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

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Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Rare Birds over the Festive Period

There has been very little change in recent weeks with many birds now firmly established win winter territories...........

We have two wintering male DESERT WHEATEARS in Britain - one in the vicinity of Beacon Point at Newbiggin-on-Sea (Northumberland) and another by the coastal footpath at Bempton Cliffs RSPB reserve in East Yorkshire. A wintering DUSKY WARBLER is on Scilly - at Lower Moors - and HUME'S LEAF WARBLER in Dorset at Littlesea Holiday Camp at Wyke Regis.

Large numbers of BALEARIC SHEARWATERS have been seen off Porthgwarra (Cornwall) in recent days, whilst two different CATTLE EGRETS are wintering along the South Coast (in Hampshire and in Dorset) and no less than 15 wintering GREAT WHITE EGRETS (including up to 7 in Kent).

A GLOSSY IBIS arrived on Scilly yesterday and today was feeding voraciously at Shooter's Pond, Lower Moors, whilst further birds remain in the Stour Valley, Stodmarsh (Kent) (two birds) and at Leighton Moss RSPB (Lancashire) and Fingringhoe Wick EWT (Essex). The largest flock of EURASIAN SPOONBILLS wintering are the 9 in North Devon at Isley Marsh RSPB, Yelland.

Up to three different ROSS'S SNOW GEESE are in Norfolk, with two with Pink-footed Geese in the Yare Valley and Acle Strait and another with Barnacles and Pink-feet in the Cley and Letheringsett areas. The adult LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE of unknown origin has reappeared with TAIGA BEAN GEESE in the Yare Valley at Buckenham Carrs RSPB, the flock of the latter so far peaking at 86 birds. Meanwhile, at the only other regular wintering site for this species in Britain, 262 are in the Slammannan area of Forth District. There are still large numbers of TUNDRA BEAN GEESE around, including 46 on the River Humber (North Lincs) and 3-4 vagrant CANADA GEESE on Islay (Argyll) and a SMALL CANADA GOOSE of the form hutchinsii at Torr Reservoir in Somerset. The only vagrant-type RED-BREASTED GEESE include the adult at Tollesbury Wick Marshes (Essex) and the first-winter at Bowling Green Marsh RSPB in South Devon.

AMERICAN WIGEONS include drakes at Angler's Country Park (West Yorks) and Dawlish Warren (South Devon), a wintering female GARGANEY at Tophill Low (East Yorks), juvenile female BLUE-WINGED TEALS at Porthellick Pool, St Mary's (Scilly) and Longham Lakes (Dorset), LESSER SCAUPS at Cosmeston lakes (Glamorgan), Wimbleball Reservoir (Somerset), Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs) and Marden Quarry Pool, Whitley Bay (Northumberland), drake KING EIDER in Burghead Harbour (Moray & Nairn), SURF SCOTERS off Dawlish Warren NNR (South Devon) and in Penzance Bay (Cornwall) and a juvenile female BUFFLEHEAD on the Loe Pool at Helston (Cornwall).

It has been the best winter in over 30 years for HEN HARRIERS whilst over 12 ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS continue to overwinter, including 4 in North Norfolk.

Vagrant waders still lingering on include the first-winter WESTERN SANDPIPER at Cley NWT Reserve (North Norfolk), a TEMMINCK'S STINT at Swithland's Reservoir (Leics), a first-winter PECTORAL SANDPIPER at Barassie in Ayrshire, SPOTTED SANDPIPERS at Chew Valley Lake (Avon), Lyme Regis (Dorset) and on the River Plym in Plymouth (South Devon), the WILSON'S SNIPE at Lower Moors, St Mary's (Scilly) and a LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER in South Wales at Kidwelly Quay (Carmarthenshire).

In IRELAND, a long-staying BLUETHROAT remains in County Waterford at Clonea Strand.

Friday, 23 December 2011


GREAT NORTHERN DIVER at a wet and windy Grafham Water late pm, initially fairly close in looking north-east from Valley Creek Hide. Shortly afterwards I got onto it again further out towards the centre of the reservoir in the gloom.

Also: juvenile Shag roosting in its usual spot, 13 Goosander (4 adult males), adult Yellow-legged Gull, drake Pintail (Mark Ward)

Thursday, 22 December 2011

HEN HARRIER roosting nightly at Fowlmere RSPB

The 2CY female HEN HARRIER roosted again at Fowlmere NR for its 9th night, being first seen at 3.35pm and giving good views in flight and perched before settling down.

An adult male merlin hurtled past Reedbed Hide twice (3.45 and 4.15), and a peregrine flew over at 15.45 (Doug Radford)

Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas Birding as we near the end of 2011

Well, I would just like to wish every one of you a very Happy and Healthy Christmas and hopefully another bird-filled and enriching, captivating New Year........

Although not quite over, 2011 has proven to be a record-breaking year in terms of species diversity in Britain and Ireland with an exceptional 451 species recorded - perhaps championed by the spectacular Siberian Rubythroat in Shetland in October and White-throated Robin in Hartlepool in May, as well as by the most unexpected and way off course vagrants such as the Stejneger's Scoter and the Slaty-backed Gull

As we enter this Christmas Week, the finest we have on offer at the moment are the following......

With last week's unsettled weather, involving heavy snowfall and localised flooding, one of our rarest birds has moved to pastures new......the juvenile SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER was finally flooded out of Blagdon Lake (Somerset) last Wednesday and has not been seen since

Meanwhile, Northumberland's GREATER YELLOWLEGS was blown nearly 200 miles NW to Skelbo (Sutherland), where it has graced a roadside field for five days just SE of Loch Fleet adjacent to the entrance to Coul Farm. In North Norfolk, the first-winter WESTERN SANDPIPER seems set on wintering at Cley NWT Reserve with the Dunlin and although highly mobile and somewhat elusive, is still visiting Pat's Pool and Simmond's Scrape daily, and the first-winter SPOTTED SANDPIPER can still be found at the north end of the River Plym near Marsh Mills Roundabout, Plymouth (South Devon). Exceptionally late is a confiding juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER in shallow pools just north of Barassie (Ayrshire) between Dundonald Camp and the smallholdings (at NS 331 344).

Although recent females in Shetland and Salop have now moved on, as well as a male in East Yorks, a first-winter male DESERT WHEATEAR still survives in Northumberland at Newbiggin-on-Sea, showing well on the beach midway between Beacon Point and Church Point.

In Hampshire, a CATTLE EGRET is by Church Lane, Warblington, favouring a field with cattle viewable from the gate by the church car park at SU 728 053 whilst GLOSSY IBISES include two at Stodmarsh NNR (Kent) and singles at Leighton Moss RSPB (Lancs) and Fingringhoe Wick (Essex)..

Many ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS remain on wintering territories in Britain with singles at Burpham (West Sussex), North Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Nickoll's Quarry, near Hythe (East Kent) and Elmley Marshes (North Kent), with up to 7 in Norfolk (including 3 in the East Hills, Wells, area) and 3 in Suffolk.

Norfolk has at least 3 ROSS'S SNOW GEESE wintering, with one with Pink-footed Geese in the Weybourne area and two returning birds along the Acle Straits and Berney Marshes area, whilst TUNDRA BEAN GEESE left over from the huge influx still number well over 100 birds and TAIGA BEAN GEESE in the Norfolk Yare Valley have only climbed thus far to 16 individuals. Islay (Argyll) has its normal scattering of up to 4 vagrant Canada Geese and the only likely wild RED-BREASTED GEESE are singles in Essex and in South Devon (at Topsham). The most reliable wintering drake AMERICAN WIGEONS include singles at Angler's Country Park on Wintersett Reservoir (West Yorks) and at Dawlish Warren NNR (South Devon) whilst Ranworth Broad in Broadland Norfolk has both the regular female RING-NECKED DUCK wintering and the drake Ferruginous Duck of unknown origin. A couple of SURF SCOTERS were discovered last week, including the regularly wintering female off Dawlish Warren (South Devon) and a young drake in with 50 Common Scoter offshore of Penzance Jubilee Pool (Cornwall) in Mount's Bay. Not far from the latter is the long-staying juvenile female BUFFLEHEAD on the Loe Pool at Helston (Cornwall). The only KING EIDER on offer is that restricted to Burghead Harbour in Moray & Nairn district.

The only wintering YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER is a bird present alongside both Common and Siberian Chiffchaffs in Clennon Valley, Paignton (South Devon)

In IRELAND in County Kerry, a young female KING EIDER is present by the Reen Pier at Ballinskelligs and showing well (with a LITTLE AUK also in the same general area)

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Thorney Island CATTLE EGRET relocated

Kevin Stouse phoned me at 10am today to say that there were two CATTLE EGRETS feeding with cattle on the Warblington Farm field at SU 728 053 (Field Q on my Warblington map at ) and as I have dipped five times on what was probably the same bird at Thornham Marshes on Thorney Island I dashed down there to see them.

When I got there I had close views from the field gate where Church Lane turns into the church carpark but of the two birds I saw one had a short stubby yellow bill and the other (though smaller than a Little Egret which was also present) had the thin pointed greyish black bill of a juvenile Little Egret (other features agreed with this).

There were many other birds present including a big flock of Brent in the next field north and as the cattle were clustered round a hay feeder eating avidly I guess the Egret will remain there for some time. Many thanks to Kevin (Ralph Hollins)

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Incredibly late Scottish PECTORAL SANDPIPER at Barassie - 2nd day

A juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER is present for a second day on the small pool at the back of the large pool in the field just north of Dundonald Camp.You can drive through the housing and come to a wide area of tarmac where you can park. Then you can walk over the fields (crossing 2 sets of fencing) to view the pools. The duck will fly, but the Pec won't spook easily (per Angus Murray, Gordon M, Bruce Kerr and others). Robert Lambie obtained the images above.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

More info on GREATER YELLOWLEGS at Loch Fleet - Dave Tanner

You've probably seen Al McNee's email re the Greater Yellowlegs found today by Dean MacAskill. I got the call from Bob Swann at at 12:15 hrs, unfortunately, Mary and I were on our way back from Liverpool and were just at Pitlochry. So we thought we'd get there about 15:00 hrs. Dean had sent me the OS Ref so we went directly to the spot. I first checked the next field which held a Greenshank, not knowing if the bird had moved from it's original location. I shouldn't have worried. As I pulled up at 15:05 beside the next field there it was about 50 ft away. By now the light was starting to go. I quickly took a few record digi shots and then enjoyed the bird with Bob & Liz Wilson who had just arrived. The bird was very confiding approaching us to within 20 ft, just the other side of the fence.

For those that are not familiar with the area the exact location of the pool is NH 79995-94680. The pool has a pile of logs on the road side. The is a very convenient passing place directly adjacent to the pool (Dave tanner)

Local Mega: GREATER YELLOWLEGS in Sutherland

Dean MacAskill found a first-winter GREATER YELLOWLEGS this morning on the south side of Loch Fleet. Leave the A9 north of the turn-off for Dornoch, taking the minor road to the right at NH783929, opposite the Trentham Hotel, and drive for 2km until a large flooded field is viewable on the right-hand side and just before the crossroads - grid ref NH796941. The bird is showing very well, mainly on the far side of the flood, but getting as close as 50-100m. One Redshank and a few Oyks are the only other birds present on the flood with a nearby flock of c500 finches including quite a few Bramblings (per Alastair McNee).

