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

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Monday, 31 January 2011

KILLDEER on Islay briefly

A total of 246 species has now been recorded in Britain and Ireland in 2011, with today's KILLDEER the first recorded since 2009.

The finder of St Kilda's Blackburnian Warbler chanced upon this morning's KILLDEER on Islay (Argyll) - Mr Will Miles. The bird was watched at close range on the beach at Lossit Bay before it flew off calling but was not relocated.

A very confiding juvenile BLACK-THROATED DIVER was a popular attraction at Ryder's Mere, Clayhanger Marsh (West Midlands) in recent days but flew off west shortly before midday, whilst the regularly returning adult winter PACIFIC DIVER continues to feed fairly close inshore in Mount's Bay, generally between the Windsurfer's Car Park at Marazion Beach and 500 yards to the west. Few RED-NECKED GREBES appear inland these days so singles at Fairhaven Lake (Lancs) and Grafham Water (Cambs) are noteworthy.

It has been an exceptional winter for GREAT WHITE EGRETS with a record-breaking flock of 6 at the Ham Walls RSPB reserve at Shapwick Heath (Somerset), the two returning birds at Pitsford Reservoir (Northants) and the French colour-ringed adult at Mockbeggar Lake and Ibsley Water in Hampshire and a regular winterer at Hoveringham Sailing Lake (Notts).

A EURASIAN SPOONBILL remains present on the Sea Pool between Cley and Salthouse (North Norfolk) for its third day, with 8 in Poole Harbour (Dorset) and 5 in North Devon at Isley Marsh.

The first-winter RED-BREASTED GOOSE was seen today with Pink-footed Geese in the field south of the car park just west of Fluke Hall (North Lancashire), whilst the adult remains with Dark-bellied Brent Geese at Solent Breezes (Hants) in the large field west of Lower Brownwich Farm. A further 11 birds of unknown origin continue to be seen at further sites in southern Britain, including all 5 (pair and three first-winters) now back in coastal Suffolk. Meanwhile, the adult LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE of unknown but perhaps introduced origin appears to have departed the Cantley Marshes RSPB and Yare Valley (Norfolk) with half of the wintering Taiga Bean Geese (reduced from 102 to 58 in past week).

An adult SNOW GOOSE is still present with Greylag Geese at Gremista (Shetland), with 1 of 3 ROSS'S SNOW GEESE in Norfolk still being seen in the east of the county with the Pink-footed Geese grazing the Haddiscoe Levels.

A drake AMERICAN WIGEON has been present for several days at Martnaham Loch (Ayrshire), with the long-staying drake still on the Serpentine by East Bank, Cley NWT (Norfolk) and another near Tingwall on Shetland, whilst a drake RING-NECKED DUCK continues to show well in West Cornwall at St Gothian Sands LNR (at SW 585 418). Another drake of the latter can also be found at Cowpen Bewley Woodland Park (Cleveland), with a further on the Thornton ICI Reservoir in Lancashire. Just two LESSER SCAUPS are being seen of late: the first-winter female on the Rushy Pen at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs) and the adult drake (presumably a returning bird) at Colliford Lake, Bodmin Moor (Cornwall), in the Loveney NR arm. Dependable SURF SCOTERS include just one single adult drake in Largo Bay (Fife) and the adult female off Dawlish Warren (South Devon).

The juvenile WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLE is still present at Hordle in South Hampshire, ranging between the woodland west of Hordle Lane just north of the Milford road and its favoured roost trees to the west of Angel Lane about a mile to the west, whilst in North Norfolk, the juvenile Hen Harrier showing characteristics of the Nearctic form hudsonicus remains faithful to the saltmarsh.east of Thornham Harbour.

At the extreme north end of the Shetland Islands, at least one ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD remains on Unst (at Vaila Field), with other wintering birds still being reliably seen at South Ferriby (North Lincs) and in the Holkham Freshmarsh/Scolt Head Island areas (up to 5).

Dorset's wintering LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER was relocated today in Poole Park, Bournemouth, where it was frequenting the large lake visble from the roadside by the old Swan Lake Cafeteria.

A twitchable LITTLE AUK survived a couple of days in Scarborough Harbour (North Yorks)

Wintering SHORE LARKS are still to be found at Titchwell Beach (Norfolk) (9), Cley Beach (11), Dingle Marshes, Walberswick (Suffolk) (11) and Reculver Marshes (Kent) (3). A single has also been seen frequently at Carnforth Beach (Lancs).

Up to 5 gorgeous WHITE-HEADED CONTINENTAL LONG-TAILED TITS (Caudatus) continue to roam with 10 of their British counterparts around the churchyard and adjacent well-stocked gardens at the north end of Dymchurch (East Kent)

A first-winter ROSE-COLOURED STARLING has been visiting a suburban garden in Penzance (West Cornwall) for over two weeks now (at Weethes Cottages), whilst SCANDINAVIAN ARCTIC REDPOLLS have included at least three different individuals at Rainton Meadows (Co. Durham), three in Bedfordshire and a single in Bell's Wood, Whiteadder Reservoir (Lothian).

LAPLAND BUNTINGS still remain plentiful following last autumn's record bounty, with 36 WNW of Port Eynon at Paviland (Glamorgan) (SS 453 853), 4 at Buckton (East Yorks), up to 14 at Cut Bridge, Sturt Pond (Hants), at least 40 at Chyvarloe, Gunwalloe (Cornwall), 25 at Weybourne (Norfolk) and up to 60 along the South Wall at Breydon Water (Norfolk).

In IRELAND, the SPOONBILL is still to be found at Courtmacsherry Quay (County Cork), the adult winter FORSTER'S TERN remains in Galway Bay just east of the Mutton Island causeway, the AMERICAN COOT at Termoncarragh Lake (Co. Mayo) and the adult female BLUE-WINGED TEAL on North Bull Island (Co. Dublin). The CENTRAL ASIATIC LESSER WHITETHROAT remains in Drogheda.

The first-winter drake SURF SCOTER in the Great island area near Cobh (Co. Cork) was most recently reported off Aghada Pier and Ballybrassil, with the INDIAN HOUSE CROW nearby at Cobh Town.

Monday, 24 January 2011



That cold NW/Northerly wind was still blowing, with the brighter conditions of late morning soon replaced by heavy cloud. It did remain dry throughout despite some dark storm clouds developing.

Allan Stewart, JT and I decided to take a visit to SE Kent today, primarily with the aim of seeing our first-ever Caudatus LONG-TAILED TITS in the county - the 5 cracking birds did not disappoint...........


There was no sign of yesterday's two mobile Great Northern Divers just 18 Great Crested Grebes, 35 Gadwall, Common Teal, 58 Eurasian Wigeon, 90 Shoveler, Northern Pochard, 330 Tufted Duck and 33 Common Goldeneye.....

OLD ROMNEY (KENT): Common Buzzard at roadside


A party of 5 Caudatus LONG-TAILED TITS (Northern White-headed Long-tailed Tits) had been present in the vicinity of the Murco garage and church at the north end of the town for nearly two weeks now. We arrived late morning and found them immediately, the 5 Caudatus associating with 10 'ordinary' British Long-tailed Tits (rosaceus). The entire flock were highly mobile and very vocal and were visiting the two well-stocked gardens to the north of the churchyard. They remained in the area for well over an hour and afforded exceptional views - and were gorgeous in appearance.

Most significant was the all white, snow-like heads, contrasting with the darker eye and reddish-orange orbital ring, whilst the wing coverts seemed slightly more white-fringed and the pink paler and less extensive on the flanks. They were calling frequently - but appeared in sound identical to the British birds. All of the 15 birds took it in turns to visit the peanut and suet feeders and there seemed no rivalry between any of them.

