Sunday 30 November 2008


After Paul Nye got a tip-off from some village residents, Simon Nichols rapidly disseminated breaking news of a CATTLE EGRET in Haversham village, just inside the county boundary from Northamptonshire. Being the first-ever twitchable CATTLE EGRET in Buckinghamshire, the keenest of the county listers set forth and within a very short time indeed, Simon Nichols and Nik Maynard had connected. Lol Carman was next on the scene and then myself.

The bird was ranging widely either side of the village and was very mobile. The weather was unfortunately persistent rain but the bird, when settled, was showing well. It favoured two areas: a field with four horses just west of the village at SP 829 431 (accessed by a public footpath to a stile between the houses) and in a set of horse paddocks and fields between the village and the sailing lake at SP 832 428.

It was a typical European Cattle Egret in winter plumage, with all white plumage barring some light buff on the crown and forehead and a relatively short yellowish bill. There was no buff colouration on the jowel nor any in the mantle plumes and no deep reddish colouration of typical winter coromandus (Indian Cattle Egret). The legs and feet were off-yellow. Little Egret was easily ruled out on bill colour, eg colour and overall structure.

I managed to get at least 30 photographs of the bird but these are barely of record quaility (see above). The bird remained throughout the afternoon (until at least 1430 hours when I left) and was later seen by Rob Andrews, Rob Hill, Ben Miller, Mike Wallen, Mike Campbell, and others.

According to horse owners and various drinkers at the village 'Greyhound' public house, the bird has been present since at least 19th November.


From M1 junction 14, head north on the A509 into Newport Pagnell. Continue on the B526 through Lathbury to Tyringham, turning left on the minor road to Haversham. This road enters the village after 4 miles where one can park safely and courteously.

29 NOVEMBER 2008

Plate 1: Cattle Egret, Barton-under-Needwood, Staffordshire, 28 November 2008 (Phil Jones)
Plates 2-3: Cattle Egret, Barton-under-Needwood, Staffordshire, 28 November 2008 (Steve Nuttall)
Plate 4: adult drake American Wigeon, Lower Farm GP, Berkshire, 23-27 November 2008 (Marek Walford)
Plate 5: drake Hooded Merganser, Radipole Lake RSPB, Dorset, November 2008 (Gary Thoburn)
Plates 6-9: Spotted Sandpiper, Tittesworth Reservoir, Staffordshire, 28 November 2008 (Dave Hutton)
Plates 10-11: Red-breasted Flycatcher, Leagrave Marsh, Luton, Bedfordshire, 22-28 November 2008 (Bob Duckhouse)
Plates 12-14: first-winter male Desert Wheatear, Girdleness, Aberdeenshire, November 2008 (Mark Caunt)

The first-winter male DESERT WHEATEAR was still enthralling visitors at Nigg Bay beach, Girdleness (Aberdeenshire) (see Mark Caunt's outstanding images above), with Dougie Preston twitching down from Lerwick in Shetland for it.

An adult male PENDULINE TIT remained for a second day at Attenborough NR (Notts), showing well in the small reedbed at Tween Pond in Barton Lane (park at SK 516 340). It performed well early but then disappeared at about 0930 hours and was not seen again until 1220.

Bedfordshire's first-ever RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER remained for its 7th day today, being seen briefly at 0900 and 1030 this morning. It was frequenting Rotten Corner Coppice but was generally elusive and very difficult to locate. From Junction 11 of the M1, take Dunstable Road towards Luton and after 100 yards turn left into Stoneygate Road. At the roundabout take first exit and follow Oakley Road to the traffic lights. Turn right at the lights and continue along Grange Avenue to the traffic lights. Pass under the railway to the Limbury Mead 'McDonalds' roundabout, where from here take first exit along Sundon Park Road for 600 yards. On the right hand side, just before the roundabout, is a public car park. Park here and traverse the field to the right keeping the stream to your left. After about 80 yards the river Lea winds through two bends and it is this general area which is most attractive to the flycatcher.

Elsewhere in Bedfordshire, a SLAVONIAN GREBE was newly found on Brogborough Lake (Lol Carman, Bob Chalkley, Roy Nye, et al), along with 9 adult WHOOPER SWANS on the Broom Village Pit and the female-type RED-BREASTED MERGANSER on Kempston Hardwick South Pit (to early afternoon only). The family party of 4 TUNDRA BEAN GEESE remain east of Clophill, favouring the bean field just SE of the village.

