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Saturday, 11 July 2009

Rare Waders dominate the headlines, whilst the RIVER WARBLER sings on

A moulting adult STILT SANDPIPER remains for a third day at Starnafin Farm RSPB, Loch of Strathbeg (Aberdeenshire), showing well from the main centre hide there. A PECTORAL SANDPIPER is also feeding on the same pool, with 4 Little Gulls in the vicinity and a juvenile White-tailed Sea Eagle from the recent reintroduction scheme.

In Northumberland, an adult summer PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER was discovered at East Chevington NWT late afternoon feeding on the South Pool. It then flew south but was soon relocated nearby and showed well for the remainder of the evening. Access South Pool from the A1068, 700 yards north of the B1330 junction.

Meanwhile in NW Scotland, the male RIVER WARBLER continues to sing sporadically from the single Sycamore tree and adjacent gorse clumps immediately behind the Heritage Centre just under a mile north of Applecross (Highland Region) (at NG 712 458). The GREAT WHITE EGRET is also still present on Orkney, where it is favouring the east shore of Graemeshall Loch. Elsewhere on Orkney, the male EUROPEAN NIGHTJAR remains in Holland House Garden on North Ronaldsay and the RED-NECKED PHALAROPE is again at the north end of Eves Howe Loch, Braebuster.

An adult summer WHITE-WINGED BLACK TERN (present at Cley Marshes NWT, Norfolk, on 8th) graced both the Ferry Lagoon and Windsurfing Lake at Fen Drayton GP (Cambs) for its second day today, whilst at Cley NWT Reserve itself, the summer-plumaged adult BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER continues to show very well on North Scrape, along with 1-2 adult Continental Black-tailed Godwits and up to 9 EURASIAN SPOONBILLS (including one multi-ringed Dutch bird) on Pat's Pool.

Another long-staying GREAT WHITE EGRET remains at Hen Marshes, Walberswick (Suffolk), whilst the 'barking' male LITTLE BITTERN continues its summer residency at Loxton Marsh on Walton Heath (Somerset) (another male LITTLE BITTERN was present on the Isle of Wight on 28-29 June). A CATTLE EGRET was an unexpected find on the silt pool at Middleton Hall (Warks)

A female RED-FOOTED FALCON was seen briefly over Loompit Lake, Trimley Marshes SWT (Suffolk) (Gerald Jobson)

A party of 7 ROSEATE TERNS is still present at Dawlish Warren NNR (South Devon), whilst the breeding pair is still at Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk) and at least two adults on the Patch at Dungeness (Kent).

The COMMON CROSSBILL irruption continues in earnest with more and more parties now penetrating further south, after initially making landfall in the Northern Isles, with an impressive 60 or more on St Mary's (Isles of Scilly).

The drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK is still present at Chew Valley Lake (Avon), whilst two RUDDY SHELDUCK remain at Montrose Basin LNR (Angus).

A single CORY'S SHEARWATER flew north past Church Point, Newbiggin (Northumberland) this evening, whilst a couple of adult LONG-TAILED SKUAS appeared in the North Sea. BALEARIC SHEARWATER sightings are also now increasing and are appearing daily at Portland Bill (Dorset) and Porthgwarra (Cornwall).

Despite favourable conditions, the only news from IRELAND today is of a PECTORAL SANDPIPER on Lady's Island Lake (Co. Wexford).

Additional Details on the Aberdeenshire STILT SANDPIPER

Hi Lee, There are quiet a few photographs taken today I believe, so hopefully someone will send you some through (I have a couple of very blurry record shots, but I won't be able to get them off my camera until this evening).

The bird is viewable from the RSPB Loch of Strathbeg nature reserve visitor centre, near Crimond. Full details of how to reach the site can be found at: .

The Visitor Centre is open daily from 8am - 6pm, although we have been leaving the centre open until dark and unlocking it at first light since Friday. We will go back to the normal opening hours from Monday, but if anyone requires access outside of these hours, they should contact the reserve on 01346 532017 during office hours and it may be possible to arrange something.

The bird was found by myself on Thursday evening, sometime around half past six I recall. I was on a day off, but had called into the Visitor Centre briefly on my way to try a seawatch off the north end of the reserve and had a quick scan. I picked up the bird through binoculars and initially thought it was a juv Spotted Redshank, due to the dark colouration and long legs and bill. I quickly realised that it was too small, the wrong build etc and, through the telescope, it was obviously an adult Stilt Sandpiper. After contacting the Site Manager (Dominic Funnell), we began to get the news out to the information services and local birders and arrange for extended opening hours for the Visitor Centre. Around 30 birders visited on the Thursday evening, most from Aberdeenshire, but one from Inverness (and a birder who was claiming to have twitched it from Luton, but admitted that he was actually heading home on the Aberdeen flight already when the news came through!). Since then there has been a steady stream of visitors, many who have tied a visit in with a trip to see the River Warbler in Highland.

The bird itself has generally been showing well and is a very smart individual in full breeding plumage. On Thursday evening, birders watching the Stilt Sand, found an adult Pectoral Sandpiper alongside it, and both birds can often be seen in the same scope view. Visiting birders have also found a Little Egret, whilst Dominic had an adult Long-tailed Skua go north off the north end of the reserve today. Other sightings include an immature White-tailed Eagle, four Little Gulls and two Marsh Harriers.

Following last year's Upland Sandpiper, the Loch of Strathbeg has really started to get noticed as an excellent birding site, and must surely be considered one of the best (the best in our opinion) birding site on the Scottish mainland.

David Parnaby Visitor & Publicity OfficerLoch of Strathbeg & Grampian Reserves
RSPB Loch of Strathbeg Nature Reserve, Starnafin Farmhouse, Crimond, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, AB43 8QN. Telephone: 01346 532017 mobile: 07702237301
Find out what's been seen at Loch of Strathbeg, visit: