TOTAL NUMBER OF SPECIES RECORDED IN BRITAIN AND IRELAND COMBINED IN 2015

As of 10 November 2015, a total of 430 species have been recorded this year

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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

BERKSHIRE goodies

Both the GREAT WHITE EGRET and GLOSSY IBIS were showing well at their respective sites in West Berkshire until at least mid afternoon (Andy Horscroft, Mike McKee, Roger Stansfield, LGRE, et al). For Roger and I, belated county ticks......

The egret was roosting with three Little Egrets in the snowy sheep field SE of the river (300 yards east of Great Shefford village) whilst the ibis was showing down to 25 yards feeding in shallow water in the stream 100 yards west of the reserve entrance gate at Freemen's Marsh, just west of Hungerford (park in the first layby on the left and follow the footpath west for 250 yards to view)

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Frozen continent forces young SEA EAGLE to move west

A juvenile WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLE was discovered at Amberley Wild Brooks SWT in Sussex yesterday afternoon roosting in a distant tree. It remained until dusk and was enjoyed by over 40 local birders throughout the afternoon. It represented the first authenticated record for the county since March 1929 and was presumably a bird forced to move west by the severe wintry conditions being experienced over much of Continental Europe.

After the fog eventually lifted this morning, the bird was once again located in the same roosting tree as yesterday and could be viewed distantly from Rackham Street. It sat there until just after midday when it flew SSW and continued down the Arun Valley; it then drifted west over Arundel WWT at 1215 hours before entering Hampshire airspace and was later intercepted over Southsea, Fareham and Titchfield Haven NR as it entered Southampton Water early to mid afternoon.

In North Norfolk, the juvenile male harrier showing characteristics of the North American form hudsonius has reappeared after being 'lost' for a week or more during the severe weather, showing once more in the Burnham Overy Dunes area late morning. By lunchtime it was back quartering the saltmarsh at Thornham Point and was present in this area on and off all afternoon.

The long-staying juvenile ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD was again viewed from the first layby just west of the cement works at South Ferriby (North Lincs) this afternoon, with the two again hunting Burnham Overy Dunes (North Norfolk) before roosting at East Hills, Wells Harbour.

Berkshire's first-ever twitchable GLOSSY IBIS continues for a fourth day at Freeman's Marsh, just west of Hungerford, the bird showing very well at times as it feeds in the ditches.

A EURASIAN HOOPOE continues to survive at Longham Lakes (Dorset), favouring the scrub and open land to the east of the main lake close to the pumping station. as does a wintering Eastern-type YELLOW WAGTAIL at Colyford Water Treatment Works (South Devon) at SY 254 931 (view through the gap in the hedgerow on the north side of the compound). The bird has not been trapped or sound-recorded but does show a suite of field characters consistent with the eastern clade of flava-type wagtails.

A vagrant DARTFORD WARBLER remains present in the orchard at Evesham (Worcs) (SP 041 450), accessed from the footpath east of the A4184 just north of Collinfield.

The juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER was again present in Works Cove at Herbury Gore (Langton Herring) in Dorset this morning but then returned this afternoon to Lodmoor Nature Reserve. Meanwhile, a GREY PHALAROPE first seen on the River Thames (Essex) on Friday was still present today on the foreshore at Grays, opposite the Wharf public house.

An adult drake AMERICAN WIGEON remains for a second day at Rutland Water (Leics) where it has been showing well in front of Deepwater Hide and Swan Hide at Lyndon Nature Reserve, whilst the drake AMERICAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL is still on the Whooper Pond at Caerlaverock WWT (D & G) (along with the adult Ross's Snow Goose of presumably captive origin). A further drake of the latter is at Kinneil Lagoon (Forth) whilst the regular returning adult female SURF SCOTER remains in Dawlish Bay visible from just east of the Langstone Rock.

Southern Britain is now experiencing a phenomenal influx of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS - at least 4,000 in all - and is literally all over, from Kent in the east to West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in the west. many more SMEW have also moved in from the continent and the icy conditions have made EURASIAN BITTERNS very noticeable and easy to locate, some reedbed sites harbouring 6 or more..

The adult RING-BILLED GULLS can still be located at Southend-on-Sea (Essex) and Walpole Park Boating Lake and adjacent Haslar Creek (Hants), with another at Sands Lane GP (West Yorks). The juvenile ICELAND GULL is still present in Hamilton Dock, Lowestoft (Suffolk) with the odd GLAUCOUS GULL appearing inland.

A GREAT WHITE EGRET is still to be found in Nottinghamshire - being noted at Holme Pierrepont GP again this morning - with the other wintering individual still present at Pitsford Reservoir (Northamptonshire).

Rather unseasonal was a gathering of BALEARIC SHEARWATERS in Carbis Bay, St Ives (West Cornwall) in the last few days, peaking at 25 birds.

In terms of displaced birds inland, GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS continue at Carsington Water (Derbyshire) (two birds), Stewartby Lake (Beds) (the juvenile from Brogborough) and Farmoor Reservoir (Oxon). Inland RED-NECKED GREBES remain extremely rare though with one still present with a Black-necked Grebe and female Smew at Sevenoaks WR East Lake (Kent) whilst VELVET SCOTERS continue at Walton Reservoirs (Surrey) and King George VI Reservoir (London) with a new bird at Cliffe Pools RSPB Alpha Pool (North Kent).

At Dingle Marshes, Walberswick NNR (Suffolk), the shingle pools north of Dunwich car park continue to harbour wintering flocks of 80 Twite, 90 Snow Bunting and 18 SHORE LARKS, whilst the fields by the South Wall of Breydon Water (Norfolk/Suffolk border) are hosting up to 35 wintering LAPLAND BUNTINGS.

IRELAND continues its run of rare Nearctic birds with yet another PIED-BILLED GREBE - present for its second day in the channel at Little Island (County Cork) (park at Garganey Pond and walk north along the shoreline to view from the golf course). This bird falls hard on the heels of last winter's two individuals. The AMERICAN COOT is also still present on Termoncarragh Lake (Co. Mayo), as well as the drake AMERICAN BLACK DUCK. The adult winter FORSTER'S TERN too can be counted on, appearing just before the high tide on the rocks just east of the Mutton Island causeway near Nimmo's Pier in Galway Harbour (Co. Galway).

WAXWINGS in Ireland today included 1 in Dungarvon (Co. Waterford) and 4 at Knocknacarra (Co. Galway)

A herd of 4 BEWICK'S SWANS at Ballymacoda (Co. Cork) is a noteworthy occurrence, whilst one of the two regular SMALL CANADA GOOSE is again with 1,500 Barnacle Geese in the Raghley area (Co. Sligo). The female SURF SCOTER near Cobh (Co. Cork) was again off Marloag Point this afternoon.

Monday, 6 December 2010

ORKNEY today - a roundup from Alan Leitch

Firth Bird Crop very busy these days with the snow. However, in amongst the usual suspects were 15+ Common Redpolls. Usual suspects are 6 Brambling, 50+ Twite, 35+ Chaffinch, 90+ Linnet, and 15+ Greenfinch.

Finstown Ouse - At the weekend
Whooper Swan pair with brood of four cygnets, 17 Shoveler, 3 Little Grebe and out in the Bay of Firth, the Bearded Seal enjoying the Arctic conditions, 19 Coot and a couple of Scaup.

Jack Snipe - 2 at The Loons, 1 near Loch of Skail, 2 at Peedie Sea on Sat evening along with a 2nd winter Iceland Gull that has been around for a few weeks now.

Lesser Scaup - Imm female at St Mary's Loch/ Ayre loch late on.

Greylags - It'll be interesting to see if all this snow has sent some of our wintering Greylags sooth. Already I have had reports of some collared birds back in East Anglia.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

A great day out in Essex

Highlights from today, walking the circuit from woodrolfe car park, around the Tollesbury Wick and back through the village.

Kingfisher: One at Woodup Pool sluice
Lapland Bunting: One at Shingle Head Point
Great Northern Diver: One flew up river at 10:40
Barn Owl: Male quartering the rough grazing
Peregrine: Male and Female over Mell Creek
Velvet Scoter: Male just off the second pill box
Red-necked Grebe: One mid river on outgoing tide
Slavonian Grebe: Six on outgoing tide
Red-breasted Merganser: Three groups totalling Twenty birds (many males displaying)
Marsh Harrier: One Male mid river joined Peregrines
Eider: Four imm. mid river
Common Scoter: Two flew up river
Avocet: Twenty in tight flock on South shore Of the River, in flight.
Corn Bunting: Six between the two pill boxes

Finally, in Poplars opposite the Car Park at 13:30hrs,Waxwing: 18-20, dropping down onto Hawthorns before flying off South. There is a huge Hawthorn hedge laden with berries between the car park and the hump in the road going back towards the village, looks a good place to check for these birds.

Andy Cook and Julian Torino.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Southern Britain sees a thaw

The snow stopped falling in Britain today for the first time in a week whilst the temperatures recovered to between 5 and 9 degrees C in the south giving rise to a slight thaw. In the north though, the vast snowfields remain, and temperatures there struggled to get above freezing. The weekend saw more birders in the field and a consequent rise in sighting reports but neither Ivory or Ross's Gull was found, nor the hoped-for Pine Grosbeak. Finland attracted another BLACK-THROATED ACCENTOR though - this bird near Pori representing their 8th occurrence.

A single PENDULINE TIT has survived the freeze at Dungeness RSPB (Kent), feeding at the tops of reedmace close to the Hanson Hide on the ARC Pit this morning, but a HUME'S LEAF WARBLER present in Wells Woods (North Norfolk) on both Thursday and Friday and showing well could not be located today. Not that far away, a single CONTINENTAL WHITE-HEADED LONG-TAILED TIT was with 10 or more British Long-tailed Tits at the Sculthorpe Fen Nature Reserve near Fakenham

The juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER remains at Lodmoor CP (Dorset) whilst in neighbouring South Devon, a probable EASTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL has been showing well at the water treatment works at Colyford today. A COMMON CRANE flew west along the Hampshire coastline this morning, crossing Langstone Harbour and then Swaythling, Southampton, and was most likely the bird later seen at Ham Wall RSPB (Somerset).

The adult female SURF SCOTER has returned once more to her wintering site at Dawlish Warren (South Devon) whilst a female LESSER SCAUP on Orkney is now present for a seventh day at Ayre Loch, St Mary's and the drake BLUE-WINGED TEAL remains west of Castle Douglas (D & G) and off of the A75 at Threave Castle NT on the River Dee from the Lamb Isalnd Hide (NX 746 606).

Two long-staying GREY PHALAROPES continue: at Dunbar East Beach (Lothian) and in the South Arm from Gadwall Hide at Rutland Water Egleton Reserve (Leics).whilst a short-staying bird visited Rainham Marshes RSPB (Essex) on the adjacent River Thames at the Mar Dyke mouth mid-morning.

A flock of 7 SHORE LARKS ranged between Glyne Gap and the eastern end of the beach at Bulverhythe (East Sussex), whilst the fourth-ever for Ayrshire involved one on the shoreline on the SW side of West Kilbride on the south side of the point at Seamill close to the Scottish Water buildings (NS 204 461). Meanwhile, 19 are at Gibraltar Point NNR (Lincs) and at least 15 in Holkham Bay (Norfolk).

The 6,000 or so BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS that arrived in Scotland at the end of October are now scattered wide and far throughout Britain, with birds now west as far as South Wales, South Devon and in County Galway and County Antrim in Ireland. The other invasive species of the autumn - MEALY REDPOLL - is also penetrating Lesser Redpoll flocks well inland, with over 50 reported in the Birch scrub at The Lodge, Sandy RSPB (Beds) today.. Two ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS remain in the Burnham Overy Dunes (Norfolk) .

There has been a distinct arrival of SMEW in the last couple of weeks with at least 50 scattered around the country whilst the icy conditions and easterly winds saw an influx of TUNDRA BEAN GEESE, with four still today in winter wheat west of the Shell garage south of the A12 at Boreham (Essex) and a further 10 at Holland Haven (Essex). In the Yare Valley (Norfolk), TAIGA BEAN GEESE numbers increased to 106 this week

Also, as a direct result of the cold weather, ICELAND GULLS include a juvenile in Lowestoft's Hamilton Dock (Suffolk) and another in Preston Dock (Lancs) with immature GLAUCOUS GULLS at Salthouse Beach (North Norfolk), Dungeness Beach (Kent) and at Appleford Pit, Didcot (Oxon). Peterhead Harbour, in NE Scotland (Aberdeenshire) has both species present, as does Swillington Ings (West Yorks), with the usual adult ICELAND GULL in Ayr (Ayrshire).

The SLAVONIAN GREBE is still to be found on Brooklands Lake, New Hythe GP (Kent), as is the female VELVET SCOTER at Walton Reservoir (Surrey) with juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS at Eyebrook Reservoir (Leics) and Brogborough Lake (Beds) The LONG-TAILED DUCK is still on the Ferry Lagoon at Fen Drayton Lakes RSPB (Cambs), whilst two NORTHERN EIDERS on the Jubilee River at Dorney Wetlands (Berks) was an exceptional record. One drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK remains at Chew Valley Lake (Avon).

A wintering EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE is in a private garden at Goonhavern Downs (West Cornwall) whilst a RED-BILLED CHOUGH is exceptional on the Isle of Wight frequenting fields at Headon Warren today.

In IRELAND, the INDIAN HOUSE CROW can still be found in Cobh Town (County Cork), with a RED-NECKED GREBE off Ballintubbrid (Cork) and adult female BLUE-WINGED TEAL south of the causeway at North Bull Island (Co. Dublin). The adult winter FORSTER'S TERN is again at Claddagh Beach, Galway Harbour (Galway) and the AMERICAN COOT continues its residence on The Mullet at Termoncurragh Lake (Co. Mayo).

Local mega - pair of NORTHERN EIDER at Dorney

Peter Hutchins has discovered an immature drake and female-type NORTHERN EIDER at Dorney Wetlands this evening - 200 yards west of the weir. They were in amongst a large group of mixed diving ducks in the centre of the river. Also, 3 BEARDED TITS in the same area.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

LESSER SCAUP on Orkney

A female LESSER SCAUP is on Orkney at Ayre Loch, St Mary's at Holm.

I found the bird on 28th November, when I first suspected it was a Lesser Scaup. It has taken five days and numerous visits to confirm it since then. During that time I have picked out all the salient points, including the diagnostic wing-bars (I saw the bird on two occasions fly low around the loch with a female Tufted - a huge stroke of luck and very useful for comparison).

It was aged/sexed as a first-year female on a combination of characters including bare-part colouration and plumage.

Tips for anyone not familiar with the species:-Slightly smaller than Tufted; more uniform paler brown; no crest - not even a small one; bill, dull grey throughout with darker nail; white at bill-base confined to a neat oval patch at each side; high dome-shaped crown gives the bird a quaint appearance and is the most distinctive feature of the bird on the water; the 'clinching' feature is the 'two-toned' wing bar (white on secondaries contrasting abruptly with smoky brown on the primaries - difficult to see unless the bird flies or 'wing-flaps')

Keith Hague

Saturday, 27 November 2010

DARTFORD WARBLER in Northamptonshire

DARTFORD WARBLER showing well in weedy scrub by small car park with rubbish off Church Lane, East Carlton SP825898 - Mike Alibone

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Severe Weather Warning

The earliest heavy snowfall since 1993 befell Aberdeenshire, the Border, Northumberland and the North Yorkshire Moors overnight, bringing severe disruption to road and rail after depositing five inches of lying snow in some areas. Such harsh conditions have seen part of the 6,000 or so BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS move south from their initial arrival in Scotland to most parts of England, including as far south and west to Hampshire. There has also been a westerly movement of BEWICK'S SWANS in recent days, with 3 TUNDRA BEAN GEESE new in at North Warren RSPB, Aldburgh (Suffolk), with GOOSANDERS moving south in large numbers, and a SNOW BUNTING appearing at Carsington Water (Derbyshire)

In North Norfolk, Robin Chittenden photographed the dark-backed, orange-breasted circus species recently at Holme NOA and his images, along with those taken by John Miller and SJMG at Thornham Harbour, certainly suggest that this bird too is a NORTH AMERICAN HEN HARRIER - the third record perhaps of the Nearctic vagrant this winter. Today the bird - a pale-eyed male presumably - appeared in the Titchwell RSPB and Thornham area several times

The juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER continues to show well at Lodmoor (Dorset), generally favouring the extreme SE corner of the main marsh adjacent to Beachdown Way, whilst a LESSER YELLOWLEGS - perhaps the Port Meadow bird relocating - remains on the main lagoon visible from the visitor centre at Rutland Water Egleton Reserve (Leics).

A GREAT WHITE EGRET is present for a fifth day at Hatchet Pond, east of Beaulieu, in the New Forest (Hants), with the wintering bird at Pitsford Reservoir (Northants), whilst the CATTLE EGRET remains at Dart's Farm at Topsham (South Devon) and the wintering AMERICAN GREEN HERON can still be found at the Lost Gardens of Heligan (Cornwall).

A GREY PHALAROPE remains off the East Beach at Dunbar (Lothian) (at NT 681 788) today, whilst the long-staying first-year DOTTEREL remains with the European Golden Plover flock at The Wig Scar at Loch Ryan (Galloway). A much longer-staying GREY PHALAROPE remains that on the roadside pools at Pett Level (East Sussex)

There has been a major arrival of MEALY REDPOLLS, perhaps representing 10% of all redpoll flocks currently, with reasonable numbers of NORTHERN BULLFINCHES at coastal localities. ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS continue to survive after arriving in Britain in October, with one hunting over the marsh at Tetney (North Lincs) today and another lingering over Holland Haven (Essex), whilst an old favourite has returned to the Isle of Sheppey (North Kent) to Shellness. A mammoth 43 SHORE LARKS have now amassed in Holkham Bay (North Norfolk).

A TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE is with Greylag Geese at Wat Tyler Country Park (Essex) whilst two different Red-breasted Geese, one bearing an orange-red ring initially seen in Hampshire, consort with the wintering Dark-bellied Brent Geese on the Exe Estuary (South Devon).

Reliable adult RING-BILLED GULLS back for the winter period include singles at Westcliff-on-Sea esplanade, Southend (Essex) and at Walpole Boating Lake, Gosport, and adjacent park fields (Hants)

The COMMON CRANE continues at Castlemartin Corse (Pembs), feeding in the stubble field viewable from the Corseside Nursery entrance, with another at the opposite end of the UK at Nigg Bay (Inverness).

GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS inland include juveniles at Astbury Mere CP (Cheshire) and Park Lake, Angler's Country Park (West Yorkshire), with the BLACK-THROATED DIVER still on St Aidan's Lake, New Swillington Ings (West Yorks), with SLAVONIAN GREBES on Brooklands Lake, New Hythe GP (Kent) and LONG-TAILED DUCKS at Balgray Reservoir (Clyde), Blackborough End Tip southern gravel pit (Norfolk) and Fen Drayton Lakes RSPB (Cambs) and the young drake VELVET SCOTER at Filby Broad (Norfolk).

A YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER remains in West Cornwall in the Cot Valley, whilst the first HUME'S LEAF WARBLER of the year was trapped and ringed at Holme NOA (North Norfolk) on Monday. The latter species and last week's DESERT WHEATEAR secure 2010 as the second best year in history in terms of numbers of species recorded.

In IRELAND, Tacumshane Lake (County Wexford) still harbours the juvenile NORTH AMERICAN HEN HARRIER, along with the now resident GLOSSY IBIS, whilst a female RING-NECKED DUCK is on the River Lee, at Lee Fields, near the football pitch in Cork City (County Cork). Cobh town's resident INDIAN HOUSE CROW was seen again today, as was the drake BLUE-WINGED TEAL at Cabragh Wetlands (County Tipperary), whilst the regularly returning female BLUE-WINGED TEAL is present once again in Dublin at North Bull Island. A drake NORTH AMERICAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL is at Belfast Lough RSPB (County Antrim)

Sunday, 21 November 2010

RUSTIC BUNTING in North Kent

A RUSTIC BUNTING has been present all day in North Kent just SW of Whitstable at Lower Island on Seasalter Golf Course. It has been feeding in the vicinity of the 8th tee and has been showing well

DIRECTIONS

North of the A290 Canterbury Road, take the B2205 Oxford Street and then turn left on to Nelson Road. Finally, turn left into Island Wall and park sensibly and courteously at the end.

This bird represents only the SIXTH in Kent following adult males at Shellness, Sheppey, on 9 April 1962 and at Northward Hill RSPB on 2 June 1983, an immature at Shellness on 5-6 October 1984, a first-winter male trapped at Dungeness on 19-20 October 1983, an immature at Port Regis, near Kingsgate, on 25-29 October 1990 and one well inland at Wierton Hill, Maidstone, from 19-28 March 1993.

Friday, 19 November 2010

DESERT WHEATEAR relocates south


What may well be Northumberland's first-winter male DESERT WHEATEAR was discovered in North Yorkshire today, showing well three fields to the north of the seawatching hut at the Long Nab, Burniston, until dusk (at TA 025 947. Please view ONLY from the Cleveland Way and DO NOT access fields in this vicinity.