Apart from the Long-tailed Tits, Dymchurch yielded Mistle Thrush (singing male), 30 House Sparrows, Chaffinch (8), Great Tit and Blue Tit (7).


The long-staying juvenile GLAUCOUS GULL was roosting with other large gulls on the shingle on the coastal side of the road just north of the new lighthouse and inland of the moored fishing boats. The flock allowed a very close approach and we were able to obtain some awesome views of the young Arctic gull - the iris actually being dark brown at close range and much of the plumage now undergoing moult and wear towards its first spring plumage. It had a whacking great thick bill, bright pink in colour with an extensive black tip - but in terms of size and structure was quite a small individual. It was sitting amongst a large mass of predominantly Herring Gulls, with just a few Great Black-backed Gulls.

At the Beach itself, and viewing out to sea, there was a humungous number of gathered gulls, particularly at The Patch, with large numbers of Herring, Common and Black-headed Gulls and at least 50 (Black-legged) Kittiwakes too.

Auks were also in abundance, with well over 500 RAZORBILLS and at least double that number of Common Guillemots. There was an almost constant easterly movement of Northern Gannets offshore, whilst RED-THROATED DIVERS numbered 21 in just over 20 minutes and 15 or more Great Crested Grebes were sat on the sea.

At the ARC Pit, SMEW were the order of the day with 17 individuals logged (including two beautiful adult drakes). There were also 1 Greylag Goose, 28 Atlantic Canada Geese, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Pochard, 18 Common Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe and the first of several MARSH HARRIERS in the area.

We then walked as far as the Christmas Dell hide on the RSPB reserve, where Burrowes Pit produced 70 NORTHERN PINTAIL and well over 150 Shoveler and the New Excavations Pit an incredibly confiding SLAVONIAN GREBE. We did an extensive search of the fields and masrhes to the west but completely failed in our quest to locate the two Common Ravens that have now been present in the area for at least a week - every black corvid we checked was a Carrion Crow.

In fact the latter had been reported from the viewpoint at Hookers Pit but apart from up to 6 MARSH HARRIERS, a Little Egret and a calling CETTI'S WARBLER, we found nothing.

Opposite the stable fields on the road north from the RSPB reserve entrance and the Lydd roundabout was a herd of 75 BEWICK'S SWANS, including 16 juveniles, whilst a further 13 (1 juvenile) were with Mute Swans close to the Lydd Airport entrance.

The Denge Marsh Pit held a single BLACK-NECKED GREBE.


A very confiding party of 5 wintering PURPLE SANDPIPERS was seen on the seaweed-covered rocks at the seaward end of the breakwater groyne directly opposite the Stade Court Hotel at high tide.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

HAMPSHIRE delights of the day - LGRE


A mainly cloudy day with a cold northerly wind, with temperatures struggling to reach 9 degrees C.

I devoted today to birding in Hampshire - mainly with the view of seeing a few target birds. It was pretty much successful, although I failed in my quest to find four on the wintering Northern Grey Shrikes in the New Forest........


The adult winter RING-BILLED GULL first discovered in November 2003, was showing extremely well today - spending most of its time on the Boating Lake. It was standing amongst the 100 or so Black-headed Gulls, 8 Common Gulls and the odd Argenteus Herring Gull on the grass and allowed approach to within 20 feet. I took full advantage and had a very detailed look. It was in full winter plumage with its lightly streaked crown and hindneck (the streaking actually being very dark brown) and was only slightly larger than the Common Gulls but with a much thicker bill and longer legs.

The iris was distinctly pale (whitish-lemon at very close range) with a very prominent red orbital ring, with a greenish-yellow bill dominated by a thick black sharply demarcated subterminal band. The upperpart grey was very pale and no different in shade to many of the adult Black-headed Gulls, whilst the black primaries were typified with white spotting - the spots diminishing in size towards the longest primary. The tertial fringes were narrow and pale. This was one confiding rare bird.

The Boating Lake itself harboured 46 Mute Swans (including two first-years), with an adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL showing well and a flock of 130 Common Starlings feeding on the grass.

Neighbouring Haslar Creek yielded a different adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL (incidentally both birds sporting partially black hoods and well-developed bills), a Little Grebe, 2 Atlantic Great Cormorants, a Common Redshank and 85 Dark-bellied Brent Geese.


The adult RED-BREASTED GOOSE first discovered last Thursday was still present this morning and showing well. It was consorting with 1,269 click-counted Dark-bellied Brent Geese in the crop field west of Lower Brownwich Farm and Brownwich Pond at SU 517 036 and was best accessed from the Thatcher's Copse car park in Meon (SU 529 037). It was a very bright individual and was perhaps a returning bird - a regular wintering individual that reappeared successive winters in Sussex and Hampshire up to 2008. It was certainly not either of the two recent South Devon Exe Estuary birds - both present today - nor any of the 5 in Suffolk but with up to 19 at large in Britain, one can never be sure of its origin.

Although there was no sign of the Bittern on Brownwich Pond (just drake Tufted Duck and Coot), the mile or so walk did yield 4 Continental Song Thrushes just north of Lower Brownwich Farm, as well as a British Song Thrush, several Common Blackbirds and 6 Redwings. The copse produced Robin, Blue Tit and Great Tit.

Nearby Sandown Stables held 2 Common Magpies whilst just as I approached the Meon Shore, a WEASEL ran across the road carrying a tiny Shrew in its mouth.

Offshore of the Haven Beach were a raft of 63 Great Crested Grebes on the Solent, with 7 dark immature COMMON EIDERS and 18 Red-breasted Mergansers. I could not find either of the two Greater Scaup.

On the Meon River upstream of the bridge, a large flock of gathered Aythyas included 39 Northern Pochards and 73 Tufted Ducks. A single adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL was amongst the Black-headeds.


I then had abortive attempts at three different wintering Northern Grey Shrikes - one of which (at Holmsley Inclosure) being seen earlier in the day. I also failed in my attempts to find Dartford Warbler - presumably struggling after the second severe winter in a row.


The first HAWFINCHES began arriving at the roost from 1515 hours and despite the noise and disturbance, a further 13 were picked up coming in during the next half hour. As usual, they dived into the evergreens pretty sharpish, but five different birds did perch long enough on top of the firs to allow some excellent 'scope views to be obtained. Not much else was noted other than 16 Chaffinch, 5 Greenfinch, 9 Siskins, 2 Goldcrests and a Jay.


I arrived too late to search for the wintering Northern Grey Shrike here (which had been seen today at Bishop's Dyke) but did enjoy nice views of an adult male HEN HARRIER, a male Eurasian Sparrowhawk and 5 Goldcrests. Most intriguing were three flocks of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS - 40, 23 and then 7 - all flying west in the last hour of daylight and presumably flighting to roost in Denny Wood. I have never ever discovered a Waxwing roost.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

A Wild Goose Chase - LESSER WHITE-FRONT in Norfolk


Today was the second visit I have made this year to Norfolk and as usual, the birding was of the highest quality. The main target bird was to be the Yare Valley LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE and with Allan Stewart and Joan Thompson in tow, we set off from the M25 at 0830.

The weather was really grim on route, with bouts of very heavy rain and then periods of fog and very poor visibility. Fortunately, by the time we reached the Norwich bypass, a strong easterly wind was blowing bringing with it brighter periods and drier conditions. It remained very cold all day though, with temperatures never rising above 7 degrees C

A few notable birds on route included 170 Rooks besides the A11 at Roudham and 45 Fieldfares along Cox Hill Road in Beighton, north of Cantley.


There were perhaps as many as 90 birders today in Burnt House Lane searching through the geese flocks. Frustratingly, possibly because of the wind or more perhaps because of feeding conditions, the Taiga Bean Geese in particular kept to the ditch and fields just south of the railway and were quite difficult to view. The best vantage point was from the footpath just beyond the railway crossing at the end of the lane but at 600 yards range or more - and with the biting wind - viewing remained problematic throughout.

We had tried a number of different observation posts before I chanced upon the adult LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE that had been present now in the valley for almost eight weeks. I picked it up just as it took flight with 5 TAIGA BEAN GEESE and climbed height and began purposefully heading towards Buckenham. After a while, the six birds decided to change direction and then began to head back. They continued flying east until they were back in line with the main flock and then continued flying towards us (by now a crowd of some 35 observers, many of which had responded to my shouting). We were incredibly lucky in that the 6 birds did a very close flypast allowing an excellent perusal of the bird's features, with its small head and bill, shorter neck, slimmer wings and extensive white forehead blaze all being noted. The flock then veered away, changing the course slightly to SE, before they all disappeared behind the Cantley Beet Factory.

Throughout the flight period I was very concerned about the close relationship between a large Taiga Bean Goose (perhaps a male) and the LWFG - there seemed to be a distinct bond between the two birds and in all reality, it appeared they were paired up. On several occasions, just the two birds split from the other three and kept extremely close. This behaviour does make me wonder if this individual LWFG emanates from the Swedish Reintroduction Scheme, whereby certainly Barnacle Geese (and perhaps Taiga Bean Geese) are used as surrogate mothers to this species. I find it hard to believe that with so many wild White-fronts in the valley that the bird has not 'switched sides' as certainly in the past, the latter is its favoured travelling companion.

Anyway I digress - the final tally of TAIGA BEANS was an impressive 102 birds (including a flock of 54 that arrived in from the Buckenham Carrs direction) whilst EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE numbered an exceptional 331.

Also to be seen were 6 Egyptian Geese, many Wigeon and Teal, a few Common Shelducks, up to 3 different MARSH HARRIERS, Common Kestrel, 200+ Lapwings and vast numbers of Black-headed and Common Gulls.

The village of Cantley itself in Burnt House Lane held a population of House Sparrows (10 birds) and several pairs of Eurasian Collared Doves.

With the LWFG flying east and only flight views being obtained, we set off in hot pursuit and attempted to relocate it. Passing by the Church Road Sheep Fields and its feeding 5 Common Blackbirds, we eventually came upon HILL FARM at the end of Reedham Road. The farm here has an excellent vantage point over the eastern section of the Yare Valley.

No sooner had I set my 'scope up to scan the LIMPENHOE MARSHES, I found an adult ROSS'S SNOW GOOSE - feeding amongst what turned out to be over 3,500 Pink-footed Geese. I was mightily chuffed by this find as I had not found an individual of this species before in Britain but on informing Dave Holman only minutes later, I was brought back to ground when DJH announced that Barry Jarvis had first seen the bird there on Wednesday. Nevertheless, it was a great bird and did a fly-round shortly later and came closer - in flight it having a few traces of immaturity in its flight feathers.

The flock also yielded at least 11 BARNACLE GEESE, as well as at least 4 TAIGA BEANS, but despite an exhaustive search, we could not locate the LWFG. A few more Egyptian Geese were seen, 2 Stock Doves and over 600 Common Starlings.

We returned once more to Burnt House Lane and on scanning the railway-hugging TAIGA BEANS to accurately count them, I relocated the LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE with them, just before it disappeared down into the ditch to presumably drink. The distinctive head pattern could be clearly seen, with the white blaze extending well back on the forehead, but the lemon eye-ring not at the distance viewed and frustratingly over the next 90 minutes or more, it simply raised its head and neck on just a few occasions and never waltzed out into full view. Only a handful of the 50 or so assembled watchers were able to get on to it.


A first for me - a brand new locality - a relatively tiny broad situated to the NE of Woodbastwick and accessed along a myriad of tiny lanes (and today totally flooded) eventually culminating in a car park directly opposite the very popular Ferry Inn on the south side of the River Bure. From here, a boardwalk leads east for 700 yards beyond the Moorings to the hide.

