abroad, but none as well as this bird which seemed to be defending these apples against all comers.

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