Thursday, 20 February 2014

Another Storm and a Bemusing Brent

The storm that hit the south coast a couple of weeks ago has been well reported and documented (not least on this blog!), but the storm that hit a week ago tomorrow was even more destructive.

I wasn't out at all during last weekend, but Phil has informed me it was the highest he'd ever seen the water levels on the Estuary (and he's lived here for a very very veryyyy long time!). The Axmouth straight (road that runs alongside the Estuary) is still in a complete state, as the water came right over here that night. There's been something different about the Coronation Corner picnic site too...

A boat!

This boat was apparently floating along the road up past the church at one point during the night!  The wind caused damage too, with the large garden on the other side of the road to where this photo was taken in a complete mess...

Where will the Little Egrets roost now?

And on the other side of the Estuary the tram line has taken a real battering, with the bank underneath the track washed away in several places. Some of the poles have also been up ended...

Bird wise, I have been giving the gulls as much attention as I've been able to. But except for a couple of lovely Little Gulls (which are never to be sniffed at), they've given me nothing exciting since the Kumlien's.  I certainly think there is more to come though.  

Quite unusually we've had a few Brents for a week or so. It started off with two, increased to three on Monday and then four from Wednesday (and there's still four).  I've found one of the birds really quite interesting. 

Look at the Brent that's got the first third of its body hidden behind a clump of salt marsh...

The one side on

Clearly a Pale-bellied. Or is it...

Now the one on the left


It shows almost pure white flanks that extend down to the vent area, but as you can see, the rest of the underparts are just too dark. It's got an impressive neck ring too. I know Dark-bellieds can often show paler flanks, but this is white.  Luckily the UK's leading Brent Goose expert is always just on the other end of a text/email for me (I won't name names - he'll get embarrassed), and it turns out it is either just a paler than average Dark-bellied, or possibly a PalexDark-bellied Brent hybrid.  And there I was dreaming of Grey-bellied or a Black Brant hybrid!!

Lastly, I had a worrying email from local birder Alan Bibby tonight, informing me of a disturbing variety of dead birds washed up on the beach this afternoon. I'm going to under take a complete beach walk in the morning, not really looking forward to it to be honest...

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