11 September 2012

Forgot to update for Sunday so...

Despite a bona fide yank knocking about, high tide at Goldcliff on Sunday wasn't that inspiring. The Buff-breasted Sandpiper was still present (was being the operative word, it hasn't been seen since); it pootled around the island for most of the time before becoming rather flighty as the tide retreated and took most of his little wader friends with it.  Other passage waders included: 27 Avocet on the foreshore, 240 Knot, 219 Black-tailed Godwit, four Spotted Redshank and seven Greenshank. The only passerines on the go were one Tree Pipit, 5+ Yellow Wagtail, one Whinchat and one Wheatear.

While I'm here,... some terrible but ever so slightly informative photos of the tagged Marsh Harrier.

 The elusive code, now to find out from whence it came.

During this bird's stay it has undergone the majority of its first 'complete' moult (which isn't complete but anyhoo...). The outer primaries are now whitish below (see the far wing), broadly tipped blackish and greyish above; the primary coverts are also similarly coloured; the moulted secondaries are darker than the new primaries but still obviously grey toned with a paler grey base and contrast with the adjacent, unmoulted juvenile feathers; some secondary coverts have also been replaced but are much closer in appearance to the juvenile coverts and don't catch the eye in the field...

... the new central tail feathers are grey with dark subterminal markings and the outer, still growing, feathers are a rusty brown. All in all, it has transformed itself from relatively difficult to sex juvenile into a fine example of a second calendar-year male,... whoop-di-bleedin'-doo.

PS. There is every possibility this bird will suspend the moult at this stage and retain this look (excepting the effects of abrasion/bleaching) until next summer. Let's hope he hangs around and finds a missus.

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