YEAR 2012 - TOTALS AS WE GO

With half the year now gone, the total number of species recorded in Britain and Ireland stands at an impressive 284

TOTAL NUMBER OF SPECIES RECORDED IN BRITAIN AND IRELAND COMBINED IN 2011

2011 proved to be a RECORD YEAR with no less than 452 species recorded in Britain and Ireland. It happened to coincide with a year that I took out from Year Listing and frustratingly I saw just 69% of this year's bumper total

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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The first two weeks of January 2013

Seabird records are often incredulous and yet again this week we see another such occurrence. On 6 January, a dead WHITE-TAILED TROPICBIRD was found on the tideline at Mowbray Bank, SSW of Siloth (Cumbria), somewhat rotting but still relatively fresh. However, determining whether it was a bird washed overboard from a ship or a natural vagrant dying of starvation, is impossible to ascertain. The species has been occurring with more and more frequency in the Azores and Cape Verde Islands of late, so could be a realistic possibility for vagrancy to the UK or Ireland.


As we complete two weeks of January, the tally for 2013 stands at a fairly respectable 238 species. Lead rares include an overwintering PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER at Eversley GP on the Berkshire/Hampshire border, roving back and forth with Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests along the Blackwater River (county boundary) between 200 and 350 yards west of the footpath that leads down from the car park on Lower Sandhurst Road, NE of Yateley and NNW of Sandhurst, and a female DESERT WHEATEAR in Aberdeenshire on the beach by the lighthouse at Rattray Head. Most watched birds of this winter have been the two AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPITS that are commuting between the banks of Queen Mother Reservoir and the puddles of Kingsmead Quarry, east of the B376 north of Sunneymeads Railway Station (Berks).

An adult BONAPARTE'S GULL is being seen regularly on the Ogmore Estuary (East Glamorgan), 300 yards downstream of the Portobello House at around SS 865 765, with another being seen sporadically in Cardiff and an adult in North Cornwall at Padstow.on 14th.

An extremely confiding BLACK-BELLIED DIPPER in Norfolk has been particularly popular this year, favouring the River Thet in Thetford in the vicinity of the Three Nuns Bridges.

Just two GLOSSY IBISES are reliable this winter, those being at Marloes Mere (Pembs) and at Bickerley Common, South Ringwood (Hants), whilst GREAT WHITE EGRETS number up to an incredible 35 (including up to 7 in the Dungeness Area of Kent alone). A single CATTLE EGRET is wintering on the Somerset Levels.

East Anglia is currently offering a good crop of geese, with up to 4 Red-breasted Geese of unknown origin at North Warren RSPB, Aldeburgh (Suffolk), a party of 5 TUNDRA BEAN GEESE in fields near Westleton village (Suffolk), up to 63 TAIGA BEAN GEESE in the Yare Valley at Buckenham RSPB (Norfolk) and BLACK BRANTS at Cley NWT (Norfolk), Holkham Fields (Norfolk) and Levington Creek (Suffolk). The only Ross's Snow Goose of this winter remains that adult of suspect origin with 5 Barnacle Geese, widely ranging with Pink-footed Geese in Norfolk Broadland. Elsewhere, vagrant CANADA GEESE number up to 8 birds in Scotland, with the South Coast adult RED-BREASTED GOOSE now with 1,000 Dark-bellied Brent Geese on Thorney Island (West Sussex).

Rare ducks include both drake LESSER SCAUPS at Blagdon Lake (Somerset) and Colliford Lake (Cornwall) respectively, 8 different RING-NECKED DUCKS, a few SURF SCOTERS including a very confiding juvenile female in Broad Haven (Pembs) and drake KING EIDERS on Shetland and in Aberdeenshire.

Few rare waders this winter to see outside of a LESSER YELLOWLEGS in South Devon at Ernesettle Creek, a TEMMINCK'S STINT at Stockland Reach, Steart (Somerset) and a LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER in South Wales on the Gann Estuary (Pembs).

A RICHARD'S PIPIT is present for a fifth day on the Somerset coastline, on the seawall near Dowlais Farm on the Yeo Estuary at Clevedon, whilst the UK's first-ever overwintering WESTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER continues elusively in gardens on Princess Street and Pleasant Terrace in St Just (Cornwall). It is a good winter for SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS with perhaps as many as 45 birds overwintering.

In Central London, two juvenile BEARDED TITS, initially trapped and ringed at Rye Meads (Herts) last autumn, have been wowing the crowds in Kensington Park, performing at literally just yards range on top of the pamphus seedheads along the Serpentine edge adjacent to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. Although parking is very expensive in the vicinity, walking from a variety of tube stations takes only minutes, with the views these two birds are giving, simply irresistible. You will never see Bearded Tits better.

