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Wednesday, 1 June 2011

And we are now into JUNE............

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Well, the total number of species recorded in Britain and Ireland this year has now climbed to 366 - perhaps a tad lower than in recent years at this point. Apart from a TRUMPETER FINCH in North Devon and a few WHITE-COLLARED FLYCATCHERS, May was relatively uneventful in terms of major attractions.

Early June can often change that and is often the period when unpredictable vagrants turn up on Fair Isle, the Northern Isles and elsewhere in Scotland and on islands; intrepid pioneering birders are already in place on such far-flung localities but all to be found today, despite winds being light and occasionally south-easterly, were 2 Common Rosefinches on the Out Skerries and the very long-staying male EASTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER on Fair Isle. Somewhat oddly, a male BLACK-HEADED BUNTING continues to visit garden feeders for a second day on the south side of Mallaig (Highland Region) near Annies Brae at 'Fank Brae' - the bird is in excellent condition and intermittent in its appearances but like many previous records of this species, its origin could perhaps be questioned.

At the opposite end of the country, the best the Isles of Scilly has to offer at the start of a new month is a COMMON ROSEFINCH at Salakee Farm on St Mary's. A further migrant COMMON ROSEFINCH remained for a second day on the Isle of Man today, being trapped and ringed at the Calf of Man Bird Observatory.

The BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER remains with the migrant Dunlins at Breydon Water (East Norfolk) today, this morning on the rising hide showing reasonably well from the seawall and hide and then visible from the South Wall this afternoon and evening (best viewed from the seawall 300 yards beyond Humberstone Farm). Also in East Norfolk, a BLACK STORK flew slowly north along the coastline over Waxham Sands Holiday Camp at 0814 hours (incidentally, Northamptonshire's long-staying but elusive adult was seen again on Tuesday, just by Junction 15A of the M1)
A KENTISH PLOVER was a very good find at Bowness-on-Solway (Cumbria) - feeding with Dunlin and Ringed Plovers on the falling tide just east of the railings car park early afternoon at least. There has been an unusual displacement of RED-NECKED PHALAROPES this past week, involving over 8 birds and including Bedfordshire's first-ever twitchable individual at Rookery Pit on Monday. Upton Warren Flashes in Worcestershire has played host to two birds, with the female still present there today (use the Sailing Club overspill car park and follow the signposts around the main watersports lake to the reserve; admission £3.00 to non-WMBC members). A further female RED-NECKED PHALAROPE is present at Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve on the Humber Estuary (East Yorks) this afternoon, favouring the Marshland Lagoon.

Whilst the regular adult drake SURF SCOTER loafs with Velvet Scoters in the Firth of Forth and can be 'scoped distantly off Musselburgh wader scrapes (Lothian), a 'new' adult drake consorting with 50 Common Scoters is to be found for a second day off Blackhall Rocks in County Durham. Meanwhile, the summering adult drake KING EIDER continues to moult at the mouth of the Ythan Estuary in Aberdeenshire.and the drake RING-NECKED DUCK continues at Ham Wall RSPB (Somerset). Also, an apparent pair of AMERICAN WIGEONS is at Tophill Low Reservoir (East Yorks) with a drake on Foula (Shetland).

PURPLE HERONS include a lingering bird at Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk) and a first-summer last night that visited Gordon's Mere at Woodwalton Fen NNR (Cambs) for at least half an hour whilst a GREAT WHITE EGRET arrived at Dungeness RSPB reserve (Kent) this morning, quickly moving from the New Excavations to the Denge Marsh lagoons (this species has now become annual at the reserve in the summer months).

The juvenile WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLE that wintered in Hampshire and then moved east and NNE to Lincolnshire in late March is still lingering in NE England - it flew west over Manby Flashes in North Lincolnshire yesterday afternoon. Will it ever return to Continental Europe this spring? HONEY BUZZARDS are now starting to return to their summer territories in the UK and as such, migrants are being noted at numerous coastal localities as well as at inland sites. In fact, two birds from the Wykeham Forest (North Yorks) breeding population are already back on territory and showing from the Raptor Viewpoint.

In Dorset, a reeling male SAVI'S WARBLER continues to attract admirers as it sings from the reedbed and shrubs at the north end of the Breachdown Way central footpath at Lodmoor RSPB, whilst in West Cornwall this morning, a EUROPEAN BEE-EATER flew SW over the lighthouse at Lizard Point at 0910 hours. Only the second MARSH WARBLER of the year thus far involves a singing male by the Hooker's Pit ramp at Dungeness this morning

In Norfolk Fenland and for the second year running, a male WHITE-SPOTTED BLUETHROAT has taken up residence at Welney WWT reserve, still singing occasionally early mornings and evenings and often out on the track leading to the Lyle Hide.

COMMON QUAIL are now appearing in reasonable numbers with 5 calling males in Gloucestershire between Down Road and Shirehill Road in Marshfield

EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVES are very scarce visitors to Scotland so a garden feeding bird at Strathbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire) has been particularly popular amongst local watchers. Equally popular (and rare) is a single PIED AVOCET at nearby Rigifa Pool in Aberdeenshire.

The wide-ranging summer-plumaged SLAVONIAN GREBE that has done the rounds since leaving its winter quarters at Staines Reservoirs (Surrey) in late May is now present at Pitsford Reservoir in Northamptonshire. Another odd summering SLAVONIAN GREBE is that regular bird on the Exe Estuary in South Devon (usually to be found by looking across from Mudbank Lane in Exmouth or Starcross, depending on what side of the Exe you are) whilst that same estuary continues to harbour the first-year BONAPARTE'S GULL (wide-ranging bird that can be anywhere between the Otter Estuary and Bowling Green Marsh !).

Although no sign today (it actually flew off north yesterday evening), a LESSER YELLOWLEGS at Uttoxeter Quarry (Staffs) was an exceptional local county record, frequenting the pools there for two days.

In IRELAND, top billing goes to a long-staying adult AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford). In fact, Tacumshin has been the most productive location in Ireland for rares this spring with an impressive tally of late including a spring BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER