Pride of place goes to a first-winter AMERICAN GREEN-BACKED HERON showing well in East Kent. Initially discovered on Tuesday 21 October by locals, this very confiding bird is affording views down to just a few yards by the dam on the Royal Military Canal in West Hythe. It is finding plenty of small Perch to catch and seems perfectly happy with its surroundings and really is an essential and delightful bird to see. It represents only the sixth ever to have been recorded in Britain (see summary of records below) and has been very well photographed (see images at top of Alert).
Leave the M20 at Junction 11 and follow signposts for Hythe and Lympne. Continue towards Hythe and half a mile before that town, turn right on a very minor road. After 1.8 miles, turn left at the crossroads and continue down the hill to park in the designated, public car park in West Hythe village. Follow the canal towpath westwards for 450 yards to the dam to view. Alternatively, leave the A259 coast road south of Hythe for Botolph's Bridge and enter the village from the south. Please note that Lympne Hill is closed this week for extensive roadworks. DO NOT PURPOSEFULLY FLUSH THE HERON and please respect other people when photographing or videoing the bird.
PREVIOUS GREEN-BACKED HERONS IN BRITAIN AND IRELAND (data reproduced from Evans, Rare Birds in Britain and Ireland 1700-2008).
AMERICAN GREEN-BACKED HERON Butorides virescens (Linnaeus)
(North and Central America, and West Indies)
1889 Cornwall Penrice, near St Austell, immature, shot, 27th October, now at County Museum, Truro (Zoologist 1890: 105, 181-182; British Birds 65: 424-427; Penhallurick, 1969; Ibis 116: 578; 1992: 220).
1982 East Yorkshire Stone Creek, 27th November to 6th December, seen with a Great White Egret, A. alba (British Birds 76: 101, 480, plates 40-41; 77: 510, plate 219; 78: 106-107; Ibis 126: 442).
1987 Lothian Tyninghame, first-winter, freshly dead, probably killed by fox, 25th October, now at National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh (British Birds 81: 542; Scottish Bird Report 1987: 10, photo).
2001 Lincolnshire Messingham Sand Quarry, first-winter, 24th September to 2nd October (British Birds 94: plate 316 & 95: 481; Birding World 14: 370-371, plates 1-5).
2005 Anglesey Red Wharf Bay, first-winter, 7th-20th November (British Birds 99: plate 17 & 100: 27, plate 2) (considered bird previously present in Ireland)
2005 Cork Schull, first-winter, 11th-13th October (relocated in Britain)
1992 Guernsey Divette Bay, St Peter’s Port, juvenile/first-winter, 13th-24th September (photograph in Birding World 5: 329).
On the Isles of Scilly today, last week's first-winter RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL was relocated, showing well intermittently in field-edges and scrub in the Newford Duck Pond vicinity of St Mary's, and along Trenoweth Lane. The GREY-CHEEKED THRUSH also remains on St Mary's, skulking in dense cover on the vegetated bank below Carn Thomas Gymnasium on Porthmellon Beach, along with the first-winter Red-backed Shrike near Borough Farm. The first-winter WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER continues to commute between Porthellick Bay and Beady Pool, Wingletang Down (St Agnes) with the BLYTH'S REED WARBLER still present in the St Agnes Chapel Fields. Three Hawfinches are in Holy Vale.
In Norfolk, a juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER was identified today, consorting with a flock of up to 600 European Golden Plovers at East Harling Heath (Peter Wilson et al). As usual, the Golden Plover flock is very skittish and easily disturbed so the ideal way to see it is to 'scope from a vehicle and not break the skyline or slam car doors. East Harling lies 8 miles ENE of Thetford and the flock are feeding east of the B111 by the minor road just ENE of Triangle Covert at TL 998 843.
A sudden snatch of Arctic weather and NE winds this afternoon resulted in an arrival from Scandinavia of a small number of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS, with 5 in Yorkshire (3 at Filey and singles at Bempton and Flamborough Head) and another in Lowestoft (Suffolk) as well as a few Goosander.
There was also a continuing unprecedented 'wreck' of GREY PHALAROPES in Northern Scotland with the strong, Northerly winds displacing 52+ on Skye (at Mhor-bheoil, Gedintailor, at HG 533 353), 50+ on Orkney, 30+ on Shetland and 20+ on the Outer Hebrides, whilst further south, first-winters were at Ogston Reservoir (Derbyshire) (on 27th), Easington Lagoons (East Yorks) and Kelling Water Meadows (Norfolk).
On the wildfowl front, both Small Canada Geese remain with Barnacle Geese at Caerlaverock WWT (Dumfries & Galloway), 5 'vagrant' Canada Geese are on Islay (Argyll), the adult ROSS'S SNOW GOOSE with Pink-footed Geese on Pilling Marsh (Lancs), 160 Taiga Bean Geese are at Fannyside Lochs (Forth) and the fabulous 2nd-winter drake KING EIDER is off Appledore (North Devon). Two adult drake LESSER SCAUPS remain at Hogganfield Loch (Clyde) with another present for its second day at Holme Pierrpont A52 Pit (Notts), a drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK at Hollycross Lake, Amwell NR (Herts) and a juvenile SURF SCOTER off Carne Beach, in Gerrans Bay, 7 miles NE of Falmouth (Cornwall). A further SURF SCOTER was off Dawlish Warren (South Devon) on 27th.
The long-staying adult GLOSSY IBIS remains elusive as ever at Swillington Ings (West Yorks), with a WHITE STORK at Desford (Leics) and a GREAT WHITE EGRET at Blashford Lakes (Hampshire). In Dorset, a CATTLE EGRET is still in the cattle field SE of Glebelands, Studland, with 15 Spoonbills on Brownsea Island and at Middlebere (Poole Harbour) and 6 more on Isley Marsh (North Devon).
On the passerine front, a RICHARD'S PIPIT flew SW over Tring (Herts) early morning, the juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE remains at Halling Common (Kent) and a EUROPEAN SERIN was in Cot Valley (Cornwall). Up to four EUROPEAN SERINS remain at Rainham Marsh RSPB, frequenting the weedy embankment opposite the landfill site, 0.8 miles west of the RSPB Information Centre. In Cornwall, a very confiding male BLUETHROAT continues to show well adjacent to the footpath in Sallows just south of the Land's End tourist car park. A tiny number of Yellow-browed Warblers are still around, mainly on Scilly.
The CATTLE EGRET remains at Inchydoney (Co. Cork), with the drake NORTH AMERICAN BLACK DUCK in Ventry Harbour (Co. Kerry), a drake American Wigeon in Broad Lough (Co. Wicklow), the drake Ring-necked Duck on Inishmore (Co. Galway) and a drake SURF SCOTER off Waterville (Co. Kerry).