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Wintering ARCTIC TERN in north of Scotland

This ARCTIC TERN has probably been present since the 11 November when it was seen in the background of a news item on Scottish TV News featuring the Nigg Yard, Cromary Firth. A few days later an Arctic Tern was reported from Dornoch, and I first saw this bird on the 29/11. It has been present on and off at Portmahomack ever since (Dave Tanner)

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Another puzzling peep

Mark Golley discovered a first-winter SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER at Cley NWT Reserve (North Norfolk) on Monday 28 November and the bird is still commuting between Pat's Pool and Simmond's Scrape today. It is a very long-billed individual and still retains many of its juvenile scapulars and wing-coverts and has been very well photographed (see Cley Birds Gallery). Some observers feel that Western Sandpiper has not been eliminated. It is somewhat similar to a winter-plumaged peep that was present at Felixstowe Ferry in Suffolk in winter 1982/83.

In Avon, the juvenile SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER still remains with the Dunlin flock on the muddy foreshore at Chew Valley Lake. Now present for well over a week, it is best observed from Herriott's Bridge - but be patient, the flock is often obscured by the reedbed. On the opposite side of the road, an adult winter SPOTTED SANDPIPER is still to be seen, favouring the concrete edge - again, view looking along from the bridge turrets. From time to time, two highly mobile first-winter LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS join the show and Lapwing and Common Snipe flock - again favouring the muddy foreshore between Moreton Bank and Herriott's - but spend an equal amount of time at neighbouring Blagdon Lake in Somerset. A herd of 7 BEWICK'S SWANS is also at Chew - and a drake Greater Scaup. Just 7 miles away, a GREAT GREY SHRIKE is on farmland at Queen Charlton (Avon) close to Publow and Hinton Organics at ST 643 660 (access from Charlton Field Lane).

Further SPOTTED SANDPIPERS are to be found at Lyme Regis Cobb (Dorset) and at the north end of the Plym Estuary by the Marsh Mills Roundabout in Plymouth (South Devon) whilst in Northumberland, the juvenile GREATER YELLOWLEGS is still present at Hauxley Nature Reserve.

A couple of DESERT WHEATEARS continue to be seen with a nice male on the path by Staple Neuk Viewpoint at Bempton Cliffs RSPB (East Yorkshire) and a female around the disused quarry buildings below the summit car park at Titterstone Hill Clee in Shropshire (from the A4117, take Dhustone Lane to the summit).

A white morph GYRFALCON was seen this morning in the Bay of Navershaw on Orkney Mainland

So, with all of these aforementioned major rarities out of the way, the more standard fare includes............

No less than 15 GREAT WHITE EGRETS are wintering, with long-staying CATTLE EGRETS in the Salthouse/Blakeney area (North Norfolk) and on Thorney Island (Hants).

TUNDRA BEAN GEESE are cropping up all over with some sizeable flocks in some areas, including 95 at Newtonhill (NO 889 938) in Aberdeenshire, 15 at Munlochy Church, Black Isle (Highland), an exceptional 108 at Wainfleet St Mary (Lincs), 20 at Weybourne Station Road (North Norfolk), 5 on Minsmere Levels (Suffolk), 3 at Cainhoe GP, Clophill (Beds) and singles at Bredon's Hardwick (Worcs) and Tyttenhanger GP (Herts). TAIGA BEAN GEESE include 21 back at Buckenham Carrs RSPB (Norfolk) and 2 at Lackford (Suffolk) whilst a vagrant GREENLAND WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was an excellent record for Pulborough Brooks RSPB (West Sussex).. The first-winter RED-BREASTED GOOSE is still with Dark-bellied Brent Geese at the north end of the Exe Estuary at Topsham (South Devon), with a single SNOW GOOSE at Drummond Farm, Evanton.

Drake AMERICAN WIGEONS remain at Loch Bee, South Uist (Outer Hebrides), Wintersett Reservoir (South Yorks) and at Castlemaben (D & G) whilst the Rutland Water drake was fatally wounded and killed by a Great Black-backed Gull on the weekend. The female LESSER SCAUP continues at Marden Quarry, Whitley Bay (Northumberland), drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK at Dinton Pastures CP (Berks) and the first-winter female BUFFLEHEAD at Helston Loe Pool (West Cornwall), with the drake RING-NECKED DUCK at St Gwithian Sands (Cornwall) and a first-winter female BLUE-WINGED TEAL on Porthellick Pool, St Mary's (Scilly) on 27-28 November.

ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS include up to 3 at Sleddale Moors (Cleveland), 3 in the East Hills, Wells and Holkham Freshmarsh areas (North Norfolk), 1-2 in Suffolk and single juveniles at Ouse Fen (Cambs), Nickoll's Quarry, Botolph's Bridge (East Kent) and at Burpham (West Sussex).

A party of 7 COMMON CRANES is frequenting fields at Boyton Marshes RSPB (Suffolk), with 31 roosting at Horsey Mere (Norfolk), 8 at Guyhirn (Cambs) and a number of small parties scattered widely west to Somerset. Salisbury Plain Great Bustard number 6 continues to attract admirers at Middle Soar (South Devon).

LITTLE AUK passage has been notable at Cley Coastguards (North Norfolk) this week despite southerly winds, with 20 counted today and a BLACK GUILLEMOT too in recent days - Flamborough Head (East Yorks) logging 164 LITTLE AUKS on 28 November..

Adult RING-BILLED GULLS have returned to Walpole Park Lake, Gosport (Hants) and Oban (Argyll) (with a 'new' 2nd-winter at Radipole Lake RSPB, Dorset, today), whilst an influx of CASPIAN GULLS has seen up to 6 at Calvert Sailing Lake (Bucks), 5 at Minsmere Scrape (Suffolk), 3 first-winters at Seaton Common (Cleveland) and 4 at Albert Village Lake (Leics). A juvenile SABINE'S GULL was an odd addition to the Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) ringing list - being trapped and ringed on a small pool possibly due to exhaustion caused by the gale force winds - today.

SHORE LARKS are few and far between with just 5 at Holkham Bay and 1 at Salthouse Beach car park (North Norfolk), with an inland SNOW BUNTING at Deer Hill Reservoir (West Yorks)

A HUME'S LEAF WARBLER has been present in Dorset in Sallows at Littlesea Holiday Camp, Wyke Regis (Dorset) for several days whilst YELLOW-BROWED WARBLERS are present at Romsey (Hants), Conwy RSPB (Caernarfon) and 2 in Lower Moors, St Mary's (Scilly). The latter site also continues to harbour up to 3 DUSKY WARBLERS, with a PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER on Bardsey island yesterday.

A juvenile ROSE-COLOURED STARLING continues to inhabit Lodmoor Country Park (Dorset) with Common Starlings, whilst the largest flock of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS to be found are the 70 at Eastbridge (Suffolk). A single PENDULINE TIT remains elusively in reeds at the north end of ARC Pit, Dungeness RSPB (Kent).

A scattering of water birds inland include a juvenile RED-THROATED DIVER at William Girling Reservoir (London), a BLACK-THROATED DIVER and female COMMON EIDER at Hanningfield Reservoir (Essex), GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS at Ogston Reservoir (Derbyshire), Caldecotte Lakes (North Bucks) and Queen Mother Reservoir (Berks) and LONG-TAILED DUCKS at Prescott Lakes (Lancs) and Bromley Trout Fishing Lakes (London).

It still remains an exceptional late autumn for both HEN HARRIERS and SHORT-EARED OWLS

Three different SPOTTED SANDPIPERS are present in IRELAND with singles on the Nanny Estuary opposite Soneirte at Laytoown (County Meath), by the Victoria Quay in Cork Harbour (Co. Cork) and on the River Blackwater at Ballyduff (Co. Waterford), with a very late juvenile LEAST SANDPIPER at Black Rock Strand (Co. Kerry), a juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER on the Myroe Levels (Co. Derry) and a CATTLE EGRET at Hillsborough Lake (Co. Down).

A juvenile NORTH AMERICAN HERRING GULL is frequenting the fish factory at Baltimore near Dursey (Co. Cork), with 2 COMMON CRANES present for over a fortnight at Belderry (Co. mayo) and the HOUSE CROW still resident at Cobh Town (Co. Cork).

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


There is a ROSE-COLOURED STARLING moulting out of juvenile plumage at West Bergholt. It has been visiting back gardens not visible from the roads but does sometimes perch on wires or aerials. It is favouring the area by the junction of Chapel Road & Pirie Road though doubtless roams around. If trying for it, please park sensibly (there are various side-roads not far away) and respect the privacy of the residents (Simon Cox).

Monday, 21 November 2011

BLACKPOLL WARBLER in Kent - first county record and 44th for Britain


Short description
I was outside attempting to mend the back gate when I heard a strange call and decided to go and investigate - good job I did as it was a Blackpoll Warbler.

Full story
I dropped my son of in Speldhurst at 2pm and decided to pop back to Haysden. However after about 15 or 20 minutes I thought of the list of jobs I had to sort at home and as I had done Haysden for three hours in the morning decided to head back to Tunbridge Wells.

And so it was - I was outside the house attempting to mend the back gate on Saturday 19 November 2011 when at about 2.45pm I heard and saw what I assumed to be a Grey Wagtail fly over - it veered round and flew low into the sun and I lost it. I moved a few yards but couldn’t see that it had gone down so assumed it had carried on.

It was sunny, and not that cold. I went back to the job in hand and then popped to the garage for a hammer. Locating the hammer I came out of the garage and heard a strange call - it appeared to be coming from the trees but surely this wasn’t Grey Wagtail. I suppose you could have described the call as resembling a metallic Grey Wagtail.

I dropped the afore-mentioned hammer and wandered up the road to investigate (fortunately with my binoculars which I had with me in case!). About 50 yards up the road I came across the trees where the sound was coming from, looked up and almost immediately found what appeared to be a warbler species.

From the underneath my first reaction was Wood Warbler due to the fairly bright yellowy green throat and breast and pure white underparts from there down, but I quickly realised it was November and the faint streaking in the sides on the breast didn’t work for Wood Warbler.

I then glimpsed two wing-bars and immediately thought Yellow-browed Warbler, but there was no hint of yellow in them and thoughts turned to Hume’s Yellow-browed Warbler but it was roughly the size of Chiffchaff with a seemingly longer slim bill so that really didn’t make sense.

And those wing-bars - they were white and far larger than any phyllosc I had ever seen! This was surely an American warbler - and Blackpoll Warbler sprang to mind...

If it was Blackpoll Warbler it was a first for Kent, if it wasn’t it was even rarer, much rarer in fact - I started shaking! I decided to think carefully for a minute: not much of a supercilium, bright orange legs, olive-green mantle, grey wings, white tertial stripes (in addition to the two white wing-bars) - time to get someone else here...

…so a couple of minutes or so after 3pm I rang Miles Wheeler, as he lives just the other side of Tunbridge Wells - he was at Worthing; I was horrified. By now I was fairly sure it was Blackpoll Warbler. Next up, I tried Jerry Warne, partly to check the identification and eliminate other similar American warblers and partly to get the news out.

This telephone call confirmed that the gleaming white underparts and under-tail coverts eliminated Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler and Bay-breasted Warbler (shame, not that I’m complaining really) and within minutes put the news out.

I managed to get a brief email out to quite a few Kent birders at 3.11pm and then rang Chris Gibbard who was just drawing up at Chiddingstone - about 20 minutes later he was just drawing up in Pennine Walk and within five minutes he had re-found the bird which had gone missing - quite a relief.

At 3.16pm my ‘mega alert’ went off. Shortly after Chris had re-found it Barry Wright turned up and also managed to see the bird - phew!

CG noted its yellow feet, which I hadn’t noticed and will also hopefully put together a description, maybe.

It was last seen at about 4pm, and disappointingly could not be located the next day despite the best efforts of about 100 birders.

Andrew Appleton

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Record is well and truly smashed as we break through the 450 barrier.......

