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Sunday, 9 May 2010

PRATINCOLE time all over again

The gorgeous singing male WHITE-SPOTTED BLUETHROAT at Welney WWT (Gary Thoburn)

The confiding EURASIAN HOOPOE at Clayhanger Marsh (West Midlands), fabulously captured on film as it probed for food (Dave Hutton)

This is the UK400 Club Rare Bird Alert for Sunday 9 May, issued at 2200 hours, and published in close association with Rare Bird Alert Pagers whilst urilising additional information gleaned from Regional Birdlines, BirdGuides and individual websites and email groups.

The undoubted find of the day was that of yet another (or the same) ORIENTAL PRATINCOLE in Britain, repeating last year's performance in West Sussex and East Kent. The bird was discovered on the North Scrape of Frampton Marsh RSPB mid-afternoon (Lincs) and remained until dusk, affording excellent views from the reserve's East Hide.

In West Cornwall, an American HOUSE FINCH of unknown origin continues to sing in Swingates garden on the Land's End peninsula. It is of the orange-yellow variant, suggesting perhaps a first-summer and suggesting either an escapee or an individual which has acquired new feathers on this side of the Atlantic. The species is abundant in captivity in Britain and Europe and offered for sale for as little as £20 per pair, with a bird in this plumage most likely of captive origin. It commutes between the Land's End complex car park, the property on the north side of the road and the bird feeders in Swingates garden, and represents the second record for Britain following a female-type on Fair Isle from 27-30 April 1966. Please park in the complex car park (£4.00 per car) and walk back to view. There is absolutely no access to the garden unless specifically invited.

In the same vicinity, a PURPLE HERON was present briefly on Brew Pool, Sennen, before flying off SE, whilst the eighth local WOODCHAT SHRIKE of the spring involved a bird east of Skewjack Farm north of the B 3315 and a EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE discovered Swingates garden to its liking. A further WOODCHAT SHRIKE was on Scilly, near Pelistry Farm, St Mary's.

In the aftermath of the RED-RUMPED SWALLOW influx of last weekend, the long-staying bird is still at Meadowgate Lake, Rother Valley Country Park (South Yorks) whilst two very confiding birds remain for a second day by the dam at Arlington Reservoir (East Sussex).

An ORTOLAN BUNTING showed briefly this morning at Walney Island Bird Observatory Garden (Cumbria), following hard on the heels of the year's first at Portland Bill (Dorset) in recent days, whilst in South Wales, an adult ROSE-COLOURED STARLING lingered for at least its third day by the playing field at Flynnon-Wen at St David's (Pembrokeshire). A reeling male SAVI'S WARBLER near Leighton Moss RSPB (Lancs) is only the fourth of this species to be recorded this spring.

At Welney Refuge (Norfolk), the wide-ranging GREAT WHITE EGRET was present this morning whilst the long-staying male WHITE-SPOTTED BLUETHROAT remains on territory in the vicinity of the Lyle Hide, 450 yards north of the main information centre. Meanwhile, in North Norfolk, a COMMON CRANE has been present for the past week on Holkham Freshmarsh. The female MONTAGU'S HARRIER bearing the French wing-tags continues to cause havoc on the scrape at Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk), taking concerning numbers of wader chicks on its frequent visits.

With the wind remaining in the Northeast, the first-summer male WOODCHAT SHRIKE extends its residency in Winterton South Dunes (Norfolk), showing extremely well on the isolated Birches and gorse scrub 350 yards south of the beach car park, whilst in the Midlands, a very confiding EURASIAN HOOPOE continues to delight a constant stream of admirers at Clayhanger Marsh (West Midlands) (see photographs above).

In the north of Scotland on the Shetland Islands, 3 DOTTEREL are at Mid Field on Ronas Hill, with a Garganey and Ruff on the Loch of Hillwell and two COMMON CRANES in the Baltasound area of Unst at Belmont, whilst further south, a BLACK STORK drifted across the Farr junction in the Findhorn Valley (Speyside) yesterday afternoon.

It has been a surprisingly slow start for the annual TEMMINCK'S STINT passage with just three birds on offer today - all together on the North Scrape on Cley Marshes NWT (North Norfolk). However, WOOD SANDPIPERS have been in reasonable supply, with 4 on the flooded paddocks at Cross Ness (London), 3 at Pulfin and High Eske NR near Beverley (East Yorks), 2 on the Spoonbill Flash at Fairburn Ings (West Yorks), 2 at Summer Leys NR (Northants) and others at Bothal Pond (Northumberland), North Cave Wetlands (East Yorks), Standlake Common NR (Oxon) and Wanslip Meadows (Leics). DOTTEREL today included four in a ploughed field near the Loch of Tankerness (Orkney Mainland) near Mill Sand (at HY 513 084), two on Pendle Hill (Lancs), three still on the SW slope of Brown Wardle Hill, Wintergrove Reservoir (Greater Manchester), four still showing well in the pea field at North Cotes (North Lincs) (at TA 363 014), two briefly on the limestone pavement at the Great Orme (Conwy) and a female on Blackcraig Hill (Ayrshire) and another five that flew west over Frampton Marsh (Lincs) early morning. The PECTORAL SANDPIPER was again at Top Tank on Saltholme Pools RSPB (Cleveland) this morning.

A summer-plumaged WHISKERED TERN visited Dungeness RSPB Reserve (Kent) yesterday whilst at the opposite end of the country, the very bright male IBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF continues to hold territory at Walderslade Woods, 250 yards in from Chestnut Avenue. In what has actually been an excellent spring for this Mediterranean species, another singing male was present in Norfolk Breckland for several days recently.

An apparent pair of NORTH AMERICAN GREEN-WINGED TEALS arrived at Dynevor Pools (at SN 608 222) in Llandeilo (Carmarthenshire) today, with the pair of COMMON CRANES still dancing on the Pevensey Levels viewed from Herstmonceux Churchyard (East Sussex).

The first wave of EUROPEAN NIGHTJARS are now returning to Britain to breed, with a bird performing this evening in Regent's Park (Central London), but GOLDEN ORIOLES and EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARDS still remain very much in the minority. A pair of nesting PURPLE HERONS could represent one of the few breeding attempts if successful.

In IRELAND, the regular returning adult FORSTER'S TERN reappeared at the east end of Tacumshin Pools (County Wexford), with the PACIFIC DIVER again off the Martello tower at Finavarra Point (County Clare). Meanwhile, a drake Ring-necked Duck remains at Inch Island Lake (County Donegal), the long-staying GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK is still on Ballycotton Beach (County Cork), whilst a EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE made landfall on Cape Clear Island (Co. Cork).