Thursday 6th January 2022

A ninety minute flying visit to walk the spit and check what was happening on the sea. The 1st winter Purple Sandpiper, the second ever at Needs Ore, was still feeding happily on Warren Shore opposite the cottages.

1st winter Purple Sandpiper

A reasonably close Razorbill and a single Slavonian Grebe were drifting west on the falling tide, six Eider headed east and seven Red-throated Divers flying west is the highest ever count at Needs Ore.

Razorbill

A Peregrine was perched on Gull Island, too far away to be sure if one of the adults had returned or whether it was the regularly seen immature bird. A White-tailed Eagle headed in off the sea as I was getting back to Mary Monts. A noticeable influx of Redwing with at least 25 on Droveway South and 10 on Warren Farm Fields. 

When trying to age the Redwing I was uncertain as there appeared to be contrasting clues:-  the tertials look adult-like, without white triangles at the tips, and the primaries look new and fresh. However there does appear to be some moult contrast in the greater coverts and the tail looks a little spiky. I asked Graham and he commented that the tertials and tail feathers are difficult to make an assessment on as it is better to see them from above. However, the greater coverts do show that it is a first-winter (hatched last summer).

1st winter Redwing

“If you look along the greater coverts, roughly half way along there is a sudden difference in the length and colour of the tips of those feathers, indicating a clear moult limit. Several of the inner greater coverts (the ones to the left) have been moulted, but some outer ones (the ones to the right) have been retained and these are the shorter juvenile feathers with pale tips, as opposed to longer buttery-brown tips of the adult-type greater coverts. An adult would have moulted all the greater coverts and therefore they would be uniform”

For the same reason I think the greater coverts on the following Redwing make it an adult

adult Redwing

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