Meanwhile, in Greater Manchester, the confiding first-winter PIED-BILLED GREBE is still performing well often directly in front of the hide at Hollingworth Lake Country Park - walk 18 minutes SE of the main car park and Visitor Centre to the far SE corner of the lake. See photos above.

At the opposite end of the country in West Cornwall, the Lost Gardens of Heligan still retain their greatest attraction in the form of the confiding first-winter AMERICAN GREEN HERON.

A PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER was trapped and ringed at Kew Villa, Kilnsea (East Yorks), early morning, with another on Bardsey Island (North Wales) and a further in Horseshoe Plantation, Beachy Head (East Sussex) (and following one recently at Gibraltar Point NNR, Lincs), with a YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER at Caerlaverock WWT (D & G) and a very late WRYNECK in South Devon at Sheldon, east of the A379 in scrub below the car park at Labrador Bay.

The juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER was still present at Lodmoor (Dorset) today, commuting between the pools in front of the viewing shelter and those at the east end of the main marsh adjacent to Beachdown Way; a female SMEW was also at the reserve. In East Anglia, the juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER remains in Blakeney Harbour (Norfolk).

The first-ever STONE CURLEW for North Ronaldsay (Orkney) was a surprise find today and typical of the avian gems that any South-easterly blows in. Likewise a WOODLARK on Inner Farne (Northumberland) was exceptional.

The typically confiding GREY PHALAROPE remains for a fourth day on the tiny flash south of the River Aire, at Bradley Ings, close to the footpath at SD 998 469 at Cononley (North Yorks) with another in Lancashire at Walney Island. A SURF SCOTER was in Fishguard Harbour (Pembs) today, lingering between the inner breakwater and the Fishguard Fort

Both the adult and juvenile ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD continue to forage the Burnham Overy Dunes (North Norfolk) with another near Willingham (North Lincs) and at least one on the moorland near Guisborough (Cleveland).

The COMMON CRANE continues at Castlemartin Corse (Pembs), with another at Nigg Bay (Inverness), with GLOSSY IBISES at the River Otter, Budleigh Salterton and at Exminster Marshes RSPB (South Devon) and the GREAT WHITE EGRETS at Pitsford Reservoir (Northants) and Humphrey Head saltmarsh (Cumbria). That at Brancaster Saltmarsh and Titchwell RSPB (North Norfolk) failed to show today whilst yesterday's Starcross CATTLE EGRET relocated to Bowling Green Marsh RSPB (South Devon) today.

Inland LONG-TAILED DUCKS remaining include single immatures at Pugney's Country Park, Wakefield (West Yorks), Rockford Lake, Blashford Lakes HWT (Hants) and at Swavesey Lake, Fen Drayton Lakes RSPB (Cambs), whilst a RED-NECKED GREBE is present for a second day at Cutt Mill House Pond (Surrey) and SLAVONIAN GREBES at Audenshaw Reservoirs (Greater Manchester) and at a number of sites in NW England. At Farmoor Reservoir (Oxon) this afternoon, a GREAT NORTHERN DIVER was new in, whilst the Broadwater Sailing Club Lake (Middlesex) juvenile drake VELVET SCOTER remains, as well as immatures at Filby Broad (Norfolk) and King George VI Reservoir (Surrey). A drake SMEW was on the Motel Pit at Far Ings NR (North Lincs) today, with a redhead on Crookfoot Reservoir (Cleveland) and another off of the dam at Belvide Reservoir (Staffs). Much farther north, a redhead is on Loch of Kinnordy RSPB (Angus/Dundee).

The wintering flock of at least 55 LAPLAND BUNTINGS is still to be found in the winter stubble fields just inland of the coastal footpath at Happisburgh (Norfolk), whilst on the north coast, at least 20 SHORE LARKS are roaming the saltmarsh at Holkham Gap.

The Yare Valley TAIGA BEAN GEESE are very early back this winter, perhaps a precursor of another severe winter to come, with 37 today at Cantley Marshes RSPB (Norfolk). Up to 221 are back in the Slammannan area of Forth District in Central Scotland.

In IRELAND, a first-winter SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER is showing well at Ballycotton (County Cork) but the recent AMERICAN COOT in County Mayo did not get reported today.

A party of 6 BEARDED TITS remains at the Lingstown Reedbed, Tacumshin (County Wexford) where the juvenile NORTH AMERICAN HEN HARRIER can still be found as well as the elusive CETTI'S WARBLER. In neighbouring County Waterford, the three EURASIAN SPOONBILLS were again in Dungarvan.

Also, the INDIAN HOUSE CROW continues at Cobh (County Cork)

Monday, 15 November 2010

MEGA - AMERICAN COOT in County Mayo

Once again IRELAND is really reaping rewards from the recent deep Atlantic depressions. Firstly, an AMERICAN COOT was discovered on The Mullet in the vicinity of the outflow on Termoncarragh Lake (County Mayo) and secondly, two AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPITS are on offer - a new bird just below the car park at the Belderra Strand at Belmullet, on the Mullet Peninsular (County Mayo) and a continuing bird at Clonea Strand at Ballinclamper in County Waterford. This same latter site also hosts a confiding juvenile WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER. Yesterday, the regular returning FORSTER'S TERN appeared at Doorus Pier in Galway.

The AMERICAN COOT represents the 434th species of the year in Britain and Ireland in 2010, equalling that total achieved in 2009.

In Britain today, some interesting late scarce migrants were discovered with an ORTOLAN BUNTING on Skokholm Island (Pembrokeshire) and a first-winter BARRED WARBLER for a second day in the wood by the B5268 Fleetwood Road opposite the Cala Gran Haven Holiday Park in Fleetwood (Lancs). On the Isles of Scilly, a DUSKY WARBLER still remains by the road at Higher Moors, St Mary's.

Meanwhile, there are still two main stars of the show - the first-winter PIED-BILLED GREBE in Greater Manchester and the first-winter AMERICAN ROBIN in South Devon........

The grebe is at Hollingworth Lake Country Park just south of Littleton and not that far north of the M62. It is favouring the extreme SE corner of the lake where it commutes between the bank and the islands and shows very well at times from the small hide. This is a good 15 minute walk from the designated car park by the Visitor Centre, following the footpath round to the right.

The AMERICAN ROBIN is still ranging widely in the hedgerows west of the main access road to the Turf Hotel at Exminster Marshes RSPB, being seen from anything up to 300 yards north of the hotel. It has now become generally elusive, favouring to feed on Hawthorns well back from the lane, and for best results, keep to the raised bank of the canal when searching. It is best to park in the RSPB car park just beyond the railway bridge as strict restrictions are being implemented at the canalside parking bays. Many birders have suffered a very expensive surprise on site!

Not to be outshone however is the Lost Gardens of Heligan AMERICAN GREEN HERON (looking set to winter on site) and the first-year SQUACCO HERON in Angle Bay (Pembs)

In the north of England, the SQUACCO HERON continues to perform well on the River Wansbeck in Morpeth town (Northumberland), ranging up to 100 yards west of the blue footbridge, with a GREAT WHITE EGRET still frequenting ditches and dykes on the saltmarsh between the railway station and Humphrey Head at Kents Bank (Cumbria). Northamptonshire's long-stayer of the latter continues at Pitsford Reservoir

We are now seeing an arrival of Mealy Redpolls from Scandinavia and with them the odd SCANDINAVIAN ARCTIC REDPOLL, Dan Brown locating one such mixed flock of birds in Strath Brora, well NW of Golspie in Sutherland. He estimated the flock to be in the region of 1,400 birds, moving between Birch scrub. In the same vein, 6,000 or so BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS continue to invade southwards from their initial arrival in Scotland.

The long-staying juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER is still with up to 2,000 European Golden Plover in Blakeney Harbour (North Norfolk), best viewed from the 5-bar gate on the seawall, whilst not that far away at Burnham Overy Dunes, two juvenile ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS are still roaming the farmland and a male TRUMPETER BULLFINCH continues in Holkham Pines.

A further juvenile ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD was still in the South Ferriby (North Lincs) area, with 2-3 still at Sleddale (Cleveland), whilst a 'new' juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER involves a bird for its second day at Trevorian Pool near Sennen (West Cornwall), in fields just west of the pool viewed from the footpath between Trevorian Farm and Trevear Farm 200 yards NE of the school at SW 373 264. In South Devon, after an absence of four days, the first-winter LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER reappeared on the flooded field opposite Axmouth Football Club on Sunday afternoon.

Recent gales have seen an arrival of windblown seabirds, with juvenile Great Northern Divers at Chew Valley Lake (Avon), Angler's Country Park, Wintersett (West Yorks), Astbury Mere CP (Cheshire), Big Mere, Marbury CP (Cheshire), Fleetwood Marine lakes (Lancs) and Carsington Water (Derbyshire), a Slavonian Grebe in Savages Creek at Grafham Water (Cambs) and another on Pine Lake (Lancs) and a first-winter drake Velvet Scoter at Broadwater Sailing Lake (Middlesex).

A first-winter GREY PHALAROPE continues to show very well on the roadside pools at Pett Level (East Sussex), whilst another is present for its third day at Lytham Moss (Lancs), in the flooded field just west of the southern end of North Houses Lane at SD 344 298. A long-stayer is still to be found at Rutland Water (Leics) off of the Green Bank on the Hambleton Peninsula.

The CATTLE EGRET remains at Saltholme RSPB (Cleveland), showing intermittently from the Haverton Viewpoint, with the recent Guyhirn (Cambs) bird relocating to Welney WWT (Norfolk), where the GLOSSY IBIS can still be seen feeding in front of the Lyle Hide. Two further GLOSSY IBIS from the early autumn influx still survive in South Devon - on the west side of the River Otter at Budleigh Salterton and just west of the canalbank car park at Exminster Marshes RSPB.

Kevin Shepherd located a RICHARD'S PIPIT whilst surveying this morning at Lendalfoot (Ayrshire) whilst a couple of late YELLOW-BROWED WARBLERS include singles at Caerlaverock WWT (Dumfries & Galloway) and at the Clennon Valley Lakes near Paignton (South Devon).

Suffolk's drake KING EIDER has now moulted into more adult-type plumage and is looking typically dapper and continues to range between Minsmere RSPB beach and Dunwich beach car park, whilst bucking the recent downward trend, wintering SHORE LARK flocks include 15 between Dunwich and Walberswick (Suffolk) and at least 24 in Holkham Bay (Norfolk). Six more were also at Landguard NR (Suffolk) today, with 10 on the saltings at John Muir Country Park at Dunbar (Lothian)..

