Monday 26 January 2009


Hawfinch (Gary Thoburn)
There were an impressive number of at least 19 HAWFINCHES along Long Steeple Lane this morning at about 10.00am at approximately SU136196. They were pretty mobile between the tops of the oaks and the majority flew off to the north at about 10.15.
Also 6 very showy Bullfinches in the lane and a couple of Skylarks singing on the racing gallops (Roger Webb)

Sunday 25 January 2009


There was a very impressive flock of some 19 HAWFINCHES at Blenheim Palace yesterday morning. In their usual spot at the top of the tall tree in the vicinity of the railway shed and Garden centre. I actually found it best to view from south of the palace as it gave a better view of the trees the hawfinches where in. Though whereever I viewed from, they were quite distant would have been difficult to view properly without a scope. I don't know whether it was a pattern they usually follow but the number built up from when I first got there at 10 until around 10:30 when they all flew off south. As they spend most of the time (or at least seen most) near the top of the tall tree, they are probably best viewed on a day which is not too windy (Tom Wickens)

Make sure you see the right Buzzard

The photographs here (taken by David Hopkins - top two) and Ben Green depict the 2nd-winter male ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD present in the Coveney area in Cambridgeshire.
Unfortunately, there is also a very pale Common Buzzard which keeps getting repeatedly mistaken for this bird and constantly 'phoned in. Please ensure that you see the right bird.
There are four Common Buzzards wintering in the area and a ringtail Hen Harrier.

Thursday 22 January 2009

Adult IVORY GULL weighs in on the Outer Hebrides

This beautiful adult IVORY GULL, fabulously photographed here by local birder Steve Duffield, is present for a second day at Clachan a Luib, on North Uist (Outer Hebrides).
The bird is frequenting garden lawns where it is feeding on a diet of earthworms and was initially found by Brian Rabbitts..
Following two first-winters on Shetland late last year, this represents the first of 2009, representing the 248th species of the year.

Wednesday 21 January 2009


A remarkable sight !
Paul Freestone took a phone call from Tim Twiggs informing him of a GREY PHALAROPE at Gothian (Cornwall). This was a 'patch-tick' for Paul (not a lifer as the National Media portrayed) and 30 minutes later, Paul joined Tim at the site. The bird was still showing well and after 40 minutes of viewing, the bird swam around the edge of the island on the main pool. It then flew across to the close bank allowing Paul to get some photographs. However, just as he was lifting his lens to fire off, a COMMON BUZZARD flew in and sat on the sandbank closeby. It then swooped low over the water and grabbed the unsuspecting phalarope, landed with it briefly and then flew back across the water to eat it. An incredible occurrence and one that Paul captured on film and immortalised !
Grey Phalaropes have a knack of falling foul to raptors with the Wilstone Reservoir juvenile of last autumn carried away by a Hobby

Tuesday 20 January 2009


The washes are looking amazing at the moment. Currently the water levels are perfect and there is a bird spectacle from every hide. To add to the good numbers of dabbling ducks (thousands of wigeon, teal, pintail, shoveler and gadwall) are the views of Whooper and Bewick's Swans feeding on the washes throughout the day. One of the best hides is Rickwood which is only a ten minute walk from the car park. There are ducks, wild swans and waders such as Black-tailed Godwits, Lapwing, Common Redshank and even Ruff. For people who like to walk further, the last three hides of Cadbury, Cottier and Stevens are also worth the hike. As well as the previously mentioned birds there is also the chance of seeing, Eurasian White-fronted Geese, Pink-footed Goose and even GREAT WHITE EGRET.

Below are the figures for the reserve counted yesterday (Monday 19 January) and include all figures from Earith to Welmore. (including numbers from WWT)

Bewick's Swan (3458)
Whooper Swan (5979)
Eurasian Wigeon (29,658)
Gadwall (1455)
Common Teal (5351)
Mallard 3024
Shoveler (867)
Pochard (2251)
Tufted Duck (1296)
Coot (5092)
Lapwing (4315)
Dunlin (40)
Ruff (114)
Black-tailed Godwit (705)
Eurasian White-fronted Geese (29)
Pink-footed Goose (1)
Marsh Harrier (1)
Peregrine (1)

Alex Thomas, Assistant Warden, RSPB Ouse Washes Reserve

Monday 19 January 2009


A male RING OUZEL was present this afternoon in a field at Broadshade Farm (Aberdeenshire) close to the golf course. Watched from my kitchen window, it was seen associating with a relatively small flock of Fieldfares and Starlings.

Earlier in the day, 38 Common Buzzard and 9 Red Kite were seen riding thermals over a wood at Easter Echt, west of Loch of Skene (Rob Minshull)

Friday 16 January 2009


The juvenile EURASIAN SPOONBILL was again at Cliffe Pools today at the northern end of the Flamingo Pool. Also here (or on Radar Pool), 2 Spotted Redshank, a Common Greenshank, 500 Dunlin, 350 Pied Avocet (with 460 earlier in Higham Bight), 300 Black-tailed Godwit, 68 Grey Plover, 25 Red Knot (actually, a lot of the waders looked to be dropping onto the 4th or 5th Black Barn pools). Ducks included 13 Common Goldeneye, 300 Tufted Duck, 80 Shoveler & 34 Pintail. Also 176 Little Grebe. Nearby, at least one juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER remains just off the reserve on the Alpha pool.

At Northward Hill today, 4 WAXWINGS, but no further details (Gordon Allison, Warden, RSPB North Kent Marshes)


The first-winter FRANKLIN'S GULL present off Barassie Shore until dark was found by Bruce Kerr and was seen by about 5 others before it got pitch dark, including Angus Murray (who identified it) and Brian Orr. Due to the light conditions, no photographs were taken.

It represents only the second record for Ayrshire, following a first-summer seen daily on the ebbing tide at Irvine Harbour from 2nd-6th July 1980 (see Scottish Birds 12: 258-259).

Thursday 15 January 2009


Started the day at Hampshire Hatches Lane, located the TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE after about 20 minutes, with Greylags and Canada's. There were 6 Egyptian Geese there too. On the river, 1 male and 1 female Goosander, Grey Wagtail, few Common Snipe in the fields and a Common Chiffchaff at the ford. c150 Redwing on the small farm

On to Ibsley Water Meadows looking for BEWICK'S SWANS, soon found the family group comprising 2 adults and 1 first-winter.

We then drove around to North End Farm at Harbridge for thrushes; as I scanned around one bird seemed just a teensy bit bigger, it was a GREAT BUSTARD no less! It had wing tags numbered 28 and seemed happy enough strutting around the field loosely associated with the Mute Swans, 1 adult BEWICK'S SWAN there too and c200 Fieldfare and Redwing.

Failed to find the Bittern, but had 5 Brambling and 6 Redpoll + lots of Siskins from the Woodland Hide. Quick stop at Mark Ash on the way home, terrific views of a Tawny Owl sitting in its hole entrance (Steve P and Mike B, HOSListers)


A finder's account by Cliff Dean
''Sunday 11 January: Up a bit late after a jolly evening with the Friends of Brede Valley, and family commitments calling so just time for a brisk walk along the seawall - no scope, no camera, strictly roots.
Wind changed, frost thawed, a different feel to things. And just west of the pools, a bird in close to the shore, flapping its wings and showing a black belly. A badly oiled Guillemot. Except that when I looked through binoculars I could see it was an Eider. I don’t see so many of those these days, especially a male with subtle boreal washes and…a great big………..beak……….

This is where it got seriously strange because, just the previous evening, I’d been looking at an article on about a Kerstdag twitch for a Koningseider in 1981. And here, straight in front of me, seemed to be a drake KING EIDER, in fact a better one than on the Dutch website. Such a dark and unfathomable synchronistic twist that I really wondered if I was seeing what I thought I was. Anyway, how did I know what it was? What did Steller’s Eider look like? Not expecting to see either eider, I’d never paid any attention to their details.

Then I found my phone wouldn’t work: Now press * Press. Now press* Press. Now press* …Too cold, I suppose. Nobody else around.

Better do what people used to do, before mobiles and digital cameras: a field sketch! It’s truly terrible; I blame frozen fingers. But I could note the beautiful, soft, subtle blue-grey on the crown, the warm, unlikely orange-pink of the breast, and the not-so-subtle mad beak.

Still no luck with the phone. It unlocked, but then tried to call unrecognizable numbers.
There was a birder back by the pools. I considered running back to tell him, but worrried that by the time we returned there would be no sign of this Alleged Rarity. Luckily, he drove along and chose to stop nearby, so I slid down the seawall and blocked his view, requesting a field guide which he graciously supplied.I figured King Eider must be right at the end of the ducks, the baroque ultimate model of evolutionary production, but I couldn’t find it. There were scoters & Long-tailed Duck, but my numb fingers were unable to separate the pages until…there it was - I was right!
We climbed up over the wall to where the duck was still swimming and Stuart Pemberton was my first corroborator, the second person to witness the improbable sight of a King Eider in Sussex.

Following some vicious stabbing of buttons, my phone woke up, enabling me to contact Barry but, as usual, Pete Rouse had his phone switched off or was just not answering. By this time, the duck was swimming out into bigger waves, was beginning to dive and got lost among the hundreds of grebes and dozens of divers offshore. By the time Barry arrived, it was distant though still recognizable, but when Pete, Graham and Andrew got there, we had lost sight of it.
Anyway, I’d got things to do''.
Barry Yates managed the sole surviving image published above. Following the release of its presence, a further 60 or so birders saw the bird during the afternoon (including Ian Barnard, Paul Marten and Garry Bagnell) when it was persistently attacked and harassed each time it resurfaced after a dive just offshore of Pett village. There was no sign of it the following morning.
Ian Barnard added
''Hi Lee
After the initial sighting as portrayed on the RX web site the bird was lost to view. The news filtered out by phone, pager and via the RX web site which displayed the photo to dispel any doubts about such an incredible record. Most of Sussex's keenest listers descended on Pett most were glum realising they had probably missed Sussex's first King Eider. Then at about 13:30 the bird was relocated off Pett Village by Chris Ball. Many observers had given up and left the site. Panic followed including a Wacky Races style car chase but eventually all on site congregated at Pett Village and all were soon enjoying good views of this stunning drake King Eider. The bird was being continuously mobbed by Great Black Backed Gulls and was being pushed further and further west. Eventually it turned and started to head east. It was followed until it reached just past Pett Pools and was eventually lost to view at around 15:30.The bird was looked for over the following days but was not seen. For those that were lucky enough to see it I'm sure a better start to the year could not have been hoped for. For those that missed it hopefully it's lingering somewhere of the Sussex coastline just waiting to be refound''

Wednesday 14 January 2009

2009 Total for Britain and Ireland now 240 species

The Story So Far…………2009

So, by the end of 2009 Week 2, a total of 240 species has been recorded in Britain and Ireland

1) Red-throated Diver
2) Black-throated Diver
3) Great Northern Diver
5) Slavonain Grebe
6) Black-necked Grebe
7) Little Grebe
8) Great Crested Grebe
9) Red-necked Grebe
10) Northern Fulmar
11) Sooty Shearwater (1)
12) Northern Gannet
13) Atlantic Great Cormorant
14) European Shag
15) Eurasian Bittern
17) CATTLE EGRET (37+)
18) Little Egret
20) Grey Heron
21) Eurasian Spoonbill
22) Mute Swan
23) Whooper Swan
24) Bewick’s Swan
26) SNOW GOOSE (5)
27) Eurasian White-fronted Goose
28) Greenland White-fronted Goose
29) Taiga Bean Goose (240)
30) Tundra Bean Goose (22)
31) Pink-footed Goose
32) Greylag Goose
33) Atlantic Canada Goose (including Todd’s)
34) SMALL CANADA GOOSE (including Richardson’s, Taverner’s & Cackling)
35) Barnacle Goose
36) Dark-bellied Brent Goose
37) Pale-bellied Brent Goose
39) RED-BREASTED GOOSE (1 – 8 feral not countable)
40) Common Shelduck
41) Egyptian Goose
42) Mandarin Duck
43) Mallard
44) Gadwall
45) Pintail
47) Northern Shoveler
48) Eurasian Wigeon
50) Common Teal
51) American Green-winged Teal
52) Garganey (1)
53) Northern Pochard
54) Red-crested Pochard
56) Greater Scaup
58) Tufted Duck
60) Common Eider
61) KING EIDER (4)
62) Common Scoter
63) Velvet Scoter
65) Long-tailed Duck
66) Common Goldeneye
67) Smew
68) Goosander
69) Red-breasted Merganser
70) Ruddy Duck
71) White-tailed Sea Eagle
72) Golden Eagle
73) Red Kite
74) Marsh Harrier
75) Hen Harrier
77) Common Buzzard
78) Eurasian Sparrowhawk
79) Northern Goshawk
80) Common Kestrel
81) Peregrine
82) Merlin
84) Red Grouse
85) Ptarmigan
86) Capercaillie
87) Black Grouse
88) Red-legged Partridge
89) Grey Partridge
90) Common Pheasant
91) Golden Pheasant
92) Water Rail
93) Moorhen
94) Eurasian Coot
96) Oystercatcher
97) Pied Avocet
98) Ringed Plover
99) KILLDEER (1)
100) Grey Plover
101) European Golden Plover
102) Lapwing
103) Red Knot
104) Sanderling
105) Purple Sandpiper
106) Turnstone
107) Dunlin
108) Curlew Sandpiper (1)
109) Little Stint
110) Green Sandpiper
111) Common Sandpiper
112) Common Redshank
113) Spotted Redshank
114) Common Greenshank
115) Black-tailed Godwit
116) Bar-tailed Godwit
117) Eurasian Curlew
118) Whimbrel (3)
119) Woodcock
120) Common Snipe
121) Jack Snipe
123) Ruff
125) Great Skua
126) Pomarine Skua
127) Arctic Skua
128) Black-headed Gull
129) Common Gull
131) Mediterranean Gull
132) Herring Gull (Argenteus & Argentatus)
134) Yellow-legged Gull
135) Caspian Gull
137) Lesser Black-backed Gull
138) Great Black-backed Gull
139) Little Gull
140) Kittiwake
142) ICELAND GULL (including Kumlien’s)
143) Sandwich Tern
145) Little Auk
146) Atlantic Puffin (1)
147) Black Guillemot
148) Common Guillemot
149) Razorbill
150) Rock Dove
151) Stock Dove
152) Woodpigeon
153) Eurasian Collared Dove
154) Tawny Owl
156) Long-eared Owl
157) Short-eared Owl
158) Barn Owl
159) Little Owl
160) Common Kingfisher
161) Ring-necked Parakeet
162) Green Woodpecker
163) Great Spotted Woodpecker
164) Lesser Spaotted Woodpecker
165) Skylark
166) Woodlark
168) SHORE LARK (1)
169) Barn Swallow (1+)
171) Water Pipit
172) Rock Pipit (including Scandinavian)
173) Meadow Pipit
174) Pied Wagtail
175) Grey Wagtail
176) Wren
177) Dunnock
179) European Robin
180) Black Redstart
181) Common Stonechat
182) Song Thrush
183) Redwing
184) Mistle Thrush
185) Fieldfare
186) Common Blackbird
187) Blackcap
188) Lesser Whitethroat
189) Dartford Warbler
190) Cetti’s Warbler
191) Common Chiffchaff
192) Siberian Chiffchaff
193) Yellow-browed Warbler
194) Goldcrest
195) Firecrest
196) Great Tit
197) Blue Tit
198) Coal Tit
199) Crested Tit
200) Marsh Tit
201) Willow Tit
202) Long-tailed Tit
203) Bearded Tit
205) Nuthatch
206) Common Treecreeper
208) Magpie
209) Jay
210) Jackdaw
211) Red-billed Chough
212) Rook
213) Carrion Crow
214) Hooded Crow
215) Common Raven
216) Common Starling
218) House Sparrow
219) Tree Sparrow
220) Chaffinch
221) Brambling
222) Linnet
223) Twite
224) Lesser Redpoll
225) Mealy Redpoll
226) Goldfinch
227) Greenfinch
228) Siskin
229) Bullfinch
230) Hawfinch
231) Common Crossbill
232) Scottish Parrot Crossbill
234) Reed Bunting
236) Snow Bunting
237) Lapland Bunting
238) Yellowhammer
239) Cirl Bunting
240) Corn Bunting

