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

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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

LESSER KESTREL - directions

The adult male LESSER KESTREL is still present today at Minsmere RSPB reserve/Westleton Heath, showing distantly from the quarry mound.

Approaching Minsmere from the north, leave the A12 just north of Yoxford and continue three miles in to Westleton village. Bear left on to the B1128 and then almost immediately turn right along the Dunwich road. From here, either turn right or continue east, where there are two entrances via public footpaths on to the heath (either at TM 450 690 or TM 460 694. Park sensibly at the road side or in the designated car parking areas, then from the former reference, walk east for 500 yards, or from the latter, south for 250 yards. In either case, this will bring you out by the bombhole crater in the heather and from the raised ridge thereabouts, the Lesser Kestrel can be 'scoped as he feeds at the edge of Scottshall Covert at 250 yards range. In such cold weather as at present, he is very inactive and perching out of view in sheltered, warm Holm Oaks, and may disappear for up to four hours at a time

Good Birding Always

Lee Evans

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

ALPINE SWIFT present for second day

ALPINE SWIFT, North Foreland, reported throughout the day. Seen over the golf club viewed from Captain Digby pub; park at Botany Bay and walk north for 800m; no parking in the Captain Digby pub car park and keep off the golf course.

PALLID SWIFT at Dungeness

A PALLID SWIFT (presumably yesterday's possible) was spotted at Denge Marsh a couple of hours ago and is now over the Water Tower pits. The three PENDULINE TITS have been showing well again near the Willow Trail (Christine Hawkins)

Monday, 29 March 2010

Sixth LESSER KESTREL since 1950 overshoots on southerly winds

Essex bird photographer Andy Cook could hardly believe his eyes when he came face-to-face with a stonking adult male LESSER KESTREL at Minsmere RSPB reserve (Suffolk) yesterday afternoon. The bird was hopping from fence post to fence post in fields along the access road and was showing unbelievably well. Andy raced back to the RSPB shop and centre and got hold of Birdline Wales operative Alan Davies, who just happened to be by the centre at this time, and showed him pictures of the bird he had just found.

Minutes later and Alan and others were watching it - still showing to 65 yards in the field. News was then quickly relayed to RBA, sparking a major invasion of twitchers from all around. First on the scene were many daytrippers at the reserve, including a 52-strong coach party from the Midlands, and then, shortly later, many of those that were already in the county, due to the continued presence of both Alpine and Pallid Swifts.

Sadly, the commotion caused by incoming twitchers inadvertently frightened the Kestrel and it took flight. LGRE and others intercepted it as it flew north along the access road and made its way slowly west towards Westleton and as a female Common Kestrel set off in hot pursuit after it, it slank away to the north and went out towards Westleton Heath. Fortunately, one intrepid soul later relocated it, where it had taken refuge at the edge of Scottshall Covert at cTM 463 685, and here it was to remain until dusk, roosting in a dense Holm Oak at 1845 hours. By this time, 350 or so observers had connected.

It was a beautiful adult male and represented the first record in Britain since the immature male on the Isles of Scilly in 2002 (on St Mary's from 13-21 May - British Birds 95: plates 226 & 227 and 96: plates 342-343).

The bird roosted overnight and was present again today in exactly the same area, delighting a further 300 or so observers, often perching on gorse clumps, dead Elders and the Holm Oaks. Andy Cook obtained some absolutely stunning images when first found, whilst Jan Hein Steenis and others also managed to get good shots before it flew.

The population of Lesser Kestrel in Europe has undergone some recent dramatic increases following a very successful nestbox campaign in both southern France and in Spain. Previous to this, the species had been in serious decline. The bulk of this population migrates north from wintering grounds in Senegal and The Gambia from late February, with mid to late March being the peak arrival of this species (the Minsmere bird therefore fitting very neatly into this arrival pattern).

Lesser Kestrel is a mega-rare vagrant to Britain with perhaps only six authenticated records since 1950, including a first-summer male at St Ives Island, Cornwall, on 30 May 1968, a male on Fair Isle on 23 June 1987, a male found dead in an outbuilding at Dover, Kent, on 20 April 1989 and a male over Hampstead Heath, London, on 31 May 1992.