A juvenile COMMON CRANE is present for a second day at Nigg Bay, Cromarty, favouring a stubble field just beyond the turn off to Nigg village - the field with bales of straw in black plastic. When disturbed it flies down to the bay just in front of the hide (per Bob Swann), with a further vagrant COMMON CRANE at Castlemartin Corse (Pembs), visible from the Corseside Nursery entrance.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

RSPB Strathbeg this morning

A 75 minute seawatch from 8.30am produced 212 Little Auks, a GreyPhalarope, 6 Great Northern Divers, 2 Long-tailed Ducks and 2 Black Guillemots - all moving north, along with good numbers of Guillemots andKittiwakes.

Highlights from this morning's WeBS count included the reserve's third record of Mandarin Duck along with 2 Slavonian Grebes, Barn Owl, 941 Whooper Swans and around 16,000 Pink-footed Geese (Dominic)

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Massive Redpoll flock in Sutherland

Intrepid explorer and survey-worker Dan Brown has located a huge flock of 1,400 redpolls today in Strath Brora, 8 miles NW of Golspie (Sutherland). The flock comprises many pale birds within its ranks, all feeding in Silver Birch scrub 3 miles west of the Windfarm access road, some of which are considered to be exilipes (Scandinavian Arctics). Many Mealy-type birds are also present in the flock (at least 250).

This would be an ideal opportunity to try and locate a Hornemann's Redpoll amongst them, considering this autumn's influx on the Northern Isles, although of course these are very much ground-feeders rather than tree feeders.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

PIED-BILLED GREBE in Greater Manchester

A Little Grebe out of character at Hollingworth Lake Country Park since last Wednesday was reidentified today as a PIED-BILLED GREBE - and continued to show until dusk, being visible from the main footpath just before the hide.

The Country Park is just south of Littleborough, just north of the M62. It is signposted from the B6225 and the bird is favouring the inaccessible SE corner. Park at the Visitor Centre and walk SE along Rakewood Road before taking the path to the hide (SD 940 150)

It is almost a decade since the last Pied-billed Grebe in Britain but Ireland was treated to two separate occurrences earlier this year, with singles in County Clare and Galway.

What may have been yesterday's Lodmoor/Radipole LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER appeared today at Axmouth (South Devon) north of Boshill Cross in the marshy field opposite Axmouth Football Ground.

There have also been several PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLERS located today in the NE wind, as well as a large displacement of LITTLE AUKS (including 1,731 south past the Farne Islands and a similar number off Dunbar)

In IRELAND, a juvenile WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER remains at Clonea Strand, Ballinclimper (County Waterford), with a CETTI'S WARBLER at Lingstown Reedbed, Tacumshin (County Wexford)

ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD in the West Midlands

At c2pm today I saw a juvenile ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD at Marsh Lane NR. It was only present for a few minutes and wasn't seen again, as far as I know. It seems it may have flown off towards Meriden, but I didn't actually see it depart! Hopefully it will turn up again tomorrow (John Oates)

Seawatching in Lothian today

A juv GREY PHALAROPE between the tide line and 20mts out, at Thorntonloch at noon today. Also well over 1,000 Little Auks past Torness Walkway, we stopped counting at 1,000. Short/Long eared owl in off the sea, 2 G.N.Divers, Sandwich Tern, 2 R.T.Divers (Mike Thrower).

CETTI'S WARBLER at Tacumshin

The CETTI'S WARBLER at Lingstown yesterday

Having noticed, around 3pm yesterday that it had become perfectly still, Idecided to visit Lingstown, Tacumshin in the hope of hearing the Cetti'sWarbler that was discovered there early last Saturday morning by Richard Bonser, Alan Clewes and Lee Gregory, while they were looking for the North American Hen Harrier. Instead of going to the car park at Lingstown, where Saturday's bird had been heard, I stopped a couple of hundred metres before the end of the road (just beyond the prominent white 'Parks and Heritage'sign on the right) where there are several big willow bushes at the edge of the reedbed. This has always struck me as an ideal spot for Cetti's Warbler and it can be a good place to look for Chiffchaff in the winter months.

Within about a minute of getting out of the car (at 15.50 hrs), I heard a single distinctive "stipp" call of a Cetti's Warbler coming from the reedbed/willows quite close to me. I waited quietly until it called again, a minute or so later. I then phoned some local birders, two of whom were not too far away and indicated they would come directly. The bird continued to call every minute or two, which enabled me to follow its movements, but apart from one glimpse of it in flight, very low, it did not emerge into view.

Tony Murray was the first to arrive and he didn't have to wait long for some calls. I was curious to know if playing a recording would attract the bird into the open, but in case it worked only the once I thought it best not to try it until Dave Daly arrived, about twenty minutes later. I played the call first; there was no obvious response, and apart from a split-second view it did not show. A few minutes later I played a snatch of song. Still no visual or vocal response, though at least it did not stop calling! When we walked twenty yards further along the road the bird suddenly flew out and promptly disappeared into the centre of a willow. A few seconds later it emerged, but the view was fleeting. Still, any view of a Cetti's is a bonus! The light was almost gone now, but the bird continued to call occasionally.

Where the bird was yesterday evening is around 3-400 yards from where Saturday's bird was heard. In all probability it is the same individual, but given BO'M's account of Cetti's Warblers at Fleetwood, Lincolnshire, it is quite possible more than one bird is present in the area. (Killian Mullarney)

Monday, 8 November 2010

Some Weekend Excitement on the Home Front as Marsh Hawk continues to take top billing

The MARSH HAWK (or NORTH AMERICAN HEN HARRIER) continues its residency in the Tacumshane and Tomhaggart Lake area in County Wexford, roosting overnight in the extensive reedbed at the Lingstown end of the reserve. It seems to have a well rehearsed pattern of roosting overnight with the 7-9 Hen Harriers in the area and then spending the day roaming the locale, visiting both the East End and the Forgotten Corner area.

DIRECTIONS: If twitching from Rosslare Harbour, continue on the N25 for about 3 miles and then take the SECOND turning left in Tagoat - the R736. Continue west along this road towards Tomhaggart and after 4 miles turn left on to the L7113. This brings you down to a crossroads where you turn right for the roost-site or left to the main Tacumshane Lake proper. Turn right (west) and after 0.6 miles, there is a left turning opposite a 5-bar metal gate. This is the narrow lane that takes you down to the extensive reedbed and park after 0.8 miles at the end of the lane (there is an old trailer with a few wooden stakes on it on the other side of the electric fence here). There is a slight rising to the ground here where the reedbed can be overviewed. The Marsh Hawk tends to hang around this area from 0800-1000 hours and return again just after 1600 hours and is the most reliable location in which to see it.

At other times, it may be seen from the East End car park or Forgotten Corner. For access to both of these sites, drive back to the road from the Lingstown reedbed and turn right. You are aiming for Tacumshane Castle which is just three miles to the east. Continue along this road until it eventually merges with another road from the left and after driving through the small hamlet, look out for a turning on the right marked 'cul-de-sac'. From here, you will see the ruined castle on your right. Forgotten Corner is at the end of the road that goes straight down whilst the track off to your left (east) leads down after about a mile to the East End car park. The Marsh Hawk is frequently seen from both locations. A long-staying GLOSSY IBIS favours a dyke close to the East End car park.

Marsh Hawk is an exceptionally rare bird on this side of the Atlantic with the only previously photographed juvenile being recorded on St Mary's (Scilly) from 22 October 1982 until 7 June 1983. There are a number of other records purporting to be of this form, the most convincing of these being the juvenile that spent a day touring St Mary's (Scilly) on 16 October 1979.

Elsewhere in the Republic of Ireland, the second-year INDIAN HOUSE CROW remains in residence in Cobh Town Centre (County Cork), showing well in the vicinity of the monument and the Papa John's restaurant. The regularly returning adult SABINE'S GULL is also a major attraction, often to be located on Cobh Harbour quayside.

Well the weekend saw a spice of activity in the UK, with the Walmsley Sanctuary (Cornwall) first-winter AMERICAN BITTERN doing an unpredicted bunk overnight on Saturday (after showing exceedingly well from the Tower Hide since the middle of last week) and yet another late autumn SQUACCO HERON making an appearance - this time in Northumberland at Morpeth town centre (residing on the river upstream of the old mill accessed from the Whorral Bank and ranging between the library and the blue footbridge at Low Stanners - NZ 204 862). The other bird remains present in Angle Harbour in Pembrokeshire, often showing down to a few yards.

Another big surprise on Sunday following the switch to NW winds was the discovery of yet another first-winter ASIATIC BROWN SHRIKE in Britain - and the second for Yorkshire. It spent the afternoon frequenting scrub skirting the golf course, about 800 yards north of the clifftop car park. It disappeared overnight following very cold, clear conditions in the first half of the night.

Another star bird was yet another RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL - this time in East Kent and at Denge Marsh Road for most of Saturday - the 30th to be recorded this autumn. A PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER was trapped and ringed at Kew Villa, Kilnsea (East Yorks), today, with another seen briefly at Titchwell Marsh RSPB (Norfolk)

Also fresh in was a juvenile/first-winter LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER at Lodmoor NR (Dorset) - which moved today to the North Pools at Radipole Lake RSPB, whilst other Nearctic waders include the first-winter LESSER YELLOWLEGS at Port Meadow, Oxford (Oxon) and juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS at Blakeney Harbour/Cley NWT (North Norfolk) and on the Exe Estuary, just south of the Turf Hotel near Exminster (South Devon).

Another milestone discovery was an adult THAYER'S GULL at Pitsea Landfill in Essex, where gull enthusiast Steve Arlow chanced upon and photographed this bird whilst sifting through many thousands of feeding birds on Saturday morning. The Landfill is strictly private with no access outside of the North Thames Gull Ringing Group.

In Cornwall, the first-winter AMERICAN GREEN HERON continues to attract admirers with its continued residency at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, often favouring the pool overlooked by the hide (for full directions, ask at the entrance kiosk and obtain a detailed map).

In Southwest Norfolk, the long-staying and very confiding GLOSSY IBIS remains at Welney, frequenting the tiny decoy pool just north of the power lines. From Welney village, drive north for a mile to the first sharp right hand bend and then follow the track alongside the Hundred Foot Drain for a further mile to view. Not that far away, in Cambridgeshire, the CATTLE EGRET continues at the fields adjacent to Red Gate Farm at Guyhirn. Other CATTLE EGRETS include a long-staying bird by Withybush Airfield at Poyston (Pembs) and that in the cattle field opposite the parking place next to the yellow half-mile car park sign at Donna Nook (North Lincs).

The BOHEMIAN WAXWING invasion continues unabated, with the Inverness area of Northern Scotland harbouring 2,500 or more birds. The total number involved far exceeds 6,000 and as the weeks progress and berries run out, many flocks will drop further south and west.

RED-NECKED GREBES are hard to come by these days and at present the only bird inland is that at Cheddar Reservoir (Somerset). Meanwhile, Suffolk's major attraction throughout the autumn - the drake KING EIDER now moulting into its second-winter plumage - continues to get seen daily offshore, generally between Minsmere Sluice and Dunwich Beach car park.

