Sunday, 19 October 2014

Siberian Stonechat Revisited, Titchfield Haven - 19th October 2014

The night was a somewhat blustery and wet one, but by 6:30am the rain had cleared and the wind dropped so it was possible open some nets in the more sheltered areas. It was a relatively quiet session, with 24 birds trapped including six Blackcaps, five Reed Warbler, three Chiffchaffs, two each of Goldcrest and Cetti's Warbler and single Song Thrush and Blackbird. It was certainly a surprise to be catching five Reed Warblers at this time of year, but what was more surprising was the weight of some of the birds. Three of the Reed Warblers weighed over 15 grams, with one weighing 16.3 grams, considerably more than the usual 10 - 12 grams expected. The Blackcaps too were a good weight, with five of the six birds weighing over 20 grams.

After ringing I decided to go and have another look at the Sibe Stonechat, this time with the batteries in my SLR charged. The bird was back in its usual location, in the recently cut meadow immediately south of the meadow hide. Earlier on it had been reported on the fence near the hide but when I arrived it was towards the back of the meadow and sheltering on the edge of the taller vegetation, or feeding on the ground. It would regularly perch up in full view, but due to its extremely pale colouration, it could at times be surprisingly difficult  to pick out. I was able to grab a series of shots but as you can probably tell these have been very heavily cropped, but they are probably slightly better than yesterdays attempts.

First Winter Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maurus
First Winter Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maurus
First Winter Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maurus

There were at least 15 Common Stonechats in the same meadow and these were much more confiding, regularly sitting directly in front of the hide. I thought I would include a picture of one for comparison.

Common Stonechat Saxicola rubecola

At around 1:30pm news broke of an adult Franklin's Gull at Blashford Lakes, another second for Hampshire, the first being in 1970, which then was a first for the Western Palearctic. I was just on the point of heading to Curbridge, but instead decided to go to there. The bird had not been seen for about an hour when I arrived, but since there is usually a good gull roost in the evening I decided to wait on. The Franklin's did not re-appear but there was enough going on the keep me occupied. The long-staying Great White Egret was in view, as were two Green and one Common Sandpiper. Numerous duck and geese species, including Shoveler, Eurasian Teal, Wigeon, Greylag and Egyptian Geese. A very late Sand Martin got my pulse racing briefly, but it was just a Sand Martin. All the time I was there a constant stream of gulls were passing through, Black-headed was very numerous, as were Lesser Black-backed and Herring. The other gull species recorded were Common, Great Black-backed and a cracking adult Yellow-legged Gull.

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