Suffolk certainly has been the centre of attention in the past few days with a long-staying PALLID SWIFT attracting large crowds at Kessingland, often flying in the company of an ALPINE SWIFT over the caravan park, sewage works and allotments since Thursday morning. A record gathering of ALPINE SWIFTS in the county has also seen two long-staying birds lingering over the promenade between the Claremont Pier and the CEFAS Laboratories complex, often showing down to just a few yards overhead and frequently roosting on the buildings.

The first TWO-BARRED CROSSBILL in Bedfordshire since January 1890 involves a female consorting with up to 43 Common Crossbills at The Lodge RSPB, Sandy. Initially found and photographed by Alan Crofts and Mike Lawrence on Saturday as it came in with the flock to drink at the main pond, it has been ranging the main heath north of the shop and gatehouse and showing intermittently in the tall conifer trees and isolated stands of deciduous trees. Again, a presumed migrant reorienting from an unknown wintering area, perhaps in Britain.

So, with such mouthwatering birds to enjoy, what else has Britain currently to offer -:

A FAN-TAILED WARBLER put in another repeat brief performance at St Margaret's-at-Cliffe (East Kent), pausing briefly on the clifftop near Bockhill Monument before bounding off north, whilst the three overwintering PENDULINE TITS are now performing daily, frequently visiting the bumper crop of Bulrush 75 yards west of the Hanson Hide along the boardwalk Willow Trail on the ARC Pit Reserve at Dungeness.

It really has been ALPINE SWIFTS which have been breaking all of the records and making headlines, with twitchable individuals in addition to the 3 of 7 recorded this past week in Suffolk being at Marazion Marsh RSPB (West Cornwall), in the Seaton area (South Devon), at Radipole Lake and Lodmoor (Dorset), at Crossness LNR (London) and in North Norfolk at both Cromer and Hunstanton. Over 25 birds in all were considered to have been involved in the influx.

A GREAT WHITE EGRET is today at Blacktoft Sands RSPB (East Yorks) (showing from the gate at Ousefleet Hide), whilst the CATTLE EGRET continues for a third day by the River Frome at Wareham (Dorset)

A migrant drake RING-NECKED DUCK remains for a second day at Kenfig Pool NNR (Glamorgan) (from South Pool Hide), the drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK is at Chew Valley Lake (Avon) (along with the first-winter drake LESSER SCAUP), the very confiding adult drake on the Whooper Pond at Caerlaverock WWT (Dumfries & Galloway) and several GREEN-WINGED TEALS including the regular bird at Eyebrook Reservoir (Leics). The dapper drake BUFFLEHEAD was still present on The Fleet at Abbotsbury Swannery (Dorset) on 28th.

At Dunnet Bay in uppermost Northern Mainland Scotland, the male LITTLE BUNTING (now in song) continues to visit the feeding station in a birder's garden, whilst nearby a first-year drake KING EIDER was off Castlehill, with two other drakes still consorting with Common Eiders off of the Roseisle Beach car park west of Burghead (Moray)

The adult BONAPARTE'S GULL was still visiting the north end of the River Taff by the Sailing Club Activity Centre in Cardiff Bay (Glamorgan) as recently as yesterday, with the LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER widely ranging Lancashire and the Northwest visiting Marshside Marsh RSPB on 28th, a cracking white morph male GYRFALCON on Rhossili Down, on the Gower Peninsula (West Glamorgan) on 27th, a lingering PURPLE HERON at Dyfftyn Mill (Pembs) until at least 27th, an early BLACK KITE over Unthank Road, Norwich (Norfolk), on 26th (Clive Byers) and a RED-RUMPED SWALLOW at Sennen Cove (Cornwall) on 25th.

Migrant activity has been in full swing with an excellent number of northbound OSPREYS, several EURASIAN HOOPOES including well-watched birds at Portland and Langton Herring (Dorset), many FIRECRESTS and BLACK REDSTARTS, with an exceptionally early singing male COMMON NIGHTINGALE for its second day at Searles Farm Lane GP (Berkshire), the odd early COMMON REDSTART and a number of early SEDGE WARBLERS.

The wintering SHORE LARKS remain in Holkham Bay (North Norfolk) (13-18 birds), with two more migrants at Skateraw (Lothian).