A host of scarce waterbirds are currently to be found at freshwater inland locations, including Great Northern Divers at Carsington Water (Derbyshire), Alton Water dam (Suffolk) and at Chimney Corner South Pit (Beds), a Black-throated Diver on Queen Mother Reservoir (Berks) (Members-only access), Slavonian Grebes at Farmoor Reservoirs (Oxon), Brogborough Lake (Beds) and Theale Main Pit (Berks), a Velvet Scoter at Steetley Quarry (Derbyshire) and Long-tailed Ducks at Angler's Country Park, Wakefield (South Yorks), Stithians Reservoir (Cornwall) and Queen Mother Reservoir (Berks).

In IRELAND, a LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER remains for a second day at Lady's Island Lake (County Wexford), the long-staying CATTLE EGRET remains at the organic piggery at St Johnston (County Donegal), the adult BONAPARTE'S GULL is in Sandy Bay at Larne Harbour (County Antrim), the AMERICAN COOT continues on Murloch (County Galway) and the FORSTER'S TERN by the Mutton Island Causeway near Nimmo's Pier (County Galway). There are easily 12 different RING-BILLED GULLS on winter territories in Ireland.

Lee Evans

PremierBirdNewsForTheUKandWP - the New Bird News service from the UK400 Club. On special offer for a limited period only at just £12.00 per year. Allows full access to the club's database, with full details of where and when to see some 190 individual scarcities thus far in January 2013.

See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PremierBirdNewsForTheUKandWP

Friday, 9 November 2012

PINE GROZZERS still moving south

Denmark today has seen more PINE GROSBEAKS arrive in Skagen suggesting that the southerly exodus is picking up, whilst in North America, large numbers of RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, PINE SISKINS and EVENING GROSBEAKS are irrupting.


Here in Britain, the westerly winds have put paid to arriving vagrants and we are left with a paucity of birds of wider interest.....the total remains at 440 species.....

Highly popular is a first-winter female HOODED MERGANSER in West Sussex, present for just over a week in Pagham Harbour. The bird is favouring the tidal creek by the sluice at the North Wall and is concentrating its efforts at catching Crabs and other crustaceans. An hour either side of high tide should provide the best views, otherwise the bird swims down the creek and is very distant or out of view. Park sensibly at the end of Church Lane and walk 200 yards to the sluice bridge to view. As there is nothing to suggest that this bird is an escape (unringed and fully-winged) and its appearance in November mirrors that of the majority of recent records of this species in the UK, it is considered by the UK400 Club to be most likely a genuine vagrant.

In Kent in the Stour Valley, the PENDULINE TIT flock at Grove Ferry NR (Stodmarsh) increased to four birds first thing this morning, showing well pulling Bulrush heads apart from the David Feast Hide. However, with an increasing westerly wind, they were not seen again despite searching (at least one bird has been present all week).

After several weeks, the EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER continues to survive at Kilminning, Fife Ness (Fife), showing well in Rose bushes close to the green building on the seaward side of the lower car park at NO 631 088. At the same site also is a very long-staying juvenile BARRED WARBLER. Further north on Shetland, no less than 8 HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLLS remain, with 5 in crops around Baltasound School on Unst. Shetland also yielded a late ARCTIC WARBLER in Helendale on Wednesday and Thursday. Also managing to survive and find suitable food is the EUROPEAN BEE-EATER in County Durham, favouring properties and gardens along Dartford Road in Seaham (SR6 8HF for those of you with Sat-nav's)

A RICHARD'S PIPIT remains on the clifftop SE of the church at Covehithe (Suffolk) whilst a late juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE was trapped and ringed in Denmark House garden, Weybourne (Norfolk), this afternoon. In Breckland Norfolk, an elusive BLACK-BELLIED DIPPER is frequenting the River Thet in Thetford.

An adult BONAPARTE'S GULL continues in South Devon at Dawlish Warren NNR, ranging along the beach between the Lifeboat lookout and Groyne 1, whilst the influx of CASPIAN GULLS continues with perhaps 45 birds recorded from Derbyshire to Buckinghamshire.

The adult LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER remains with Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs) on South Lake, whilst a first-winter was still present yesterday at the Long Nanny Burn in Northumberland. An adult AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER still retaining partial breeding plumage remains for a second day with 850 European Golden Plovers on mudflats at Pickerings Pasture NR (Cheshire).