We eventually arrived at the hide at 1425 hours and over the next 15 minutes, enjoyed some superb views of the adult female FERRUGINOUS DUCK that had been present for a few days. It was very loosely associating with the 27 Tufted Ducks present on the broad but, like them, had a tendency to want to disappear in the dense vegetation to the left of the hide.

In every respect it was a classic individual with the perfect profile (rounded, dome-shaped upper head, with the bulging lower cheeks), all-dark rather long bill, white undertail-coverts (fairly inconspicuous at times, and duller white than on a drake) and rich ferruginous-brown plumage, particularly on the sides and breast, and very dark brown upperparts and head. The eye was completely dark and its size and shape were spot-on - no evidence whatsoever to suggest it was a hybrid (although of course a hybrid had been present at this same very site in 2010 - per Tim Allwood on site). Simon Knight obtained some nice images of the Ferruginous Duck, a few of which I have reproduced above.

The small broad offered very little in terms of species diversity, with just 2 Mallard and 2 Gadwall accompanying the 5 Coots; 85 Greylag Geese were on the Bure opposite the pub and a single LESSER REDPOLL was feeding in the Alders that bordered the boardwalk. A flock of 23 WAXWINGS paused briefly.


The roadside flashes north of the A47 Acle Strait yielded a single LITTLE EGRET and a Grey Heron whilst Breydon Water at high tide held many thousands of roosting waders, including an impressive flock of RED KNOT.


Having wasted so many hours in the Yare Valley attempting to get better views of the LWFG on the deck, we ran out of daylight hours at Lowestoft.

By just a few minutes, we missed out on the juvenile ICELAND GULL in the North Links car park. It had been showing down to just three feet but a woman with two dogs felt she just had to disturb the flock and the Iceland flew to the neighbouring beach and perched on a groyne. As we pitched up, it took flight and flew south along the beach for some 300 yards before stopping again on another groyne. We set off in hot pursuit but before we got anywhere near, it took flight again and headed off down towards Lowestoft and Ness Point. Several of us followed, eventually walking the mile or so to the harbour, where the bird was roosting for the night on top of the warehouses in Hamilton Dock.

Ness Point itself was very disappointing - just 17 Turnstones and no sign of the 7 Purple Sandpipers wintering.

Lee G R Evans

Friday, 21 January 2011

SLATY-BACKED GULL fails to reappear

A total of 237 species has so far been recorded in Britain and Ireland in 2011, including one never before recorded. A near adult SLATY-BACKED GULL was identified at Rainham Marsh RSPB Wennington Marsh and Landfill Site (London/Essex) on 13 January and seen again by just 34 observers the following day. At least 1,400 observers visited the site on Saturday 15 January but of this number, just 25 believed that they had seen it that day.

The adult winter PACIFIC DIVER remains in Mount's Bay, West Cornwall, fishing with up to 6 Great Northern and 5 Black-throated Divers in the Marazion area (difficult to see in inclement weather conditions).

An unusual number of BALEARIC SHEARWATERS has been seen this year, with a raft of 40 or more in Carbis Bay, St Ives (Cornwall) for a couple of weeks and almost daily sightings off Porthgwarra (Cornwall), including an impressive 29 birds on 16th. Porthgwarra also logged some very early Manx Shearwaters, along with two different SOOTY SHEARWATERS - another of the latter passing Portland Bill (Dorset) on 17th.

After leaving Freeman's Marsh just west of Hungerford (Berkshire) on 9 January, the long-staying GLOSSY IBIS pitched up at Dungeness RSPB (East Kent) before crossing the English Channel next day. It has remained ever since, showing mainly on the pools to the right of the entrance track. GREAT WHITE EGRETS remained at seven sites, including a new winter record of 5 together at Ham Walls RSPB (Somerset) on 17th; last winter's two were again at Pitsford Reservoir (Northants) with other regular wintering birds at Thorpeness Mere (Suffolk) and at Blashford Lakes HWT (Hampshire). Apart from one over Elmley Marshes RSPB (North Kent) on 16th, all EURASIAN SPOONBILLS this past week have been in the Southwest, with 9 on Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour (Dorset), 3 at Walmsley Sanctuary CBWPS (Cornwall) and another on Samson (Scilly).