Also under consideration – Australian Black Swan (Category C) and Canvasback (female from Argyll)

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Grampian-ringed WAXWINGS move south to Essex

This colour-ringed BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS, currently part of a flock surviving in Maldon, Essex, was originally ringed in Aberdeenshire on 9 November 2008 (Simon Patient).

Peter Allen published this recent correspondence, after cotacting the Waxwing Co-ordinator Ray Duncan.

"Thank you very much for your colour-ringed Waxwing sighting and accompanying photograph. Ringing and sighting info below. IT HAS LOST A COLOUR RING…..AAAArrrghhhh. This is only the 2nd time (that I know of) that a Waxwing has lost a colour-ring during a winter in the UK. Two returning birds one and three winters later still had their treble combinations intact. We haven’t used double orange so it’s still identifiable as an individual, assuming we don’t have any more ring losses! Thanks again for reporting this bird. Any further sightings gratefully received.

Raymond Duncan
(Grampian Ringing Group secretary) "

Scotstown Rd, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen

Maldon, Essex

Simon Patient
Resighting. PHOTOGRAPH
Maldon, Essex

Friday 2 January 2009


The second-ever GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL for Britain, an adult, is present for a third day in Cleveland, commuting between ploughed fields and the Cowpen Bewley Landfill Site. It was first located this morning at 0900 hours flying over the tip and was then seen again for about five minutes in the same ploughed field alongside the main road mid-morning. From 1100-1112, it sat well back from the road in private fields before being flushed and was then not relocated until 1430, when it was on Holme Fleet until 1515. It was seen by approximately 110 observers today

In Cornwall, the first-winter SNOWY OWL remains on Trendrine Hill, Sperris Quoit, about 1200 yards south of the B3306, roosting by day in the gorse or on the ground. Please keep a respectable distance from the bird and DO NOT, under any circumstances, purposefully flush it.

For the second winter running, Britain and Ireland are once again experiencing large numbers of CATTLE EGRETS, with 5 still around the small herd of cattle at Sharpham Park, Walton Heath (Somerset) (including last year's young from the breeding record), 2 on Tresco (Scilly), 2 by the B3311 in Halsetown, near St Ives (Cornwall), 3 at Sellan Farm, NE of Drift Reservoir (Cornwall), 4 on the Kingsbridge Estuary (South Devon) and singles at Day's Lock, Dorchester-on-Thames (Oxfordshire), Exminster Marshes RSPB (South Devon) and on the Gannel Estuary (Cornwall).

