Friday, 26 February 2010

First PIED-BILLED GREBE since 2002

ICELAND and two different RING-BILLED GULLS in Cork today (Ronan MacLaughlin)

This drake GARGANEY has wintered in County Cork (Ronan MacLaughlin)

The FORSTER'S TERN and adult RING-BILLED GULL in Galway (Ron Marshall)

London's first-ever DUSKY WARBLER - brilliantly photographed by Andrew Moon

The recent COMMON CRANE in Sussex (Les Bird)

A most confiding drake American Wigeon at Caerlaverock (Tristan Reid)

A PIED-BILLED GREBE was discovered by Davey Farrar at Lough Gur (County Limerick) on Saturday 20 February and relocated and confirmed by him on Thursday 25 February. It represented the fifth record for Ireland, with the last individual in Britain now as long ago as May 2002 !

Despite exhaustive searching today, the bird has not been seen again.

: Lough Gur can be accessed by turning off the N20 at Charleville and continuing through Kilmallock and Bruff. The lake is signposted from Bruff and once at the site, take the woodland walk to your left leading down the east side of the shore, pass Crannog Island and then keep walking until the ''Beware of the Bull'' sign. The bird was keeping to the vegetated edge of the small island but was typically elusive.

In West Yorkshire, a 3rd-winter RING-BILLED GULL remains for a third day at Sands Lane GP (SE 217 196), between Mirfield and Ravensthorpe SE of Shepley Bridge - a rare opportunity to catch up with this species in the county.

The flock of 22 TAIGA BEAN GEESE continue to graze close to the road between Coxwold and Byland (SE 546 776) (North Yorkshire), with 7 still roaming Shetland and 73 still in the Slamannan area (Forth), whilst TUNDRA BEAN GEESE include 7 at Brook's End, Birchington (North Kent), 7 at Keyhaven Marshes (Hants) and a singleton with Greylag Geese at Charlecote GP (Warks).

A very confiding drake AMERICAN WIGEON has been showing all week on the Whooper Pond near the centre at Caerlaverock WWT (Dumfries & Galloway) whilst elsewhere in Scotland, the female RING-NECKED DUCK is still on Ancum Loch, North Ronaldsay (Orkney), an adult drake LESSER SCAUP is on Hogganfield Loch (Clyde), 3 SNOW GEESE are on the Cromarty Firth (Inverness), two KING EIDERS are off Burghead (Moray) and two drake SURF SCOTERS are in Largo Bay (Fife).

The juvenile ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD is still taking advantage of the abundance of Field Voles on Thorpe Marshes, NW of the A143 east of Haddiscoe (Norfolk), with another nearby on Haddiscoe Island (Suffolk), viewed from Waveney Forest.

An elusive LITTLE BUNTING is with Chaffinches at Polbathic (Cornwall), favouring setaside fields opposite Sconner Farm on the A374 at SX 366 564, with another on Lundy Island (North Devon) in recent days and the long-staying garden-feeder at Dunnet (Caithness).

The adult Red-breasted Goose of unknown origin remains with Dark-bellied Brent Geese north of Powderham church (South Devon), the adult female SURF SCOTER nearby off Dawlish Warren (South Devon), adult drake LESSER SCAUP and drake NORTH AMERICAN BLACK DUCK on Colliford Lake (Cornwall) and 2 CATTLE EGRETS at Brew Farm, Sennen (Cornwall).

The long-staying first-winter GREAT WHITE EGRET was at Peterstone Wentlooge (Gwent) again today, with the adult drake LESSER SCAUP again on the East Lake at Cosmeston Lakes CP (Glamorgan), the juvenile BLACK KITE of unknown origin at Gigrin Farm, Rhayader (Powys) and a first-winter female LESSER SCAUP on Eglwys Nunydd Reservoir (Glamorgan). In North Wales, the lone SHORE LARK remains on the beach by the end of the boardwalk between Point of Ayr and Gronant (Clwyd)

After a dearth of sightings throughout much of January, February has seen an influx of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS, with twitchable birds today in Dalton-in-Furness (Cumbria) (3 on King Street), Newcastle-upon-Tyne (7 in the swimming pool car park at Byker), Tamworth (Staffs) (3 in Shelton Street), in Carlton Colville (Suffolk) (2 near the Veterinary Centre), at West Mersea (Essex) (two in the British Legion car park on Barfield Road) and a singleton in Central London by the Total Garage forecourt in Regents Park Road, Finchley. A further singleton was in the back garden of 56 Lower Brook Street, Long Eaton (Derbyshire).

Both the RED-NECKED GREBE and the drake RING-NECKED DUCK remain at Pugney's Country Park (West Yorks), with drake American Green-winged Teals at Tain (Inverness), Druridge Pools (Northumberland) and at Eyebrook Reservoir (Northants), a SLAVONIAN GREBE at Feckenham Wylde Moor (Worcs) (access from Moors Lane) and an adult RED-NECKED GREBE on Langold Lake (Notts).

A NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE is present for a third day close to the A607 at Welbourn (Lincs) (in fields opposite the pond at the road junction).

In North Norfolk, an immature Glaucous Gull has been moving between Cromer and Cley, with a first-winter Black Redstart on West Runton undercliff, 135 Snow Buntings in Salthouse Beach car park, 2 Black Brants at Wells Pitch & Putt course, 16 SHORE LARKS at Holkham Gap and the adult white morph GREATER SNOW GOOSE south of Holme Broadwater. A single TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE can still be found at Welney Refuge (with 3 COMMON CRANES nearby at Lakenheath Fen)

An adult EURASIAN SPOONBILL is at Lodmoor (Dorset) today, with up to 6 at Isley Marsh RSPB, Yelland (North Devon) and 8 at Middlebere, Poole Harbour (Dorset), and a mobile bird in Suffolk. At least five more are wintering in Cornwall. A COMMON CRANE flew north over Stotfold (Beds) at 1416 hours yesterday afternoon and was seen again today east of the A1 just north of Biggleswade.

An EGYPTIAN GOOSE is an exceptional record for Shetland with one still remaining at Seafield, Lerwick, frequenting the rocks brtween Tesco and Wishart House (first record for the archipelago and first located at Oraquoy on 23 February)

Relating back to IRELAND, the drake GARGANEY photographed above remains at Harbour Point, Little Island (Co. Cork), both adult and first-winter RING-BILLED GULLS at Cuskinney Marsh, Great island (Co. Cork), the COMMON CRANE at the west end of Kilcolman Reserve (Co. Cork), an adult EURASIAN SPOONBILL in Cromane Harbour (Co. Kerry) and the adult winter FORSTER'S TERN in Galway Harbour off Mutton Island causeway.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

HOOPOE - 251

Considering the continuing winter weather, it was with great surprise to hear of the first EURASIAN HOOPOES this week, with perhaps two individuals arriving - one in West Cornwall (Cape Cornwall on 21st February) and another on Scilly (on St Mary's today)

The adult drake BAIKAL TEAL remains in County Wexford today, along with the long-staying North American Green-winged Teal and GLOSSY IBIS and the LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER discovered at the weekend

Monday, 22 February 2010


Mariko Parslow, who spent many years studying Bean Geese in the Yare Valley and at staging posts along their return route in spring, kindly commented on the possible Middendorffi on Shetland I flagged up a few weeks ago. This is what she said...

Dear Lee

I saw your recent posting hinting that the Shetland Bean Geese might have been Anser fabalis subsp. middendorffii, which I used to study closely in 1980s. In this subspecies, (or may it be a species) the ratio between upper bill length: skull length is 1.15 ~ 1.30: 1.0, whereas in Anser fabalis subsp. fabalis it is 0.95~1.05: 1.0. (say about same length). The bill depth at the base of the bill is about a half of upper bill length in subsp. middendorffii, whereas less than that in subsp. fabalis. This has been published in Japanese Journal of Applied Biology in ca. 1983.

Among the photograph on your web page and those in the Shetland link, none shows such an individual which fits in this criteria of subsp. middendorffii. The photo on your website shows a family of subsp. fabalis, i.e. probable parents plus semi-adults nearly a year old, and other photos in Shetland links show various semi-adults of all subsp. fabalis.

Shetland is not very much out of way, when the Scottish wintering population of subsp. fabalis migrates back to its breeding range in South Sweden.

Yours, Mariko Parslow

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Wexford BAIKAL TEAL - a new bird

Killian Mullarney, the finder of this week's Tacumshin Baikal Teal, has kindly summarised a remarkable series of events at Tacumshin this year. It appears that a drake hybrid Baikal Teal has metamorphised into a pure drake Baikal Teal !

This incredible and almost unbelievable chain of events is equally mirrored by the fact that both the hybrid Baikal Teal from the Midlands and the yellow-ringed drake Falcated Duck from Northamptonshire have both ended up wintering in this area.

Hi Lee

While I can understand your assumption that the Baikal Teal I found at Tacumshin today was a 'reappearance' of the bird claimed there last month, there are strong grounds for concluding that last month's claim was based on a misidentification of a Baikal Teal-like hybrid, which I relocated at Tacumshin last weekend, and photographs of which are at:

The original observation, on 5th January, was identified retrospectively, the observer having assumed at the time that he was looking at the (ringed) adult male Falcated Duck, that had been present earlier in the winter (but which had actually been shot on the North Slob several weeks previously). The observer had very good, close-range views of the bird, and went to the trouble of taking field notes, even though he was mainly concentrating on counting wildfowl at the time. He registered a strong head pattern and a narrow white vertical stripe at the stern. However, he did not notice any white bar on the side of the breast, long, pennant scapulars or any sort of supercilium. When he saw my video-grabs of the hybrid I saw last weekend, he agreed that it looked like the same bird. Today, he came to see the Baikal Teal. He has written to me this evening to let me know that even though he is not 100% certain what he saw on 5th January, he is inclined to think it was the hybrid, not the actual Baikal.

Had I not seen the hybrid with my own eyes last weekend I'd have found it hard to believe there wasn't just one bird, but sometimes strange coincidences happen! Incidentally, it seems very likely that the hybrid is the same individual photographed at Stanwick Lakes in October 2009:

It is tempting to speculate that this bird is a hybrid Baikal Teal x ?. I'll be trying to relocate the hybrid at Tacumshin in the coming days.

Incidentally, we had good looks at the Baikal's legs on three or four occasions when it walked out onto the mud. It is unringed.

All the best,


Friday, 19 February 2010

Recent Gallery

County Galway has celebrated the wintering presence of this adult FORSTER'S TERN and adult RING-BILLED GULL for many years (Sean Nixon)
Glyn Sellors captured this beautiful WAXWING on film as it fed on berries in Boston (Lincs) - one of over 60 birds seen this week in Britain

Suffolk's star performer of the winter months - a gorgeous BLACK-NECKED GREBE at Levington Marina - whilst WAXWINGS continue to invade (Lee Woods)

A return to form for SHORE LARK - these two at East Tilbury (Essex) recently (Pete Merchant)

The female PENDULINE TIT at Groive Ferry NNR (Kent) (Marc Heath)

The drake AMERICAN WIGEON on the Whooper Pond at Caerlaverock WWT (Chris Baines)

Drake BAIKAL TEAL in Ireland

In SE IRELAND in County Wexford, the drake BAIKAL TEAL has reappeared, showing well for much of the day in 'Forgotten Corner' at Tacumshin. Nearby, the first-winter GLOSSY IBIS is still present, showing between Forgotten Corner and the East End.

In County Galway, the adult winter FORSTER'S TERN and up to 5 Sandwich Terns remain in Galway Bay, adjacent to the Mutton Island causeway, with 1-2 adult RING-BILLED GULLS at Nimmo's Pier slipway.

Much farther north, in County Donegal, the adult drake DRESSER'S or NORTH AMERICAN EIDER remains with 314 Common Eiders in Glassagh Bay, just SW of Fanad Head.

The best that Britain has to offer this weekend in terms of fresh content is the London/Essex DUSKY WARBLER and a LITTLE BUNTING in Cornwall.

The DUSKY WARBLER is frequenting the scant vegetation at the eastern flank of the Relief Channel to the NE of Lockwood Reservoir as well as the dense scrub at the south end of Tottenham Marshes Common and is best accessed from Ferry Lane in Walthamstow. A permit must be obtained from the Fishermen's Lodge on the south side of the A503 (£1.00 charge) and from opposite the Ferry Boat Inn, cross the road and walk north on the east side of the reservoir to the gate in the NE corner at RQ 356 907 - a 25 minute walk each way.

A LITTLE BUNTING, discovered yesterday, is present in setaside opposite Sconner Farm, off of the A374, east of Polbathic on the River Lynher valley.

And now for a summary of the rest of the news........

At least 5 CATTLE EGRETS remain in Cornwall, with 3 near Truro on the Tresilian River, 1-2 at Brew Farm, near Sennen (SW 371 251) and another on the Camel Estuary at Wadebridge, whilst GREAT WHITE EGRETS continue to be found at Cardiff (Glamorgan) (today at Newport Wetlands NNR, Gwent), on the Harbridge Water Meadows, Ibsley (Hants), at Shapwick Heath NNR (Somerset), on Worth Marshes, Sandwich Bay (East Kent) and at Pitsford Reservoir (Northants).

Three SNOW GEESE are wintering with Pink-footed Geese and Icelandic Greylag Geese in the Cromarty Firth, with the regular adult with Greylag Geese in Argyll and the four adult Lesser Snows with Greylag at Leighton Moss RSPB (Lancs). A further wintering adult Greater Snow is with Pink-footed Geese in the Choseley and Holkham areas of North Norfolk.