Staffordshire's third ever SPOTTED SANDPIPER remains at Tittesworth Reservoir, showing well at times on the dam, whilst the first twitchable CATTLE EGRET for the county was in grazing fields at the south end of Barton-under-Needwood village. It transpired that it had been present since 6 November. The two CATTLE EGRETS remain near Milnthorpe (Cumbria), frequenting fields half a mile east of the town and just north of Wasset NW of the B6384; park only by the electricity station and walk along the road to view from the entrance to the farm at SD 507 812.

A GREAT WHITE EGRET is present for a second day just south of Springfield (Wigan, Gtr Machester) by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Pagefield Marshes on Walmersley's Lake. Park by the rugby stadium and walk west along the canal towpath to view.

The adult white morph SNOW GOOSE is again with up to 4,000 Pink-footed Geese in fields south of South Pool at East Chevington Pools (Northumberland), whilst the adult RED-BREASTED GOOSE was again with Dark-bellied Brent Geese on Normandy Marsh, Pennington (Hants). An adult BLACK BRANT is still consorting with 1,200 Dark-bellied and 16 Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Ferrybridge, Portland Harbour (Dorset), whilst a single adult RICHARDSON'S CANADA GOOSE is with 600 Barnacle Geese on Berneray (Outer Hebrides).

The adult drake LESSER SCAUP is still present on the A52 Pit at Holme Pierrpont (Notts), with the first-winter drake still on Frampton Court Lake (with two female Greater Scaups) and the female at Helston Loe Pool (Cornwall). The fabulously confiding and beautifully plumaged HOODED MERGANSER remains at Radipole Lake RSPB (Dorset)

The adult female SURF SCOTER remains offshore at Dawlish Warren (South Devon), along with 2 Great Northern Divers and 4 Slavonian Grebes, with 8 Pale-bellied Brent Geese with the wintering brent flock.

The drake AMERICAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL remains with Common Teal on Folly Pond, Caerlaverock WWT (Dumfries & Galloway) with another at Capringstone Flash, Ayr (Ayrshire) On Tiree (Argyll), a RING-NECKED DUCK was at Loch Bhasapol, with the female SURF SCOTER and 15 Long-tailed Ducks in Hough Bay. A total of 52 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS was counted at Baston & Langtoft Pits (Lincs) today

The GREY PHALAROPE remains on Covenham Reservoir (North Lincs), whilst the regular returning ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD was at Eastchurch Marshes, Capel Fleet, Isle of Sheppey (North Kent) today

A SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF is at Billingham Green (Cleveland) in Station Road, frequenting trees opposite the Black Horse pub at NZ 458 224 with a YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER behind the Winking Prawn Restaurant at Hangar Creek Reedbed Reserve in Salcombe (South Devon).

The odd Mealy Redpoll is being identified, with several with Lesser Redpoll flocks in Thorndon Country Park (Essex), one on the Chafford Hundreds estate (Essex)

There are still large numbers of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS to choose from, with 150 at Garscube Estate, Glasgow (Clyde), 17 in Townhead (Glasgow, Clyde), 20 in Dumbarton (Clyde), 42 near Dalmuir Golf Course (Clyde), 100 near Linlithgow Academy (Lothian), 21 in Bo'ness (Forth), 385+ in Whitehill Gardens, Musselburgh (Lothian), 31 in Glenogle Road, Edinburgh (Lothian), 5 in Ayr (Ayrshire), 60 at Kingholme Quay, Dumfries (D & G), 40 in Dalston (Cumbria), 72 in Victoria Street, Preston (Lancs), 7 in Carnforth Booths car park (Lancs), 9 at Stocks Reservoir (Lancs), 2 in Derby Road, Ramsey (Isle of Man), 15 in Fairfield, Stockton-on-Tees (Cleveland), 44 in Bramley, Leeds (West Yorks), 32 in Crosspol, Sheffield (South Yorks), 35 in Riddlesden (West Yorks), 20 in Crossflatts(West Yorks), 17 in Fairburn village (West Yorks), 20 in Marfleet, Hull (East Yorks), 15 in Oldham village (Gtr Manchester), 22 in Tentercroft Street, Lincoln (Lincs), 2 in Westwood Avenue, Norton (West Midlands) and 3 in Ipswich (Suffolk).

