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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Southerly winds set for the week.........

This week is said to be dominated by warm southerly winds - in fact hinting at ''Indian Summer'' conditions, with temperatures expected to climb to a sweltering 84 degrees by Friday !

It has been Nearctic waders continuing to make the headlines - and none so newsworthy as BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS. Killian Mullarney recorded an incredible 26 birds at the East End of Tacumshin wetlands (County Wexford) yesterday, increasing by 3 the previous day's record totals. This joins the 40 or more seen in Britain in recent weeks, those still around including juveniles on St Mary's Airfield, St Mary's (Scilly) (still 4 of the original 8 remaining), Sennen (West Cornwall) (2 birds), Slimbridge Dumbles (Gloucs), Carr Bank, Arnside (Lancs), Bornish, South Uist (Outer Hebrides) (2 birds), North Ronaldsay (Orkney) and at Eshaness (Shetland). Ricard Guttierez also informed me of an exceptional 11 birds in the Ebro Delta, Tarrragona, SPAIN, whilst at least 35 have appeared elsewhere in the WP in the past month)

The juvenile SOLITARY SANDPIPER still remains on Lower Moors, St Mary's (now with the juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS in tow), whilst further juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS include singles at Drift Reservoir and on the Tresilian River at Tresemple Pool (SW 853 439) at Truro (West Cornwall) and ENE of Glasson (Lancs) on the south side of the Lune Estuary at the mouth of the River Conder.

It has also been a record year for SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS with juveniles at Saarasta Beach, Northton (Harris, Outer Hebrides), Slimbridge Dumbles (Gloucs) and Lower Pennington Marshes (Hampshire) (following another at Cliffe Pools Flamingo Pool, Kent, on Sunday), whilst current SPOTTED SANDPIPERS include an adult at Chew Valley lake Herriott's Bridge (Avon) and juveniles at Lydney Harbour (Gloucs) and at the north end of the Plym Estuary, Marsh Mills, Plymouth (South Devon). At least 15 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS also remain around the country none so entertaining nor approachable as the ridiculously tame juvenile on Crookham Common Pools, Greenham Common (Berkshire). AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS include a juvenile on St Mary's (Scilly) and an adult in Gwent at West Usk, with two juveniles together on Barra (Outer Hebrides), whilst the two juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS remain respectively at Baron's Haugh RSPB (Clyde) and at the southern (Carnmenellis) causeway at Stithians Reservoir (Cornwall)..

As is usual in late September, all attention focuses on the Isles of Scilly and on the Northern Isles. Thus far it has been Scilly's swing, following the succession of East Coast USA hurricanes, although now the only showstopper left being the slightly-more showy NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH on the newly created Higginson Pool at Lower Moors. A RED-EYED VIREO also remains in tamarisks in this area. Other than rare waders and the two former-mentioned ;'stars', the archipelago harbours an ORTOLAN BUNTING at the north end of the island near Maypole, the odd WRYNECK, a long-staying first-summer WOODCHAT SHRIKE by the airport terminal buildings and a very elusive ICTERINE WARBLER in Lower Moors.

At the opposite end of the country, and following the departure SOUTHBOUND of the weekend's adult SANDHILL CRANE from Strathbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire) yesterday morning, John Bell and others have the RED-EYED VIREO on Barra at Breivig and the 90 or so twitchers/birdfinders currently scouring Shetland have thus far amassed an adult LESSER GREY SHRIKE SE of Laxo, a RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER, several NORTHWESTERN REDPOLLS and a usual scattering of Common Rosefinches, Yellow-browed Warblers and Barred Warblers. North Ronaldsay has certainly been scoring points and featuring prominently this autumn, both a NORTH AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT and first-winter CITRINE WAGTAIL remaining yesterday (as well as a GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK, PEC SAND and commoner scarce passage migrants), whilst the observers on Fair Isle are still watching LITTLE BUNTING, CITRINE WAGTAIL, MELODIOUS WARBLER, ROSE-COLOURED STARLING and GREAT GREY SHRIKE.

The record influx of juvenile PALLID HARRIERS continues unabated with at least one still on Shetland Mainland quartering the Hillwell area, another on North Ronaldsay, the richly-coloured bird by the hide at The Loons RSPB reserve on Orkney Mainland, the bird on Mull at Fidden (Argyll) and the very popular bird hunting the game strip every two hours just NNE of Burpham village near Arundel (West Sussex).

SABINE'S GULLS left over from the 'wreck' include the two brother or sister combination at Sturt Pond, Milford-on-Sea (Hampshire) and two juveniles off Exmouth Beach (South Devon), whilst the very distinct adult AZOREAN-TYPE ATLANTIC GULL continues to roost each evening at Stewartby Lake (Bedfordshire). In North Lincolnshire, the juvenile NORTH AMERICAN BLACK TERN continued to afford excellent views.

A juvenile ROSE-COLOURED STARLING is also at Fidden on Mull (Argyll), with about 10 WRYNECKS scattered about the country, an exceptional juvenile BARRED WARBLER in East India Dock (Central London) yesterday and juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKES at Frinton-on-Sea (Essex), Lodmoor (Dorset) and Sharkham Point (South Devon).

At least one BLACK KITE remains in West Cornwall, frequenting the Polgigga area, but EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARDS continue to be particularly few in number.

IRELAND has seen some of its most entertaining and productive birding in its history this autumn with an outstanding list of rare waders to its name: the juvenile SEMIPALMATED PLOVER remained at Ventry Harbour, WSW of Dingle (Co. Kerry) until 1040 hours yesterday morning whilst nearby, a confiding LEAST SANDPIPER crawled about the tidal dykes and ditches at Carrahane Strand (Co. Kerry). Juvenile SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS include up to four together at Sruhill Lough, Achill Island (Co. Mayo), two at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) and at Ballinskelligs (Co. Kerry) of no less than 36 recorded this autumn, with AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS at Portagovie/Kirkistown (Co. Down) and Black Rock Strand (Co. Kerry). An adult BONAPARTE'S GULL remains at Blennerville Marsh. Many BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS are still to be found too and most likely the HUDSONIAN WHIMBREL at Mizen Head (Co Cork).

And contrary to a previous comment of mine, the INDIAN HOUSE CROW is still in Cobh Harbour (Co. Cork) and not stowed away to Cyprus !!