Hard packed snow and ice in Scandinavia is forcing many early returning TAIGA BEAN GEESE to make new arrangements, with at least 7 staging in Shetland and 22 in Yorkshire, in fields between Byland and Coxwold. A large number (93+) also remains in the Yare Valley (Norfolk), with 63 still at Slammannan (Forth). TUNDRA BEAN GEESE are also well represented, with several small groups on Shetland, and parties of 19 at Trimley Marshes SWT (Suffolk) and 9 at Keyhaven Marshes along Iley Lane (Hants). The only SMALL CANADA GEESE outside Ireland this winter are 1-2 on Islay (Argyll), with Barnacle Geese in the Loch Gruinart area, with 15 BLACK BRANTS to choose from and the adult RED-BREASTED GOOSE of unknown origin still on the Exe Estuary at Dawlish Warren (South Devon).

The adult drake NORTH AMERICAN BLACK DUCK reappeared this week on Bodmin Moor (Cornwall), showing well with Mallard at the north end on the Loveney Reserve, whilst the drake AMERICAN WIGEON at Caerlaverock WWT has been giving a fine performance on the Whooper Pond (see the excellent images above). A number of drake NORTH AMERICAN GREEN-WINGED TEALS continue, with performers at Eyebrook Reservoir (Leics) and Budds Farm Sewage Treatment Works (Hants), with the drake LESSER SCAUP at Colliford Lake (Cornwall) and the first-winter female at Eglwys Nunnydd Reservoir (Glamorgan) and RING-NECKED DUCKS at Loch Evelix (Highland), Pugney's CP (West Yorks), Cowpen Bewley Woodland Park (Cleveland), Whitlingham Country Park Great Broad (Norfolk) and Llyn Pencarreg.. Bob Proctor recorded two KING EIDERS in Burghead Bay (Moray) on 18 February, both sub-adults, with SURF SCOTERS including two drakes still in the Sound of Taransay (Harris), two drakes in Largo Bay (Fife), 1-2 drakes in North Wales off Pensarn (Clwyd) and the long-staying adult female off Dawlish Warren (South Devon).

The juvenile BLACK KITE of unknown origin continues to feed with Red Kites at the Gigrin Farm centre, Rhayader (Powys), with 3 wintering juvenile ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS still taking advantage of the bumper surplus of Field Voles on the Suffolk/Norfolk border at Thorpe and Gedgrave Marshes. Sadly, the first-winter male GYRFALCON on Islay (Argyll) died of starvation.

A vagrant adult COMMON CRANE favoured sheep fields in the Lewes Brooks area, commuting between either side of the Ouse river SE of Southease, accessed from the A26 (East Sussex), whilst first-winter LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS remain at Burton Marsh (Cheshire) (since 14 February) and at Maer Lake, Bude Marshes (Cornwall).

White-winged gulls remained remarkably scarce, particularly Iceland Gulls, whilst the adult male SNOWY OWL reappeared on Lewis (Outer Hebrides) on 17 February.

Up to 18 SHORE LARKS remain in Holkham Bay (North Norfolk), with 2 more at Snettisham RSPB (Norfolk), with up to 60 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS in the belated influx and larger numbers of BLACK REDSTARTS in winter than usual. The first-winter female BLACK-THROATED THRUSH continues to make frequent visits to the front gardens in Mires Road in Newholm village, just west of Whitby (North Yorks), with a EURASIAN PENDULINE TIT briefly at Rainham Marshes RSPB (London) on 15 February, two days after the ringed female was last reported at Grove Ferry NNR (Kent).

No less than 16 NORTHERN GREY SHRIKES remain on winter territory, including four in Wales, with the first-winter ROSE-COLOURED STARLING still in Kendal (Cumbria) and the wintering LITTLE BUNTING in the private garden in Dunnet (Caithness).


On Saturday 13 February, Juan Brown obtained an excellent selection of shots of a party of 7 'Bean Geese' that were present at Sandwick, in South Shetland - see
At least two of the flock showed characteristics commonly associated with MIDDENDORFF'S BEAN GOOSE (Anser fabalis middendorfi), being proportionately larger and heavier, with a much longer, deeper-based bill and a longer neck, and restricted orange. New research into the Bean Geese has found in isotope analysis that middendorfi is actually the most divergent clade of the group and probably best treated as a separate species.
With much of Scandinavia and Western Russia still covered in up to three feet of hard, lying snow and ice, recent migrational movements by many hundreds of wintering TAIGA BEAN GEESE in the south has been disrupted and consequently many have been forced further west to Britain, hence these flocks on Shetland and others in East and North Yorkshire.
This Shetland flock of 7 certainly contains TAIGA BEAN GEESE-types and I suspect that all 7 are of just one species. Perhaps the variation of Taiga Bean Geese is still poorly understood.
MIDDENDORFF'S BEAN GOOSE breeds in the taiga of eastern Siberia, mainly east and north of Lake Baikal, from the Khatanga to the Kolyma regions, and extending to the Pacific coast of Russia as well as to the Altai and northern Mongolia. These birds winter primarily in eastern China and Japan, as well as in South Korea. The population of this form is in steep decline, with perhaps no more than 10,000 birds surviving (Lee Evans).

........And yet another GARGANEY

In addition to the birds in Britain, and the male near Ennis, there was a drake GARGANEY at Carrigrennan, near Little Island, in Cork Harbour on 7th Feb, seen by Brian Lynch. This bird has been seen for 3-4 years running now, always around February, and, while it is possible that it may not be wild, it is unringed, fully winged, isn't especially tame and none are held, as far as I know, at Fota Wildlife Park (Harry Hussey)

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

GARGANEY 'reinstated'

Following my announcement relating to the Dorset drake GARGANEY (now considered to be most likely of captive origin), M.Chase, John McLoughlin, Ross Ahmed and Rare Bird Alert have very kindly provided details of a drake at Brandesburton GP (East Yorks) on 17-19 January 2010 and on Hornsea Mere (East Yorks) on 7 February 2010 and a further drake in Staffordshire at Branston GP on 31 January 2010 - so the total of species for the year has finally reached 250. Richard Bonser further commented ''There is also a drake Garganey at Ballyallia Lake, Ennis, County Clare from 8th until at least 15th February''

Monday, 15 February 2010

First DUSKY WARBLER of 2010 and first for London

Local patchworker Lol Boldini located a DUSKY WARBLER in allotments opposite Lockwood Reservoir (London) on Sunday and the bird was still present and showing intermittently all afternoon today. This is the first Dusky Warbler ever recorded in the London Area and was excellently photographed by Roy Woodward this evening (see above). It is favouring the scrub on the east side of the Flood Relief Channel at Tottenham Marsh.

It replaces Garganey as the 249th species of 2010, the former having to be deleted as the recent drake in Dorset is now widely regarded as being a long-term escape from a nearby collection.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Winter Quail report

A 'Quail' has been present at Portland Bill (Dorset) since early January 2010 (John Lucas et al) and after a concerted effort this past week, was relocated and photographed in flight (Martin Cade).

In light of recent events on the Isle of Portland, in terms of released game species including Grey Partridge and Common Pheasant, the possibility that Common (or the difficult-to-distinguish Japanese Quail) have been released cannot be ruled out and for that reason, the record cannot be accepted as such.

When investigated, the vast majority of 'winter' Quail records have proved to be unacceptable in Britain, with Japanese Quail very commonly kept in captivity and often released into the wild

For further information, click

This unseasonal drake GARGANEY was present on the River Stour at Shapwick (Dorset) on 10 February and photographed by Peter Coe.

With the finding of a drake GARGANEY in Dorset during the week, and confirmation of LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, with a bird for a second day at Maer Lake, Bude Marshes, in North Cornwall, the total number of species recorded in Britain and Ireland this year is just nudging 250 at 249.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Week 6 - A review

An outstanding series of shots taken of the Gigrin Farm BLACK KITE by Gary Thoburn

The Kendal first-winter ROSE-COLOURED STARLING (Tristan Reid)

The west of IRELAND continues to offer an excellent variety of scarcities, headlining with a juvenile THAYER'S GULL at Ross Beach, 5 kms east of Cleggan (County Galway). This bird is favouring the two sets of fish cages in Ballygakill Harbour, the closest of which is 400 yards offshore of Ross Beach, but also frequently visits the beach adjacent to the inlet stream, where superb views can be afforded.

DIRECTIONS: Leaving the N59 north of Clifden at Moyard, turn right at the T-junction at the extreme east end of Ballynakill Lough. Follow signs marked for the 'Judo Club' and after passing the bay to the right, continue NW along the narrow lane to its end.

In County Donegal, a drake NORTH AMERICAN EIDER is consorting with 314 Common Eiders at the east end of Glassagh Bay, 2.5 kms SW of Fanad Head. The flock also has at least 5 Northern-type Eiders within its ranks, and the flock frequently breaks up into 5 or 6 smaller groups. Calm sea conditions are required, and visits are best coinciding with an incoming tide.

Galway Bay continues to harbour the wintering adult FORSTER'S TERN off Mutton Island causeway, whilst nearby at Nimmo's Pier slipway, 3 adult RING-BILLED GULLS remain, along with a very elusive and intermittent adult NORTH AMERICAN HERRING GULL.

A single RICHARDSON'S CANADA GOOSE remains in the Ballintemple/Lissadell area of County Mayo, but the adult winter Bonaparte's Gull at Baltimore (Co. Cork) seems to have disappeared this week. Two juvenile EURASIAN SPOONBILLS remain at Courtmacsherry (Co. Cork).