Most freshwater GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS remain on site, with two juveniles on Rye Harbour NR Long Pit (East Sussex), two juveniles on Farmoor 2 Reservoir (Oxon) and singles at Grafham Water (Cambs) and Bough Beech Reservoir (Kent). Two BLACK-NECKED GREBES appeared in the fog on Paxton North Pit (Cambs) early morning, with another at Cheddar Reservoir (Somerset), whilst this week has seen the arrival of two 'new' freshwater RED-NECKED GREBES with singles on Sprotborough Flash (South Yorks) and Hanningfield Reservoir (Essex)

Up to 16 EURASIAN SPOONBILLS remain in Poole Harbour (Dorset) with another long-staying bird at Cliffe Flamingo Pool (North Kent).

The 2nd-winter RING-BILLED GULL was still performing at Lamby Lake, Cardiff (Glamorgan) with the regular adults at Westcliff-on-Sea esplanade (Essex) and Walpole Park Lake, Gosport (Hants). Meanwhile, a first-winter is showing well on Helston Boating Lake (Cornwall).

A Siberian Lesser Whitethroat is still visiting the garden feeders at Halistra (NG 248 595), Waternish Point on Skye (Highland), whilst a NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE is present for a third day near Denver Sluice (Norfolk) on the south side of the farm buildings along the east bank of the 100ft Drain.

In IRELAND, the late BARRED WARBLER remains just north of Kilmore Quay (Co. Wexford), with at least 50 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS still in Ballinderry Road in Lisburn (Co. Antrim). A first-winter drake LESSER SCAUP was today by the yacht club at Quoile Pondage (Co. Down), with the drake AMERICAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL on Webb's Field at Kilcoole (Co. Wicklow) and another in Bell Harbour (Co. Clare) At Nimmo's Pier, Galway Harbour (Co. Galway), 4 Sandwich Terns and 2 adult RING-BILLED GULLS were noted, whilst the adult LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER was again at Dundalk Docks (Co. Louth).

Friday 28 November 2008

LITTLE BUNTING lands in 'Golden Boys' back garden

After spending the last month and a half catching Long-tailed Tits, Chris Batty was amazed to find that his mistnet contained a LITTLE BUNTING on Wednesday 26 November.
The bird, a fairly drab first-winter, was trapped and ringed in Chris's Coniston Avenue back garden in Knott End-on-Sea in Lancashire late morning and after scattering seeds and grain on the ground, the bird returned after release and showed well intermittently throughout the afternoon. A total of just ten people connected before dark and sadly the bird was never seen again.
It represents the third record for Lancashire, following singles at Heysham on 30 March 1957, Eccleston Mere from 26 December 1993 to 19 March 1994 and at Fleetwodd Tip from 9 January to 24 March 1994

Tuesday 25 November 2008

BROWN SHRIKE reappears on North Uist

BROWN SHRIKE, North Uist, Outer Hebrides, 24 November 2008 (Peggie Hill, top two images; Steve Duffield bottom four)
After not being seen for a week, this bird suddenly reappeared for one day

Local Stars Headline

Plates 1-2: Juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPER, Tittesworth Reservoir, Staffordshire, 23-25 November 2008 (Dave Kelsall)
Plate 3: first-winter RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER, Leagrave Marsh, Luton, Bedfordshire, 23-25 November 2008 (Andy Whitney)
Plate 4: drake HOODED MERGANSER with friends in food frenzy, Radipole Lake RSPB, Dorset, November 2008 (Alan Lewis)
Plate 5: first-winter SAXAUL GREY SHRIKE, Grainthorpe Haven, North Lincolnshire, November 2008 (Dave Hutton)

The third SPOTTED SANDPIPER for Staffordshire, a juvenile, is showing well for its fourth day at Tittesworth Reservoir, favouring the dam.

The first authenticated RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER for Bedfordshire remains for a third day, showing well in Rotten Corner Coppice (at TL 060 247) at Leagrave Marsh in North Luton. The bird, a first-winter, was discovered by Jon Palmer an hour before dark on Sunday afternoon, feeding from the same line of tall trees in which it still remains today.

DETAILED DIRECTIONS: From Leagrave Railway Station and the main Marsh Farm to Lewsey Farm road, take Sundon Park Road north on the east side of the railway and park on the right after 400 yards. Walk to your right then follow the brook for about 130 yards to where the two tributaries meet. The bird favours the tall trees in the small wood opposite and can be frequently seen darting out for insects over the river. It is also very vocal.

Not that far away from the 'RBF' remain the family party of 4 TUNDRA BEAN GEESE at Cainhoe Lakes, east of Clophill (Beds), with two female Greater Scaup and a Red-breasted Merganser at Kempston Hardwick North Pit.

A beautiful first-winter male DESERT WHEATEAR is present for a second day on Nigg Bay beach, Girdleness (Aberdeenshire), this being the same male as that seen over a week ago at Donmouth and Murcar. It is a wide ranging bird and was present early afternoon at Walker Park, 100 yards from the Higg Bay car park.

In the Northern Isles, the presumed BROWN SHRIKE was relocated near Vallay Strand, North Uist (Outer Hebrides) yesterday, where it showed well in gardens and on fence lines WSW of Malaclete throughout much of the day. In the meantime, the North Ronaldsay (Orkney) large pipit was trapped today and confirmed as a RICHARD'S PIPIT, most likely of the form dauricus (many late or wintering birds are of this form and share some characteristics of Blyth's Pipit).

An adult white morph SNOW GOOSE was seen for a second day in the Holywell Pond area (Northumberland), consorting with a flock of 80+ Pink-footed Geese, but despite searching, no white vagrant geese of any kind have yet to appear with the Norfolk Pinkfeet.

ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS have certainly been attracting the crowds, with 3 birds (an adult and two juveniles) NE of Pocklington (East Yorks) at Millington Pastures, an adult between Farforth and Scramblesby (North Lincs) (viewable from the gate a mile south of Rowgate Hill Crossroads at TF 296 785) and the 2nd-winter male still north of Reed, two miles south of Royston (Herts). A further bird was seen at Leighton Moss RSPB (Lancs) on 22nd, with another in the Elmley/Capel Fleet area of Sheppey (North Kent).

The first-winter SAXAUL GREY SHRIKE remains in residence at Grainthorpe Haven (North Lincs) (TA 392 002), performing tricks for its admirers in the vicinity of the small concrete bridge. This charming but exceedingly rare bird has now been enjoyed by over 4,000 visitors.

The GREY PHALAROPE remains at Cley Marshes NWT (Norfolk) with another in the SW corner of Covenham Reservoir (North Lincs) (this latter location also hosting a Purple Sandpiper and a Long-tailed Duck) whilst in South Devon, the adult COMMON CRANE remains west of Modbury and south of the A379 at SX 638 516.

A single EUROPEAN SERIN remains at Rainham Marsh RSPB (London), with a late first-winter COMMON ROSEFINCH in gardens and on feeders between Wellhouse Farm and the Charlie Hurley Centre in Whitburn (Durham).

BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS abound with 53 in Portobello Road, Edinburgh (Lothian), 10 in Piershill Cemetery, Edinburgh (Lothian), 38 in Dalkeith (Lothian), 4 in Musselburgh (Lothian), 30 in Balerno (Lothian), a staggering 650+ in the Glasgow area (Clyde), 30 in Kilmarnock (Ayrshire), 70 in Dumfries (D & G), 25 in Carlisle (Cumbria), 7 in Keswick (Cumbria), 16 in Dalston (Cumbria), 35 in Preston (Lancs), 9 in Poulton-le-Fylde (Lancs), 4 in Clarence Road, Llandudno (Clwyd), 11 in Deganwy (Conwy), 25 in Spennymoor (Durham), 3 at Rumworth Lodge Reservoir (Gtr Manchester), 30 in Crosspol, Sheffield (South Yorks), 55 in Hull (East Yorks), 4 at Bestwood CP (Notts), 22 in Lincoln (Lincs) and 9 in Wednesfield (West Midlands). In SE England, 10 were seen in Pegwell Bay (Kent) briefly.

GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS at freshwater sites include 2 at Rutland Water (Leics), 2 at Draycote Water (Warks), 2 at Farmoor Reservoir (Oxfordshire) and singles at Carsington Water (Derbyshire), Chasewater (Staffs) and at Bough Beech Reservoir (Kent). The drake LONG-TAILED DUCK remains on Ibsley Water (Hants).

The CATTLE EGRET is still present at Urswick (Cumbria), in the field opposite the primary school at SD 265 739 with two more in fields half a mile east of Milnthorpe (Cumbria) and just north of Wasset in the field NE of the B6384 (view from the farm entrance at SD 507 812). An adult BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON visited the Royal Military Canal at West Hythe (Kent) on 22nd-23rd.

Drake LESSER SCAUPS remain at Hogganfield Loch (Clyde), the A52 Pit at Holme Pierrpont (Notts) and Frampton Court Lake (Gloucs), with a female at the north end of Helston Loe Pool (Cornwall) but despite recent cold weather, the number of SMEW in Britain remains extremely low (with a drake in Lincolnshire and the odd redhead elsewhere).

A first-winter RING-BILLED GULL has been present for several days now on Helston Boating Pond (Cornwall)


The adult winter RING-BILLED GULL is once again wintering (for its 8th consecutive year) at Walpole Park Pond, Gosport (Hants), showing well by the Boating Lake or on the neighbouring Haslar Creek at low tide. Further regular adults are at Westcliff-on-Sea (Essex) and on the Isle of Dogs (London).

The beautiful drake HOODED MERGANSER continues its residency at Radipole Lake RSPB (Dorset), favouring the cut by the 'Concrete Bridge' and wandering as far south as the Gurkha Bridge, with the female SURF SCOTER offshore at Dawlish Warren (South Devon).

The adult GLOSSY IBIS is present for its third winter season at Warton Marsh, east of Lytham St Annes (Lancs), favouring the pools and creeks immediately south of the caravan park.


A juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPER is present for a second day at Giles's Quay (Co. Louth), with a female Ring-necked Duck on Lough Corrib at Angliham (Co. Galway).

A late HOOPOE is at Traught Beach (Co. Galway) having been present for several days, with a BARRED WARBLER at Fethard (Co. Wexford).

An impressive flock of 82 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS is feeding on shrubs and berries on Cromore Road, Coleraine (Co. Derry), with 4 still in Antrim (Co. Antrim) on Moylena Road

Monday 24 November 2008


Male DESERT WHEATEAR at Girdleness, Aberdeenshire, today (Ken Hall) - presumably the bird present nearby last weekend.

At 1230 today it was outside the corner of the Walker Park nearest to the Bay of Nigg car park, just at the crest of the hill.

Friday 21 November 2008


Gary Bell discovered and photographed this first-winter IVORY GULL at Seafield, Lerwick (Shetland), today, representing the first record of this Arctic species in 2008 - species number 443

21 NOVEMBER 2008

Bang on cue and most likely as a result of strong Northeasterly winds blowing down from the Arctic, an IVORY GULL has been reported on Shetland Mainland, in flight over Seafield in Lerwick. If confirmed, this will represent the first Ivory Gull of the year.

Also in the Northern Isles, a pipit showing some characteristics of a Blyth's Pipit was seen this afternoon (and photographed) briefly on North Ronaldsay (Orkney). Again, this would represent a first 2008 record if confirmed.

The first-winter SAXAUL GREY SHRIKE continues to survive at Grainthorpe Haven (North Lincs), still frequenting the fields adjacent to the small concrete bridge at TA 392 002. It is ridiculously confiding but please, for the welfare of the bird, refrain from baiting it with mealworms. It will come to rely on them and may well affect its ability to migrate.

In North Yorkshire, the male TWO-BARRED CROSSBILL continues to visit the two peanut feeders by the isolated Garfit Farm in Bilsdale (North Yorkshire Moors) at NZ 563 030. Its visits are fairly regular and views afforded are excellent. Please park on the B1257 3 miles SE of Stokesley and walk the uphill track for just under a mile to the farm.

