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Thursday, 24 February 2011

First SAND MARTINS and NORTHERN WHEATEARS arrive as temperatures increase from the South

With temperatures in the south of Britain reaching 15 degrees centigrade today, it was no surprise that the first few migrants started to trickle in, with two SAND MARTINS arriving, as well as 3-4 NORTHERN WHEATEARS; an early STONE CURLEW was also recorded in Hampshire. With these new additions, the tally for species recorded in Britain and Ireland combined this year reaches 257.

On the rarity front, the first-winter ORIENTAL TURTLE DOVE is still surviving in Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, 20 miles to the west of Oxford, still visiting gardens of The Leys. To increase the Daisy Fund, Emma and Jebs are still welcoming birders to the rear of their garden at 33, where views of the bird can be regularly obtained, especially when it has had its feed at 41. Please donate £5 to this very worthy cause in return for such hospitality. Later in the morning, the bird usually relocates to the Ash trees on the opposite side of the road, where it can be observed roosting from the lane at the bottom of The Leys.

In Hampshire, the juvenile WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLE that wintered on the South Coast in the New Milton area has now staged on its return migration to eastern Europe in the Basingstoke area, being seen several times today about a mile NE of Old Basing feeding on the ground in a field north of the minor road to Newnham, just west of the track to Blacklands Farm at SU 680 540 (Keith Betton, John Clark, et al). It was also seen circling with Common Buzzards over Tylney Hall late morning

A beautiful male SCANDINAVIAN ARCTIC REDPOLL (form exilipes) is present with over 70 Mealy Redpolls at Allerthorpe Common YWT (East Yorks) for at least its third day, whilst large numbers of the latter continue to be seen, particularly in the north of Britain.

An adult BONAPARTE'S GULL continues to show well at the river mouth in Ligwy Bay, Traeth (Anglesey) whilst the near-adult apparent SLATY-BACKED GULL was reported again from Rainham Landfill (Essex) around lunchtime.

The first-winter LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER commuted between Lodmoor Reserve and Radipole Lake RSPB (Dorset) today, whilst in West Cornwall, the adult PACIFIC DIVER remains offshore at Long Rock, Marazion.

A drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK of unknown origin is at Horseshoe Point on Oulton Broad, Lowestoft (Suffolk), whilst the drake AMERICAN WIGEON continues with Eurasian Wigeon on the Windrush Valley reserve at Rushy Common, just SE of Witney (Oxfordshire). LESSER SCAUPS include an adult drake at Dozmary Pool, Bodmin Moor (Cornwall) and the first-winter female on the Rushy Pen at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs).

In North Lincolnshire, the juvenile ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD is still showing well on fenceposts west of the cement factory at South Ferriby, whilst further south in North Norfolk, 3 birds remain in the Overy Marshes and Gun Hill area. Nearby, the juvenile Hen Harrier showing characteristics of the Nearctic form is still to be found over the saltmarsh just east of Thornham Harbour, with another seen again on Lewis (Outer Hebrides) in recent days, whilst elsewhere in the county, the 10 SHORE LARKS remain on Cley Beach, the first-year SPOONBILL on North Scrape, Cley, and up to 12 Lapland Buntings at Weybourne. In North Kent, the 3 SHORE LARKS remain on the beach east of Reculver Towers.

The BLACK-THROATED DIVER remains on the Pylon Pool at Willington GP (Derbyshire), with a GREAT NORTHERN DIVER still nearby at Carsington Water, whilst two GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS were again on the South Basin at Staines Reservoirs (Surrey). Two LONG-TAILED DUCKS are still present on the Sailing Pit at Barton-upon-Humber (North Lincs) with a RED-NECKED GREBE still on the Cove Farm GP at Westwoodside (North Lincs).

The CATTLE EGRET continues in fields by the River Taw at New Bridge (North Devon) north of the A377 at SS 568 285, as does the bird on the Fowey at St Winnow (Cornwall), whilst the 6 GREAT WHITE EGRETS continue at the Shapwick Heath NNR (Somerset). Another GREAT WHITE EGRET was again at Kirkby-on-Bain GP (Lincs) this morning, with another long-stayer on Worth Marshes at Sandwich Bay (East Kent).

There are still large numbers of EURASIAN BITTERNS and BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS around, as well as MEALY REDPOLLS in the north, whilst immature ICELAND and GLAUCOUS GULLS on the move are appearing at new sites.

Very little news received from IRELAND this week although negative from Rossaveel where the juvenile Thayer's Gull was looked for and not seen. The CENTRAL ASIAN LESSER WHITETHROAT continues to visit the fat balls at The Priory gardens in Drogheda (County Louth), with all three adult RING-BILLED GULLS again on the slipway at Nimmo's Pier, Galway Harbour (County Galway).