A fresh wave of bitter NE winds and snow showers has heralded a belated arrival of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS in Britain, with 4-5 in Orkney at Stromness Primary School, 3 in Northfield Farm Avenue, Edinburgh (Lothian), 2 at Scotstoun Leisure Centre, Glasgow (Clyde) (at NS 537 675), 2 showing well near the Retirement home along Top Street, Stretham (Cambs), 2 at Holme NOA (Norfolk), with singles at Houghton-le-Spring (Durham), on Violet Road, Norwich (Norfolk), Ingoldisthorpe (Norfolk) and at Snape (Suffolk).

A PENDULINE TIT was seen briefly at Grove Ferry NNR (Kent) this morning (in bullrushes by the Feast Hide), with the LITTLE BUNTING still in the private garden at Dunnet (Caithness) and the first-winter female BLACK-THROATED THRUSH still present in Newholm, just west of Whitby (North Yorks), at the weekend.

Up to 3 ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS are frequenting the extensive grazing marshes on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, with regular birds at Thorpe Marshes north of the A143 between Haddiscoe and St Olaves and at Gedgrave Marshes nearby, accessed through Waveney Forest. A further wintering male is in the Coveney area (Cambs).

Hampshire has been rewarding birders with some quality birding in recent days, with a party of 9 TUNDRA BEAN GEESE taking top billing, showing distantly with 3 Eurasian White-fronted Geese in grassy fields along Iley Lane, Keyhaven, 800m north of the lower balancing pond, with 19 Black-necked Grebes and a Velvet Scoter off Hayling Oyster Beds,.with 3 Velvet Scoters still off Hill Head, Titchfield Haven, and the redhead Smew still on Rockford Lake, Blashford. The drake NORTH AMERICAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL remains at Budds Farm Sewage Works.

NORTH AMERICAN GREEN-WINGED TEALS have also included single drakes at Graemeshall Loch (Orkney Mainland), Holme NOA (Norfolk) and at Eyebrook Reservoir (Leics), with female RING-NECKED DUCKS on North Tonaldsay (Orkney) and at Pencarreg Lake (Carmarthenshire).

The singing male NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE continues to show well on the wires crossing Holmsley Inclosure, in the New Forest (Hants) (SU 222 018), with just seven others reported in the past week.

Wintering SHORE LARKS include 16 at the east end of Holkham Gap (Norfolk), 4 at Cliffe Marshes RSPB (North Kent), 3 at Coalhouse Fort, East Tilbury (Essex), 2 at Snettisham RSPB (Norfolk) and a single at Kessingland North Beach (Suffolk), whilst 3 TWITE remain inland at Diddington Pit, Paxton Pits NR (Cambs).

In East Kent, a TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE remains by the River Stour at Chilham (viewable from the A28 at TR 087 544, with a party of 6 just west of Rollesby (Norfolk) south of the A149 at TG 435 165.

A drake LESSER SCAUP is the best offering in the West Country, showing well on Dozmary Pool, Bodmin (Cornwall) at SX 194 744, with the three first-winter GLOSSY IBISES still at Catcott Lows NR (Somerset) and 5 CATTLE EGRETS at two sites - Tresemple Pool (SW 852 442) and Brew Pool, Sennen - in Cornwall.

In South Wales, the GREAT WHITE EGRET continues to frequent ditches at Castleton Court, St Mellons, near Cardiff (Glamorgan), with the juvenile BLACK KITE still showing very well from mid-afternoon at the Red Kite Feeding Station at Gigrin Farm, Rhyader (Powys) (see Gary Thoburn's stunning shots above).

Scotland has had a relatively lean period of late, with the BLACK-THROATED DIVER still on Forfar Loch (Dundee) this morning, at least 74 Taiga Bean Geese still at Slamannan (Forth), the white morph SNOW GOOSE in stubble by the River Carron near Skinflats Lagoon (Forth)

The two wintering Sandwich Terns in Chichester Harbour were present off Selsey Bill (West Sussex) this morning, with two more in Galway Bay with the Forster's Tern.

Grafham Water (Cambs) still has 3 wintering GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS and the two young drake VELVET SCOTERS, whilst a SLAVONIAN GREBE remains for a second day on Welton Water watersports pit (East Yorks).

Derby Cathedral Peregrines night-hunting

The link above includes a video sequence of a Peregrine catching and then eating a Woodcock in darkness, proving beyond doubt the long-held belief that large falcons such as this partly hunt prey at night.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Another great birding legend bows out - JOHN FORTEY

JOHN FORTEY was an outstanding birdwatcher and a man I knew over most of my birding career. Much of his life was spent in the Midlands, where he discovered the first LESSER SCAUP for Britain, as well as the famous WHITE-TAILED PLOVER at Packington. Later, he retired to South Devon, where Dawlish Warren became his passion and love and hardly a day passed without him visiting. In fact, in the last ten years, this has been the only place I have met John on an annual basis and throughout those meetings, he was most informative, highly entertaining and excellent company. It was he who discovered the first-summer Semipalmated Plover there, as well as many of the rare birds that have bestowed this excellent site with their presence.

I shall miss him very much indeed, as will all those that knew him well. He had been suffering illness for over five years but still generated sparkling enthusiasm for the site and almost up until the day he died in late December, had maintained almost a daily presence.

More details, including that of the funeral, can be found at

A very sad loss indeed (Lee Evans)

Friday, 5 February 2010


'There was a SHORT-TOED TREECREEPER on Monday and Tuesday (1st & 2nd February) at a sensitive private site in the Dover area. Special arrangements had been made for supervised access this weekend, but despite efforts to relocate the bird it has not been seen or heard since 09.15 Tuesday.' Josh Jenkins Shaw

Thursday, 4 February 2010


Jeff Polken has established a gallery of Thayer's (Thayer's-type) Gulls he has photographed at the following link -


For full details and in-hand photographs, browse

Mystery surrounds the death of 13 DEMOISELLE CRANES

The Forest Department of the Khandesh Nature Conservation Society in Jalgaon are reporting the sudden deaths of no less than 13 DEMOISELLE CRANES at Kohle Dam near Kohle village, Tahasil, in the Pachora District (28 January 2010).

Demoiselle Cranes are long-lived birds and these sudden deaths are very concerning, an immediate investigation being launched. They are fully protected at all times

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Video-clip and more photographs of Galway THAYER'S GULL

For anyone interested, I've uploaded a clip of the Galway Thayer's here and some photos here

Sean Cronin

Continuing deep snow affecting many resident species in Scandinavia

Whilst 5,000 or more Bohemian Waxwings have recently flooded the towns and cities of southern Sweden, the deep snow which has been affecting the entire area of Scandinavia since 17 December, in places over 60cm deep, even in Helsinki (Finland, is having a seriously detrimental affect on some of the owl species and many have been found dead through starvation....and this comes on top of the 13th year in succession with no Lemmings and few small rodent prey (Lee Evans)

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Food has finally run out up north

Large numbers (many thousands) of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS have arrived overnight in Uppsala, in southern Sweden, perhaps suggesting that berries and shrubs have been exhausted further north. It is likely that a late influx will occur here, as the winter weather continues

Irish TAYER'S GULL and Yorkshire BLACK-THROATED THRUSH share top billing

Tonight's Gallery: Plates 1-4: the juvenile THAYER'S GULL on Ross Beach, County Galway, photographed by the finder Dermot Breen; Plates 5, 6-7 and 8 taken by Tristan Reid at Nimmo's Pier, Galway Harbour, of adeult Ring-billed Gull in flight, the adult winter FORSTER'S TERN and the regularly reappearing NORTH AMERICAN HERRING GULL, Plates 9-10 of Newholm's female BLACK-THROATED THRUSH (Gareth Picton) and then five shots of the juvenile BLACK KITE-type at Gigrin Farm, Rhayader (Powys) (plates 11-12 taken by Alex Bevan, 13-14 by John Carter and perched by Gary Thoburn

January 2010 saw a grand total of 248 species recorded in Britain and Ireland, including 5 in Ireland only.

The rarest bird of January continues to be the juvenile THAYER'S GULL in County Galway, commuting between Ross Beach and the offshore fish cages. The bird is highly mobile and very erratic in its appearances and is often difficult to locate, this weekend's twitchers only locating it with half an hour of daylight to spare. Galway also boasts its regular wintering adult winter FORSTER'S TERN off Mutton Island causeway, with the erratic adult NORTH AMERICAN HERRING GULL nearby at Nimmo's Pier, and 3 very showy and photogenic adult RING-BILLED GULLS.

In County Cork, an adult BONAPARTE'S GULL has been showing well today between the North pier and the old boatyard in Baltimore Harbour, whilst the first apparent PACIFIC DIVER for Ireland was photographed off the Galway Sailing Club, Oranmore, at Rinville Point (Co. Galway) on Sunday (Michael Davis et al, see images at A female RUDDY SHELDUCK of unknown origin was at Gibraltar Point, Cummeen Strand (Co. Sligo) this morning

In Britain, the first-winter female BLACK-THROATED THRUSH continues to be the star attraction and performer, frequently visiting the front gardens of Mires Road in Newholm, just west of Whitby (North Yorks), for its daily fill of apples and other fruits. It favours mostly the gardens of Danesfield and Glen View (numbers 3 and 5 respectively) and appears perhaps once every hour to feed. PARK ONLY in the village hall car park and do not act in a way to bring birders into disrepute at this highly suburban location.

In Cumbria, the juvenile ROSE-COLOURED STARLING has been relocated in Kendal, showing well on and off in the front garden of 8 Rusland Park (please respect the privacy of residents), whilst the other wintering bird in Forest Hill, just east of Oxford (Oxon), continues to favour the chimney stack and back garden of 21 Mickle Way. The only LITTLE BUNTING this winter remains that in Caithness, still visiting seed in a back garden in Dunnet (please contact LGRE direct for visiting instructions).

The majestic white morph GYRFALCON is still visiting its favoured plucking and roosting perch on Mackenzie Island, Poertnahavern on Islay (Argyll), whilst the only KING EIDER seemingly around is that off Burghead (Moray). In Powys, the juvenile BLACK KITE-type of unknown origin is continuing to visit the Gigrin Farm Red Kite feeding session in the afternoons.

Whitlingham Country Park just south of Norwich (Norfolk) continues to host a female RING-NECKED DUCK on Great Broad, along with a RED-NECKED GREBE, juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER, redhead Smew and first-winter drake Greater Scaup, whilst a scattering of TUNDRA BEAN GEESE include a party of 6 at Lackford Lakes SWT (Suffolk) and 7 with Pink-footed Geese by the A149/B1152 junction at Rollesby (Norfolk). Another is at Welney Refuge (Norfolk). Up to 3 ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS have been appearing at Chedgrave Marshes on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, best located from the raised bank west of Forest Lodge inside Waveney Forest at TG 461 012

In Cornwall, the drake LESSER SCAUP has relocated from Dozmary Pool to the Loveney Reserve at Colliford Lake on Bodmin Moor

A Great Bustard from the reintroduction scheme (marked yellow tag 22) remains on Tealham Moor (Somerset) (see Gary Thoburn's image above)

A trio of CATTLE EGRETS continue west of the Tresillian River, Truro (Cornwall), this afternoon, easily viewable from the footpath south of Tresemple Pond (SW 852 442), with two more around Brew Farm near Sennen (West Cornwall)

It has possibly been one of the best ever winters for seeing EURASIAN BITTERNS in Britain, with well over 80 birds recorded in total, and with ice forming again on many inland waters, birds are reappearing at many sites, including 4 at Amwell NR (Herts) and on 70 Acres Lake, Lea Valley CP (Essex) and at least 5 at Marazion Marsh RSPB (Cornwall). The cold weather has also finally spurned on many SMEW to disperse west to Britain, with up to 100 now present.

The adult female SURF SCOTER is still to be found off Dawlish Warren (South Devon), whilst two adult drakes discovered this weekend have been showing distantly offshore 100 yards west of the cafe on Pensarn Promenade (Clwyd). Drake RING-NECKED DUCKS remain at Pugney's Country Park, Wakefield (West Yorks) and Foxcote Reservoir, Buckingham (North Bucks), with a female for a second day on the South Lake at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs)

Freshwater BLACK-THROATED DIVERS include singles on Lake Lothing, Lowestoft (Suffolk), Swanton Morley GP (Norfolk) (on Holkham lake at TG 015 193), with BLACK-NECKED GREBES on Crosby Marine Lake (Lancs), Levington Marina Lake (Suffolk), Broom GP (Beds), Staines Reservoirs (Middlesex), Wraysbury Reservoir (Berks), Walton Reservoir (Surrey) and Cheddar Reservoir (Somerset) and SLAVONIAN GREBES at Rutland Water (Leics) and Wraysbury Reservoir (Berks) and GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS including 7 juveniles on King George VI Reservoir (Surrey), 2 on William Girling Reservoir (London) and singles on Carsington Water (Derbyshire), Draycote Water (Warks), Pitsford Reservoir (Northants), Brogborough Lake & Stewartby Lake (Beds). The only other freshwater RED-NECKED GREBE is on the Railway Pit at Hoveringham GP (Notts).

Up to 16 NORTHERN GREY SHRIKES are on winter territories in Britain, including a bird with a larder in the hedgerow lying parallel with the B4015 just west of Chislehampton village (Oxfordshire) (at SU 582 988; please be very careful when parking on this road at the blind bend)

Three TWITE remain for a 6th day at Diddington Pit, Paxton Pits LNR (Cambs), whilst wintering SHORE LARK can still be found at Saltfleetby NNR (North Lincs) (6), the Point of Ayr (Clwyd), Snettisham RSPB (Norfolk) (2), Kessingland North Beach (Suffolk) and at Cliffe Pools RSPB (North Kent) (3). Well inland, one continues on the spoil heap at Middle Hulton (Greater Manchester) but all access has now been denied after birder's activities upset the site owners.

Inland RED KNOT include 5-7 still on Port Meadow Floods, Oxford, and a single at Belvide Reservoir (Staffs)