In South Devon, the female SARDINIAN WARBLER remains typically elusively at Berry Head, Brixham, whilst the adult COMMON CRANE remains west of Modbury, favouring stubble fields south of the A379 at SX 638 516. The adult female SURF SCOTER remains off Langstone Rock, Dawlish Warren (South Devon)

A marked influx of ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS includes 3 different individuals NE of Pocklington (East Yorks) at Millington Pastures (park sensibly and courteously along the narrow lane at SE 835 535), a 2nd-winter at Reed (Herts) and an adult at Farforth (North Lincs).

The odd YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER is still around, with one still at the Hartlepool Headland (Cleveland) on 20th and another on Lower Moors, St Mary's (Scilly), whilst a single EUROPEAN SERIN continues to be seen at Rainham Marshes RSPB (London).

In Hampshire, the regularly returning adult RED-BREASTED GOOSE has taken to grass-grazing again (as it did on several occasions last winter) and has been feeding with Canada Geese NW of the Balancing Pond on Pennington Marshes, whilst not that far away and to the east, a BLACK-THROATED DIVER is present for a 6th day by the Millenium Bridge in Gosport (Hants).

The wonderfully-plumaged drake HOODED MERGANSER continues to draw admirers to Radipole Lake (Dorset), where this bird is consorting with resident Mallards and wintering wildfowl at the concrete bridge, half a mile north of the visitor centre.

Recent weeks have seen a large influx of RED-CRESTED POCHARDS from Continental Europe, including 25 at Abberton Reservoir (Essex) and up to 25 at various inland localities, including 10 on Foxcote Reservoir (North Bucks) and 5 drakes at Tringford Reservoir, Tring (Herts). A first-winter drake AMERICAN WIGEON was with 45 Eurasian Wigeon at Lower Farm GP (Berks) on 19-20 November, whilst the drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK was again at Cosmeston Lakes CP (Glamorgan).

A GREY PHALAROPE graced Simmonds Scrape, Cley NWT (Norfolk), throughout the day, with another at Covenham Reservoir east bank (North Lincs), but there was no sign of this week's bird on Hampton Park Lakes today.

In Bedfordshire, the 4 TUNDRA BEAN GEESE were seen again at Cainhoe Lakes, Clophill, this morning, with a Dark-bellied Brent Goose for a third day in Kensington Gardens Round Pond (Central London). An adult SNOW GOOSE is with Greylag Geese at Craob Haven (Argyll).

The CATTLE EGRET remains with cattle by the flooded field at Urswick (Cumbria) with the adult WHITE STORK still on floods at Glascoe Dubh (Isle of Man).

There is still very large numbers of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS in the country, with the largest numbers still in Scotland, with 300+ feeding on Rowan berries in Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen (Aberdeenshire), 20 in St Andrews (Fife), 22 in Grangemouth (Forth), 37 in King's Park, Longniddry (Lothian), 120 in Bathgate (Lothian), 37 in Joppa (Lothian), 26 in Gullane (Lothian), 30 in Ayr (Ayrshire), 15 in Dalmellington (Ayrshire), 60 in Dumfries (D & G), 50 at Corby Hill, Warwick Bridge, Carlisle (Cumbria), 19 by Arnside School (Cumbria), 100 in Penrith (Cumbria), 70 in Durham Road, Darwen (Lancs), 350+ in Jackson Way, Jarrow (Durham), 97 in Skipper's Lane Industrial Estate, Middlesbrough (Cleveland), 70 in Billingham (Cleveland), 10 at the Holy Trinity Rosehill School in Stockton-on-Tees (Cleveland), 45 in Halifax (West Yorks), 80 in Marfleet Lane, Hull (East Yorks), 12 at Scathoe Baths, Grimsby (Lincs), 21 in Tentercroft Street, Lincoln (Lincs), 14 in Thorpe St Andrew (Norfolk), 15 at Whitlingham CP, Norwich (Norfolk), 4 in Sutton-in-Ashfield (Notts)

A first-winter LONG-TAILED DUCK remains on the Lancaster Canal, Conder Green (Lancs), favouring the Glasson Branch section 250 yards SE of the A588 (park at the Mill Inn car park at SD 461 554).

