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

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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