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Sunday, 3 July 2011

BONELLI'S WARBLER surprise: singing male in NW Derbyshire

When Paul Greenall contacted me yesterday with a singing male WESTERN BONELLI'S WARBLER at his local patch on the Derbyshire/Greater Manchester border, my first thoughts were of some very odd Wood Warblers or hybrids I had seen in South Wales and the Midlands some years ago. Paul was very sensibly cautious but before releasing the news nationally, he waited before I could get others at the scene to help confirm the identification and weigh up the access possibilities for the site.

Paul confirmed early this morning that the bird was still present, singing continuously but showing only occasionally, flitting high up in the canopy. By mid-morning, some 20 or so observers had arrived on the scene, the call-note heard and recorded (by Tom McKinney) confirming its identification as the western form bonelli (WESTERN BONELLI'S WARBLER). Singing males on territory in Britain are exceptionally rare and this record not surprisingly constituting the first for Derbyshire.

DIRECTIONS: the bird is just west of Tintwistle at Arnfield Reservoir. Kindly park ONLY at Rossington Park Industrial Estate and take the footpath alongside the river over the bridge. Turn right on the A628 and walk to Cross Gates Lane before taking the footpath behind the fishery and into the small nature reserve. The bird can be seen and heard from within the vicinity of the first footbridge.

Another good find today was of an adult male AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER in North Lancashire on the Wyre Estuary half a mile north of Skipool Creek at 'Ramper Pot'. The bird was with 5 European Golden Plovers and was still present this evening. From the A585 roundabout take the B5412 north before turning right on to Wyre Road. Use the car park at the end of the road and walk north beyond the yacht centre but DO NOT walk out on to the jetties.

A BLACK-WINGED STILT was an unexpected surprise at Home Creek on the Hazelwood Marshes SWT reserve west of Aldeburgh in Suffolk, but flew upriver as the tide came in. It was not relocated.

On Fair Isle (Shetland), a male BLACK-HEADED BUNTING arrived today, along with a COMMON ROSEFINCH and unseasonal LAPLAND BUNTING. whilst John Bell stumbled upon an adult ROSE-COLOURED STARLING on Islay (Argyll) just west of the Laphroaig turning at NR 384 453. Another ROSE-COLOURED STARLING was mobile with Common Starlings in the Aberdaron area in Gwynedd, whilst the long-staying EUROPEAN BEE-EATER remained highly mobile about the Isles of Scilly.

At Murcar Beach, north of Aberdeen, the scoter flock is becoming more and more mobile, but still contains the adult drake (NORTH AMERICAN) BLACK SCOTER and up to 3 drake SURF SCOTERS. Over in West Highland, the drake BLACK DUCK-type was still consorting with Mallards on the north shore of Loch Sunart, west of Strontian.

Two juvenile BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS remain at Stodmarsh (Kent), being visible occasionally from the Tower Hide roosting in the 'Cormorant trees' west of the Lampen Wall. A male SAVI'S WARBLER is also singing again at the reserve in the main reedbed between the Wall and Marsh Hide and a male MONTAGU'S HARRIER drifted through.

In Lincolnshire, the juvenile WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLE refuses to move back to the continent, preferring to summer at Ruckland Ponds 6.5 miles south of Louth, where also the first-year COMMON CRANE continues at Bonby Carrs, visible from by the river. In North Yorkshire, the similarly aged COMMON CRANE continues at Nosterfield, again on the east side of Lingham Lake.

A surprising number of adult WOOD SANDPIPERS returning early, including singles in recent days at Blacktoft Sands RSPB (East Yorks), Rookery Pit, Stewartby (Beds), College Lake BBOWT (Bucks). and Bowling Green Marsh, Topsham (South Devon). Meanwhile, large numbers of irrupting COMMON CROSSBILLS continue to move through.

At Dungeness (Kent), both the summering GREAT WHITE EGRET and GLAUCOUS GULL are still present, whilst in South Devon, the first-summer BONAPARTE'S GULL is still to be found on the Exe Estuary. The latter site also hosts three juvenile BEARDED TITS at Bowling Green Marsh RSPB.

A CATTLE EGRET spent yesterday at Swillington Ings (West Yorkshire), whilst the gaudy summer-plumaged adult RED-NECKED GREBE continues its summer residency at Ten Acre Lake on Hatfield Moors (South Yorks).

In IRELAND, 11 BEARDED TITS was a nice record for Tacumshin Lake (County Wexford), seen in flight over The Patches this morning, (where both Spoonbill and female MONTAGU'S HARRIER remain), whilst in County Londonderry, first one then two PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVERS were located on the at the north end of the turf fields at Myroe Levels at Lough Foyle at the mouth of the Roe Estuary.