We've made it ! Today's VEERY in NW Scotland takes us to 450 species in Britain and Ireland in 2011 - smashing the previous record by five species.......

The latest addition - VEERY - was discovered on the island of Muck in Highland Region - showing well until dusk at Gallanach Farm. Note that there is no ferry to the island until Friday and even then you get just 20 minutes on the island before returning......

Another overlooked addition was EASTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL - of which there were two photographed in Shetland in October

But still the autumn produces, with the mild SE winds ensuring an almost constant run of new rarities on a daily basis...

It has been a superb autumn for DESERT WHEATEARS with the most recent being males on Skomer Island (Pembs), at Titchwell Beach (North Norfolk) and a female at Dungeness (Kent)

DUSKY WARBLERS and HUME'S LEAF WARBLERS have also been in plentiful supply with DUSKYS today or very recently at Girdleness (Aberdeenshire), trapped and ringed on the Isle of May (Fife), at Spurn Point Dunes (East Yorks) (one of two birds present in recent days), Horsey (East Norfolk) (in Willows and scrub around the car park entrance), on The Lizard (Cornwall), Gimble Porth, Tresco (Scilly), and in Lower Moors, St Mary's (Scilly) and HUME'S LEAF WARBLERS at Trondra (Shetland), in Roker, Sunderland (Co. Durham), in Lowestoft (Suffolk) (in gardens along London Road North and opposite Tesco's - access along the alleyway adjacent to the Crop Shop), at Gunton (Suffolk) (present since Sunday but not seen today), in the large area of scrub at Foveran Bushes (Aberdeenshire) A few PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLERS are also still to be seen, with singles at the north end of Flycatcher Alley in Lowestoft (Suffolk) and at Balmedie Country Park (Aberdeenshire).

In East Kent, only the second EASTERN BLACK REDSTART for Britain continues for its 6th day at Walpole Bay, Margate, showing extremely well by the slipway below Palm Bay Cafe north of the B2051 at TR 372 713. A further nine individuals have appeared elsewhere in Western Europe this autumn, including 5 in Sweden and singles in Germany, Holland and France. And as I type, news is coming in of yet another - on the beach below the vicar's garden on Holy Island in Northumberland.

An OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT was frequenting the famous Shetland garden at Wick, Gulberwick, this morning, with another on the archipelago in dunes at Norwick on Unst.

A confiding juvenile GREATER YELLOWLEGS present since Saturday in Northumberland has been hugely popular, coming hard on the heels of the summer adult in Wadebridge (Cornwall) much earlier in the autumn. It is favouring the main scrape at Hauxley Nature Reserve and showing very well from the Wader Hide; a first-winter GREY PHALAROPE is on the same pool also. It also regularly commutes to East Chevington Pools nearby. The long-staying first-winter LESSER YELLOWLEGS remains on Tresco Great Pool (Scilly).

The juvenile female BUFFLEHEAD remains mobile and elusive on The Loe Pool at Helston (Cornwall).

An adult RED-BREASTED GOOSE is with Dark-bellied Brent Geese in fields near The Strood at East Mersea (Essex) whilst the first-winter of unknown origin continues on the Exe Estuary in South Devon.

A long-staying juvenile SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER is still to be found in the Teesmouth area (Cleveland), favouring Seal Sands with Dunlin at low tide and Greatham Creek pools at high tide, whilst the WILSON'S SNIPE is still present on Lower Moors, St Mary's (Scilly).

Up to 4 GREY PHALAROPES were on the sea off Kelling Water Meadows (North Norfolk) today, with another on Ibsley Water, Blashford Lakes HWT (Hampshire), with the adult SPOTTED SANDPIPER still at Herriott's Bridge at Chew Valley Lake (Avon) and the juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER at Wigtown Harbour (D & G).

A cracking summer adult WHITE-BILLED DIVER just beginning to moult remains for at least its third day off of Peninerine Beach on South Uist (Outer Hebrides)

COMMON CRANES have proved eventful in the past week with a flock of 24 birds (including one juvenile) between Padstow and Wadebridge at St Issey in North Cornwall and the resident 30 in the Horsey area (East Norfolk). There have also been 7 birds in a field just south of Burgh Castle (Norfolk) in recent days - at TG 483 050 and viewable from Burgh Castle monument car park on Butt Lane

GREAT WHITE EGRETS include singles at Chainbridge Lane Scrape, Idle Valley NR (Notts), Linford Nature Reserve (North Bucks), by the Royal Military Canal in fields behind Wyevale Garden Centre in Hamstreet (Kent), at Denge Marsh, Dungeness RSPB (Kent), on Southport Marine Lake (Lancs), on Warton Marsh (Lancs) and at Greylake RSPB (Somerset).

The long-staying CATTLE EGRETS remain at Blakeney Freshmarsh (North Norfolk) and in the cattle field at the end of Thorney Lane on Thorney Island (West Sussex)

A GLOSSY IBIS has been roosting each evening on Drake's Island, off Devil's Point, in Plymouth Sound (South Devon), whilst the first-winter continues to show well at Stodmarsh (Kent) from the Marsh Hide and another remains for a second day on the pool viewable from the footpath between the car aprk and the river at Malltraeth Marsh RSPB on Anglesey. The long-staying and very confiding first-winter also remains at Stanpit Marsh in Christchurch Harbour (Dorset).

There has been a tremendous arrival of Eurasian White-fronted and TUNDRA BEAN GEESE throughout the country, as well as many arrivals of BEWICK'S SWAN herds. TUNDRA BEAN parties include 19 at Bigton (Shetland), 23 on North Ronaldsay (Orkney), 4 on Echna Loch, Burray (Orkney), 9 at Cara, South Ronaldsay (Orkney), 17 in stubble field pools at the crossroads NW of Crail (Fife) on the B9405, 5 at Girdleness (Aberdeenshire), 10 at Nethy Bridge (Spetside), 2 at Capringstone Flash (Ayrshire), 2 on Holy Island (Northumberland), 4 at Low Newton-by-the-Sea (Northumberland), 14 at Benacre Broad (Suffolk) and 2 on Huxter Well Marsh at Potteric Carr YWT (South Yorks). Meanwhile, 3 apparent TAIGA BEAN GEESE are on Anglesey, in fields near Llyn Coron

A drake AMERICAN WIGEON remains at Wintersett Reservoir (West Yorks) with that on the River Exe in Shutterton Creek at Cockwood (South Devon) present also, and a further wintering bird at the south end of Loch Bee, South Uist (Outer Hebrides).

ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS also remain in good numbers, with two in the Holkham Freshmarsh area of North Norfolk, a showy juvenile at The Burgh at Burpham (TQ 048 110) (West Sussex) and a very confiding juvenile between the Nickoll's Quarry and sewage works atBotolph's Bridge, Hythe in East Kent. Bedfordshire's latest-ever OSPREY continues to fish daily at Warren Villas. Sandy.

Another vexing juvenile High Arctic gull resembling Thayer's Gull has been seen and photographed in Dunnstaffnage Bay at Dunbeg, just north of Oban (Argyll) in recent days - work is still ongoing as to its identification.

RICHARD'S PIPITS on the other hand, have been noticeable by their absence, with only small numbers being detected. The Cheshire Leasowe bird was still around today, being seen in the paddocks and rough fields by the lighthouse

The 3 SHORE LARKS are still present on the edge of the lagoon just north of the John Weston Reserve at The Naze (Essex), with 5 on the saltings east of Holkham Gap (North Norfolk). One is also well north at the West Voe of Sumburgh (Shetland).

A PENDULINE TIT showed well on bulrushes in front of the Sea Wall Hide at Oare Marshes NR (North Kent) today, whilst yet another RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL was at Whitburn (Co. Durham) on 10 November.

It also seems as though WAXWINGS will again invade us this winter, with a flock of 28 in St Andrews (Fife), 60 by the road in Budle village today (Northumberland), 23 in Stafford, 20 in Kessingland (Suffolk), 8 in Burnham Deepdale (North Norfolk) and 6 in Ramsgate (East Kent)

Also of interest, a RED-NECKED GREBE is at Valley Lakes RSPB at Llyn Penrhyn, an immature VELVET SCOTER remains on Staindale Lake in Dalby Forest (North Yorks), a RED-THROATED DIVER is on Lake Lothing, Lowestoft (Suffolk), a juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER at Caldecott North Lake (North Bucks) representing the 18th county record, 5 PIED AVOCETS are at Port Meadow, Oxford (Oxon) and another at Boddington Reservoir (Northants)


The PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER remains in Cork today at Power Head, whilst elsewhere in County Cork, the flock of 19 COMMON CRANES are still to the west of Waterrock up the cul-de-sac lane. Another PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER is at Brownstown Head (Co. Waterford), in the main Willow garden, and a juvenile PALLID HARRIER again at Poer Head on 13th. A HOOPOE was at Clougher Head at Almondstown yesterday, with the two male DESERT WHEATEAR still at Bray (Co. Wicklow).

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Twitchable ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD in West Sussex

With the prospect of a RLB on the menu we spent the day birding around The Burgh and the viewpoint at Peppering Lane, Burpham. The morning still had plenty of low cloud and poor visibility although as the day went on a little blue sky and practically no wind was a real treat. We had a couple of RedKite and 2 ringtail Hen Harriers and 3 Peregrines. The juvenile ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD was found to the east of the viewpoint in Peppering Lane around mid morning before it moved to the north and was watched hunting north of the dew pond during the afternoon . Great scope views were had as it roamed the farmland hovering frequently during its hunting forays. Male and female Peregrine were working in tandem hunting when they swooped on a flockof pigeons knocking one of the pigeons right in front of an admiring crowd of birders with feathers drifting to the ground we were unable to see if the Peregrines retrieved their supper. Also seen in the area Merlin, 3 Raven a single Golden Plover flew over calling as did an unknown number of Crossbill. 2 Redpoll and at least 20 Corn Bunting. It appears that Dick Gilmore found the Rough -legged Buzzard on Monday 7 November although not confirmed until Wednesday 9 November. (Bernie Forbes, Dave Smith & Dorian Mason)

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Record well and truly beaten!

As of today, with the first HUME'S LEAF WARBLERS of the year appearing, the total of species recorded in Britain and Ireland this year is an incredible 448 - a new record........

It has been another few days filled with Eastern surprises with the pick of the bunch being two different ISABELLINE WHEATEARS (a well-twitched bird on the beach at Spurn Point, East Yorkshire, for a couple of days and the third of the year at Wernffrwwd, on the Gower, frequenting the mound on the saltmarsh at SS 506 939 - still present today). Spurn has also attracted a PIED WHEATEAR - showing well today on the beach adjacent to the Point car park) whilst male DESERT WHEATEARS include singles midway between Boulby mast and Hummersea Farm opposite the Micklow Junction at Loftus (Cleveland) and at and in the bulb field near Mill Bay, 200 yards beyond Faraway Cottage, in Nanjizal Valley (West Cornwall) (3rd day).A female PINE BUNTING remains in the crop at Clibberswick on Unst (Shetland)

Warblers of Siberian origin include the aforementioned HUME'S LEAF WARBLER on Shetland at Kergord Plantation (with putative additional birds in Lothian and Suffolk), with a DUSKY WARBLER still in bushes at the north end of the car park at Balmedie Country Park (Aberdeenshire) and another in Willows south of the central track at North Warren RSPB, Aldeburgh (Suffolk). The only PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER of the day was in the Point Dunes at Spurn Point (East Yorks).

Of Nearctic origin, the first-winter NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH survives on the Isles of Scilly at Lower Moors, nearly two months after it first arrived, whilst virtually sharing the same bush is an exceptionally late GREAT REED WARBLER. The long-staying WILSON'S SNIPE remains on the main ISBG pool. On neighbouring St Agnes, the CENTRAL ASIATIC LESSRER WHITETHROAT continues, with the RUDDY SHELDUCK nearby on Porth Killier Beach.

A HOOPOE remains popular in West Sussex, favouring lawns by the thatched cottages in Climping, whilst an adult SPECTACLED WARBLER was present at Needs Ore (Hampshire) from 29-30 October.

A GLOSSY IBIS continues to show well on the main pool at Filey Dams Nature Reserve (North Yorks) with another on Carter's Flood at Pett Levels (East Sussex), a first-winter at Fingringhoe Wick EWT (Essex) and the Plymouth Sound (Devon) bird again on Drake's Island, whilst the juvenile SQUACCO HERON was still present in the Attenborough NR (Notts) area this morning.

A first-winter RED-BREASTED GOOSE of unknown origin was still present at Exminster Marshes RSPB (South Devon) today, this individual being formerly seen with Dark-bellied Brent Geese at Christchurch Harbour and on The Fleet in Dorset.

The juvenile female BUFFLEHEAD is now building up strength on the Loe Pool at Helston (Cornwall), favouring the eastern side of the northern end to dive and feed.

The first-winter LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER was again in Wigtown Harbour (D & G) today, with one of the two juveniles still at the east end of Blagdon Lake (Somerset) and the other at Chew Valley Lake (Avon). Meanwhile, the long-staying AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER remains in Europie village, by the Atlantic Cottage in Fivepenny at the extreme north end of Lewis (Outer Hebrides) and the LESSER YELLOWLEGS by the bridge at the east end of the Alaw Estuary on Anglesey. A WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER remains for a second day at Black Hole Marsh, Seaton (South Devon), with the adult still at Rutland Water (Leics) and a juvenile on St Agnes (Scilly), whilst SPOTTED SANDPIPERS remain at Chew Valley lake (Avon) and at the north end of the River Plym, Plymouth (South Devon).. A very late juvenile RED-NECKED PHALAROPE continues to survive at Cley Marshes NWT (North Norfolk) (viewable from Avocet Hide), whilst the two juvenile WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER remain on Harris (Outer Hebrides) at the south end on the saltmarsh at Scarasta, north of Northton (at NF 999 928).

GREAT WHITE EGRETS are becoming ever more familiar in the UK with birds today still present at Linford NR (North Bucks), on the Windsurfing Pit at the Idle Valley NR (Notts), on the North Marsh at Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk), at Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB (Cheshire) (two birds), at Old Hall Marshes RSPB (Essex), at Campfield Marsh RSPB (Cumbria), at Capel Fleet Marshes, Isle of Sheppey (North Kent), at Walmsley Sanctuary (Cornwall) and on the Out Skerries on Shetland. A CATTLE EGRET continues on the Camel Estuary feeding opposite the sewage works west of Wadebridge (Cornwall).

The party of 8 COMMON CRANES are still feeding in the field 300 yards from the A47 between Thorney and Guyhirn (Cambs), with another on the north shore of The Fleet at Langton Hive Point, south of Langton Herring (Dorset).

A second-winter RING-BILLED GULL is still present by the Lifeboat Station in Stornoway Harbour, Lewis (Outer Hebrides), with a first-winter at Balivanich on Benbecula.

A party of 6 TUNDRA BEAN GEESE arrived today at Covehithe (Suffolk), favouring a stubble field NE of the church with 6 European White-fronted Geese.

A juvenile ROSE-COLOURED STARLING is present for at least its 5th day at garden feeders at Mumbles Head on the Gower Peninsula, visible from All Saints Church on the Mumbles Road, whilst another was in gardens along Manse Road, Inverkeithing ((Fife) yesterday..

Five SHORELARKS are back for the winter at Holkham Gap saltings (North Norfolk), whilst a juvenile ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD has been showing very well at Nicholl's Quarry, Hythe (East Kent), just one of a major influx of this species into Britain this autumn.

It has been an excellent period inland, with Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Red-breasted Mergansers and Velvet Scoters passing through) whilst highlighting include inland LONG-TAILED DUCKS at Bromley Trout Fishing Lake (London) (accessed along the track between George and Rookery Lanes) and at the west end of the Green Lawn at Blagdon Lake (Somerset), a SLAVONIAN GREBE at Spade Oak Nature Reserve, Little Marlow (South Bucks) and a PURPLE SANDPIPER at Queen Mother Reservoir (Berks). Many SNOW BUNTINGS have been displaced inland, including twitchable individuals in Essex, Bucks and Berks

SHORT-EARED OWLS are plentiful throughout the UK due to an excellent breeding season in northern Scandinavia, whilst HEN HARRIERS are also very evident. It is also a good late autumn for GREAT GREY SHRIKES - those reported recently including singles just north of the Box Car Park at Ashdown Forest (East Sussex) (TQ 463 294), just east of the waterworks and south of the railway line in Cromer (Norfolk), in trees around Kingshill Farm, Elmley RSPB (North Kent), along the coastal path 400 yards west of Morston Quay (North Norfolk), along the track leading to the hides at Swale NNR (North Kent). in the hedgerow along Muspit Lane - SK 759 849 - at South Wheatley (Notts) and by the Cemetery Road junction at Donna Nook (North Lincs).

North Norfolk and elsewhere have seen small numbers of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS arrive in recent days on the easterly winds

In IRELAND, a WATER PIPIT is on the Silver Strand at Ballycotton (Co. Cork), with the same general area boasting an AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT, BARRED WARBLER, AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Just one off the record..........

Well with October 2011 now over, the tally of species recorded in combined Britain and Ireland now stands at a formidable 444 species.....just one short of the 2008 record

Most incredulous was a first-winter EASTERN CROWNED WARBLER extracted from a mistnet at Hilfield Park Reservoir, near Watford (Hertfordshire) yesterday morning. Although misidentified as a Yellow-browed Warbler at the time, a total of just 8 observers could only stand in astonishment when their in-hand photographs were reviewed. The bird was released close to the reservoir gates at 1030 hours but soon disappeared into a neighbouring wood and was not relocated. A remarkable occurrence and only the second in Britain.

Also new was a SAXAUL GREY SHRIKE in Shropshire. First discovered on Friday 28 October, its true identity was not realised until today, the bird showing fairly distantly 6 miles NNW of Telford at Wall Farm Nature Reserve.

DIRECTIONS: From the B5062, take the road south towards ''The Wall'' for about a mile, parking in the designated field. From this temporary car park, take the track NNW to the hide, then turn right then left and continue over the bridge and NW across the field to view from SJ 680 179.

A first-winter female DESERT WHEATEAR remains for a third day in Orkney on the beach by the car park in Sandside Bay, Deerness.

Sunday was the last day for the longest-staying Siberian Rubythroat ever (on Shetland) but at the opposite end of the country on Scilly, the NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH still survives on Lower Moors, St Mary's, along with the UPLAND SANDPIPER at Maypole and a DUSKY WARBLER in Lower Moors. The WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER has now joined the LESSER YELLOWLEGS and PECTORAL SANDPIPER on Tresco and the WILSON'S SNIPE is still appearing erratically. Meanwhile, an OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT remains on St Agnes.

A RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER was a late find at Europie village, Butt of Lewis, Lewis (Outer Hebrides), whilst a LESSER YELLOWLEGS at Alkborough Flats (North Lincs) and a GLOSSY IBIS at Filey Dams YNT Reserve (North Yorks) were both newly discovered today too.

A juvenile PALLID HARRIER in Irvine (Ayrshire) constitutes a first record for that county, appearing erratically over saltings visible from the footpath beyond the railway bridge at NS 302 412 (located just SW of Garnock Floods SWT west of the railway; park in the latby adjacent to the Recycling Centre and follow the southern perimeter fence to the railway bridge).

Equally popular has been a juvenile SQUACCO HERON performing well on the River Erewash on the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border at Attenborough Sailing Club.

There has been a remarkable surge in GREAT WHITE EGRET occurrences of late with no less than a record 5 birds together roosting with Little Egrets and one CATTLE EGRET at Frampton Sailing Lake (Gloucs). Elsewhere, twos are being seen at Llanelli WWT (Carmarthenshire) and at Warton Marsh, Lyth (Lancashire), with singles at Mockbeggar Lake (Hants), Linford Nature Reserve (North Bucks), Sprotborough Flash (South Yorks), Parkgate Marsh (Cheshire) and the Swale NR/Oare Marshes (North Kent).

North Ronaldsay (Orkney) hosts a late BAIRD'S SANDPIPER whilst the adult SPOTTED SANDPIPER and the two mobile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS continue at Chew Valley Lake (Avon) and the WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER in Manton Bay, Rutland Water (Leics).

A first-winter CASPIAN GULL paused briefly at Portland Bill (Dorset) on Sunday before relocating to Radipole Lake (Dorset) today. Likewise, the Christchurch Harbour RED-BREASTED GOOSE relocated to Ferrybridge and Abbotsbury along the Chesil Beach presumably on route to the Exe Estuary.

A few late Common Swifts have been drifting in and out of East Anglia, with a CATTLE EGRET at Blakeney Freshmarsh (North Norfolk) being the main attraction in that region at present.

A PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER remains on Bardsey Island (Gwynedd), with a late WRYNECK at Hengistbury Head (Dorset) and a GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK still lingering on North Ronaldsay (Orkney).

A juvenile PALLID HARRIER was identified at Power Head (Co. Cork) in IRELAND yesterday, with a CATTLE EGRET at Killala (Co. Clare), AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER at Rosscarberry (Co. Cork), 2 GLOSSY IBIS at Timoleague (Co. Cork) and 3 RING-NECKED DUCKS at Lough Gara (Co. Sligo)

Thursday, 27 October 2011


The PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER was showing relatively well this morning at Beachy Head, in Sycamores at the entrance to Belle Tout Wood, 400 yards east of the Birling Gap. It was consorting with a feeding flock of birds in the wood, which included 2 FIRECRESTS, a pair of Blackcaps, a Common Chiffchaff and 8-10 Goldcrests. A crowd of over 25 observers was enjoying the event...

There had clearly been a fall of FIRECRESTS at the Head, with at least 6 others being seen, whilst a YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER was nearby in pines at Birling Gap

Another PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER was found at Climping Beach later in the day, at the west end of Long Wood in the vicinity of the stile (accessed from Bread Lane); there were also at least 6 FIRECRESTS at that location too (Lee Evans)

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Rare Wheatear pulls in the crowds

A first-winter female PIED WHEATEAR, discovered yesterday afternoon by Gwent birder Darryl Spittle, showed well all day today around the two buildings at Thornbury Yacht Club, half a mile west of the Anchor public house in Oldbury-on-Severn (South Gloucestershire). It was particularly confiding, even perching on a bench whilst a birder was sat on it late morning, and was on one occasion seen with a Northern Wheatear and a lone Scandinavian Rock Pipit. Park sensibly, either in the pub car park or in the five spaces opposite.

In East Norfolk, a first-winter ISABELLINE SHRIKE continues to show very well at Horsey, in Bramble scrub between the Horsey Corner car park and the Nelson's Head track, with another reported in Penwith (West Cornwall) in hawthorns opposite St Just Aerodrome (on 24 October). Southeasterly winds also produced two OLIVE-BACKED PIPITS at Filey North Cliff Country Park (North Yorkshire), wandering around elusively in Top Scrub, with another showing well on the track before the hostel at rattray Head (Aberdeenshire).

PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLERS are now starting to arrive with these charming sprites being seen at Rattray Head (Aberdeenshire), on Bardsey Island (Gwynedd), Hemsby (Norfolk), Holland Haven (Essex), Frinton-on-Sea (Essex) and Porthgwarra car park (Cornwall) today; good numbers of YELLOW-BROWED WARBLERS are also to be found at many sites.