In West Cornwall, the 7 BEWICK'S SWANS were still to be found most afternoons at the southern causeway of Stithians Reservoir, with further out-of-range herds being noted in Dorset, Hampshire and in Surrey, whilst on the goose front, Norfolk continued to host an adult LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE of unknown origin with up to 107 TAIGA BEAN GEESE in the Yare Valley between Buckenham Carrs RSPB and Cantley Beet Factory and up to 3 different ROSS'S SNOW GEESE with the Pink-footed Geese including a fairly reliable bird at Holkham Freshmarshes.

A first-winter RED-BREASTED GOOSE continues to be seen in North Lancashire with the wintering Pink-footed Geese there, wandering each day and being seen at Cleveleys, Pilling Lane Ends and Eagland Hill. An adult of unknown origin appeared amongst the Dark-bellied Brent Geese on Titchfield Haven foreshore (Hants) on 19th and was still present today, feeding just inland of the shore in fields by the caravan and Holiday Park half a mile to the west of the reserve. The only SNOW GOOSE reported was the long-staying bird with Greylag Geese near Kirkwall in Orkney. Some 10 or more BLACK BRANTS continue to be seen.

A female FERRUGINOUS DUCK was seen at Cockshoot Broad (Norfolk) on 16th, with long-staying RING-NECKED DUCKS involving a drake at Cowpen Bewley (Cleveland) and at Loch Evelix (Sutherland) and females at Nosterfield Quarry (North Yorkshire) on 16th and at Talley Lakes (Carmarthen) on 18th. There was also a drake at Stithians Reservoir (Cornwall) on 16th. Four adult drake AMERICAN WIGEONS are on offer, with singles at Udale Bay, Cromarty (Highland), Rutland Water (Leics), Cley Marshes NWT East bank (North Norfolk) and Stoke Ferry Washes (Central Norfolk), whilst LESSER SCAUPS include drakes at Cosmeston Lakes CP (Glamorgan) and Dozmary Pool, Bodmin Moor (Cornwall) and a female at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs).

The female SURF SCOTER remains offshore at Dawlish Warren (South Devon), with the usual drake off Ruddons Point in Largo Bay (Fife) and others in SW Wales and on Harris (Outer Hebrides) and the three continuing KING EIDERS in Northern Scotland - the adult drake off Burghead (Moray) and the first-winter drake and female in the West Voe of Sumburgh (Shetland). SMEW continued to be in good supply with at least 120 wintering, with a single bird in Wales, 5 in Scotland and two in Ireland.

Norfolk continued to harbour up to 6 different ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS, mostly in the Scolt Head/Overy Dunes/Holkham and Lodge Marsh areas, with several elsewhere including the long-staying bird on the River Humber (at South Ferriby) and another at Hatfield Moors NNR (South Yorkshire), whilst the juvenile Hen Harrier showing some characteristics of the Nearctic form hudsonicus remained very faithful to Thornham Marsh and its environs (North Norfolk).

The juvenile WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLE continued to eek out carrion in the woodlands to the west and SW of Hordle Lane near Milford-on-Sea (Hampshire) until at least 17th.

On the wader front, the first-winter LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER at Lodmoor (Dorset) was the main event, whilst in terms of rare gulls, the regular adult RING-BILLED GULLS could all be relied upon in Argyll (Oban Harbour), Hampshire (Gosport), Essex (Westcliff-on-Sea) and in West Yorkshire (Mirfield).