A few rare wildfowl are on offer including single drake North American Green-winged Teals at Caerlaverock WWT (Dumfries & Galloway) and Cley NWT Reserve (Norfolk), the pair of SURF SCOTER off Ynyslas car park (Ceredigion) and both FERRUGINOUS and RING-NECKED DUCK at Chew Valley Lake Stratford Bay (Avon). A female NORTH AMERICAN WOOD DUCK of unknown provenance was with a large number of Mallard and Common Teal on the sewage works pool and adjacent Pwll Penarth NR pool (Powys) this morning, whilst the adult RUDDY SHELDUCK which arrived with Dark-bellied Brent Geese in Langstone Harbour (Hants) is now consorting with Eurasian Wigeon at Farlington Marshes HWT.

A GREY PHALAROPE still remains on the West Scrape at Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk) today, with the two first-winters still at Cley NWT (Norfolk).

A RICHARD'S PIPIT continues for a second day at Sleddale (Cleveland), frequenting fields by Sleddale Farm, whilst gathering for winter perhaps are the 24 SHORE LARKS in Holkham Bay (North Norfolk).

A few ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS are still surviving in Norfolk, including one near Abbey Farm, Flitcham, and another in the Burnham Overy Dunes area, whilst northerly winds produced some heavy movements of LITTLE AUKS in the North Sea, with 147 in just over an hour south past Girdle Ness (Aberdeenshire) and 800 past Fife Ness (Fife)..

In NORTHERN IRELAND, a drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK was at Corbet Lough (County Down) today.

CRESTED TIT on the Isle of Skye

Over the last 6 weeks, a Nuthatch has been on feeders at Carr Brae, Loch Duich.

Another Nuthatch has been seen well in Arisaig over the last few days.

A Crested Tit has been showing well on feeders at Fasach, Glendale, Skye. A very unusual occurrence.

Link - http://www.skye-birds.com/gallery.php

More predictably, about 35 Waxwings were still present today at Muirtown Primary School.

Alastair McNee

Monday, 1 November 2010

Nearctic Harrier in SW Ireland

A juvenile NORTH AMERICAN HEN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius) (also known as Northern Harrier or Marsh Hawk) is present for a third day in County Wexford frequenting Tacumshin Lakes and its environs. Killian Mullarney has photographed the bird first highlighted by Tom Kilbane and a selection of his images can be browsed at www.irishbirding.com. The identification of this form has always been very complicated but images of this bird clearly show a bird with a contrastingly dark hood and the diagnostic underwing patterning that we have come to rely on more recently.

Interestingly, of the 7 records of this form I listed in 1990 (Evans, Rare Birds in Britain 1800-1990, page 103), only ONE now remains as acceptable - a juvenile that wintered on the Isles of Scilly from 22 October 1982 to 7 June 1983. As such, this is one real mega in terms of European appearances.

Next off, the AMERICAN BITTERN present at Trewey Common Pools, Zennor (West Cornwall), since at least last Monday failed to put in an appearance this morning, leaving 70 or more observers disgruntled. It had been seen by 430 observers since news of its presence was released on Thursday.

That other Nearctic heron, the AMERICAN GREEN HERON, continues its stay unabated though, showing well once again to allcomers at the Lost Gardens of Heligan SE of St Austell (Cornwall).

In North Norfolk, the two first-winter GREY PHALAROPES remain on North Scrape at Cley NWT Reserve, along with the drake North American Green-winged Teal at Daukes Hide and at least 7 SHORE LARKS on the shingle ridge between Salthouse and Kelling Hard and 3 more by Cley North Hide. Further south and close to the border with Cambs, the very confiding GLOSSY IBIS continues in the field just SE of Welney village not far from the cattle pens just west of the Hundred Foot Drain, whilst the juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER reappeared at Cley Marshes NWT this afternoon on Pat's Pool. In neighbouring Suffolk, the 2nd-winter KING EIDER remains off Dunwich Cliffs.

PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLERS are now appearing again with one in the Long Bank Hedge, Beacon Ponds (East Yorks) yesterday afternoon followed by two together this morning in the wood at Berry Head (South Devon), another at the west end of Holkham Pines (Norfolk) and one still present in the Observatory garden at Portland Bill (Dorset).

The Isles of Scilly season is now drawing to a close with the last of the 600 or so of this autumn's birdwatchers now departing; avian remnants from last week's half-term being the DUSKY WARBLER in the Higher Moors clump area of St Mary's and the odd YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER.

In terms of this autumn's irruptions, that of the BOHEMIAN WAXWING remains in full swing, with somewhere in the region of 6,000 birds displaced in Scotland and more and more now dispersing further south. It really is going to be a nightmare for Bird Information Service operatives ! Some single flocks were noted at the weekend as containing over 2,000 birds - incredible numbers - and today flocks of over 1,000 are still being recorded in Aberdeenshire..

Several juvenile ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS are still being seen, with up to 4 in the Sleddale area (Cleveland/North York Moors), two still in the Burnham Overy Dunes area (North Norfolk) and the one in the Holland Haven (Essex) area.

LAPLAND BUNTINGS too remain in abundance, with at least 60 in winter stubble between Chare Ends and the quarry at Holy Island (Northumberland), 12 in fields between Mwnt and Aberporth (Ceredigion) and 5 far west in stubble opposite Tehidy CP (Cornwall).

BEARDED TITS are also in irruptive mood, with 2 at Flamborough Head (East Yorks), 7 at Otmoor RSPB (Oxfordshire), at least 9 at Broom GP (Beds), 3 at Amwell NR (Herts) and a male at Carsington Water (Derbyshire).

A YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER at Alexandra Park (London) was an excellent local record, the bird moving within a tit flock at the western edge of the reservoir as well as in the Conservation Area by the pool.

A female VELVET SCOTER remains inland on Filby Broad (Norfolk) whilst other scarce wildfowl include a drake AMERICAN WIGEON from the Swantail Hide at Wheldrake Ings YWT (North Yorks) and up to 3 FERRUGINOUS DUCKS at Chew Valley Lake (Avon).

In Scotland, a LITTLE EGRET is still showing well on the Starnafin Farm Pools at Strathbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire), with a late GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) and another on the tarmac road at Halligarth, Unst (Shetland).

A very long-staying CATTLE EGRET in Cambridgeshire was today in fields south of the A47 between Guyhirn and Thorney Toll, whilst equally long-staying are GREAT WHITE EGRETS at the Idle Valley NR (Notts) and at Blashford Lakes HWT (Hants). Another CATTLE EGRET is still present today close to the Stonebridge car park at Donna Nook (North Lincs) in the cattle field by Marsh Lane.

A GREY PHALAROPE also continues inland at Rutland Water (Leics), frequenting the shoreline 500 yards west of Normanton Church, whilst the very long-staying first-winter LESSER YELLOWLEGS can still be located on the extensive flood meadows at Port Meadow, Oxford (Oxon). In North Lincolnshire, an AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER is showing well for a second day at Freiston Shore RSPB, with the juvenile in South Devon reappearing on the ebbing tide at the north end of the Exe Estuary 200 yards south of the Turf Hotel on the west shore once again.

Not much in the way of Rare Bird News other than the harrier coming out of IRELAND today but at least 1 GLOSSY IBIS remains at Tacumshin East End Pools (County Wexford). A YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER was noted at Hook Head (County Wexford).

Thursday, 28 October 2010

MEGA - AMERICAN BITTERN in West Cornwall

A confiding bittern species which has been wandering about the grass and a small pool at Trewey Common for the past four days was photographed today and appears to be an AMERICAN BITTERN. The site is particularly sensitive and prone to disturbance so any visiting birders need to be sensible and give the bird some space.

ACCESS INSTRUCTIONS: the location is 3.5 miles north of Penzance and a mile south of Zennor and east of the minor road inland of the coast road at SW 459 366. Park carefully in Zennor village and follow the B3306 southwest for a quarter of a mile and then turn left and walk uphill for about 0.75 miles to view. PLEASE DO NOT PARK ON THE ROAD AT TREWEY COMMON - THIS IS ESSENTIAL

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Bumper crop of BRAMBLINGS




An incredible 400+ BRAMBLINGS have arrived at Tunstall in East Suffolk and are present for their second day, feeding in cut sunflower fields. They are in two flocks - one containing c250 birds at grid ref TM372545 and the other c150 at TM369557 - a most impressive sight! (contributed by Matt Deans)

Saturday, 23 October 2010

BEDFORDSHIRE MEGAS

SATURDAY 23 OCTOBER

Light NW winds, cold, occasional rain or hail showers and largely cloudy

Well done that man ! Not only did DARIN STANLEY find me and others an excellent BEDFORDSHIRE COUNTY TICK this afternoon but also inadvertently got me a second.

Whilst out on a hike not far from his home, Darin Stanley located a SHORE LARK in a large tilled field bordering Galley Hill, just NE of Luton. It was consorting with a flock of Eurasian Skylarks and was difficult to locate, particularly with just binoculars. Darin immediately contacted me and the information was broadcast via Rare Bird Alert. DS was unsure of his location and certainly so was I, so full apologies for those who got caught out by the initial directions purporting the bird to be at the north end of Galley Hill.

Anyhow, I jumped straight in the car after informing Bedsbirds and Andy Plumb and arrived in Warden Hill Road not long after 1400 hours. Darin had last seen the Shore Lark at 1320 and had lost it. I rendezvoued with him in Luton and hashed out exactly where the bird was situated and made my muddy way out to the site. Steve Blain, Martin Stevens and one other local birder had already managed to locate the SHORE LARK on my arrival and were standing just down from the junction of the Icknield Way and the John Bunnion Trail. SB had even managed to obtain two record images of the bird. The bird had flown briefly just prior to me walking up but within minutes, MS relocated it and I had a brief 'scope view of my first ever Shore Lark in the county. I quickly got my own 'scope on to it and then over the next hour, obtained several more views of it, the closest of which were down to 75 yards. It typically remained very mobile, often flying short distances when the Skylark flock were spooked. All in all, some 15 or so local observers connected in that first hour. We then lost it and did not relocate it again after 1500 hours.

DESCRIPTION

It was a well-marked individual and very easy to separate from the Eurasian Skylarks and was most likely an adult. It had much pale yellow on the face, throat and shoulders which contrasted with the jet-black lores, the black breast-band and the black 'eye drop' (black line of feathers curving down from the eye). The hindneck, mantle and fore-shoulders were a lovely soft 'pinkish' brown, with an even warmer, almost chestnut feel to the flanks. Otherwise, the underparts were a gleaming white. The upperpart feathers had narrow dark shaft-streaks and in flight, had a rufous wash to the rump. The underwing was very pale and whitish but at no point did I hear it call. There was an obvious pale tipping to the wing-coverts, with the scapulars noticeably dark-centred. The bill was quite dark and the legs and feet blackish. It was noticeably smaller and slimmer than the Skylarks and when flying away, had black in the tail but no white..

