African Skimmer Cameroon Apr 2018

17 September, 2011

Friday 16th Sept

Climping Gap: A different feel to things today with a fresh easterly blowing, but still a lovely morning. The number of visible migrants was much reduced, especially Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, the best being just a single Redstart at Bailiffscourt and a couple each of Siskin, Grey Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail. The sea proved to be a bit better, with 75 Med Gulls along the beach and 4 Brent Geese W – the first of the autumn. Having checked out the bushes, I returned to watch the sea for the last half hour, and at 1155 am, I picked up a distant flock of 6 small duck heading west over Littlehampton pier, and as so often happens the birds turned directly in towards the bay and followed the coastline. I presumed they were Teal, but as they got nearer and nearer something was wrong with the jizz as they looked a shade on the large side, a bit longer bodied and plainer than I’d expected. They continued west hugging the shoreline, passing me about 50 metres out, and I then saw there was no little white flash to the tail-sides nor any yellow undertail-colouring, but there was a broad white trailing edge to the secondaries, with a small dark greyish panel in front then a narrower white bar – without any hint of green in the panel as always shown by Teal. The penny dropped – these were not Teal but Garganey! I had time to scope them as they moved west still close in – at one time they even checked and turned before moving on – and could see some steely grey on the forewings of a couple and some paler markings above the eye. I also think a couple of them were young/juv birds. Always difficult in eclipse plumage I know, especially over the sea – but in case some think I was over-ambitious, I should explain that fortunately viewing conditions were just right to be sure. A nice surprise to finish the morning