It has been a very good winter for SHORE LARKS with reliable flocks still to be found at John Muir Country Park (Lothian) (5 birds), Gibraltar Point (Lincs) (21), Theddlethorpe Dunes (North Lincs) (7), Titchwell RSPB (North Norfolk) (9), Holkham Bay (North Norfolk) (5), Cley Beach (North Norfolk) (11), Dingle Marshes (Suffolk) (13) and Reculver Marshes (North Kent) (3) whilst the most impressive gatherings of LAPLAND BUNTINGS remain the 15 or so at Weybourne Clifftop Fields (North Norfolk) and 14 or so at Cut Bridge stubble field, Hurst Beach (Hampshire).

BOHEMIAN WAXWING numbers still remain high in the south, with over 700 at one site in Hampshire and flocks of 200 or more still present in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Essex.

It has also been a very good winter for MEALY REDPOLLS, with many hundreds of birds present, with a few SCANDINAVIAN ARCTICS amongst them including two in Bedfordshire, 3 at Rainton Meadows (County Durham) and a singleton near Whiteadder Reservoir (Borders).

The male DUSKY THRUSH that appeared in gardens in Leigh (Gtr Manchester) in early December and may have been the same bird seen at two further suburban localities in Central England did not make it into January 2011 but may well be lurking with the large numbers of thrushes in SW England, whilst NORTHERN WHITE-HEADED LONG-TAILED TITS included a flock of 5 in Dymchurch (Kent) and at least 2 more at nearby Kingsdown.

IRELAND held on to at least seven species not recorded in Britain thus far in 2011 namely PIED-BILLED GREBE, BLUE-WINGED TEAL, AMERICAN COOT, BONAPARTE'S GULL, FORSTER'S TERN, INDIAN HOUSE CROW and CENTRAL ASIATIC LESSER WHITETHROAT. The PIED-BILLED GREBE, although elusive and wide-ranging, was seen at Great Island (Co. Cork) until at least 20th, with the AMERICAN COOT at Termoncarragh Lake (Co. Mayo) until at least 16th, the female BLUE-WINGED TEAL at North Bull Island (Co. Dublin), the adult winter BONAPARTE'S GULL at Great island on 15th, the adult winter FORSTER'S TERN at Glassagh Beach, Galway Harbour (Co. Galway), the INDIAN HOUSE CROW in Cobh (Co. Cork) and the apparent halimodendri LESSER WHITETHROAT on garden feeders at Drogheda (Co. Louth).

Also recorded were a SNOW GOOSE at Grey Abbey, Strangford Lough (Co. Down), the RICHARDSON'S CANADA GOOSE (SMALL CANADA) at Raghley (Co. Sligo), FERRUGINOUS DUCKS at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) and Craigavon Balancing Lakes (Co. Armagh), SMEWS at Portmore Lough (Co. Antrim) and Inch Island Lake (Co. Donegal), the Hen Harrier showing characteristics of 'NORTHERN HARRIER' at Tacumshin Lakes (Co. Wexford) and good numbers of WAXWINGS still.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


Check out my brand new BEDFORDSHIRE BIRDING blog -

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Berkshire GLOSSY IBIS present for second day at Dungeness

A GLOSSY IBIS appeared at the ARC site yesterday morning and is still around today, although it has moved to the field behind the lakes near Boulderwall Farm. Bitterns continue to give stunning views from the Hanson-ARC hide and Scott hide. A Black-necked Grebe has been on Burrowes pit since Saturday and there are still plenty of Smew and goldeneyes around the site along with a few Goosanders. A Common Raven was seen over Denge Marsh yesterday and two Common Buzzards today.

Christine Hawkins, Visitor Centre Manager, RSPB Dungeness

Sunday, 9 January 2011

BEWICK'S SWANS in Cobham, Surrey

There are currently 19 BEWICK'S SWANS at Downside, Cobham. Drive down Bridge Rd and just before you cross the River Mole pull into the narrow lane on the RHS (if you're coming from Cobham). There is room for a few cars here. The birds are in the large flooded field viewable from here. These are presumably the same birds which were present at Harmondsworth, just north of Heathrow at the tail end of last year. Three of the birds are juveniles (Dave Harris)