Shore Lark is a very rare vagrant to Bedfordshire with just 4 previous records - one caught and taken into captivity from Dunstable Downs in the last week of October 1913; one in Houghton Regis Chalk Pit on 10 October 1971; one at Clophill Quarry on 17 October 1992 and one more recently - photographed in a ploughed field with Skylarks near Woburn at Potsgrove on 9 November 2004.


As soon as I saw the size of the field, its layout and the number of birds feeding in it, I just knew that there would be LAPLAND BUNTINGS in it and as MJP arrived on site, I exclaimed to him that if I could not relocate the lark, chances are we would find a Lap Bunt in the search. As it was, not that long in to our scanning of the strips, Steve Blain exclaimed quite casually that he had one - and a fine male it was too. Fortuitously, SB was able to move aside from his 'scope, allowing the first 4 or 5 of us to connect but then the entire flock was spooked by screaming children and a barking dog and the bird flew and was lost.

Trying to relocate both the Shore Lark and the bunting later, I discovered a second LAPLAND BUNTING in the field - a first-winter or female-type this time. This individual was typified by an obvious white greater covert line and striking pale 'tramlines' and was shuffling about the ground like a mouse. I managed to get most of those present on this individual this time, despite the distance it was being observed at. It remained on view on and off for about 15 minutes but then flew.

Two LAPLAND BUNTINGS were then picked up in flight with the Skylark flock shortly later with both landing close to the ridge and being re-sighted and 'scoped on the ground. A well-marked male was seen again then on several occasions but from differences in plumage, it was clear there were at least two female/immature types present - both quite dull and lacking the extensive black gorget of streaks so apparent on the male. At one stage in flight, I believe there were probably at least four birds present - but certainly on the ground, definitely THREE. My first ever in Bedfordshire.

There was also a single female Yellowhammer with the flock, as well as several Meadow Pipits and 25 Linnets, whilst 7 BRAMBLING flew up at one stage and a flock of 200 FIELDFARE flew in. The extensive tilled field also harboured a flock of 38 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS and a covey of 4 GREY PARTRIDGES.

The Lapland Bunting is also a mega-rare bird in the county of Bedfordshire with just one previous record - an immature/female at Brickhill, Bedford, on 15 & 22 October 1966 (Beds Naturalist 20: 33).

DIRECTIONS: The closest place to park is in Warden Hill Road in Luton where from here, one can follow the main footpath bordering the golf course. Keep on the footpath until it reaches the northern end of Warden Hill and then bear right on to the bordering footpath between Warden Hill and Galley Hill. The large tilled field is immediately east of Galley Hill and can be 'scoped from the south side and footpath that leads east. The location is situated at TL 092 266.

Friday, 22 October 2010

East Suffolk today
















I was lucky to obtain three shots of one of the three juvenile ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS at Potter's Bridge this morning; NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE on Westleton Heath, adjacent to the Deer viewpoint track, south of the Westleton to Dunwich road and the Minsmere GREAT WHITE EGRET performed at Island Mere this afternoon (Matthew Deans).

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

29 RED-FLANKED BLUETAILS and counting..........

Since my last update in early October, the total number of species recorded in a combined Britain and Ireland has risen to 424 - with the addition of AMERICAN GREEN HERON, SOLITARY SANDPIPER (a long-staying juvenile at Seaton Black Hole Marsh, South Devon), COMMON NIGHTHAWK (a juvenile present all day at a private site in County Durham), ISABELLINE WHEATEAR (a very fresh first-year at Lowestoft North Denes, Suffolk, for just one day), HERMIT THRUSH (two arrivals simultaneously in the Outer Hebrides), PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER (a widespread influx), SAXAUL GREY SHRIKE (a typically confiding first-winter with tail damage at Strathbeg RSPB, Aberdeenshire, for a few days), RED-EYED VIREO (at least 5 arrivals) and a YELLOW-BREASTED BUNTING in West Ireland seen briefly.

Back to now and with cold NW winds blasting virtually all of the Recording Area, little in the way of new rarities are now being located.....

RED-FLANKED BLUETAILS are now up to 29 this autumn and the latest of these to appear - a first-winter in Hampshire at Sandy Point Nature Reserve on Hayling Island - performed well prior to 1030 hours but then promptly disappeared (and only reappeared just briefly mid-afternoon). This latter bird is present for its third day but present for its fifth is an even more elusive individual - that at Arnold's Walk in north Lowestoft (Suffolk). Another was also still present today on Scilly.

There was no sign of the GREY-CHEEKED THRUSH seen just briefly late yesterday afternoon on St Martin's (Scilly) today, although the MELODIOUS WARBLER and RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL on that same island were both performing well and a late ICTERINE WARBLER was still to be seen on Bryher. St Mary's offered a SUBALPINE WARBLER at Mount Todden Farm, a LITTLE BUNTING along the footpath to Content Farm and a few Lapland Buntings and Hawfinches

The very confiding juvenile AMERICAN GREEN HERON continues its stay at the tourist hotspot of the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, favouring the upper pond along the Jungle Trail; access £10 per person from 1000 hours. Meanwhile in South West Wales in Pembrokeshire, the very confiding juvenile SQUACCO HERON remains in Angle Harbour, frequenting the creek downstream of the stone bridge just behind the church. Not that far away at Poyston, a CATTLE EGRET continues to be seen at Withybush Airfield. Another CATTLE EGRET is present in North Lincolnshire, frequenting cattle fields along Marsh lane close to the Stonebridge Car Park at Donna Nook.

A juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER was picked out amongst European Golden Plovers in the Eye Field at Cley NWT (Norfolk) early morning before flying west but was then fortuitously relocated between Langham and Morston early afternoon and later by Cockthorpe Airfield in the potato field at TF 988 419..

Cley Reserve still hosts a first-winter GREY PHALAROPE (today on Arnold's Marsh) whilst the shingle ridge between Coastguards and Sea Pool has up to 14 wide-ranging SHORE LARKS. At Holkham Pines, the two ivy-clad tall Pine trees just south of the main track 200 yards west of Lady Anne's Drive continues to harbour a first-winter RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER and two Yellow-browed Warblers (a PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER was also with them on 18-19 October).

Late PECTORAL SANDPIPERS include singles at Welney WWT (Norfolk) and briefly at Arlington Reservoir (East Sussex) whilst the long-staying juvenile BAIRD'S SANDPIPER continues at Holland Haven scrape in Essex. In Oxford, the long-staying juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS continues to show well on the Port Meadow Flood Meadows, accessed west of the A4414 Woodstock road along Aristotle Lane (please respect resident's parking). Culminating a superb autumn for the species, one BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER remains in West Cornwall frequenting fields opposite Trevedra Farm at Sennen

ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS appear to have had an excellent breeding season in Siberia (perhaps due to an over-abundance of Field Voles) with large numbers of juveniles appearing down the East Coast following some exceptional southward migrations off of Falsterbo, SW Sweden. Two were this morning showing well in Suffolk hunting between Potter's Bridge and Easton Broad, whilst others were seen in flight over Pegwell Bay (Kent), over Crathorne, Kirklevington (Cleveland), at Sleddale Moor (Cleveland) and north over Snipe Dales LWT (North Lincs).

There are still large numbers of LAPLAND BUNTINGS scattered about the country, perhaps involving several thousand individuals, with particularly popular birds in Buckinghamshire and Surrey, but the dearth in large pipits continues, with RICHARD'S PIPITS today just singles at Pegwell Bay (Kent), at Telegraph, St Mary's, and at Higher Town Bay, St Martin's (Scilly).

Of excellent local value is a BARRED WARBLER in Elders by the Cop Hole Pool at Shotwick Boating Lake (Clwyd), accessed off of the A548 at the Paper Mill roundabout at SJ 298 722. Meanwhile, a RADDE'S WARBLER was seen and heard in scrub in the vicinity of the last house at the bottom end of Cot Valley (Cornwall).

A few more BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS arrived today, along with several herds of freshly-arrived Whooper Swans. In East Sussex, the single SHORE LARK remains on the west side of the river mouth at Cuckmere Haven, whilst on Fair Isle, a single HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLL remains..

A juvenile ROSE-COLOURED STARLING was in conifers and bushes at the west end of the row of houses by the western car park in Lepe (Hants) mid-morning, whilst for the past week or more, a gorgeous adult has been present in hawthorns and scrub at Newhaven Heights (East Sussex).

A few GLOSSY IBISES left over from the Iberian post-breeding dispersal in August and September include singles at Exminster Marshes RSPB (South Devon) and at Valley lakes RSPB (Anglesey) (located a mile SE of Llyn Trafwll at the rear of the damp cattle field on the south side of the minor road at SH 338 753), whilst GREAT WHITE EGRETS include singles at Pitsford Reservoir Walgrave Arm (Northants), Minsmere RSPB Island Mere (Suffolk) and at Grainthorpe Haven (North Lincs)

A drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK remains at Calder Wetlands at Pugney's Country Park (West Yorks), with three more at Chew Valley Lake (Avon). The latter site also plays host to a long-staying drake RING-NECKED DUCK with the regular Foxcote Reservoir individual of North Bucks reappearing today. The first-summer drake KING EIDER is still to be found between Minsmere Sluice and Dunwich Cliffs (Suffolk)

The adult Ross's Snow Goose which summered at Loch Leven RSPB (Tayside) remains with Barnacle Geese at Rockcliffe Marsh (Cumbria) whilst the adult Red-breasted Goose bearing the orange-red plastic ring remains with Dark-bellied Brent Geese on the Exe Estuary (South Devon).

The adult RED-NECKED GREBE remains near the Axbridge Tower at Cheddar Reservoir (Somerset) whilst further south in the county, a late SPOTTED CRAKE can still be seen from the hide at Greylake RSPB Reserve. A first-winter RED-NECKED GREBE is also still to be found at Bawdsey East Lane Lagoons (Suffolk)

In IRELAND, an AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT continues to show very well on the seaweed at Clonea Strand, Ballinclamper, in County Waterford, whilst not that far away, a juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER is at The Cunnigar Pools. A LITTLE BUNTING was on Cape Clear Island (County Cork) this morning, with the BARRED WARBLER and Yellow-browed Warbler still at Mizen Head (County Cork). In Cobh Harbour (County Cork), the adult SABINE'S GULL is along the harbour front again and the 2nd-winter INDIAN HOUSE CROW continues its residency in the town square.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

ROSE-COLOURED STARLING in Newhaven, East Sussex

Thanks to Jacob Everitt, I was able to enjoy fabulous views of the Newhaven ROSE-COLOURED STARLING this morning. The bird is a gorgeous adult and is still in very fine fettle - with much pink on the rump and mantle and on the underparts and pink at the base of the bill - and showing so well, in its favoured hollow of blackberry scrub just SW of the Lighthouse Station and the transmitter. It was busy gorging on Blackberries and Craneflies and kept very much on its own.

DIRECTIONS: Take South Road from the Newhaven one-way system and then at the roundabout, head straight across on to the Fort Road. Just past the sports field, take the right turn and continue to the upper fort car park, from where one can walk uphill for 300 yards and over and continue just past the station complex at the summit.

LESSER YELLOWLEGS in Oxfordshire

Adam Hartley discovered a LESSER YELLOWLEGS on his local Port Meadow Floods patch this evening and the bird was present until dusk, roosting in amongst the large numbers of birds present there. Hopefully it will still be there at first light....

Port Meadow is heavily disturbed by day with large numbers of joggers and dog walkers utilising the huge open space so the chances of it remaining may be slim
A trip to Holland Haven with Andrew Thompson today produced the following;

BAIRD'S SANDPIPER - The recently present juvenile flew in at 10.25
JACK SNIPE - 1 on scrape
MARSH HARRIER - 1 juvenile male
SPARROWHAWK - 6 including 4 females possibly of continental origin due to size
PEREGRINE - a massive female came in from south
SHORT-EARED OWL - 1 came in off sea
GREY WAGTAIL - 1 in off sea
SWALLOW - 6 south
GOLDEN PLOVER - 100+ in fields
RUFF - 1
CHIFFCHAFF - 2
BLACKCAP - 1

and a few hours at Abberton where we were joined by Andy Field

LAPLAND BUNTING - At least 16 in mowed grass area behind Roy King Hide
MARSH HARRIER - 1 adult male
LITTLE STINT - 1 in hide bay
GOOSANDER - 1 juvenile off Layer Breton causeway
JACK SNIPE - 1 feeding with Common Snipe SW of Layer Breton causeway
SPOTTED REDSHANK - 33 off Layer Breton c/way
GREEN SANDPIPER - 1 off Layer Breton causeway

All the best, Steve
www.swallowbirding.co.uk
Birdwatching Breaks in the UK and beyond

Thursday, 7 October 2010

YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER in Northamptonshire

One trapped, ringed and released by the Stanford Ringing Group along the disused railway track on the south side of Stanford Reservoir this morning at approximately 09.15. Note the track is private but there are plans to make the landowner aware by the ringers that a small number of observers is likely to be present to see the bird. Access from the Welford Road end of the reservoir (east end), walk along the track to the silver gate opposite Blower's Lodge Bay, taking care to avoid the mist nets in the area, to view the bird, which is in the trackside bushes (Mike Alibone)

OBP in Orkney

An OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT is at Halley, Deerness. I found it yesterday but wanted to be sure of the ID before putting the news out. It is frustratingly wary, flushing at a fair distance, flying away and dropping into cover again. It has only very occasionally shown itself in the open and then very briefly. I did however manage to get a 'record' photo, which I hope to post on Orkbird soon. Continually flushing the bird appears to be counter-productive, so my advice would be to sit quietly at the top of the beach, and wait for it to come to you! (Keith Hague)

More megas keep coming

First seen yesterday morning, the (AMERICAN) GREEN HERON was still present today 4 miles SSW of Mevagissey at Pentewan at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, showing intermittently from the hide in the Hidden Valley, a 15 minute walk from the entrance gate.

The Gardens open at 1000 hours and allow last entry at 1530 hours and tickets for visiting cost £10 per person.

There is also a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER in Cornwall today just NE of Wadebridge at Walmsley Sanctuary CBWPS, visible from the Tower Hide and present for its third day. A long-staying but elusive juvenile BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER also remains on Davidstow Airfield.

On the Isles of Scilly, a BLACK-HEADED BUNTING is new in on St Agnes, showing well this evening at Porth Coose, whilst on St Mary's, the juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and juvenile BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER remain on the Airfield.

Shetland is once again where all the action is - with a twitchable LANCEOLATED WARBLER brightening up proceedings. Discovered by Rob Brookes and Martin Garner last night, the bird is creeping about in short grass in full view at Skaw, at the northernmost part of Unst. Nearby, a BLYTH'S REED WARBLER is present for a fifth day on Fetlar at Aith and in the south Mainland, the SYKES'S BOOTED WARBLER is still being seen occasionally at Channerwick. A SWAINSON'S THRUSH spent two days at Levenwick at the weekend where it was admired by over 60 observers - the second for Shetland this autumn.

In IRELAND, a first-winter MYRTLE WARBLER is present for a third day on Cape Clear Island (County Cork) with the year's first RED-EYED VIREO further east at Firkeel Glen.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

415 species and counting......

A MYRTLE WARBLER discovered this afternoon by Peter Phillips on Cape Clear Island (County Cork) constitutes the 415th species recorded in Britain and Ireland this year and follows Olive-backed Pipit, RUFOUS-TAILED ROBIN, Siberian Stonechat and LANCEOLATED WARBLER since my last update.

It has been SHETLAND which has been making all of the headlines in the past week and with up to 160 observers scouring every nook and cranny of suitable habitat in search of rarities, an impressive haul has been unearthed. The star of the show still remains that snowball of a first-winter HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLL on Unst at Norwick, whilst an AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT remains at Esha Ness and a presumed SYKES'S BOOTED WARBLER is still being fleetingly glimpsed at Channerwick. The Out Skerries continue to host both a BLACK-HEADED BUNTING and a CITRINE WAGTAIL, with the two juvenile BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS still by the lighthouse at Esha Ness machair and at least two LITTLE BUNTINGS remaining on Unst. Elsewhere, a scattering of Yellow-browed Warblers, Barred Warblers, Lapland Buntings and Common Rosefinches.

At the opposite end of the country, SCILLY has been very poorly represented - and with just 45 observers in town, perhaps not that surprising. Moving in front of the latest depression to be crossing the Atlantic was a freshly-arrived juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER today - moving from Porthcressa Beach to finally settle on the St Mary's Airfield. A RUSTIC BUNTING on St Agnes was also early for that archipelago but it quickly disappeared into cover and was not relocated. Porthellick Pool still hosts the long-staying juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPER and the Pectoral Sandpiper as well as Jack Snipe, whilst a RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER was near Longstone and WRYNECKS were on Bryher and Wingletang Down, St Agnes..

West Cornwall is struggling to provide much of avian interest in this past week but a confiding and easy first-winter male SIBERIAN STONECHAT is the best on offer, sharing a roadside field with 2 Whinchats and a Common Stonechat near Gurland Farm, adjacent to the road to Nanquidno at SW 367 286. Also popular is an adult drake SURF SCOTER in Mount's Bay, Penzance, often scoped from the Jubilee Pool by the quayside, with a juvenile ROSE-COLOURED STARLING nearby roosting with Common Starlings on St Mary's Church in Penzance.

It has been an excellent year for WILSON'S PHALAROPES with the first-winter at Welney Refuge (Norfolk) still showing well today on the main lagoon in front of the Observatory. Late juvenile RED-NECKED PHALAROPES included singles at Cley NWT (Norfolk) and Blagdon Lake (Somerset) with a juvenile GREY PHALAROPE from recent gales still on show at Burnham Overy Dunes (Norfolk) - Norfolk clearly allowing all three species to be netted in one day !

It has also been an exceptional autumn for SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS with the latest - a juvenile with up to 5 Little Stints -arriving on the extensive mud at Abberton Reservoir (Essex) on Sunday. The bird was still to be seen today and showing from the boardwalk vantage point close to the Information Centre.

A juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER remains for a third day with European Golden Plovers at Great Heck (SE 576 200) SE of Eggborough (East Yorks), on the flood just south of the village, whilst PECTORAL SANDPIPERS include juveniles at Rigifa Pool, Cove (Aberdeenshire), Upton Warren (Worcs), Minsmere RSPB East Scrape (Suffolk) and Abberton Reservoir Layer de la Haye causeway (Essex). BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS are also in excellent supply with a confiding juvenile with a damaged lower mandible at Arlington Reservoir dam (East Sussex), two juveniles at the SW end of Scotney GP (East Sussex/Kent border) and another juvenile at Davidstow Airfield (Cornwall).

The long-staying and most incredibly confiding juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPER remains on the Exe Estuary at the Turf Hotel, Exminster (South Devon) where it can be accessed whilst essential road repairs are taking place along the trail from the RSPB car park adjacent to the railway bridge. In Dumfries and Galloway, a late and confiding juvenile DOTTEREL is at The Wig at Loch Ryan, Stranraer.

Whilst the pair of ROSS'S SNOW GEESE have made a sudden disappearance after a two-week sojourn in the Aberlady Bay area (Lothian), another has appeared with the 65,000 or so returning Pink-footed Geese at the Montrose Basin (Angus/Dundee) and the Caerlaverock WWT (D & G) adult of suspect origin relocated with Barnacle Geese to Rockcliffe Marsh (Cumbria). An adult RED-BREASTED GOOSE located with newly-arrived Dark-bellied Brent Geese at Thorney Island (West Sussex) on Saturday was sadly sporting a red plastic ring whilst concern is mounting if the family party of 5 unringed individuals decide to depart Minsmere RSPB Levels for pastures new.

The drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK remains at Wintersett Reservoir west bank (West Yorks) with up to 3 in residence at Chew Valley Lake (Avon) whilst perhaps of natural origin was a juvenile BAIKAL TEAL at Chigborough Lakes EWT (Essex) on Saturday morning; the bird had arrived with a noticeable increase in Wigeon numbers (see Adrian Kettle's images above). A drake LESSER SCAUP continues to be seen off of the Hensborough Bank at Draycote Water (Warks), whilst the first-summer drake KING EIDER continues to range between Dunwich Cliffs and Minsmere Sluice (Suffolk).

Remnants from last week's fall on the East Coast of Britain include a very confiding, pale and white-winged juvenile WOODCHAT SHRIKE at the Croft Terrace Park on Hartlepool Headland (Cleveland), an adult NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE at the Sands of Forvie NNR (Aberdeenshire) and a female/first-winter RUSTIC BUNTING at North Landing, Flamborough Head (East Yorks). Newly discovered though was a juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE by Meadow Road Children's Play Area in Cromer (Norfolk).

Tiree (Argyll) birder John Bowler continues to reap rewards after his outstanding NORTHERN PARULA find of recent times and today located a BLUETHROAT at Balemartin. Another BLUETHROAT was seen at St Margaret's at Cliffe (East Kent) yesterday morning, with another trapped and ringed at Romsey Water Meadows (Hampshire) at the weekend. Tiree today also hosted a GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK at Sandaig, 2 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS and a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER with European Golden Plover at Heylipol and 2 GREY PHALAROPES off Hynish.

