Friday, 2 November 2012

Red Squirrels & Red-breasted Goose, a great 2 days...

After looking forward to my yearly holiday to Brownsea Island I finally got there yesterday. After only one and a half hours sleep from the Halloween party the night before I got up for 6:30am leaving at 7am. We got to Pool Harbor at about 9:30am just in time for a quick coffee at the pottery shop. We then got the 10am boat (we being me and mum). It took about 20 mins to get to the island on a very calm sea. Me and mum had a quick drink at the cafe and got to work finding the Red Squirrels. After 5 mins we found one dropping horse chestnuts on the ground and nearly hitting our heads! 

After failing at photographing that one my mum found a area with loads of them. I sat behind a fallen tree trunk and waited. After about an hour  got this shot...

(copyright 2012 Luke Dray)
Later we walked around the island more and found this Goldcrest in a tit flock...
(copyright 2012 Luke Dray)
Today we came home; just before we go home we decided to go for the Red-breasted Goose at Farlington Marshes HWT. It took us ages to find the car park as it very well hidden and hard to get too. As we arrived I asked a returning birder where the goose was and told me where to go. Luckily there were two birders already looking at the Goose and pointed it out to me. I got a few record shots of it.  

Brief history of this bird - as it has moved about the south coast quite a lot!

The first sighting of what I presume is the same bird was on 4 Nov 2006 on The Fleet, Dorset. it then moved to Poole Harbour from 18 Nov to 25 Jan, and subsequently moved to Keyhaven (Hants), and then Chichester Harbour (Sussex)- perhaps the brent flock it tagged into was slowly moving east, using all these estuaries as stop-offs? I certainly think a lot can be learnt about Brent movements from tracking a very obvious individual among a flock, and having a convenient vagrant that stands out this much!

The following winter the only report submitted and accepted by BBRC was from Chichester Harbour briefly in February, but again this begs the question of if it was moving east again? In 2008/09 it was reported in the Keyhaven area from 31st October onwards, and was then reported from Chichester from February to early March, again moving east!
I think in 2010 it took a vacation! There are no reports up to December 2010 (when RBA’s records database runs out!) and I don’t remember it being seen anywhere in early 2011. There was a RBG at Pett Level in December/January of that winter, but this bird tagged onto a flock of Russian White-fronted Geese, so was presumably different!
I saw the old familiar RBG at Stanpit Marsh, on Poole Harbour, in late October 2011, where it stayed for most of that winter, and it was reported from the Swale this October, before relocating to Farlington Marshes, where Luke has now caught up with it.
That’s now six winters (excluding 2010/11) for presumably the same bird, and it has been seen in four counties, at four widely spread wetlands. It’s interesting to note it’s eastward movements through the estuaries every year, at exactly the same time as brent passage is at it’s peak down-channel. In fact, since it leaves Chichester harbour in mid-march most years, it’s flock actually leaves slightly after the peak exodus in late February/early march.

However, in all these years, it has never been picked up in a brent flock moving down channel to my knowledge! Not at Selsey, nor Splash Point, nor Dungeness! How does such a jewel go unnoticed! It certainly gives me a good reason to go sea-watching once or twice in mid-march this year!

(Liam Curson)

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