A fair number of wintering GREAT WHITE EGRETS are to be found, with 4 in the Dungeness Area (Kent), the regularly-reappearing French-ringed adult at Ringwood (Hants), a bird at Willington GP (Derbyshire) (at SK 284 275), the usual bird at Leighton Moss RSPB (Lancs), up to 3 at ham Wall RSPB (Somerset) and 2 at Burton Mere Wetlands (Cheshire). Contrastingly, just one GLOSSY IBIS remains - at Marloes Mere (Pembs).

This time of year always sees a scattering of rare wildfowl with the adult RED-BREASTED GOOSE grazing with Dark-bellied Brent Geese and Canada Geese on The Deeps, Farlington Marsh (Hants), RING-NECKED DUCKS including a female in Ireland Bay, Slapton Ley (South Devon), a drake at Chew Valley Lake (Avon),one on Skomer (Pembs) and a young drake on Alvie Loch, near Aviemore (Speyside), a drake LESSER SCAUP in Villice Bay, Chew Valley Lake (Avon) and the drake AMERICAN WIGEON remaining at Wintersett Reservoir (West Yorks).

There continue to be large numbers of arriving BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS into the UK, from Shetland to Scilly, although individual flock sizes are generally small (less than 25) when compared to recent influxes of the species. A flock of 112 however is to be found in Blaydon (County Durham), 330 in Hull (East Yorks), 200 in Morrison's Car Park in Stirling (Forth) and 150 on Euston Street in Preston (Lancs). At least 150 Waxwings have been colour-ringed in Orkney in recent weeks and if you see any of these birds, please email alan.leitch@rspb.org.uk with details.

The largest flock of BRAMBLING I have heard of so far is of 125 birds in Beech in Screetham Lane, Beeley Moor (Derbyshire)

Just one freshwater GREAT NORTHERN DIVER has been reported (on the Main Pit at Theale, Berkshire), whilst inland LONG-TAILED DUCKS can be found at Stocks Reservoir (Lancs) and at Dungeness RSPB (Kent).

Very little in the way of news from IRELAND but the regularly-reappearing adult SABINE'S GULL is back at the Kennedy Pier in Cobh (County Cork), the adult FORSTER'S TERN is once more at Nimmo's Pier, Galway Harbour (County Galway), a young drake LESSER SCAUP is on Lough Gash and at least 2 RICHARDSON'S SMALL CANADA GEESE are in the Lissadell Area. A party of 5 COMMON CRANES have been present at Tacumshin (County Wexford) in recent days, as have 2 juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS on the Myroe Levels, whilst the regular blue morph LESSER SNOW GOOSE is back at Lower Lough MacNean (County Fermanagh). Highlight though, was news of a BLACKPOLL WARBLER late this afternoon, feeding in a private garden on the Mullet at Blacksod (County Mayo), whilst on Sunday 4 November, this year's only PIED-BILLED GREBE remained near Louisburgh at Lough Baun (County Mayo).

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

LOCUSTELLAS galore

The most intense September storm in over 30 years has wreaked havoc in the northern half of Britain as well as bringing in a flood of locustellas and other rare birds to the country.......


PALLAS'S GRASSHOPPER WARBLERS today were discovered at three widely spaced localities on the East Coast following the two days of torrential rain and strong easterly winds that bought serious flooding to Yorkshire and the closing of the A1.

First to be located was a first-winter at Hartlepool Headland in Cleveland (Chris Bell, Tom Francis, Richard Taylor, et al) but which quickly flew to dense cover and was lost. Next off, one was trapped at Whitburn Coastal Park in Tyne & Wear and after being released at 1350, reappeared several times during the afternoon around the smallest mound. The best was then left to last with a very confiding individual in Aberdeenshire, favouring a tiny copse besides the road to Collieston at Whinnyfold.

LANCEOLATED WARBLERS too were caught up in the conditions, with a second individual trapped and ringed on Fair Isle (Shetland) and another on North Ronaldsay (Orkney). Fair Isle also hosts a bag of other goodies including a PADDYFIELD WARBLER, BLYTH'S REED WARBLER, an OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT, 3 LITTLE BUNTINGS, 3 Barred Warblers, Richard's Pipit and up to 27 Yellow-browed Warblers whilst Foula (Shetland) has two different BLYTH'S REED WARBLERS, a long-staying SYKES'S BOOTED WARBLER, OBP, Richard's Pipit and Common Rosefinches (it also hosted a BLTYH'S PIPIT on Monday).

Kenny Buchan watched a FEA'S SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL pass south off Fraserburgh (Aberdeenshire) late morning, whilst Northumberland down to North Lincolnshire shared in the feast of rare waifs that were blown onshore including an ARCTIC WARBLER on Holy Island, GREENISH WARBLERS at Filey NCCP, Old Fall Plantation at Flamborough Head and at Spurn Point, the odd elusive LITTLE BUNTING here and there, numerous RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHERS and two juvenile Red-backed Shrikes, an Icterine Warbler and a bag of Yellow-browed Warblers. Most odd was an adult BAIRD'S SANDPIPER making landfall on Brownsman (the Farne Islands).

At the opposite end of the country on SCILLY, the 35 or so birders now instilled on the islands are starting to reap rewards, with an AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT showing well around the lighthouse rocks on Peninnis Head (St Mary's), a first-winter CITRINE WAGTAIL on the Great Pool (Tresco), a very confiding ORTOLAN in Hugh Town, a BARRED WARBLER & Wryneck by the Airfield and an AQUATIC WARBLER still opposite the Porthloo Duck Pond.

Portland has an ORTOLAN in the field opposite the Observatory, with the juvenile SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER still at Lodmoor (Dorset), the BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER on Davidstow (Cornwall) and Spotted Crake at Marazion Marsh RSPB (Cornwall).

The BOOTED WARBLER remains elusively just south of Gun Hill, Burnham Overy Staithe (Norfolk), where elsewhere along that coastline ROSE-COLOURED STARLING and Red-breasted Flycatcher are at Holme, Richard's Pipit at Sheringham and Yellow-browed Warblers are scattered in various localities.

The GREATER YELLOWLEGS has reappeared once more at Loch of Starthbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire)

Watch this space - this is just the start........

Friday, 14 September 2012

First RED-EYED VIREO for Shetland

At the extreme north end of the Shetland Islands, the elusive RED-EYED VIREO remains for its third day in the garden at Valyie, Norwick (Unst). This is an incredibly early arrival for this species but one has previously arrived even earlier - on Cape Clear Island (County Cork) on 5 September 2004. But surely the remnants of Tropical Storm Lesley displaced more than one Nearctic passerine.......


Shetland also has a LESSER GREY SHRIKE today at Aithbank (Fetlar), with 2 BARRED WARBLERS on Unst and a scattering of COMMON ROSEFINCHES; also a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER at Esha Ness as usual.

Both juvenile SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS are also still to be found - showing well on the beach by Skirt Island on the SE side of Tresco (Scilly) and at Lodmoor, just east of Weymouth (Dorset). Further Nearctic waders include a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER at the Butt of Lewis (Outer Hebrides), 2 AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS at Titchwell RSPB (Norfolk), Sandwich Bay (Kent), Dungeness (Kent), Seaton Common (Cleveland) and Baker's Fen, Wicken (Cambs).

In Greater London, the juvenile BAILLON'S CRAKE is still to be seen but incredibly elusively (perhaps revealing itself for literally seconds at a time, five times a day). It favours the reedy island and back edge just right of the centre of the Rifle Butts Hide - a 20 minute walk from the reserve centre. Special opening times operate again this weekend thanks to Howard Vaughan, the RSPB reserve staff and local volunteers - from 0500 to 1930 hours. The hide can take up to 125 birders at a time and has special access for wheelchair users, although to be in with a chance of seeing the bird, one needs to be at the right hand end of the hide.

At Landguard NR (Suffolk), the male SPANISH SPARROW is still resident with the local House Sparrows, being best located late afternoon as the pre-roost gathering takes place between 1700 and 1800 hours. Not much else on offer in East Anglia though, but seawatching has been reasonable today with the North Norfolk coast yielding its second GREAT SHEARWATER of the autumn, a lingering juvenile SABINE'S GULL and several LONG-TAILED SKUAS in recent days. Two flocks of GREAT SKUAS entered Cambs from the Wash this afternoon, whilst the Ouse Washes RSPB Reserve (Cambs) has an excellent selection of birds on offer from its first three hides north of the centre, including GLOSSY IBIS, GREAT WHITE EGRET, up to 104 Little Egrets, 50+ Garganey and a superb selection and variety of waders (an adult WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER has been present until yesterday at least).

A MELODIOUS WARBLER was seen briefly on the Sandwich Bay Estate (Kent), whilst one still remains on Bardsey Island (Gwynedd), with Lundy Island (Devon) attracting another as well as GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK and ORTOLAN BUNTING this past week. Up to 4 ORTOLANS are on Scilly, where also 1-2 first-winter CITRINE WAGTAILS remain. A MONARCH BUTTERFLY continues to show well in Easton, Portland (Dorset).

Lots of nice birds are now being seen and located in IRELAND with that mecca Tacumshin (County Wexford) attracting GLOSSY IBIS, WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and Pectoral Sandpiper, no less than 4 BUFF-BREASTS together at Carrahane Strand (County Kerry) (and a GREY PHALAROPE), another BUFF-BREAST at Reenroe (County Kerry), a juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPER still in Smerwick Harbour, a juvenile BAIRD'S SANDPIPER at Kilcoole NR on Wevbb's Field (County Wicklow) and a new BLUE-WINGED TEAL at Lough Beg (County Derry).

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

BAILLON'S still

The BAILLON'S CRAKE is again showing intermittently at Rainham Marsh RSPB (London) this morning, visible from the Rifle Butts Hide. In Cambridgeshire, viewing from Kingfisher Hide at the Ouse Washes RSPB may result in the finding of an adult WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, GLOSSY IBIS and GREAT WHITE EGRET.

In North Norfolk, the juvenile BAIRD'S SANDPIPER remains for a second day on the freshwater lagoon at Titchwell Marsh RSPB, whilst a juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE is at Kelling Caravan Site. Just west of Norwich, a WRYNECK is between Bowthorpe and West Earlham at the west end of Wilberforce Road in bushes on rough ground.

Wind in the Northwest

With the wind in the Northwest today, Pendeen Watchpoint has been typically productive, with 2 GREAT SHEARWATERS, a SABINE'S GULL, a LONG-TAILED SKUA, 35 Balearics and 5 Sooty Shearwaters being seen.

Elsewhere in Cornwall, at least 1 juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER remains at the east end of Copperhouse Creek and a single SPOTTED CRAKE at Marazion Marsh RSPB.

On the Isles of Scilly, a juvenile SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER is still showing well on South Beach, Tresco, with an ORTOLAN BUNTING along Pool Road. A first-winter CITRINE WAGTAIL remains on Porthellick Pool, St Mary's, and 2 BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS on the Airfield

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER in Dorset

In Dorset, a juvenile SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER is present for its third day at Lodmoor Reserve, just east of Weymouth. Initially distant and difficult to view, photographic evidence suggested Short-billed and after several hours today, the bird finally showed exceptionally well, wading out in shallow water and feeding at just 70 yards distance. It is generally keeping company with Common Snipe and is favouring a section of dense sedges visible by looking east from the footpath that skirts the western fringe of the reserve. It spends very long periods out of view (up to four hours at a time) and rarely leaves the shelter of the sedges.


Parking is available in the adjacent council car park but is expensive at £1.00 per hour. There are two vantage points overlooking this part of the reserve - 1) the main footpath that flanks west or 2) the higher ground of the former landfill site accessed from by the recycling centre.

It represents the 402nd species of the year and was today admired by just under 160 observers. It is the first to be seen since 1999.

It is really rare waders all the way at the moment with the long-staying adult LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER still on the South Lake at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs), a wave of AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER arrivals today with adults on North Ronaldsay (Orkney), on the Cefni Estuary at malltraeth (Anglesey), SW of Glasson (Lancs) at Cockersands Sands Country Park and on St Mary's (Scilly) and a juvenile at the Butt of Lewis (Outer Hebrides), a juvenile BAIRD'S SANDPIPER for a third day at Seaton Carew, Teesmouth (Cleveland), a juvenile SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER in Gott Bay on Tiree (Argyll), a juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS at Kingmill Lake (Cornwall), BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS at Marazion Beach (Cornwall) and on St Mary's Airfield (Scilly) (two birds) and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS at Lockwood Reservoir, Walthamstow (Greater London), Burton Mere Wetlands (Cheshire), Gibraltar Point NNR (Lincs) and at New Lambton, Washington (County Durham).

High pressure and very light winds in the south is surprisingly failing to produce many drift migrants but ORTOLAN BUNTINGS were seen at both West Bexington and Hengistbury Head (Dorset), a juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE remains at Wembury Point (South Devon), at least 15 WRYNECKS remain but of course are generally shy and retiring, a BARRED WARBLER at Burnham Overy Dunes (North Norfolk) and a COMMON ROSEFINCH on Tiree (Argyll). A ship-assisted male SPANISH SPARROW at landguard Point (Suffolk) has infiltrated the local House Sparrow clan and is to be found at dawn leaving the Custom House Buddleia roost-site.

IRELAND has also been dominated by Nearctic wader arrivals with a WILSON'S PHALAROPE at Kinsale Marsh (Co. Cork), BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS at tacumshin (Wexford), Bridges of Ross (Clare), Kilshannig (Kerry) and Carrahane Strand (Kerry). A FORSTER'S TERN also lingered at Soldier's Point, Dundalk (Louth) until 1st whilst the male SNOWY OWL remains on Arranmore Islands (Mayo).