The LAPLAND BUNTING invasion continues unabated with very large numbers still present on the Northern Isles, with more notably two at the Sence Valley Forest Park in Leicestershire and at least one at Abberton Reservoir (Essex).

There has also been large numbers of RING OUZELS on the move, with a RED-RUMPED SWALLOW south over Donna Nook (North Lincs) this morning.

Other long-stayers include the WHITE STORK on the Wareham Bypass Water Meadows (Dorset) and the exceptionally confiding juvenile GLOSSY IBIS on the West Marsh at Stanpit Marsh, Christchurch Harbour (Dorset).

In addition to the aforementioned Dendroica in Cork, which incidentally moved towards the Cotter's Garden late on, IRELAND today also played host to a possible CHIMNEY SWIFT at Farranfore Airport (County Kerry) and the first-winter WILSON'S PHALAROPE reappeared at the Webb's Field at Kilcoole (County Wicklow). Interestingly, two WILSON'S PHALAROPES had been seen near the Wellington Bridge at Barrystown (County Wexford) on 28 September.

Tacumshin Lake continues to harbour a host of vagrants, including a WILSON'S PHALAROPE and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, with 3 GLOSSY IBISES at Ring Marsh (Wexford), BLUE-WINGED TEAL at Rahasane Turlough and ROSE-COLOURED STARLING at Garinish (Cork). An impressive find was an AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT at Truska, Slyne Head (County Galway) on Sunday.

Friday, 1 October 2010

GREAT SNIPE in Suffolk

A GREAT SNIPE was discovered by Carl Buttle mid morning in the coastal strip of grassy vegetation just south of Covehithe cliff. He was fairly confident of the id when he first saw it and after a second view, he invited Ali Riseborough and Dick Walden over, all three observers enjoying two further flight views of the bird. It then flew north and landed in a field on the opposite side of the road but this was private, and despite further searching by up to 20 observers later, it was not relocated. It represents only the third modern Suffolk record, the last being at Corton.

Sussex BUFF-BREASTS

Andy Whitcombe's BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER was still present and showing well at Arlington Reservoir this evening in the heavy rain whilst earlier in the day, the two were still present on the Kent border at Scotney Gravel Pits

HOUSE CROW still

Just in case there is anyone remotely interested in Ireland, the ship-assisted INDIAN HOUSE CROW is still present today, showing well as usual on the drainpipe cover above Papa John's restaurant in Cobh town centre (per Chris Holt)

Monday, 27 September 2010

AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT on Orkney




The BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT was first seen/heard to the left of the Yesnaby car park towards cliffs less than 100m. Initial views were in flight only. Eventually, I got some distant views of the bird on the deck and suspected Buff-bellied straight away though have no previous experience of the species - so wanted closer views to be sure. However, during the next 15 minutes we could not relocate the bird but eventually found it about 12noon 500m to the north of the car park (walk to the right north to the fence cross over fence - there is a stream and standing stones, the bird was on the cliff edge from this point). Views were excellent as it fed along with Meadow Pipits, Rock Pipit and a few Alba Wags on the cliff top. Watched for ca30mins and my initial thoughts were confirmed and a few photo's were taken by Dafi to assist with the description (see above). We lost the bird around 1300hrs spent 15mins trying to relocate ... then work called (Alan Leitch)

Megas galore......

On Blakeney Point (North Norfolk), the North American empidonax flycatcher remains for its third day this morning, favouring the two short Sycamores in the Plantation not far from the point end. This involves a boat trip from Morston Quay or an hour-plus hike out on hard shingle west from Cley Coastguards. Not for the frail or faint-hearted and certainly not in the conditions as experienced over the weekend - that there were no fatalities was a sheer miracle ! The identification is far from resolved and detailed discussions with experts in this field are ongoing. The bird differs in several respects from the ALDER FLYCATCHER that was present near Porthgwarra in early October 2008, not least in the wing formulae.

At the opposite end of the country, the island of Tiree (Argyll) continues to host a first-winter female NORTHERN PARULA for a third day, commuting between the gardens and the few trees on Carnan Mor, at the SW end of the island. The bird is showing exceptionally well on occasions and is a typically bright gem. Access is best arranged by travelling the thrice-weekly ferry from Oban (0900 hours departure and just £17 foot-passenger), staying overnight and returning midday the following day. Taxi costs £11 per one-way hire from the Tiree ferry terminal or you may prefer to walk the 6-mile distance each way - overnight bed & breakfast accommodation from £30).

Shetland's best offering over the weekend was a dazzling WHITE'S THRUSH - the first of the autumn and year but bang on cue - followed by another PALLAS'S GRASSHOPPER WARBLER on Fair Isle. Much more to follow in the next four weeks I am confident.....

Meanwhile, with clearing skies and much lighter ENE winds, large numbers of passerine migrants are befalling North Norfolk and elsewhere on the East Coast, particularly of thrushes, finches and warblers. It is only a matter of time before more rarities put their heads out of those Elders, Birches and sueda bushes. Yesterday saw both RADDE'S WARBLER and WESTERN BONELLI'S WARBLER appear, the latter enjoyed by over 300 enthusiasts

The exciting autumn continues apace.....

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Wendover WRYNECK







Quite unexpectedly, the Bacomb Hill WRYNECK refused to take advantage of last night's calm weather and relatively clear skies and was still present this morning when Mick McQuaid paid homage to this very welcome visitor. It had to brave some very torrential rain and electric storms though but was still present at dusk this evening and once more roosted in its favoured Beech tree. This is its fourth day of residence. Martin Parr obtained another selection of great images today, which are uploaded above.

DIRECTIONS: Leave Wendover town centre westwards on the Ellesborough Road and just after passing the last few cottages on the right, park sensibly and courteously at the first bend in the road (at SP 864 074) (please note that there is only room for five cars to park here, so if full, there is a further parking area 70 yards further east). Take the chalk track towards the Bacombe Hill Nature Reserve and opt for the steeper left hand track which takes you to the tumulus after a hefty 250 yard uphill climb. The Wryneck is favouring the tumuli, where generally it affords viewing at less than 15 yards range (SP 862 072)

Friday, 17 September 2010

GLOSSY IBIS in Northants

There is a single GLOSSY IBIS at Pitsford Reservoir (Northamptonshire) this evening, along with the two remaining juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPERS.....

Monday, 6 September 2010

PEC SAND on Tory Island













This very confiding PECTORAL SANDPIPER was discovered on Tory Island in County Donegal at the weekend and superbly photographed by Derek Charles. For Northern Ireland Bird News. click the following link

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The South Devon HOUSE FINCH







The HOUSE FINCH in South Devon has now fully moulted in to its nice red plumage (see Glyn Hiatt's excellent photos above) and is still present in East Prawle village visiting the gardens within close vicinity of the Village Green and the Piglet Stores.

Easterly winds start to reap rewards big time


Juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper at John Muir Country Park in Lothian (Ian Andrews)

This afternoon, an EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER (elaeica) is showing very well in the warm afternoon sunshine in the hedgerow just beyond the Old Fall Plantation on the south side of Flamborough Head (East Yorkshire) - the first twitchable individual to be recorded in that county. Although initially elusive when Craig Thomas and others first found it, it has more recently started to perform well and has been less skulking.

VIEWING INSTRUCTIONS: Park in the specially designated stubble field car park on the north side of the main access road to Flamborough Head (Lighthouse Road) just west of Old Fall Hedge and then follow the footpath south to the plantation and just beyond.

Also in Yorkshire, the apparent first-winter COLLARED FLYCATCHER remains at Spurn Point for a third day, showing occasionally just north of The Warren in bushes between Posts 11 & 12.and a COMMON ROSEFINCH is there at the south end of the sheep field by the Heligoland Trap. Up to 5 BARRED WARBLERS have been seen in the area in recent days.

The other big talking point is the unprecedented August arrival of LAPLAND BUNTINGS in Britain, with birds of unknown origin flooding into the Northern Isles, including an incredible 160+ on Fair Isle, 120 on North Ronaldsay (Orkney), 74 at the Butt of Lewis (Outer Hebrides) and up to 40 on the Brough of Birsay (NW Orkney Mainland).

Elsewhere in the drift migrant camp, we have RED-BACKED SHRIKES at Bamburgh Castle (Northumberland), Waxham Sands Holiday Camp (Norfolk), Cliffe Pools RSPB (North Kent) and at Biggleswade Common (Beds), with BARRED WARBLERS on Blakeney Point (Norfolk), in Kilnsea Churchyard (East Yorks), an ICTERINE WARBLER remaining at Walsey Hills, Cley (Norfolk) and WRYNECKS at Dungeness (Kent), Benacre Sluice (Suffolk), Middlebere Heath (Dorset), Tidmoor Cove, The Fleet (Dorset) and at Wall Common, Steart (Somerset) (now dead). Single GREENISH WARBLERS have recently been at St Mary's Island (Northumberland) and East Hills, Wells (Norfolk) and a GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK on Blakeney Point.

In the West Country, Cornwall has recorded HOOPOE at the south end of The Lizard, 2 DOTTEREL at Porthgwarra, whilst on the Isles of Scilly, a CITRINE WAGTAIL is today on the Big Pool on St Agnes, a MELODIOUS WARBLER on Bryher (with another on St Mary's at Harry's Walls), MONTAGU'S HARRIER on Tresco

The juvenile RED-NECKED PHALAROPE remains at Elmley Marshes RSPB (North Kent), whilst a juvenile WHISKERED TERN that spent nearly 5 weeks in Cleveland and was at Venus Pool in Salop on Sunday is now at Rutland Water (Leics) for its second day (on Lagoon III and visible from Gadwall Hide)

In Scotland, the adult COMMON CRANE remains at Montrose basin (Angus) whilst the juvenile SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER continues at John Muir Country Park at Tyninghame Haven (Lothian).

1-2 GREAT WHITE EGRETS continue to be seen at Meare Heath NR, Shapwick (Somerset), with another long-stayer at Denge Marsh (East Kent), whilst the two adult WHITE STORKS that arrived near Sutton Bingham Reservoir (Somerset) yesterday evening remained in the area until 1000 hours this morning before flying high north when the temperature heated up.

The weather conditions have been conducive to both Common and EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD arrivals, with large numbers of the former and the first few dark morph juveniles of the latter.

In IRELAND, there is a generous crop of Spanish-born juvenile GLOSSY IBISES scattered about, a BARRED WARBLER on Tory Island (Co. Donegal), the rather scruffy first-year AMERICAN HERRING GULL at Blennerville (Co. Kerry), the resident SNOWY OWL and AMERICAN BLACK DUCK in County Mayo and good numbers of arriving LAPLAND BUNTINGS.