The adult winter PACIFIC DIVER continues to be the greatest attraction in IRELAND, where it continues to show well off Finavarra Point (Co. Galway), with the adult FORSTER'S TERN still lingering on Claddagh Beach, Galway Harbour, and the PIED-BILLED GREBE occasionally showing at Lough Atedaub (Co. Clare). A HOOPOE was west of Ballycotton at Churchtown South on 27th.

FAN-TAILED WARBLER yet again in Kent - but briefly

FAN-TAILED WARBLER at the Monument this morning (Sunday 28th), but flew off SW at about 9am (per Tony Morris, St Margaret's at Cliffe, Kent,

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Three PENDULINE TITS reappeared on a couple of occasions near the ARC pit, RSPB Dungeness this afternoon (from end of Willow Trail and from Hanson Hide)

Monday, 15 March 2010

Dungeness RSPB - Recent Sightings

Smew – up to six across the site all week. Goosander – seven on Burrowes pit on 14th. Slavonian grebe – up to four on New Excavations, Denge Marsh and Hooker’s pits all week. Black-necked grebe – up to three on Denge Marsh all week. Bittern – between one and five seen daily. Red kite – one flew over on 14th. Common buzzard – three flew over on 14th. Merlin – one seen on 9th. Golden plover – a maximum of 185 on Denge Marsh. Mediterranean gull – one at Denge Marsh on 13th. Water pipit – two at Denge Marsh on 14th. White wagtail – one near Makepeace hide on 14th. Fieldfare - three on 9th. Redwing – two near Boulderwall Farm on 9th. Chiffchaff – up to three seen around the nature trail daily. Firecrest – two in the car park bushes on 9th and two near Makepeace hide on 12th. Raven – one flying over on 14th.

Christine Hawkins
Visitor Centre Manager, RSPB Dungeness

Sunday, 14 March 2010


Tom Shevlin got some cracking shots of the Irish PACIFIC DIVER off Finvarra Point this morning (see two above and more at
The bird was later relocated by Seamus Enright from Bishops Quarter Beach, about half way between Finvarra and Ballyvaughan. There were no Black-throated Divers in the bay but there were a minimum of 12 further north along the Flaggy Shore and east, including some birds well into breeding plumage (contributed by Mike O'Keefe)

Friday, 12 March 2010

The Friday Review - Week 10

Bird of the Year so far: drake BUFFLEHEAD in Dorset (Alan Lewis)

A total of 263 species has now been recorded in Britain and Ireland this year, with a trickle of incoming spring migrant additions (Northern Wheatear, European Barn Swallow, Sand Martin, White Wagtail, Willow Warbler, Little Ringed Plover and Common Tern), an Atlantic Puffin at Portland Bill, an early Osprey at Hornsea Mere and the Dorset BUFFLEHEAD and Lincolnshire AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER.

The star attraction of the past week has been the beautiful drake BUFFLEHEAD on The Fleet off Langton Herring (Dorset). The bird is associating with Red-breasted Mergansers and after first being seen at West Bexington and Abbotsbury last Sunday, has spent all of its time on The Fleet between Herbury Gore and the end of Lighthouse Road south of Langton Herring. It represents the 10th considered 'genuine vagrant' Bufflehead in Britain since 1950. It is the first record for Dorset.

An adult winter BONAPARTE'S GULL has also been a crowd-puller, returning for a second successive spring to the River Taff in Cardiff (Glamorgan), showing very well opposite the slipway of the Cardiff Bay Water Activity Centre in Jim Driscoll Way. Two wintering LESSER SCAUPS are nearby, with an adult drake on the Eastern Lake of Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, south of Penarth, and a female at the south end of Eglwys Nunnydd Reservoir.

In Somerset, a CATTLE EGRET remains in Sharpham Park, with up to 3 GREAT WHITE EGRETS in the Shapwick Heath area, the 3 first-winter GLOSSY IBISES at Ham Wall RSPB, with the drake LESSER SCAUP still on Bodmin Moor at Dozmary Pool (Cornwall) and an adult drake RING-NECKED DUCK on Roadford Reservoir (Devon). A drake LESSER SCAUP visited Chew Valley Lake (Avon) on Sunday and Monday, whilst the juvenile PALLID HARRIER reappeared at Mulfra Hill, Zennor, on 9th (Roy Phillips).

