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Thursday, 31 May 2012

WESTERN ORPHEAN WARBLER in Cleveland - 31 years since the last !

A fabulous European Roller at Spurn (Martin Garner

White-collared Flycatcher at Tory Island (Peter Phillips)

Tuesday 29 May saw Hartlepool Headland (Cleveland) one year on from last year's show-stopping White-throated Robin produce the goods yet again when a first-summer male WESTERN ORPHEAN WARBLER was extracted from a mistnet close to the infamous bowling green. Being 31 years since the last at Higher Moors, St Mary's (Scilly) in October 1981, it was no surprise that birders from all over the country were soon on their way.

Remarkably, the bird kept pretty faithful to the spartan decorative shrubby edges to the seaward bowling green and for long periods sat motionless. It did make occasional afternoon forays further afield but soon returned allowing no less than 900 observers to finally connect, including no less than 3 observers ranking amongst the Top 10 !
All six of the acceptable British records seem to be Western Orpheans, much in line with the pattern emerging elsewhere in NW Europe.

Another bird involved in Tuesday's excitement was a EUROPEAN ROLLER discovered during a 'Martin Garner Workshop' at Spurn Point (East Yorkshire). Although quickly disappearing early afternoon to the north, tonight it reappeared in Aldbrough, showing well once more on wires adjacent to the B1242 just north of the village. Martin obtained some outstanding images of the bird (see above).

Yorkshire has fared well this week with the year's first GULL-BILLED TERN at Thorne Moors yesterday afternoon (species 368 of the year), a singing ICTERINE WARBLER at Old Fall Plantation, Flamborough, a COMMON ROSEFINCH and 2 GOLDEN ORIOLES at Spurn and singing SAVI'S WARBLER and MARSH WARBLER at Blacktoft Sands RSPB (the latter visible from by Singleton Hide and the former audible from First Hide). A BLACK-WINGED STILT at Fairburn Ings was also very welcome locally, frequenting the New Flash (park only in Lin Dyke car park and NOT along the busy roadside).

A cracking male RUSTIC BUNTING appeared on Inner Farne (Northumberland) mid-morning, showing well to boat-tripping visitors this evening whilst continuing an excellent week for singing MARSH WARBLERS, one was today still in reeds north of the green footbridge behind the Discovery Centre at Cleethorpes (Lincolnshire). Another ICTERINE WARBLER was on Holy Island (Northumberland) near the Snook.

Further down the East Coast, North Norfolk held a singing male GREAT REED WARBLER briefly at Cley Marsh NWT East Bank reedbeds yesterday, with the long-staying female SERIN still at Landguard (Suffolk) and RED-FOOTED FALCONS at Rockland Broad (Norfolk) (a female on wires near the riverbank at the Beauchamp Arms) and at Minsmere RSPB (a female hunting the reedbeds and commuting to the North Marsh and Westleton Heath).

On the South Coast, Durlston Country Park (Dorset) held a single EUROPEAN BEE-EATER early morning, whilst in West Cornwall, a male IBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF is singing from the copse by the engine shed at the landward end of Kenidjack Valley. The long-staying singing male GREAT REED WARBLER is still deafening visitors at the Weston Super Mare Sewage Works (Avon), accessed from Wayacre Drove and the Anchor Inn on the A370 Bridgewater Road (ST 315 575).

A male WOODCHAT SHRIKE near Lydiate (Lancs) yesterday was an excellent local record, whilst the only RED-BACKED SHRIKE reported today - a female - was near Evie on Orkney Mainland. On the Isle of May (Fife), THRUSH NIGHTINGALE, ICTERINE and MARSH WARBLER were present today..

A pair of GREAT WHITE EGRETS has followed Little Egret, Purple Heron, Cattle Egret and Little Bittern in breeding in this country with at least one young fledged from a nest on the Somerset Levels at Shapwick Heath NNR. GLOSSY IBISES may well soon follow suit, with 3 birds still in the Marloes Mere area (Pembs), two still at Minsmere RSPB South Levels (Suffolk) and singles at Exminster Marshes RSPB (South Devon) and Pagham Harbour North Wall (West Sussex). A SQUACCO HERON visited Dungeness RSPB reserve (Kent) yesterday.

In IRELAND, a male WOODCHAT SHRIKE remains for a second day just west of Horseshoe Harbour on Sherkin Island (County Cork), whilst 3 GARGANEYS continue at Knockaderry Lake (County Waterford). However, Tuesday's 'Red Alert' was of a first-summer female WHITE-COLLARED FLYCATCHER on Tory Island (County Donegal) - the first record for the country.