An influx of RICHARD'S PIPITS included singles on Holy Island (Northumberland), Donna Nook (North Lincs), the Great Orme sheep fields (Gwynedd), Land's End (West Cornwall) and at Salthouse Beach car park (North Norfolk). Many more Black Redstarts have now arrived too, as well as larger numbers of Long-eared Owls than usual.

A PALLID SWIFT arrived in Northeast Norfolk late afternoon, initially being seen over Cromer before drifting westwards towards West Runton and Beeston Hall School early evening, whilst an ALPINE SWIFT showed well yesterday evening over Fremnall's Causeway at Hanningfield Reservoir (Essex).

On the Isles of Scilly today, the ever-present first-winter NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH was still performing today - either in front of the screen at the Lower Moors Shooter's Pool or at the nearby ISBG Pool - with a fairly vocal DUSKY WARBLER in exactly the same area and the first-winter WILSON'S SNIPE briefly. The first-winter UPLAND SANDPIPER continues to show well in the bulb fields at Maypole Junction, whilst the COMMON TREECREEPER remains in Carreg Dhu garden at Longstones.. A RADDE'S WARBLER and BLUETHROAT are both being seen in Troy Town, St Agnes, in the cabbage crop by the farm and at Castella Down, whilst also on St Agnes, a Siberian Lesser Whitethroat remains in Chapel Fields at Periglis Beach. Meanwhile, Tresco continues to host the LESSER YELLOWLEGS, PECTORAL SANDPIPER and SPOTTED CRAKE.

Belated news concerns a SWAINSON'S THRUSH on Friday 21 October in the front garden of Kirbuster Farm Museum at Birsay on Orkney (Norman Watt), whilst elsewhere in Orkney, the male SIBERIAN STONECHAT continues for a second day on North Ronaldsay and two NORTHERN TREECREEPERS have been located in recent days. Farther north still, incredibly the dapper male SIBERIAN RUBYTHROAT remains at Wick cottage (HU 441 392), Gulberwick, Lerwick (Shetland) - the longest staying individual ever (and now successfully twitched by no less than 90 observers). Meanwhile, Tiree's first-winter ASIATIC BROWN SHRIKE continues to perform at Balephuill, but without any takers other than the few resident birders.

A SHORE LARK is a rare bird for the London Recording Area and hence why a procession of local listers jumped the fence at the permit-access only Queen Elizabeth II Reservoir in the Walton complex in Surrey today.

A Continental BLACK-BELLIED DIPPER was a nice find today, frequenting the river at Fenso Marston Nature Reserve at Shipley (West Yorkshire), often with a resident Dipper.

The two juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS remain at the east end of Blagdon Lake (Somerset), with the adult SPOTTED SANDPIPER nearby at Herriott's Bridge, Chew Valley lake (Avon) and the ever-present juvenile at the north end of the Plym Estuary at the Marsh Mills Roundabout, Plymouth (South Devon). A juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER in Cumbria is present for a second day on the Lyth Valley, in the field pool between Brigsteer and the A5074, 600 yards south of the Helsington Pool Bridge (SD 472 890), whilst the adult WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER is still present but flighty at Rutland Water (Leics). Another late juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER remains in County Durham - at the Castle Lake at Bishop Middleham, whilst another juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER is at the harbour wetland in Wigtown Bay (Dumfries & Galloway).

A juvenile SNOW GOOSE was identified amongst Pink-footed Geese at Budle Bay (Northumberland), with the first-winter RED-BREASTED GOOSE still with Dark-bellied Brent Geese in Christchurch Harbour at Stanpit Marsh (Dorset). A drake AMERICAN WIGEON remains with Eurasian Wigeon on Cofton Saltmarsh on the Exe Estuary at Dawlish Warren NNR (South Devon), with that still in Loch Bee, South Uist (Outer Hebrides) also. The drake Ferruginous Duck of unknown origin remains on Sandford Lake, Dinton Pastures Country Park (Berkshire), with the first-winter drake still at Far Ings NR (North Lincs), with the juvenile female LESSER SCAUP still in residence in Whitley Bay (Northumberland) on Marden Quarry Pond. A drake SURF SCOTER flew south past Ainsdale Beach (Lancashire) this morning, with another with the adult drake NORTH AMERICAN BLACK SCOTER off the Beachcomber House at Goswick (Northumberland), whilst the regular drake KING EIDER was off Roseisle Beach Car Park in Moray. Red-crested Pochards reached a total of 67 today at Baston & Langtoft Pits (Lincs) - a new site record.

An explosion of Field Voles in Arctic Siberia and Scandinavia has seen a bumper breeding season for northern raptors with ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS continuing to arrive. Today saw birds at Goswick (Northumberland), Huttoft Bank and Anderby Creek (North Lincs), the Sleddale Moors (Cleveland) (at least two), Beeley Moor (Derbyshire). Skegness and Gibraltar Point NNR (Lincs), Holkham Freshmarsh (North Norfolk), Earith Washes (Cambs) and Dungeness ARC Pit (East Kent). Also related to the influx, juvenile PALLID HARRIERS continue to be located - with a juvenile yesterday over Goonhilly Downs (Cornwall) and another today in Lothian, first seen flying in off the sea at St Abb's Lighthouse and then later over Barns Ness being mobbed by corvids.

A CATTLE EGRET is with livestock at Blakeney Freshmarsh (North Norfolk), where it can be 'scoped from Friary Hills, whilst unusually late was a juvenile PURPLE HERON at the Bottom Tank at Saltholme Pools RSPB (Cleveland) (it flew to Haverton Hole at dusk). GREAT WHITE EGRETS include long-staying birds at Linford NR (North Bucks), Denge Marsh (East Kent) and Mockbeggar Lake, Blashford Pits (Hants) and further singles in the borrow dyke north of the southern seawall at Copt Hall Marshes (Essex), roosting in trees at the rear of Fowlsyke Flash (SK 525 997) (South Yorkshire), at Vennford Reservoir (SX 685 710) (South Devon) and in fields by Watermill on the Ogmore Estuary (East Glamorgan).

The adult AZOREAN ATLANTIC GULL roosted again at Rutland Water (Leics) this evening.

Up to 3 GREY PHALAROPES were seen on rough seas off Cley NWT (North Norfolk), with another two off Waxham Gap (East Norfolk) and another at Breydon Water (Norfolk), with one stranded at Mersehead RSPB (D & G)

A juvenile ROSE-COLOURED STARLING is still visiting gardens in Nefyn (Gwynedd) whilst a very late WOOD WARBLER was in the plantation on the seaward side of Strathbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire)

Massive numbers of continental MEALY REDPOLLS are arriving, along with numerous Siskins, Firecrests and Short-eared Owls

In IRELAND, the star prize remains the first-winter UPLAND SANDPIPIER on The Mullet (Co Mayo) in the rushy fields by the road to Glebe House at Termoncarragh Lough (see Aidan Kelly's superb images above). In County Wexford, two different NORTHERN HARRIER-types are being seen - a juvenile and a second-winter male - both roosting at the Lingstown reedbed.

In County Galway, the juvenile DOTTEREL and AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER are still at Aillebrack, whilst two GLOSSY IBISES still remained at Timoleague (Co. Cork) this evening.

A SUBALPINE WARBLER was a late find at the Old Head of Kinsale (County Cork), favouring vegetation inland from the plantation in the roadside hedgerow opposite the pink bungalow, with both the BARRED WARBLER and RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER and RED-EYED VIREO still at Mizen Head (Co. Cork)


The first-winter female PIED WHEATEAR discovered by survey worker Daryl Spittle at Oldbury-on-Severn was still present today, affording 'crippling' views as it flitted between buildings at the Thornbury Yacht Club (ST 600 929). The bird is particularly confiding and very photogenic and was being admired by a constant procession of visitors today.

DIRECTIONS: From the A38 parallel with the M5, follow signposts to Thornbury and then Oldbury-on-Severn. Once in the village, turn sharply left into Church Road and park sensibly opposite the Anchor Inn. From here, follow the entrance road to Thornbury Yacht Club, where, after just over half a mile walk, is positioned next to the sea wall (see the map above)

Friday, 21 October 2011

Cornish SCARLET TANAGER remains very elusive

The first-winter male SCARLET TANAGER was only seen once today at St Levan (West Cornwall). Adrian Kettle, Colin Mackenzie-grieve and Graham Ekins relocated it at about 0945 hours in tall Elms in the gardens of the cottages at the bottom of the valley starting opposite the church car park. It afforded good, clear views for about 5 minutes (allowing a number of photographs to be taken) before flying back towards the main Grey Gables garden. Just 25 birders managed to get on to it at this time. Despite subsequent searching for the rest of the day, the bird was NOT seen again before dark.

The church car park can house about 20 vehicles at a squeeze whilst overflow parking is available in nearby Porthcurno or at Porthgwarra. Please donate £2 towards the church fund.

RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHERS remain at both Kenidjack Valley and Porthgwarra

Thursday, 20 October 2011


A first-winter SCARLET TANAGER was discovered early afternoon in St Levan valley (West Cornwall). Two local lads both found it (Dave and Matt) and watched it on and off for about 25 minutes as if fed in a Pear tree in the grounds of Grey Gables, close to the church. As neither are twitchers, it was not until late afternoon that they passed the news on to one of the main contacts in Penwith. About 25 birders then quickly gathered at the site, but there was no sign of anything in clear, cold conditions from 1630 hours until dusk. This is the first Scarlet Tanager in the county since Brian Mellow's bird at Nanquidno in the mid 70's.

Parking is being offered by the church at the end of the narrow lane at £2 per car

At the opposite end of the country in Shetland, the gorgeous male SIBERIAN RUBYTHROAT continues to show intermittently in the garden at Ockendons, at Gulberwick - 2.5 miles SW of Lerwick. Now present for its fourth day, several birders flew in today and connected from the south. A bonus bird came in the form of a PECHORA PIPIT at the same site - this bird showing somewhat more frequently (see Dougie Preston's excellent images above).

On the Isles of Scilly, the first-winter NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH remains on Lower Moors at Shooter's Pool, with 1-2 RED-THROATED PIPITS on St Mary's in the Pungies Lane area, 1 OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT still in fields along Watermill Lane, the WILSON'S SNIPE on Lower Moors and the UPLAND SANDPIPER still at Maypole. A MELODIOUS WARBLER has relocated to Penninis Head, favouring Pittisporum bushes by the entrance to the Farm Trail. On Tresco, both the LESSER YELLOWLEGS and SPOTTED CRAKE remain.

West Cornwall offers two migrant RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHERS today, with singles in the Willows and Sallows by Porthgwarra car park and in the garden at the seaward end of Kenidjack Valley, whilst further east, the LESSER YELLOWLEGS continues on the Tresillian River at Truro.

A juvenile PALLID HARRIER adds Cleveland to its tally of counties, showing well today at times in the reeds at the north end of Dorman's Pool at Teesmouth. ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS have been arriving in numbers, with two being present at Abberton Reservoir (Essex) viewable from Stafford's Corner.

The wide-ranging adult AZOREAN ATLANTIC GULL seen in September at Stewartby Lake (Beds) and Grafham Water (Cambs) was relocated today in the roost at Rutland Water (Leics).

Two juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS continue to commute between Blagdon Lake (Somerset) and Chew Valley lake (Avon), with the juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPER still at the north end of the River Plym (South Devon). A WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER remains at Balgarva on South Uist (Outer Hebrides).

