07/04/23 Short-toed Treecreeper!

Before he moved to Dorset Ian Hodgson told me that the first day of a North westerly here along the cliffs was ‘not to be missed’. A water pipit over langdon and 3 Swallows in off the sea were my first notable birds of the day, a relatively small number of Chaffinches (240) were moving North but the morning kicked into gear when I caught a glimpse of a Treecreeper sp on the edge of Fan bay. It was initially seen in flight but then perched in a low gorse bush and It looked to have a long decurved bill and brownish flanks.

It flew down into the dense scrub of Fan bay with me in pursuit, running over the features in my head from the bird I’d found less than a km to the west in 2019. I was able to see it again and took some distant photos. The initial shots showed a nice gradual primary wing bar made up of pointed, not blunt, blocks with a small spot on p4. The primary tips showed nice, clearly demarcated white tips rather than the washy looking diffuse crescent shaped tips of eurasian treecreeper and seemed to have the correct spacing between p6, p7 and p8. I could see a pale unbroken fringe to the outer web of the alula and a pale buff coloured (rather than white) super, that didnt extent down the nape, a clean white throat with slightly grey breast sides contrasting with brown flanks.

Everything was looking good for Short toed treecreeper and the bird showed well despite being mostly obscured but at this time was making the high pitched waxwing like call, reminiscent of eurasian treecreeper. It flew up again to the gorse and continued along a line of small isolated bushes, it was at this point I first heard it give the coal tit-like call as it flew between isolated bushes near the main path, confirming it as a Shorttoed Treecreeper. The news went out and the bird flew back into the shelter of Fan bay. more close views and photos revealed distal darkening to the tail tips and an all pale lower mandible, the hind claw also appeared to be shorter than the toe.

Local legend Phil Smith and visiting birder Micheal Mcnaghten were the first to arrive and after 20 or so minutes saw it moving about within the blackthorn aswell as perched. After this it flew to the very edge of the cliff and wasn’t seen again despite 5 or 6 birders looking.

I did a quick loop of the valley and had a superb male Common Redstart plus 10 Swallows flying into the NW wind.

Click here for short toed treecreeper id notes, (based on 2019 Langdon bird)

Author: Jamie Partridge

Birding South East Kent: Langdon Hole to South Foreland

One thought on “07/04/23 Short-toed Treecreeper!”

  1. Good write up Jamie,think you meant leg end.

    Sent from my iPhone


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