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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Rare Seaducks top attraction
















The main event, Aberdeenshire's NORTH AMERICAN WHITE-WINGED SCOTER - but make sure you see the correct bird when visiting - the bird depicted here by its finder Chris Gibbins.








































































































June is always a month of surprises and this year has been no exception. Despite many of our breeding species either attending fledged young or busy sitting, a number of more northern latitude species are still turning up and some very rare birds are being identified......

Of most interest at present to twitchers is Britain's first photographed NORTH AMERICAN WHITE-WINGED SCOTER (form deglandi), loafing with over 1,200 Common Scoters, just over 90 Velvet Scoters, at least 3, perhaps 4 drake SURF SCOTERS and over 2,000 Common Eiders at the traditional moulting site offshore of Murcar Links Golf Course and Blackdog Rocks, just north of Aberdeen (Aberdeenshire). The bird, a first-year drake, was outstandingly first found by local observers Chris Gibbins, Paul Baxter and Hywel Maggs on Saturday (11 June) and later confirmed by images sent on to Martin Garner.

The bird is best looked for in the afternoons when light conditions are more favourable. Leave the A90 dual carriageway about two miles north of the outer Aberdeen ring road to the right, signposted 'Blackdog'. This is a narrow lane taking you down to a small car park and cottage after a few hundred yards. Park here, ensuring to avoid destroying the vergeside crop of Northern Marsh Orchids on the left, and walk around the gate and down towards the shore. Cross the wooden bridge over the stream and then continue walking south along the dunes for between one and 1.25 miles - in the vicinity of the black pole in the dunes. The bird seems to be best located from here or up to 500 yards walk further south.

Please note that the difficulty in locating this bird cannot be underestimated - print off images of the bird from the internet and be well aware of several first-year Velvet Scoters only marginally different in plumage, especially at long range.

Other birds within close proximity include the drake KING EIDER on the Ythan Estuary (usually roosting on the dunes opposite Inches Road/Point or wandering as far east as the estuary mouth) and a drake AMERICAN WIGEON at Starnafin Farm, Strathbeg RSPB.

Perhaps relating to the topsy-turvy June weather involving some very warm conditions in the SE of England in recent days, a SQUACCO HERON appeared in East Kent today - spending much of its time in Hooker's Marsh, viewed from the observation ramp on the reserve path - it later moved to Denge Marsh. That very same reserve still continues to host the regular summering GREAT WHITE EGRET - also on Denge Marsh -

Another unexpected find was of a male RED-SPOTTED BLUETHROAT at West Runton (North Norfolk) - initially in the ditch by the clifftop car park and shelter before moving into an adjacent weedy field and then barley. Norfolk has also hosted two RED-FOOTED FALCONS in the past week with a first-summer male again today feeding over fields 600 yards north of the 'Nelson Arms' footpath, often to be found perching on fenceposts between the track and the Horsey Corner car park

It has been an excellent spring for EUROPEAN BEE-EATERS on the archipelago of the Islands of Scilly, with a party of 3 birds lingering this week, perhaps one of which flew from St Martin's to Tresco today.

Two drake RING-NECKED DUCKS were an unexpected turn up on Orkney Mainland last night - at the Loch of Bosquoy - whilst in Avon, a female BLUE-WINGED TEAL is to be found in the same vicinity as 2 Garganey at Hollow Brook, Chew Valley Lake, where they are best viewed from the Fishermen's Car Park.

A suspected longipennis form of Common Tern was seen in the Breydon Water (Norfolk) roost this morning, most likely the bird Sean Nixon photographed at Minsmere scrape (Suffolk) last month.

Although no sign today, a female RED-NECKED PHALAROPE has bizarrely been repeatedly returning to Upton Warren Flashes (Worcs) this summer - one of two birds originally present !

The summering first-year BONAPARTE'S GULL is still being seen on the Exe Estuary (South Devon) (off Starcross again today), where also the beautiful adult Slavonian Grebe can be seen mid-channel. Lodmoor RSPB (Dorset) has an adult ROSEATE TERN roosting in between fishing visits to Portland Harbour still, whilst the first-summer CASPIAN GULL is still being seen at Lower Test Marshes (Hants) at Redbridge Wharf..

A number of EURASIAN SPOONBILLS are to be found, including 3 long-stayers on Saltholme West (Cleveland), 2 at Blackoft Sands RSPB (East Yorks), 6 on Jackson's Marsh, Gibraltar Point NNR (Lincs) and a single in SW Wales at the National Wetlands Centre in Camarthen. The long-staying COMMON CRANE remains in its favoured setaside field at Saxby All Saints (Lincs)

There was no sign today of the GREAT WHITE EGRET that had spent a few days at Carr Vale NR, Bolsober (Derbyshire) (see Tony Davison's images above), whilst Monday's EUROPEAN ROLLER stayed just one day at Upper Hollesley Common in Suffolk.

Many unseasonal PALE-BELLIED BRENT GEESE have been seen around our coastlines of late, whilst BALEARIC SHEARWATERS have been appearing in numbers along the South Coast, particularly off Portland Bill (Dorset). Unusual was a breeding plumaged adult lingering for a second day at Beacon Ponds, Kilnsea (East Yorks).

In IRELAND, a drake DRESSER'S or NORTH AMERICAN EIDER (form dresseri) has been attracting some interest, showing very well with Common Eiders offshore of Carrickabraghy Castle in County Donegal (see the outstanding set of images taken by Aidan Kelly above)