An adult drake NORTH AMERICAN BLACK SCOTER remains with Common Scoters, an adult drake SURF SCOTER and 3 drake Velvet Scoters 6 miles SE of Berwick-upon-Tweed (Northumberland) offshore of Goswick, whilst further south, the juvenile female LESSER SCAUP continues on Marsden Quarry in Whitley Bay. A drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK is at Pugney's Country Park (West Yorks).

A first-winter RED-BREASTED GOOSE remains with 200 Dark-bellied Brent Geese in Christchurch Harbour (Dorset) at Stanpit Marsh.

The UPLAND SANDPIPER at Termoncarragh Lake (Co. Mayo) continues to be the main attraction in IRELAND, although a RED-EYED VIREO in County Cork at Mizen Head is also of major interest.

A plethora of rare Nearctic waders continues including 4 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford), a juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER at Aillebrook (Co. Galway) and 2 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS at Lough Atedaun (Co. Clare).

Recent BARRED WARBLERS have included singles at Slyne Head and at West Beara at Gerinish

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Cold Northwesterly winds set in..

Belated news concerns a suppressed juvenile SEMIPALMATED PLOVER that was present on Crowdy Reservoir and Davidstow Airfield (Cornwall) from at least 18-30 September - the first record for the county. The bird was consorting with a flock of up to 25 Ringed Plovers and 15 Dunlin, so if any of you photographed the flock at the same time as the well-twitched juvenile Buff-breasted Sandpiper there, you may wish to review your images......

As predicted for Saturday, there was no sign of the Rufous-tailed Robin at Warham Greens (Norfolk) that had remained until dusk the previous evening........

So, with Northwesterly winds now set in for most of the week, this is how we stand at present.....

On the Isles of Scilly, where 190 birders are still in temporary residence, St Mary's showstopper - the first-winter NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH - continues to survive, showing well intermittently at Higginson's Pool, Lower Moors. The first-winter WILSON'S SNIPE is also still present, commuting between Lower Moors and Porthellick Pools, as well as the first-winter UPLAND SANDPIPER at Maypole, whilst the first-winter male BLUETHROAT remains on Porthellick Beach, 1-2 RED-THROATED PIPITS on the Golf Course and Longstones Fields, a RADDE'S WARBLER along the Salakee Lane and a MELODIOUS WARBLER at Carn Gwaval. Newly discovered today were 2 OLIVE-BACKED PIPITS in fields along Watermill Lane. The three BLACK KITES drifted over from West Cornwall on Sunday and at least one remained about the islands today, whilst both the juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS remain on St Martin's and Tresco Great Pool respectively.

A total of 9 RED-FLANKED BLUETAILS turned up over the weekend with just one remaining today - that in brambles by the entrance to South Landing car park at Flamborough Head (East Yorks). Yesterday's adult male ISABELLINE SHRIKE at Cliffe Pools RSPB (North Kent) (present since Saturday) also disappeared overnight.

A WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER continues for a fourth day at Rutland Water (Leics), showing best from Lapwing Hide, whilst GREY PHALAROPES on freshwater include singles at Daventry Reservoir (Northants), Grafham Water (Cambs) and at Cudmore Grove Country Park (Essex). The LESSER YELLOWLEGS remains near Truro (Cornwall) on the Tresilian River at Tresemple Pool, whilst a late juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER is still near the dam at the south end of Drift Reservoir (Cornwall) (further singles are at Castle Lake, Bishop Middleham, Cleveland, and on the Flask Lake at Nosterfield Quarry, North Yorks)..

A juvenile GLOSSY IBIS continues to show well from the viewing screen at the Fire Station Field at Saltholme RSPB (Cleveland) whilst the two juveniles reappeared at Cudmore Grove CP (Essex) today. A further bird was seen at Pett Level (East Sussex) this morning, before relocating to West Rise Lake, Langney, later in the afternoon.

A juvenile/first-winter RED-BREASTED GOOSE of unknown but perhaps natural origin appeared today amongst a large flock of Dark-bellied Brent Geese in Christchurch Harbour (Dorset), favouring the South Marsh on Stanpit Marsh.

There has been a healthy influx of early ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS in this past week, with one juvenile even making it as far as West Cornwall. Today saw 2 in the Winterton North Dunes area (Norfolk)

The juvenile LESSER SCAUP continues to show well on Marden Quarry Pool (Northumberland)...

A fair few YELLOW-BROWED WARBLERS are now scattered about, as well as a good number of GREAT GREY SHRIKES. Large numbers of MEALY REDPOLLS and Siskins continue to arrive from the near continent, as well as Common Crossbills and Woodlarks. The first waves of immigrant Woodpigeons are also now appearing

An adult WHITE-BILLED DIVER flew past Aird, Tiree (Argyll) at 0810 hours


In County Mayo, the UPLAND SANDPIPER discovered by Dave Suddaby remains at Termoncarragh Lake, frequenting the small flooded field by the road to Glebe House, whilst in County Cork, both a juvenile ROSE-COLOURED STARLING and a RED-THROATED PIPIT are at Ballycotton and a juvenile WOODCHAT SHRIKE at Galley Head. Cape Clear island (Co. Cork) still hosts a GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK, RED_BREASTED FLYCATCHER and ROSE-COLOURED STARLING. A 2nd-winter male NORTH AMERICAN MARSH HAWK (NORTHERN HARRIER) is again at tacumshin Lake (Co. Wexford)

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Southeasterly winds produce 5 BLUETAILS and an ISABELLINE WHEATEAR within hours........

Light Southeasterly winds and intermittent drizzle saw a mass arrival of birds from the Continent today including large numbers of Short-eared and Long-eared Owls, Great Grey Shrikes, Yellow-browed Warblers, Bramblings, Siskins and Fieldfares and Redwings. Amongst them were no less than 5 RED-FLANKED BLUETAILS........

The first was trapped and ringed mid-morning at North Landing, Flamborough Head (East Yorks), followed by another early afternoon at Whitburn Coastal Park (County Durham) and then another on Orfordness Island in Suffolk. There was then another discovered in the Sluice Bushes at Minsmere Beach (Suffolk), with a second (unringed) individual in Whitburn - in the tall trees along Church Lane.

The easterly element to the weather also produced an ISABELLINE WHEATEAR late afternoon - at the caravan park at Lowestoft North Denes (Suffolk), where nearby, a juvenile WOODCHAT SHRIKE remains showing well in bushes on the west side of Links Road car park at Lowestoft North Denes

A RED-THROATED PIPIT flew south over Pegwell Bay Country Park (East Kent) at 0950 hours, whilst the first PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER of the autumn was at Brook Lane in Reculver (Kent).

With most holidaying birders now either on Scilly or Shetland, the former shrouded in dense fog offers the following.....

The first-winter NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (the longest-staying ever) continues to be the show-stopper. This fabulous and very enchanting lost Nearctic waif is very much in a routine now, regularly appearing at Higginson's Pool on Lower Moors and giving itself up bigtime. Take the footpath alongside the allotments and rubbish tip on the outskirts of Hugh Town and at the Dump Clump, take the well-worn track through the clump and out for 150 yards into the reedbed. The pool can be overlooked from a raised mound.

A first-winter UPLAND SANDPIPER is also present on St Mary's, commuting between two fields in the Maypole junction and Borough Farm area, with a juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS on Lower Moors, a first-winter WILSON'S SNIPE on Porthellick Pool, a RED-THROATED PIPIT with Meadow Pipits on the Golf Course, a first-winter male BLUETHROAT on Porthellick Pool and Beach, a juvenile ROSE-COLOURED STARLING just above Sallyport on the Garrison, a female-type SUBALPINE WARBLER in the pine belt behind the tennis courts on the Garrison, a GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK on the Airfield, a COMMON ROSEFINCH near the tip and at least 5 different WRYNECKS about the island.

On Tresco, both the LESSER YELLOWLEGS and LEAST SANDPIPER remain in their respective opposite ends of the Great Pool, with the juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE nearby on the Abbey Pool crossroads and a confiding SPOTTED CRAKE on the Abbey Pool, whilst on St Martin's, the juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and 3 Eurasian Golden Plovers continues by the Daymark and an unidentified large pipit is by the Beady Pool on Wingletang Down, St Agnes.

Fair Isle saw the first LANCEOLATED WARBLER of the year arrive, whilst Shetland South Mainland still housed the AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT in the kale field above the dam at Quendale Burn and the adult female ISABELLINE SHRIKE at Brake, Hillwell; the juvenile PALLID HARRIER remained too at Wester Quarff.

A first-winter male ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK was reported from Orkney on the weekend, with an OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT on North Ronaldsay today and two PECTORAL SANDPIPERS at Herston on South Ronaldsay. Yesterday also saw an ELEONORA'S FALCON photographed between Kilspindle and Gosford (Lothian) - this following a very convincing description of an adult SOOTY FALCON at Birling Gap, Beachy Head (East Sussex).

An AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT was an excellent find in East Sussex on Sunday, the bird being photographed again yesterday afternoon along the tidewrack consorting with 4 Rock Pipits at Newhaven Harbour, just west of the West Arm (no sign today however, despite exhaustive searching). Meanwhile, a first-winter YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO died today after being taken into care from a Liverpool garden yesterday.

A juvenile LESSER SCAUP continues to show well at Marden Quarry Pool (Northumberland) whilst offshore in the same county at Goswick, a drake NORTH AMERICAN BLACK SCOTER, an adult drake SURF SCOTER and 3 Velvet Scoters are amongst Common Scoters off of Beachcomber House. A first-winter drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK remains on the pit right of the visitor centre along the approach road to Far Ings NR in North Lincolnshire

There are still at least two BLACK KITES present in West Cornwall and showing intermittently SW of Catchall between Drift and the B3283 junction at Bojewans Carn, viewed south from the A30 layby a mile west of Drift.

GLOSSY IBISES remaining from last week's influx include the 3 juveniles at Priory Marsh, Stanpit (Dorset) and the single juvenile at the southern causeway of Stithians Reservoir (Cornwall), whilst a new arrival today included a bird off Kirkholme Point at Hornsea Mere (East Yorks).

A first-winter GREY PHALAROPE remains for a second day at Daventry Reservoir (Northants) (with another on Noah's Lake at Shapwick Heath NNR, Somerset) whilst in what has been an exceptional autumn for LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS sees two juveniles still together at Chew Valley Lake (Avon) (viewable from the Stratford Hide) and singles on the Folly Pond at Caerlaverock WWT (Dumfries & Galloway) and at Lochlea Farm Pool (NS 457 303) in Ayrshire. The long-staying juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPER continues to be seen at the north end of the Plym Estuary by Marsh Mills roundabout, Plymouth (South Devon), as well as the moulting adult on Herriott's Pool, Chew Valley Lake, with the juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS at Truro along the Tresilian River (Cornwall). A WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was newly discovered at St Serf's Island, Loch Leven (Perth & Kinross) today.

A PECTORAL SANDPIPER remains at Dungeness ARC Pit (Kent) (where a fall of over 10 Ring Ouzels took place in the Moat and Trapping Area) as well as the Denge Marsh GREAT WHITE EGRET, whilst the CATTLE EGRET is still to be found on the marsh viewable from the footpath between the end of Thornham Lane and Chichester Harbour on Thorney Island (West Sussex).

Stornoway Harbour on Lewis (Outer Hebrides) is yielding a 2nd-winter RING-BILLED GULL, whilst the Uists have an outstanding array of Nearctic waders including a BAIRD'S SANDPIPER at Balgarva, BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER at Loch Sandary, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER and 8 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS at The Range, West Gerenish and 4 GREY PHALAROPES at Ardivachar Point.

A GREAT NORTHERN DIVER is inland at Ringstone Edge Reservoir (West Yorks), with a confiding SLAVONIAN GREBE on Fairhaven Lake (Lancs)

In IRELAND, most excitement surrounds an UPLAND SANDPIPER in the Termoncarragh Lough area in County Mayo. The bird is typically vocal and flighty but favouring the wet grassy fields at F 650 357 - the fields to the west of the graveyard along the single track road to Glebe. Found by Dave Suddaby.

Although the recent RED-EYED VIREO was not seen today on Cape Clear Island (Co. Cork), the GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK remains and at Galley Head (Co. Cork), the WOODCHAT SHRIKE is still in residence.

An adult FORSTER'S TERN is at Cruisetown Strand (Co. Louth) with the juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPER still by the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarberry (Co. Cork) and at least 17 GLOSSY IBISES at Courtmacsherry (Co. Cork).

In County Down, a juvenile male PALLID HARRIER was seen at St John's Point yesterday.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

WILSON'S SNIPE joins the roll-call on Scilly

An apparent WILSON'S SNIPE is commuting between Lower Moors and Porthellick Pool on St Mary's (Scilly), present now for at least its third day. It is the only Snipe being seen at the moment so should be easy enough to pick out! It represents at least the eighth record for Scilly of what has become an annual late autumn vagrant to the archipelago.

With the wind in the North West and strong, nothing new has arrived on the islands but nothing has departed either. The long-staying first-winter NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH is still clambering about the emergent vegetation on Higginson's Pool, Lower Moors, early morning, where also both the SOLITARY SANDPIPER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS are dropping in from time to time.

A BLACK KITE is loafing around St Mary's, especially over the eastern end of St Mary's, and the dark morph juvenile HONEY BUZZARD is also still putting in appearances. Several WRYNECKS are to be seen, as well as the GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK, juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and the small BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER flock on the Airfield. There is also a SUBALPINE WARBLER present on the Garrison - in scrub by the football pitch near the playground.

Tresco is still hosting the very confiding LEAST SANDPIPER (commuting between South Beach and the SE end of the Great Pool), the LESSER YELLOWLEGS and 3 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS (at the NW end of the Great Pool) and WRYNECK and juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE. There are also at least 3 Yellow Wagtails on the island as well as 2 Whinchats.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

LEAST SAND joins the current cast on Scilly

On the Isles of Scilly, the NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH trapped and ringed at the weekend on Porthellick Pool is back once more at its favoured locality of Higginson's Pool by the Dump Clump on Lower Moors, where it is showing well early mornings. This same pool is also playing host to the juvenile SOLITARY SANDPIPER and juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS, whilst elsewhere on St Mary's, the grassy airstrip still has 4 juvenile BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS in residence.

On neighbouring Tresco, a juvenile LEAST SANDPIPER is showing well for a second day in the Abbey Pool and South Beach areas as well as at the SE end of the Great Pool, with another juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS and 3 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS at the opposite NW end of the pool. The Least Sandpiper represents only the third ever record for the archipelago following singles on St Agnes on 6 October 1962 and on Tresco Great Pool on 24 August 1965. A HONEY BUZZARD is also lingering on Tresco, with a mobile BLACK KITE about St Mary's.

In Cornwall, a juvenile SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER is showing particularly well with Ringed Plovers on the runway and grass sidings at Davidstow Airfield, mainly in the area of the old concrete control tower, with a GLOSSY IBIS present for a second day at Stithians Reservoir. A juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE remains at Porthgwarra Moor (Cornwall), with the 3 BLACK KITES still ranging the Drift Reservoir area.

In Suffolk, the adult SANDHILL CRANE continues to show well, favouring the two large recently tilled fields SE of Boyton at the end of Mill Lane (at TM 388 461), whilst all 3 juvenile GLOSSY IBISES remain at Stanpit Marsh, Christchurch Harbour (Dorset) and another on the Ogmore Estuary (Glamorgan)..

SPOTTED SANDPIPERS remain at Chew Valley Lake (Avon) and at the north end of the Plym Estuary at Marsh Mills, Plymouth (South Devon), whilst the crowd-pleasing juvenile SOLITARY SANDPIPER in Lancashire continues SW of Garstang and SE of Nateby at Humblescough Farm (at SD 472 438). LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS can still be found at Baron's Haugh RSPB (Clyde), Kidwelly Quay (Carmarthenshire) and Freiston Shore RSPB (Lincs), with a juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER still on Barra (Outer Hebrides).

On Shetland, a LITTLE BUNTING remains in the iris bed above the dam at Quendale, with the first-winter DAURIAN ISABELLINE SHRIKE still showing well at Levenwick and a first-winter CITRINE WAGTAIL at the south end of Boddam in the farmyard at Fleck. In the extreme north, an OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT continues on Unst at Baltasound School.

The adult AZOREAN ATLANTIC GULL roosted on Grafham Water (Cambs) last night, whilst in North Lincolnshire, the juvenile NORTH AMERICAN BLACK TERN was still present at Covenham Reservoir yesterday evening.

PALLID HARRIERS still include up to 4 different individuals on Shetland (one badly oiled) and the Burpham bird (West Sussex), whilst a 'new' juvenile was seen in the Gamlingay area (Cambs) and near Little Tempsford (Beds) on 2-3 October.


A BLYTH'S REED WARBLER was a pleasant surprise in Cotter's Garden, Cape Clear Island (Co. Cork), with the SUBALPINE WARBLER still at Marconi at Crookhaven (Co. Cork) and RED-EYED VIREO at Mizen Head (Co. Cork).

The juvenile WHITE-WINGED BLACK TERN continues to linger at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford), along with 9 remaining BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS, with SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS at Inch Lake (Co. Donegal) and elsewhere in County Mayo and AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS at Truska Marsh, Ballyconneelly, and at Black Rock Strand.

The COMMON CRANE is still to be found on the North Slob (Co. Wexford), whilst GLOSSY IBISES have increased to an impressive flock of 15 birds at Courtmacsherry.

Monday, 3 October 2011


The adult SANDHILL CRANE that had been present at Loch of Strathbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire) from 22-26 September and was later seen flying between Northumberland and North Yorkshire on 29 September, over Rimac (North Lincs) and later in the Wash (Norfolk) on 1 October, finally gave itself up in Suffolk on Sunday, after being tracked from Kessingland, Aldeburgh, Sudbourne and eventually to Boyton.

After being relocated at Boyton Marshes early afternoon on 2 October, some 350 observers connected with it before it went to roost on site. A further 300 managed to see it today - the bird still present until at least 1800 hours.


Boyton lies some 5 miles ESE of Woodbridge and is accessed by taking the Hollesley road east not far out of Melton, then Boyton road about a mile beyond the RAF base. Special parking arrangements have been organised inside Boyton village, whereby space is being allocated at the church and an additional overspill field - please donate £1 to the church for this kind generosity.

From the village, walk down Mill Lane to the gate at the end and then continue to the end of the wood to the right. The Sandhill Crane can be feeding in either of the two recently large tilled fields in front of you or with cattle in fields on the seaward side of the Hollesley Youth Detention Centre, accessed by continuing SE to the seawall and walking south for a further mile.


Another great find was that of a juvenile SOLITARY SANDPIPER by Stuart Piner on Sunday - still present today. Just SW of Garstang (Lancs) and SE of Nateby on the flood viewed Humblescough Farm SD 472 438. From Nateby Drive along Humblescough Lane, fork left at the Poplar Grove signpost to the farm. Park sensibly at the farm - £4 per car.


Another recurring feature of recent autumns has been the post-breeding dispersal of Iberian GLOSSY IBISES and this year has been no different. A flock of at least 11 birds roosted this evening in trees behind the hotel in Courtmacsherry (Co. Cork) following at least 10 recorded along the South Coast of Britain over the weekend, including a party of 7 on the Isle of Wight, 3 at Stanpit Marsh (Dorset) and another on the Ogmore Estuary (Glamorgan) in South Wales.


With such fine weather even extending to Shetland over the weekend, noteworthy birds found in that archipelago included a SIBERIAN BLUE ROBIN on Foula (found freshly dead sadly), a PALLAS'S GRASSHOPPER WARBLER on Fair Isle, PECHORA PIPIT on Foula (and another on neighbouring North Ronaldsay in Orkney), BLACK-HEADED BUNTING on Unst, 3 juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS on Fetlar and ISABELLINE SHRIKE, ALPINE SWIFT, 5 OLIVE-BACKED PIPITS, 5 LITTLE BUNTINGS and a CITRINE WAGTAIL in South Mainland.


What was presumably a second NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH was trapped on Porthellick Pool, St Mary's on Saturday, with the long-staying bird still elusively feeding at Higginson's Pond on Lower Moors. A GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK was about the Airfield area, where the juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and 4 juvenile BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS remained, with two different juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS being present (on Lower Moors and Tresco Great Pool respectively), several Wrynecks, a Red-backed Shrike on Tresco and the odd mobile ORTOLAN BUNTING on St Mary's.

PALLID HARRIER in Cambridgeshire

What a morning,

Jill & I have been keeping an eye on Gamlingay/Sugley for most of this year. It was incredible in the summer with hundreds, if not thousands of Marbled Whites and up to 15 Silver-washed Fritillaries, and in past weeks has been excellent for hoverflies. many of which I've photographed and are on my website. The northern section has been left as set-aside, and in recent weeks it has improved with great varieties of day flying moths and various grasshoppers and crickets which since I finished work at the end of August have given me tremendous enjoyment. We'd been saying for weeks how it looks perfect for a Richard's Pipit or maybe something better. Early today I decided as it was too hot to sleep to get up early, pay another visit and go and try to find myself a Richard's...

I'd been on site about 10 minutes when I could see a dark raptor sitting on a post, facing away from me; through bins it had an obvious cream crown so I was thinking young Marsh Harrier, switching to my scope I was somewhat surprised to see it had prominent pale patches formed by rows of neat pale spots on the coverts and a darker face bordered by a pale collar. I photographed it from where I was standing and the shots even zoomed in on the camera were awful, but you could definitely make out the collar, this combined with the paler underparts and covert spotting started to make me think it could be a Pallid Harrier. I needed another experienced observer to see it and one who could get here quickly. I phoned Jim Lawrence who was already in his office, he calmed me down (Thanks Jim), ran through a few plumage features to make sure I had not made a Mis-ID, but from our rather surreal conversation it still seemed likely it was a Pallid. As Jim was now in Cambridge it would take him a good while to get here. I then phoned home and told Jill, she said she would come over as soon as she could, sh e also mentioned that Steve Rooke was in the office early as he was just about to leave for Ethiopia. I called Steve in a state of panic and he left Potton immediately, he got there as fast as he could.
In the meantime I switched back to my scope only to find a post and no bird sat on it. As I scanned the fenceline I picked up the bird coming south along the fence and straight towards me, it flew past at about 300 metres range and the plumage features were now more obvious. I then texted Jill & Steve to say that it had just flown past and that I was now sure it was a Pallid. As I scanned the fenceline, Steve appeared and rushed over. I showed him the two best images on my camera and he was in total agreement but the bird had vanished from view. He then phoned Steve Blain due to its close proximity to Beds and I phoned Stuart Piner at RBA to tell him I'd seen it flying along the hedge at 0810 but not since I'd confirmed the ID beyond doubt. Steve set out to scan the nearby area and went to the south of the fence. Jill also arrived and she started to check the northern edge near the paddocks. Steve then phoned to say that whilst he talking to Steve Blain, Steve (Blain) received an email from an RSPB colleague reporting a Hen Harrier at the site the previous day, time and observer unknown but still most bizarre. About 20 minutes went by with no further sign of the bird when a pager message came through about a juv Pallid Harrier near Tempsford - surely this bird? Indeed it was, it had been seen by Cambs birder Mark Ward and his girlfriend Laura, just over the border, in Beds.
I've since spoken to Mark Ward and Steve Blain and it seems likely that when the bird reached the end of the hedge it skirted the blindside of the wood and headed across the road, along the greensands ridge near Tetworth and across to where Mark and Laura had seen it, only a few miles, but in the process it became a f irst for Bedfordshire!

