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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Waders starting to return

A spell of further unseasonal weather has resulted in the appearance of a first-summer SABINE'S GULL far from the sea at Startop's End Reservoir, Marsworth, about a mile from Tring town centre (Hertfordshire). The bird has been showing exceptionally well, often down to a few feet at times, since its initial discovery on Sunday and represents the first record for the reservoirs since the 'Great Storm' of October 1987. The bird is a real photographer's dream and as a consequence may result in it being the most photographed rarity of the year ! See my various local blogs for an array of images.

Other than the Sabine's Gull, the other main attraction is the heavily moulting ALPINE SWIFT that has now been present for at least five days at Buckton and Bempton Cliffs in East Yorkshire, ranging back and forth over the various vantage points over a couple of mile section of cliff coastline.

We are also seeing the first wave of returning waders with WOOD SANDPIPERS now appearing at a number of sites, as well as numerous Green Sandpipers and Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits. A lot of Spoonbills are around, including 6 on Minsmere South Levels (Suffolk) and 8 at Cley NWT Reserve (North Norfolk).

Three SACRED IBIS of unknown provenance are also on the wander with 2 in Northumberland and another at Walsey Hills Marsh, Cley (Norfolk). Although these could well be the 3 that escaped from Cheshire in 2011, there is no direct link at present and there is a possibility that they have arrived from France.

At Blackdog/Murcar Golf Links (Aberdeenshire), the summering seaduck flock offshore continues to harbour up to 5 different SURF SCOTERS, a first-summer drake AMERICAN BLACK SCOTER and the regular drake KING EIDER.

Last week's LITTLE SWIFT is now but a distant memory but from 22-24 June, this bird treated observers to a stunning display, flying back and forth along the New Brighton Promenade (Wirral) in poor weather conditions. One of the birds of the summer, without doubt.

WILSON'S PETRELS are starting to show up in the Western Approaches with 2 seen from a St Mary's Pelagic on 2nd, whilst the first GREAT SHEARWATERS of the autumn were noted with one from the same boat and further singles off Start Point (South Devon) and off Cape Clear Island (County Cork) on 1st. The latter site also recorded a very unseasonal 40 POMARINE SKUAS past on 3rd, following 13 on 2nd - presumably failed breeders from the Arctic.

The female RED-NECKED PHALAROPE remains at Coombe Hill Meadows (Gloucs), with a migrant male at Minsmere Scrape (Suffolk) on 2nd and female at Backworth Flash (Northumberland) on 1st-2nd.

In the Northern Isles, both the RIVER WARBLER and PADDYFIELD WARBLER remained on Fair Isle until at least 2nd July, whilst the first WESTERN BONELLI'S WARBLER of the year remained on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) from 1st-2nd.

Belated news concerned a first-summer female BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR at Frampton Marsh RSPB (Lincs) on 12 June whilst other late June sightings included a GULL-BILLED TERN in SW Wales in the Llanelli area (Carmarthenshire) on 26th-26th then at Lodmoor CP (Dorset) on 29th, a superb summer-plumaged adult PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER at Cley North Scrape (Norfolk) until 27th, a male WOODCHAT SHRIKE near Whitby (North Yorks) on 26th-28th, an ARCTIC WARBLER on Whalsay at Skaw (Shetland) on 27th, an adult WHITE-WINGED BLACK TERN that moved from Staines Reservoirs (Surrey) on 25th to Cotswold Water Park Pit 74 (Wilts) on 27th and Shapwick Heath NNR (Somerset) on 28th, an adult PURPLE HERON at Stodmarsh NNR (Kent) on 29th-30th, a PECTORAL SANDPIPER on Fetlar (Shetland) on 29th, a SQUACCO HERON at Welney WWT (Norfolk) on 30th and another ALPINE SWIFT in North Norfolk on 30th and past Spurn Point (East Yorks) on 1st July.

An interesting phyllosc on Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) on 30th was either a BRIGHT GREEN WARBLER or a GREENISH WARBLER.

In IRELAND, most welcome was a reeling SAVI'S WARBLER at Lingstown Reedbed, West Tacumshin (County Wexford), with this phenomenal reserve and wetland also yielding 2 different GLOSSY IBISES, a BLUE-WINGED TEAL and the continuing MONTAGU'S HARRIER. A GULL-BILLED TERN was seen on 29 June at Ballyneety near Dungarvan (Co. Waterford) and a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER in Mayo on The Mullet on 2 July.