The two PENDULINE TITS have been performing well for several days on reedmace along the new boardwalk trail adjacent to the Aveley Pools at Rainham Marsh RSPB (Essex) whilst surprise finds today included a PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER showing well at the end of the northern path near the dam at Kenwith NR (North Devon) (consorting with a Firecrest beneath tall Firs and viewable from the gate at SS 446 274) and a GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK on the NE side of Arbroath (Angus) at the edge of the first ploughed field along Seaton Cliff (accessed from the car park at the north end of Arbroath Esplanade).

In Hampshire, the first-winter drake Ring-necked Duck was again at Passfield Pond, SE of Bordon (SU 825 340), the adult RED-BREASTED GOOSE on the Avon Floods at Keyhaven Marshes, the wintering GREAT WHITE EGRET on Rockford Lake, Blashford Lakes HWT and Caspian Gull on Ibsley Water.

In Norfolk, the regular returning adult white morph ROSS'S SNOW GOOSE was with 12,000 Pink-footed Geese in grass fields along the north side of the Acle Strait (A47) (Norfolk), small numbers of Taiga Bean Geese in the Yare Valley at Buckenham Carrs and Cantley and Black Brants at Titchwell and Wells-next-the-Sea.

In Fife, a LITTLE BUNTING was with Reed Buntings for a second day at the junction of the footpath and Peat Inn, 600 yards NE of Coaltown, east of Ceres (at NO 420 121).

The near-adult drake KING EIDER continues to show well in Fife, favouring the bay to the east of Kincraig Point and along the west side of the golf course at NT 478 993, whilst the female Ring-necked Duck is still on Martnaham Loch (Ayrshire) and a drake AMERICAN WIGEON at Caerlaverock WWT (Dumfries & Galloway). Also in Ayrshire, the adult white morph SNOW GOOSE is still with Greylag Geese in stubble south of the minor road to Alloway opposite the entrance to the Equestrian Centre at NS 372 170, whilst the wintering RICHARDSON'S CANADA GOOSE was with Barnacle Geese at Borve, Berneray (Outer Hebrides) and at least two SMALL CANADA GEESE with Barnacle Geese at Caerlaverock WWT.

In South Wales, a first-winter drake LESSER SCAUP remains at Cosmeston Lakes CP (Glamorgan) (this same location also harbouring a male Bearded Tit), with the long-staying drake HOODED MERGANSER at Radipole Lake RSPB, American Green-winged Teals at Capringstone Flash (Ayrshire), Edderthorpe Flash (South Yorks) and near Kirkwall (Orkney).

In a good winter for RING-BILLED GULLS, we have two first-winters at Helston Boating Lake (Cornwall), the 2nd-winter at Lamby Lake (Glamorgan), the adult in Dundee (Angus) and the regular adults at Westcliff-on-Sea (Essex), Walpole Park Boating Lake, Gosport (Hants) and on the Isle of Dogs (London).

Large numbers of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS remain throughout Britain, from Ayrshire and Clyde in the north to Southampton in the south.

In IRELAND, Nimmo's Pier in Galway Harbour is the premier place for rarities, with the regular FORSTER'S TERN, adult NORTH AMERICAN HERRING GULL, up to 5 Iceland Gulls and a juvenile Glaucous Gull. Up to 6 CATTLE EGRETS remain in County Cork at Inchydoney, with 3 more in County Waterford.

GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL showing again today

An adult GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL (unringed incidentally and pictured here, by Toby Collett) is showing again today, resting in the ploughed field 0.75 miles from Cowpen Bewley Tip (by the side of the A1185 at NZ 484 250)

Thursday 1 January 2009


A 'presumed' adult GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL was seen (and photographed; see above, taken by Toby AW) on the main pool at Saltholme Pools RSPB Reserve (Cleveland) at 1300 hours on 31 December 2008 and was relocated again today in a ploughed field beside the A1185 at Cowpen Bewley, 2.5 miles NE of Billingham late this afternoon.

The bird has the characteristic primary pattern of this species, as well as a dark eye and very short primary extension. It is not a Kumlien's Gull nor 'regular' hybrid