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Monday, 26 October 2009

Shaping up for yet another record year - those megas just keep on coming. IRELAND once again enters the fray

Plates 1-3: first-winter female RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL at Bempton RSPB, East Yorks, 23-25 October (Mark Stirland)
Plates 4-6: RADDE'S WARBLER trapped at Kew Villa, Kilnsea, East Yorks, October (Ray Scally)
Plates 7-8: first-winter female PIED WHEATEAR at Shingle Street, Suffolk, 16 October (James Kennerley)
Plates 9-10: first-winter female pIED WHEATEAR, Horsey Gap, Norfolk, 14-15 October (Peter Beesley)
Plates 11-13: drake LESSER SCAUP at Draycote Water, Warks, October (Dave Hutton)
Plates 14-18: first-winter GLOSSY IBIS at Strathbeg RSPB, Aberdeenshire, October (Jim Duncan)
Plates 15-17: EASTERN CROWNED WARBLER in Trow Quarry, South Shields, 23-24 October (Tom Tams)

Well those mega-rare vagrants continue to appear and this weekend it was the turn of IRELAND to steal the show, with first-time appearances in 2009 of a first-winter COMMON NIGHTHAWK in County Kerry (picked up exhausted in Caherciveen on Saturday night, rehabilitated overnight in a veterinary centre and released in suitable habitat on Sunday morning, where it showed on and off for a short while ande was last seen hawking over a wooded garden) and a NORTH AMERICAN MOURNING DOVE in County Cork (at Garinish Point for just over an hour) (news by kind courtesy of Eric Dempsey and BINS).

For us in Britain, Sunday (25 October) saw 500 or more observers gathered at Trow Quarry, South Shields (South Tyneside) where the first-ever EASTERN-CROWNED WARBLER had departed overnight. One intrepid twitcher had reportedly flown in from the Azores after having cut short his visit to the 53rd state!

Highlights today include the following -:

A first-winter RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL which had initially been trapped and ringed at Spurn Point (East Yorkshire) on 18 October reappeared today in the Heligoland Trap there and had not been seen in the interim period. Meanwhile, the 66th individual to reach Britain involved a first-winter at Bempton Cliffs RSPB (East Yorks) from 23-25 October (see images above). The third first-winter PIED WHEATEAR of the autumn involved a bird on the beach by the golf course at Fife Ness (Fife) this afternoon.

Other Siberian/Scandinavian scarcities left over from last week's arrival included a BARRED WARBLER on Holy Island (Northumberland), a juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE at Bempton Cliffs RSPB (East Yorks) and several Siberian Chiffchaffs and Yellow-browed Warblers. A RICHARD'S PIPIT was in rough grass by Soldier's Point breakwater on Anglesey, with another over Skomer Island (Pembs).

We are still to receive a major arrival of PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLERS this autumn and the only birds today were singles at Balcomie Castle Wood (Fife), Denburn Wood, Crail (Fife) and in the hedgerow by Cliff Cottages near Hopton-on-Sea (Norfolk) whilst a RADDE'S WARBLER at St Levan (Cornwall) was yet another late example of this species and still well outnumbering Dusky Warblers thus far. A ringed RADDE'S WARBLER also remains at Fife Ness Muir (Fife) (along with a Siberian Chiffchaff, 2 Firecrests and a Lesser Whitethroat) with another reported in Wells Woods (Norfolk), whilst an OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT was in gardens near the small quarry at Levenwick (Shetland). A WOODLARK on Fair Isle (Shetland) is a rare vagrant there.

In Middlesex, the long-staying first-winter BROWN SHRIKE continues its residency at Staines Moor, favouring the bushes and scrub at the extreme north end of the site, whilst an equally long-staying WESTERN BONELLI'S WARBLER remains at the Calf of Man Bird Observatory (Isle of Man)

A first-winter GLOSSY IBIS continues to show very well in the damp field by the B9033 near Strathbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire) whilst three first-winters were again reported in Somerset at Meare Heath and at least one was still roaming the Dungeness area (East Kent).The last of three different first-winters to recently visit Fisher's Mill Pit at Middleton Lakes RSPB (Warks) was still present this afternoon.

A late WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER spent a second day commuting and feeding between Arnold's Marsh and Pat's Pool, Cley NWT (Norfolk) with a drake American Green-winged Teal on neighbouring Simmond's Scrape.

A juvenile SABINE'S GULL was hardly compensation for the ECW but did attract a succession of admirer's yesterday afternoon and was still present on the River Tyne at North Shields Fish Quay (Tyneside) today

The Isles of Scilly's attempt to steal back the spotlight came forth with a late first-winter CITRINE WAGTAIL on Tresco, showing well on mud in the NW corner of the Great Pool (second day), but left-overs from the archipelago's worst-ever autumn showing in perhaps 40 years included a juvenile ROSE-COLOURED STARLING on St Agnes, a LITTLE BUNTING in the infamous quinoa field by Tresco Great Pool and 5-6 Yellow-browed Warblers scattered about the islands.

In what has been the best year ever for GREAT WHITE EGRETS in Britain, birds today included an unringed bird at Meadow Lake, Testwood HWT (Hants), the long-staying individual on West Marsh, Humphrey Head (Cumbria), two at Leighton Moss RSPB (Lancs), one at Lakenheath Fen RSPB (Suffolk), the adult ranging between Meare Heath and Noah's Lake, Shapwick Heath RSPB (Somerset) and that at Denge Marsh (Kent)..A single juvenile EURASIAN SPOONBILL remains on the Hayle Estuary off Lelant Saltings (Cornwall)

CATTLE EGRETS are again in vogue with one this morning (presumably the recent Scilly bird) on the Hayle Estuary (Cornwall) briefly, a 'new' arrival on Islay (Argyll) in fields NE of Eorrabus Farm, Bridgend, one all day yesterday at Carr Vale NR, Bolsover (Derbyshire), three at Noah's Lake, Shapwick (Somerset), two still at Keyhaven Marshes (Hants) and the long-staying bird at Denge Marsh (Kent).

In Lothian, the adult LESSER YELLOWLEGS remains with wintering Common Redshanks at Aberlady Bay, whilst on the Outer Hebrides, a first-winter LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER is at Baleshare on North Uist.

SHORE LARKS remain at Holkham Gap (Norfolk) and at Felixstowe Ferry Golf Links (Suffolk) whilst the only BOHEMIAN WAXWING around is a bird present for several days at Tolsta Head, Lewis (Outer Hebrides).

Southeasterly winds heralded a major arrival of FIRECRESTS on the south and east coasts and a EUROPEAN SERIN at Land's End (Cornwall).

A drake Ring-necked Duck appeared at Kirkby-on-Bain GP (Lincs) with wintering individuals at Westport Lake (Staffs) and at Foxcote Reservoir, Buckingham (North Bucks). Another is at Blagdon Lake (Somerset) and the first-winter drake LESSER SCAUP at Draycote Water (Warks).

Two RED-BREASTED GEESE appeared with Dark-bellied Brent Geese at Old Hall Marshes RSPB (Essex) yesterday afternoon with a further two on the CHANNEL ISLANDS at St Ouen's Pond on Jersey.

There was no sign today of the partially oiled adult RED-THROATED DIVER in Chelmsford's town centre Central Park (Essex) nor of the juvenile BLACK-THROATED DIVER at Branston GP (Staffs) but a GREAT NORTHERN DIVER appeared just south of Hill Farm car park at Grafham Water (Cambs).

IRELAND today yielded a first-winter RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER in Sycamores at Carne Beach (Co. Wexford), a further RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER and a RICHARD'S PIPIT on Cape Clear Island (Co. Cork), a GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK on West Town Beach on Tory Island (Co. Donegal) (with the SNOWY OWL still present there by the lighthouse), a BARRED WARBLER at Power Head (Co. Cork)

A long-staying juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER remains at Muckross mudflats in Inchydoney Bay (Co. Cork) with a EURASIAN/AMERICAN BITTERN seen in flight west of Lingstown at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford).