A somewhat indecisive headspace took me down to Medmerry this morning, and I was glad it did. The winds were strong, but the clear skies made it still comfortable in a t-shirt; and so I was, heading west from Easton Lane to the Stilt Ponds. There wasn't much about on the way down, just a Greenshank and a few Shelduck of note on Ruth's Marsh. The Shelduck were the first I've seen since 7th July, which was also here. I stood chatting briefly to another birder who hadn't seen much either. There was a fair amount of geese moving around, however.

I noted 3 Stonechat on the way down to the Stilt Ponds, and a Whinchat was perched up on a thorny bush. A large flock of Starlings came across the footpath to rest in the Stilt Ponds alongside the numerous wildfowl. Of waders on the ponds I noted singles of Snipe, Dunlin, Greenshank and Common Sandpiper, and duck-wise there was plenty of Teal and a few Wigeon. I was just thinking of moving on when I noticed some smaller geese among the Canada Geese. For some reason, despite having seen Brent Geese before, I recorded these, incorrectly, as Brent Geese. I think, perhaps, it was because the birder I chatted to earlier had mentioned there had been a few around recently, and it was he who corrected my identification later when he asked me whether these were Barnacle Geese; which, of course, they were. A rather dramatic life tick, and year tick number 175.

Large flock of Starlings

Canada Goose (L) and Barnacle Goose

Barnacle Geese and Canada Geese

Two Bar-headed Geese were less of a problem to identify (not that the Barnacle Geese should have been!), all records of which in the UK are considered to be of escaped feral birds. It's still a very striking looking bird, however; and a bird is a bird in my eyes. This species is particularly impressive, holding the record for the highest migration altitudes as it flies up to 23,000ft to get across the Himalayas (more on that here [BBC News article]). 

Bar-headed Geese (deemed to be escapes)

Stilt Ponds
I strolled down towards the beach and saw a Wheatear on the rocks and, after a short rest on the beach, there being very little out to sea, I headed back, noting 2 Whinchat and possibly the same Wheatear perched along a fence-line. A few Swallows were fluttering about in the wind.


22/09/2019 - After a few discussions with much more experienced birders than me, I'm informed that the Barnacle Geese above are not considered to be truly 'wild' birds. It is very likely that these birds are from a 'naturalised' population in the UK, rather than from the two populations that migrate from the arctic (Svalbard and Greenland). See here for BTO advice for WeBS. 


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