The shots, although distant (they are fairly lousy due to the distance but a handful of shots show the features) will be posted to CBC later on. They are on the RBA website and my website under Recent additions, UK Rare Birds 2011.

My thanks go to Steve Rooke, my wife Jill, Jim Lawrence, Mark Ward and Steve Blain, all of whom have made valuable contributions to this series of events. Other characters have done their best to be less helpful, but I have photographic proof of my Pallid...

An incredible morning and hopefully the first of many more, in an autumn that some have described as my semi-retirement!

Stuart Elsom

Friday, 30 September 2011

Record-breaking late September temperatures

Temperatures in the south of Britain today reached a sweltering 82 degrees f - the hottest end of September temperatures since records began.........

Despite flying south between Whitley Bay (Northumberland) and Whitby (North Yorks) during yesterday, there has been no reports today of Aberdeenshire's adult Sandhill Crane. About 25 observers were lucky to intercept the bird yesterday as it made slow progress, although it did thwart many others by making the wrong turns......

With upwards now of 130 observers on Shetland, rarities being discovered there are increasing on a daily basis. Although the adult Lesser Grey Shrike and an Alpine Swift seen at Laxo have now moved on, and the Great Snipe of last night between North and South Voxter, today still saw the first-winter BLACK-HEADED BUNTING at Belmont House garden on Unst (and Bluethroat at Northdale, Red-backed Shrike at Haroldswick and Barred Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler and Common Rosefinch on the island), 3 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS briefly at Loch of Hixter and a Red-backed Shrike at Sumburgh Head, whilst juvenile PALLID HARRIERS included one on Fetlar near Wick of Gruting and two in the Quendale Burn area. Foula has NORTH AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT and BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER, following a three-dayer juvenile YELLOW-BREASTED BUNTING during the week.

Compare this with the 16 or so observers now on Scilly, enjoying 4 juvenile BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS, a juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and a GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK on the Airfield, the juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS on Porthmellon Beach, a juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER on Lower Moors, a scattering of 4 WRYNECKS and a mobile BLACK KITE on St Mary's. Tresco still has 6 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS.

GLOSSY IBISES are arriving on cue, with singles today on the Ogmore Estuary in Glamorgan on the pond by the Watermill public house and at Priory Marsh, Stanpit, in Christchurch Harbour (Dorset). Two GREAT WHITE EGRETS have also been moving along the South Coast, today flying over Pennington Marshes (Hampshire).

A couple of LITTLE BUNTINGS were trapped and ringed today on Lundy Island (North Devon) and Spurn Point (East Yorks) respectively, with a HOOPOE at Stonebarrow Hill, east of Charmouth (Devon) (SY 384 933) and a RED-BACKED SHRIKE remaining at Lodmoor (Dorset).

A juvenile PALLID HARRIER has been performing well in Somerset for a third day, 3 miles NE of Cheddar at Black Down, west of the trig point at ST 485 572, whilst a BLACK KITE still remains in the Drift Reservoir area (West Cornwall).

Juvenile SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS remaining include singles on the Ythan Estuary (Aberdeenshire) (at the north end, near the fishing cabins), Lower Pennington Marshes (Hampshire) (on the Jetty Lagoon) and on the Axe Estuary at Coronation Corner, Seaton (South Devon), with a lingering BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER on the Isle of Sheppey at Elmley Marshes RSPB (North Kent) and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS at Grove Ferry (Kent), Hornsea Mere (East Yorks), Marazion (West Cornwall), Weir Wood Reservoir (Sussex) and Saltholme Pools (Cleveland). Both BUFF-BREAST and PEC are to be found in Cumbria, NE of Arnside on the Kent Estuary at Carr Bank, whilst a LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER remains for a second day at Freiston Shore RSPB (Lincs). New in today was a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER on Musselburgh Lagoons (Lothian) and 2 DOTTERELS at Polgigga (West Cornwall)..

The long-staying juvenile AMERICAN BLACK TERN continues to show well for admirers at Covenham Reservoir (North Lincs), with a GREAT WHITE EGRET at Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB (Cheshire), a drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK in the Walgrave Arm of Pitsford Reservoir (Northants) and a flock of 28 SPOONBILLS on Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour (Dorset). In Scotland, the drake AMERICAN BLACK SCOTER remains off Blackdog Beach (Aberdeenshire).

In IRELAND, reports today included that of the juvenile SEMIPALMATED PLOVER in Ventry Bay (Co. Kerry), the juvenile LEAST SANDPIPER at Carrahane Strand (Co. Kerry), two adult WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS on The Mullet at Blacksod (Co. Mayo) on Trawmore Beach and a juvenile SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER at Cromane (Co. Kerry) (the latter the latest in over 50 individuals discovered this autumn)



In what has been a record-breaking last two days of September, temperatures today in the south climbed to a sweltering 81 degrees C. Once again, the South Coast was bathed in wall-to-wall sunshine......


I decided to return to Pennington Marshes for the second time this week in order to savour the delights of the small peep gracing the pools with its presence. Fortunately, my visit today coincided with high tide and the juvenile SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER was feeding with a multitude of other small waders on the ''Jetty Lagoon''. In fact, it was very often the closest bird feeding, favouring the nutrient-rich mud at the west end of the scrape. For much of the time, it fed to within 40 yards of the sea wall, affording brilliant views in the sunlight and allowing all salient features to be noted - including the partial webbing between the toes. It was a particularly pleasing experience.

Other waders present included the juvenile LITTLE STINT still, 2 Common Greenshanks, 124 Dunlin (including one very obvious long-billed alpina), an adult Pied Avocet and the usual selection of commoner waders such as Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Common Redshank and Eurasian Curlew.

A single EURASIAN SPOONBILL was roosting out on the saltmarsh, with Little Egret (7), Great Crested Grebe (13) and the 41-strong COMMON EIDER raft still offshore.

The scrub produced a WHINCHAT, Common Stonechats and a blackberry-feeding flock of 180 Common Starlings, whilst an excellent scattering of late-flying butterflies included up to 10 WALL BROWNS, several PAINTED LADY and a few CLOUDED YELLOWS. An extremely enjoyable afternoon was had (Lee G R Evans)

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Those Yank waders keep coming and coming !!

Dan Brown and other members of the so-called ''Punkbirder'' crew fully clinched the identification of a juvenile SEMIPALMATED PLOVER in west IRELAND today 4.5 miles WSW of Dingle (County Kerry) at the south end of Ventry Harbour on the beach just north of the southern stream mouth. The bird was showing very well and was photographed this afternoon by Michael O'Keefe and was also seen by a number of Kerry birders including Maurice Hanafin and Jill Crosher.(information per Ed Carty).

Rare Nearctic waders continue to dominate the IRISH headlines with a bag of juvenile SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS still to be seen, including two at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) and two at Blennerville Marsh (Co. Kerry), as well as numerous BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS (4 at Tacumshin still, another 4 between Newbridge and Kildare amongst European Golden Plovers on Curragh Racecourse, Co. Kildare, and 2 at Truska Marsh, Ballyconneelly, Co. Galway), a juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER (and juvenile Dotterel) at Truska Marsh and the HUDSONIAN WHIMBREL still at Mizen Head (Co. Cork). Other highlights include the continuing juvenile PALLID HARRIER at Tacumshin and a female BLUE-WINGED TEAL at Inch Lake on Lough Swilly (Co. Donegal).

On the Isles of Scilly today, the NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH commuted between the St Mary's Dump Clump Project Pool and the main Lower Moors pools in front of the ISBG hide but was always very elusive, whilst the juvenile SOLITARY SANDPIPER remained at the Project Pool, just one BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER on the Airfield, the first-summer WOODCHAT SHRIKE by the Airfield and an ORTOLAN BUNTING there also. The Black-and-White Warbler and Baltimore Oriole departed midweek.

In the far Northwest, on the Outer Hebrides, Barra's RED-EYED VIREO was trapped and ringed today at Brevig.

As well as in Ireland, SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS and other Nearctic waders appeared in numbers in Britain today with new juvenile SEMI-P's being discovered in South Devon (on the Axe Estuary north of Seaton at Black Hole Marsh) and in Hampshire (at Pennington Marshes' Shoveler Pond), an adult SPOTTED SANDPIPER on the Herriott's Bridge causeway at Chew Valley Lake (Avon) and a juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS ENE of Glasson (Lancs) on the south side of the Lune Estuary at the mouth of the River Conder (at SO 454 562) (both LESSER YELLOWLEGS remained in West Cornwall, at Drift Reservoir and Tresilian River, Truro, respectively, and the juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPERS at the north end of the Plym Estuary in Plymouth, South Devon, and at Lydney, Gloucs). A sprinkling of BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS included the Thornwick Bay, Flamborough (East Yorks), bird again, whilst an adult AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER was to be seen at Uskmouth Lighthouse (Gwent) and a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER at Llanrhidian Marsh. Both juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS remain at Baron's Haigh RSPB (Clyde) and Stithians Reservoir (Cornwall) respectively

The deluge of juvenile PALLID HARRIERS continues, breaking all previous records, with a new bird at Cliffe Pools RSPN (North Kent) this afternoon joining at least two different birds on Shetland, a confiding bird at The Loons RSPB (Orkney), another on Mull (Argyll) at Fidden, Moss and the most observed of all still just NNE of Burpham (West Sussex) at The Burgh already on the list.

The light SE winds this afternoon bought in a nice ARCTIC WARBLER to the East Coast - showing well in bushes and scrub ENE of the boardwalk at Burnham Overy Dunes (North Norfolk) - whilst on Shetland, the GREY-CHEEKED THRUSH at West manse garden, Fetlar, replaced the attraction of yesterday's South Mainland Swainson's Thrush on the archipelago.

Over 40 twitchers made the long trip north to Aberdeenshire overnight and were rewarded with early morning views of the adult SANDHILL CRANE at Strathbeg RSPB, the bird continuing to show throughout the day until it decided to fly south at 1613 hours. Not that far away to the south, the adult drake NORTH AMERICAN BLACK SCOTER remained with Common Scoter off Murcar Beach.

The juvenile AMERICAN BLACK TERN continues at Covenham Reservoir in North Lincolnshire, with both juvenile SABINE'S GULLS still lingering at Sturt Pond, Milford-on-Sea (Dorset) (the long-staying adult at Grafham Water, Cambs, departed this morning).

Many Yellow-browed Warblers are now moving through Shetland, along with Common Rosefinches and the odd Barred Warbler, whilst at least 1 AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT and 1 CITRINE WAGTAIL remain on North Ronaldsay (Orkney). A GREAT SNIPE is still lingering on Fair Isle. A juvenile ROSE-COLOURED STARLING is at Land's End (West Cornwall), whilst juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKES are appearing in small numbers (with singles on Tresco, Scilly, and at Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, Kings Hall at Herne Bay, East Kent and in Dorset) and WRYNECKS with more frequency than in recent weeks.

Bedfordshire's apparent adult AZOREAN ATLANTIC GULL failed to appear in the Stewartby lake roost this evening, perhaps due to the increase in water ski-ing and speedboat racing today.

Also intriguingly, there was no sign of Cobh's INDIAN HOUSE CROW today; Dave Carter found and photographed the first-ever on Cyprus on Thursday !