The GREAT NORTHERN DIVER remains for its 5th day on Bough Beech Reservoir (Kent), with two juveniles still on Farmoor 2 Reservoir (Oxfordshire) and further singles at Chasewater (Staffs), Westbury (Wilts) and Welton Water (East Yorks), whilst inland RED-NECKED GREBES include singles at Grafham Water (Cambs) (feeding offshore of the Lagoons) and at Draycote Water (Warks).

In IRELAND, 51 GREY PHALAROPES flew south past Kilcummin Head (Co. Mayo) on 20th, along with a single LITTLE AUK. The regular returning adult winter FORSTER'S TERN visited the rocks just east of Mutton Island Causeway, Nimmo's Pier, Galway Harbour (Co. Galway) at high tide today, whilst a very late PECTORAL SANDPIPER was at Loughbrickland (Co. Down). The BOHEMIAN WAXWING influx has reached Ireland, with one in Cabinteely, Dublin (Co. Dublin) and 8 in Moylena Road, Antrim (Co. Antrim). Two BLACK BRANTS remain in Dungarvan Harbour (Co. Waterford)

The report of the Quoile Pondage Barrow's Goldeneye returning has so far been unsubstantiated.

Thursday 20 November 2008

First BROWN SHRIKE for the Outer Hebrides

These ten images above depict a BROWN SHRIKE present on North Uist on 18 November 2008 (Brian Rabbitts). It represents the first record for the Outer Hebrides and the second Brown Shrike to be recorded this year.
The bird is a male cristatus in advanced first winter plumage. The tertials show two generations of feather with the smallest being replaced (and showing a rufous fringe) which contrasts with the retained juvenile tertials which show obvious pale fringes.
Thanks to Lars Svensson, the identification was finally sorted out. I would also like to thank Paul Boyer (the original finder), Brian Rabbitts (for providing additional images and offering first hand observations), Steve Duffield, Angus Murray, John McLoughlin and Chris Batty for some extremely good thought-provoking discussions. I am also extremely grateful to Paul Leader (of Asia) for confirming the identification and commenting on the ageing of the bird.

Tayport Pond Hooded Merganser bearing a ring - Is it or isn't it?

This new image of the Tayport Pond Hooded Merganser seems to show the presence of a small metal ring at the top of the leg.

Wednesday 19 November 2008


Comparing these two images has made me question again the identification of yesterday's Turkestan Shrike on North Uist.
The top picture is that of a female Brown Shrike photographed in Korea in May, whilst that below is Paul Boyer's image of the Uist bird repeated.
If you click on Paul's image, it will magnify and in doing so, you will find that the very short P2 will equal P6. This fits Brown Shrike rather than Turkestan.
Furthermore, Lars Svensson very kindly emailed me the following today
''Dear Lee,

I trust you saw my quick reply earlier today. The bird is a 99% safe Brown Shrike, not an Isabelline. I have looked again at the two photographs and can add also these three characters pointing the Brown Shrike way: (i) narrow tail-feathers, (ii) not a trace of a pale primary patch near primary-coverts, which a young male Isabelline would show in vast majority of cases, and (iii) extensive and strong scalloping of underparts, which is good for Brown but of course shared by a minority of the most marked Isabelline.

But safest Brown Character is that all (at any case longest two) tertials have solidly dark centres with strongly contrasting pale edges. A young Isabelline would have a pattern more like in young Red-backed, with some pale irregular pattern also inside dark subterminal margins. The prominent supercilium in combination with dark 'mask' further supports the identification.



First ISABELLINE SHRIKE of the year and 2nd NORTH AMERICAN BLACK TERN for Britain

A first-winter (probably male) ISABELLINE SHRIKE (of the Central Asiatic form phoenicuroides) was present at Beinn Riseearaidh Plantation, Vallay Strand, on North Uist (Outer Hebrides) on 18th November 2008. It was showing very well and was photographed by Paul Boyer (see top) and Brian Rabbitts (below).
A juvenile NORTH AMERICAN BLACK TERN was also seen on South Uist on 17th November, appearing for about half an hour in North Bay before flying off east. John Kemp managed to get a number of photographs, two of which are reproduced here. This constitutes only the second confirmed record for Britain.
A juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER is also present on South Uist, favouring the SW corner of Loch Bee.
For the latest news and all nature information concerning the Outer Hebrides, bookmark