Saturday, 14 January 2017

When is a Stejneger's not a Stejneger's?

Another visit to Dungeness started with a seawatch from the beach hide. Hundreds of Black-headed Gulls were streaming through. Gannets were present in good numbers and several Guillemots were resting on the sea. The only addition to the year list was Kittiwake when 2-3 were seen heading down towards the fishing boats and another individual was found on the sea. After failing to find any Black Redstarts around the power station boundaries we headed for Kerton Road and a search for the supposed Stejneger's Stonechat. Having failed on two previous attempts to locate this very pale Stonechat, we had better luck today, when it was located along the fence line of Lade GP. A very striking bird.

We already knew that there was much debate surrounding this bird, many still having plenty of reservations even after a sample of the birds dropping's had come back from a DNA test as positive for Stejneger's. With the sample now going through a re-test, we returned home to negative news. The sample had been mixed up with a sample from the Spurn bird!
So it's a Stonechat of either rubicola or hibernans form. It won't now be making it onto the year list and plenty will be removing it from their lists in the coming days. But given this news, it was still a very striking bird and I'm still pleased to have seen it. 
Cook's Pool just inside the entrance of Dungeness Reserve failed to produce a sighting of the Ring-necked Duck (later to be located on Burrowes Pit) but did hold good numbers of Ruff, Lapwing and Golden Plovers in the surrounding fields. A Great White Egret flew into the reeds at the edge of the pool as we watched the Lapwing and Plover flock swirling above.
We ended the day at Scotney GP's and failed to find the reported Bean Geese or the Black-necked Grebe despite several lengthy searches for both. 

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