One of last autumn's bumper crop of LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS has reappeared at Banks Marsh (Lancs), favouring the pool opposite Old Hollow Farm (view from the seawall)

In North Norfolk, a juvenile GLAUCOUS GULL has been favouring Sheringham seafront throughout most of the past week, often roosting on the beach breakwater groynes, with 50+ Snow Buntings still in Salthouse Beach car park, 40 Twite at Titchwell RSPB and 3 adult Black Brants at Wells Harbour. A lone ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD is still present on Thorpe Marshes, between Haddiscoe and St Olaves

In North Wales, the three drake SURF SCOTERS were located offshore today at Old Colwyn (Conwy) (best viewed from the A55 Rainbow Footbridge at SH 877 786), with the long-staying SHORE LARK nearby between the Point of Ayr and Gronant Beach (Clwyd). In Mid Wales, the juvenile BLACK KITE of unknown origin is still visiting Gigrin Farm Feeding Station, Rhayader (Powys), along with 175 Red Kites, 45+ Common Ravens and 70 Common Buzzards.

A TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE remains with Pink-footed Geese on Cockerham Moss (Lancs), with 2 along Plex Moss Lane (Lancs), with the drake AMERICAN WIGEON again at Martin Mere WWT (from the Ron Barker Hide).

A few BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS linger, including the Finchley (London) first-winter, six in Plover Road, Ipswich (Suffolk), the four opposite the health centre by the Shelton Street/Hockley Road roundabout in Wilnecote, Tamworth (Staffs), four in Panton Street, Cambridge (Cambs) and several small flocks in Scotland.

NORTHERN GREY SHRIKES remain on territory in the Clocaenog Forest, at Dalton Crags (Cumbria), at Waddington Fell (Lancs) (SD 716 459), near Usk Reservoir (Powys), on Teifi Marshes NR (Pembs), near Welbourn (Lincs) and in the New Forest at Burley (Hants) (Burbush Hill car park).

In Scotland, an adult drake AMERICAN WIGEON continues to afford exceptional views on the Whooper Pond at Caerlaverock WWT (Dumfries & Galloway), as does a drake LESSER SCAUP at Hogganfield Loch, Glasgow (Clyde), the 3 SNOW GEESE remain with Pink-footed and Greylag Geese at the NE end of Nigg Bay (Highland), adult RING-BILLED GULL at Dingwall Leisure Centre, an adult BONAPARTE'S GULL at Thurso River Mouth (Caithness) and drake KING EIDER off Roseisle car park (Moray). Meanwhile, the LITTLE BUNTING is still visiting the feeding station in Dunnet (Caithness)

On the Outer Hebrides, the resident male SNOWY OWL was showing well today at Borve, Lewis, sheltering by the pine plantation north of the A857 at NB 426 579.

Migrants today include perhaps 8 Northern Wheatears, a few Little Ringed Plovers, a trickle of Sandwich Terns, the odd Garganey, numerous Black Redstarts and Firecrests, a European Barn Swallow at Wroot (Lincs), Red Kites and the first OSPREY of the year, at Hornsea Mere (East Yorks)

Both Hooded Mergansers of unknown origin remain, with the adult drake at Radipole Lake (Dorset) and a first-winter drake at Saltholme Pools RSPB (Cleveland), whilst a Golden Eagle roams Luccombe Down on the Isle of Wight for a second day.

A drake RING-NECKED DUCK remains at Lough Gara (Co. Sligo), with 1-2 SMALL CANADA GEESE (hutchinsii) with Barnacle Geese at Ballintemple/Raghley (Co. Sligo), a vagrant CANADA GOOSE (parvipes) at Trawbega Bay (Co. Donegal), a female Ruddy Shelduck still at Culleenemore Strand, Sligo Harbour (Co. Sligo) and the drake NORTH AMERICAN BLACK DUCK at Sruhill Lough (Co. Mayo). Up to 3 RING-BILLED GULLS remain in Cork at Cuskinny Marsh, with the adult FORSTER'S TERN at Mutton Island Causeway, Galway Harbour. The Lough Atedaun (Co. Clare) PIED-BILLED GREBE was present until at least Wednesday.

There has been no sign of the Clare PACIFIC DIVER this week despite searching, although up to 86 Black-throated Divers were located offshore, several Red-throated and several hundred Great Northerns.