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Monday, 1 November 2010

Nearctic Harrier in SW Ireland

A juvenile NORTH AMERICAN HEN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius) (also known as Northern Harrier or Marsh Hawk) is present for a third day in County Wexford frequenting Tacumshin Lakes and its environs. Killian Mullarney has photographed the bird first highlighted by Tom Kilbane and a selection of his images can be browsed at www.irishbirding.com. The identification of this form has always been very complicated but images of this bird clearly show a bird with a contrastingly dark hood and the diagnostic underwing patterning that we have come to rely on more recently.

Interestingly, of the 7 records of this form I listed in 1990 (Evans, Rare Birds in Britain 1800-1990, page 103), only ONE now remains as acceptable - a juvenile that wintered on the Isles of Scilly from 22 October 1982 to 7 June 1983. As such, this is one real mega in terms of European appearances.

Next off, the AMERICAN BITTERN present at Trewey Common Pools, Zennor (West Cornwall), since at least last Monday failed to put in an appearance this morning, leaving 70 or more observers disgruntled. It had been seen by 430 observers since news of its presence was released on Thursday.

That other Nearctic heron, the AMERICAN GREEN HERON, continues its stay unabated though, showing well once again to allcomers at the Lost Gardens of Heligan SE of St Austell (Cornwall).

In North Norfolk, the two first-winter GREY PHALAROPES remain on North Scrape at Cley NWT Reserve, along with the drake North American Green-winged Teal at Daukes Hide and at least 7 SHORE LARKS on the shingle ridge between Salthouse and Kelling Hard and 3 more by Cley North Hide. Further south and close to the border with Cambs, the very confiding GLOSSY IBIS continues in the field just SE of Welney village not far from the cattle pens just west of the Hundred Foot Drain, whilst the juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER reappeared at Cley Marshes NWT this afternoon on Pat's Pool. In neighbouring Suffolk, the 2nd-winter KING EIDER remains off Dunwich Cliffs.

PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLERS are now appearing again with one in the Long Bank Hedge, Beacon Ponds (East Yorks) yesterday afternoon followed by two together this morning in the wood at Berry Head (South Devon), another at the west end of Holkham Pines (Norfolk) and one still present in the Observatory garden at Portland Bill (Dorset).

The Isles of Scilly season is now drawing to a close with the last of the 600 or so of this autumn's birdwatchers now departing; avian remnants from last week's half-term being the DUSKY WARBLER in the Higher Moors clump area of St Mary's and the odd YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER.

In terms of this autumn's irruptions, that of the BOHEMIAN WAXWING remains in full swing, with somewhere in the region of 6,000 birds displaced in Scotland and more and more now dispersing further south. It really is going to be a nightmare for Bird Information Service operatives ! Some single flocks were noted at the weekend as containing over 2,000 birds - incredible numbers - and today flocks of over 1,000 are still being recorded in Aberdeenshire..

Several juvenile ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS are still being seen, with up to 4 in the Sleddale area (Cleveland/North York Moors), two still in the Burnham Overy Dunes area (North Norfolk) and the one in the Holland Haven (Essex) area.

LAPLAND BUNTINGS too remain in abundance, with at least 60 in winter stubble between Chare Ends and the quarry at Holy Island (Northumberland), 12 in fields between Mwnt and Aberporth (Ceredigion) and 5 far west in stubble opposite Tehidy CP (Cornwall).

BEARDED TITS are also in irruptive mood, with 2 at Flamborough Head (East Yorks), 7 at Otmoor RSPB (Oxfordshire), at least 9 at Broom GP (Beds), 3 at Amwell NR (Herts) and a male at Carsington Water (Derbyshire).

A YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER at Alexandra Park (London) was an excellent local record, the bird moving within a tit flock at the western edge of the reservoir as well as in the Conservation Area by the pool.

A female VELVET SCOTER remains inland on Filby Broad (Norfolk) whilst other scarce wildfowl include a drake AMERICAN WIGEON from the Swantail Hide at Wheldrake Ings YWT (North Yorks) and up to 3 FERRUGINOUS DUCKS at Chew Valley Lake (Avon).

In Scotland, a LITTLE EGRET is still showing well on the Starnafin Farm Pools at Strathbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire), with a late GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) and another on the tarmac road at Halligarth, Unst (Shetland).

A very long-staying CATTLE EGRET in Cambridgeshire was today in fields south of the A47 between Guyhirn and Thorney Toll, whilst equally long-staying are GREAT WHITE EGRETS at the Idle Valley NR (Notts) and at Blashford Lakes HWT (Hants). Another CATTLE EGRET is still present today close to the Stonebridge car park at Donna Nook (North Lincs) in the cattle field by Marsh Lane.

A GREY PHALAROPE also continues inland at Rutland Water (Leics), frequenting the shoreline 500 yards west of Normanton Church, whilst the very long-staying first-winter LESSER YELLOWLEGS can still be located on the extensive flood meadows at Port Meadow, Oxford (Oxon). In North Lincolnshire, an AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER is showing well for a second day at Freiston Shore RSPB, with the juvenile in South Devon reappearing on the ebbing tide at the north end of the Exe Estuary 200 yards south of the Turf Hotel on the west shore once again.

Not much in the way of Rare Bird News other than the harrier coming out of IRELAND today but at least 1 GLOSSY IBIS remains at Tacumshin East End Pools (County Wexford). A YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER was noted at Hook Head (County Wexford).