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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Another puzzling 'peep'..

Mark Golley discovered a first-winter SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER at Cley NWT Reserve (North Norfolk) on Monday 28 November and the bird is still commuting between Pat's Pool and Simmond's Scrape today. It is a very long-billed individual and still retains many of its juvenile scapulars and wing-coverts and has been very well photographed (see Cley Birds Gallery). Some observers feel that Western Sandpiper has not been eliminated. It is somewhat similar to a winter-plumaged peep that was present at Felixstowe Ferry in Suffolk in winter 1982/83.

In Avon, the juvenile SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER still remains with the Dunlin flock on the muddy foreshore at Chew Valley Lake. Now present for well over a week, it is best observed from Herriott's Bridge - but be patient, the flock is often obscured by the reedbed. On the opposite side of the road, an adult winter SPOTTED SANDPIPER is still to be seen, favouring the concrete edge - again, view looking along from the bridge turrets. From time to time, two highly mobile first-winter LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS join the show and Lapwing and Common Snipe flock - again favouring the muddy foreshore between Moreton Bank and Herriott's - but spend an equal amount of time at neighbouring Blagdon Lake in Somerset. A herd of 7 BEWICK'S SWANS is also at Chew - and a drake Greater Scaup. Just 7 miles away, a GREAT GREY SHRIKE is on farmland at Queen Charlton (Avon) close to Publow and Hinton Organics at ST 643 660 (access from Charlton Field Lane).

Further SPOTTED SANDPIPERS are to be found at Lyme Regis Cobb (Dorset) and at the north end of the Plym Estuary by the Marsh Mills Roundabout in Plymouth (South Devon) whilst in Northumberland, the juvenile GREATER YELLOWLEGS is still present at Hauxley Nature Reserve.

A couple of DESERT WHEATEARS continue to be seen with a nice male on the path by Staple Neuk Viewpoint at Bempton Cliffs RSPB (East Yorkshire) and a female around the disused quarry buildings below the summit car park at Titterstone Hill Clee in Shropshire (from the A4117, take Dhustone Lane to the summit).

A white morph GYRFALCON was seen this morning in the Bay of Navershaw on Orkney Mainland

So, with all of these aforementioned major rarities out of the way, the more standard fare includes............

No less than 15 GREAT WHITE EGRETS are wintering, with long-staying CATTLE EGRETS in the Salthouse/Blakeney area (North Norfolk) and on Thorney Island (Hants).

TUNDRA BEAN GEESE are cropping up all over with some sizeable flocks in some areas, including 95 at Newtonhill (NO 889 938) in Aberdeenshire, 15 at Munlochy Church, Black Isle (Highland), an exceptional 108 at Wainfleet St Mary (Lincs), 20 at Weybourne Station Road (North Norfolk), 5 on Minsmere Levels (Suffolk), 3 at Cainhoe GP, Clophill (Beds) and singles at Bredon's Hardwick (Worcs) and Tyttenhanger GP (Herts). TAIGA BEAN GEESE include 21 back at Buckenham Carrs RSPB (Norfolk) and 2 at Lackford (Suffolk) whilst a vagrant GREENLAND WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was an excellent record for Pulborough Brooks RSPB (West Sussex).. The first-winter RED-BREASTED GOOSE is still with Dark-bellied Brent Geese at the north end of the Exe Estuary at Topsham (South Devon), with a single SNOW GOOSE at Drummond Farm, Evanton.

Drake AMERICAN WIGEONS remain at Loch Bee, South Uist (Outer Hebrides), Wintersett Reservoir (South Yorks) and at Castlemaben (D & G) whilst the Rutland Water drake was fatally wounded and killed by a Great Black-backed Gull on the weekend. The female LESSER SCAUP continues at Marden Quarry, Whitley Bay (Northumberland), drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK at Dinton Pastures CP (Berks) and the first-winter female BUFFLEHEAD at Helston Loe Pool (West Cornwall), with the drake RING-NECKED DUCK at St Gwithian Sands (Cornwall) and a first-winter female BLUE-WINGED TEAL on Porthellick Pool, St Mary's (Scilly) on 27-28 November.

ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS include up to 3 at Sleddale Moors (Cleveland), 3 in the East Hills, Wells and Holkham Freshmarsh areas (North Norfolk), 1-2 in Suffolk and single juveniles at Ouse Fen (Cambs), Nickoll's Quarry, Botolph's Bridge (East Kent) and at Burpham (West Sussex).

A party of 7 COMMON CRANES is frequenting fields at Boyton Marshes RSPB (Suffolk), with 31 roosting at Horsey Mere (Norfolk), 8 at Guyhirn (Cambs) and a number of small parties scattered widely west to Somerset. Salisbury Plain Great Bustard number 6 continues to attract admirers at Middle Soar (South Devon).

LITTLE AUK passage has been notable at Cley Coastguards (North Norfolk) this week despite southerly winds, with 20 counted today and a BLACK GUILLEMOT too in recent days - Flamborough Head (East Yorks) logging 164 LITTLE AUKS on 28 November..

Adult RING-BILLED GULLS have returned to Walpole Park Lake, Gosport (Hants) and Oban (Argyll) (with a 'new' 2nd-winter at Radipole Lake RSPB, Dorset, today), whilst an influx of CASPIAN GULLS has seen up to 6 at Calvert Sailing Lake (Bucks), 5 at Minsmere Scrape (Suffolk), 3 first-winters at Seaton Common (Cleveland) and 4 at Albert Village Lake (Leics). A juvenile SABINE'S GULL was an odd addition to the Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) ringing list - being trapped and ringed on a small pool possibly due to exhaustion caused by the gale force winds - today.

SHORE LARKS are few and far between with just 5 at Holkham Bay and 1 at Salthouse Beach car park (North Norfolk), with an inland SNOW BUNTING at Deer Hill Reservoir (West Yorks)

A HUME'S LEAF WARBLER has been present in Dorset in Sallows at Littlesea Holiday Camp, Wyke Regis (Dorset) for several days whilst YELLOW-BROWED WARBLERS are present at Romsey (Hants), Conwy RSPB (Caernarfon) and 2 in Lower Moors, St Mary's (Scilly). The latter site also continues to harbour up to 3 DUSKY WARBLERS, with a PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER on Bardsey island yesterday.

A juvenile ROSE-COLOURED STARLING continues to inhabit Lodmoor Country Park (Dorset) with Common Starlings, whilst the largest flock of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS to be found are the 70 at Eastbridge (Suffolk). A single PENDULINE TIT remains elusively in reeds at the north end of ARC Pit, Dungeness RSPB (Kent).

A scattering of water birds inland include a juvenile RED-THROATED DIVER at William Girling Reservoir (London), a BLACK-THROATED DIVER and female COMMON EIDER at Hanningfield Reservoir (Essex), GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS at Ogston Reservoir (Derbyshire), Caldecotte Lakes (North Bucks) and Queen Mother Reservoir (Berks) and LONG-TAILED DUCKS at Prescott Lakes (Lancs) and Bromley Trout Fishing Lakes (London).

It still remains an exceptional late autumn for both HEN HARRIERS and SHORT-EARED OWLS

Three different SPOTTED SANDPIPERS are present in IRELAND with singles on the Nanny Estuary opposite Soneirte at Laytoown (County Meath), by the Victoria Quay in Cork Harbour (Co. Cork) and on the River Blackwater at Ballyduff (Co. Waterford), with a very late juvenile LEAST SANDPIPER at Black Rock Strand (Co. Kerry), a juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER on the Myroe Levels (Co. Derry) and a CATTLE EGRET at Hillsborough Lake (Co. Down).

A juvenile NORTH AMERICAN HERRING GULL is frequenting the fish factory at Baltimore near Dursey (Co. Cork), with 2 COMMON CRANES present for over a fortnight at Belderry (Co. mayo) and the HOUSE CROW still resident at Cobh Town (Co. Cork).