Thursday, 24 March 2011

Vagrant CREEPER heralds the approaching spring migration

Chris Darby's spectacular shot at the top, followed by Paul Oldfield's in-hand shot and Lee Wood's excellent images this evening as it had just eaten a millipede

Suffolk Landguard Bird Observatory warden Ollie Slessor came face to face with a treecreeper at 0650 hours this morning as he was checking the mistnets and on processing the bird minutes later was elated and excited to find that it was a SHORT-TOED TREECREEPER - only the 26th for Britain and a first for the county. The Observatory staff and Landguard regulars were all informed of the find and at 0740 hours, Lee Woods (of Suffolk Birding) broadcast the news more widely.

On handling, the bird was found to be very low on fat reserves and had clearly just recently completed a long flight. It was released back into the trapping area but during the course of the day, managed to flit back in to the open nets on three further occasions, despite being taken and released on ''Iccy Ridge'' later in the morning. It naturally attracted a lot of attention and in addition to the 60 or so Suffolk observers, it was also seen by a further 50 observers from further afield. Although many people managed to see the bird as it was being released each time, it also showed well in the Holm Oaks, with some exceptional photographs being taken (see Chris Darby's above, as well as those of Lee Woods and Paul Oldfield).

The bird was seen on and off throughout the day and was last noted at 1750 hours. I am assuming from the nature of its weight that it is likely to remain in the area for several days.

The fantastic, glorious spring weather of the past few days has certainly inspired a host of migrants to move north, with Garganeys, Pied Avocets, Little Ringed Plovers, Black Redstarts, White Wagtails, Northern Wheatears and Firecrests all arriving in good numbers, along with the first Tree Pipits, Yellow Wagtails and Ospreys and the first wave of Ring Ouzels. Many of this winter's Bohemian Waxwings are now rapidly migrating northwards.

In Argyll, a PIED-BILLED GREBE accompanying a Little Grebe is present for at least a third day close to the pier in Salen Bay on the isle of Mull - showing very well at times but generally distant and elusive.

Two PENDULINE TITS were discovered at Dingle Marshes SWT, Walberswick (Suffolk), this morning, perhaps different to the 3 at Minsmere RSPB Island Mere last week, with a longer-stayer still present close to the Hanson Hide at Dungeness RSPB ARC Pit (East Kent).

The GOLDEN EAGLE continues to wander the moorlands and countryside of Penwith, West Cornwall, flying south over Catchall this morning, whilst of the half a dozen HOOPOES seen during the last week, one still remained at Ashton, Callington (Cornwall) this morning.The only other HOOPOE reported today was a bird in gardens in Higher Lane, Axmouth (South Devon).

Two GREAT WHITE EGRETS appeared in Northumberland today - both at West Hartford Flash viewable from the road, whilst regularly returning adult BONAPARTE'S GULLS remain in Cardiff Bay (Glamorgan) and on Anglesey..

In Lancashire, the first-winter drake LESSER SCAUP continues with Tufted Ducks for a 5th day on the Junction Pool (SD 352 202) at Marshside Marsh RSPB (Pete Kinsella et al), whilst a drake RING-NECKED DUCK was a new arrival at Seaforth LWT. A drake BLUE-WINGED TEAL remains for a 4th day at the west end of Sandy Water Park, Lanelli (Carmarthenshire), with the wintering drake LESSER SCAUP still at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park in Glamorgan and the female RING-NECKED DUCK at Bosherston Lily Ponds (Pembs). A further drake LESSER SCAUP is at the north end of Milton Loch (Dumfries & Galloway), whilst the drake AMERICAN WIGEON continues with Eurasian Wigeon at Rushy Common, SE of Witney (Oxfordshire).

The long-staying first-winter LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER is still to be found at Lodmoor RSPB (Dorset), generally feeding on the pools visible from the first viewpoint 150 yards east of the car park.

Over 25 GREAT GREY SHRIKES have been seen in the past week, including several spring migrants, including singles on Cannock Chase (Staffs), Leash Fen (Derbyshire), Stow Maries Airfield (Essex), Wentwood Forest (Gwent), Kit Hill Country Park (Cornwall), Upper Hollesley Common (Suffolk), Hamsterley Forest (County Durham), Skipwith Common (North Yorks), Godlingstone Heath NNR (Dorset), Thursley Common (Surrey), Chobham Common (Surrey), Dalton Crags (Cumbria), World's End (Clwyd) and up to 5 different birds in the New Forest (Hants).

The adult BALTIC GULL present since mid February roosted again this evening with Lesser Black-backed Gulls on The Slough at Lackford Lakes SWT (Suffolk) (viewable from the hide)

A party of 8 SHORE LARKS remains at Gibraltar Point NNR (Lincs) and 10 at Cley Beach (North Norfolk)with the wintering bird still showing well on the slag tip at Warton near Carnforth (Lancs).

Two GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS remain on Queen Mother Reservoir (Berks), with SLAVONIAN GREBES at Abberton Reservoir (Essex) and Audenshaw Reservoirs (Greater Manchester)

In IRELAND, the adult drake STEJNEGER'S SCOTER is still to be found in Rossbeigh (County Kerry), tagging on to Common Scoter rafts out in the bay and visible either from the beach or from the cul-de-sac high on the cliff to the west of the town. At least 6 TUNDRA BEAN GEESE have been identified amongst other geese at Lurgan Green (County Louth) whilst a GREAT WHITE EGRET was seen at Inishannon (County Cork) this morning.

The HOUSE CROW remains in Cobh Harbour (County Cork) today, as does the CENTRAL ASIAN LESSER WHITETHROAT in Drogheda (County Louth).

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Vacancy on Turkey-Georgia trip

I still have one place available on a trip to Turkey and Georgia from 30 April to 11 May 2011 - please email me for details; also space on a trip to The Azores and to Egypt in spring

Lee Evans (

MONGOLIAN outrage - please sign petition immediately

The Mongolian Government has recently proposed the legal hunting of up to four – and possibly many more – Snow Leopards in 2011, for “research”. Please visit my blog and sign the petition against this!

Birding Mongolia

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Delighted UK twitchers depart Kerry Airport

Just over 100 British twitchers have now connected with Ireland's first-ever STEJGENER'S SCOTER - the bird of course still present today. This was part of the successful first Saturday brigade, captured by Kerry recorder Ed Carty just before they all returned back to Britain - from left to right - Bagger's, LGRE, Derek & Justin Taylor, John Lees, David Ellis, Craig Holden, Will Soar, Matt Deans, Lee Gregory and Kevin McCoy

Monday, 14 March 2011

And now FIFTH record of STEJNEGER'S SCOTER in Western P

Just to inform you:

“ It now appears that this drake represents the FOURTH record for the Western P, following a specimen in France and the Icelandic and Danish drakes.”

A fifth occurrence from FINLAND

Markku Santamaa

Additional Western P record of STEJNEGER'S SCOTER

Josh Jones has very kindly informed me of a further record of STEJNEGER'S SCOTER in Iceland - see

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Winter 2010/2011 experiences with REDPOLLS in Ontario


Some nice images sharing one man's experiences this winter with a bewildering array of pale redpolls in Ontario, Canada

The Story So Far - 268 species

With the addition of ten new additions in the past three weeks, the total number of species recorded in Britain and Ireland now increases to 268

The latest additions are -:

1) AMERICAN BLACK DUCK - long-staying adult drake in Ventry Harbour, Kerry

2) STEJNEGER'S SCOTER - adult drake with Common Scoters at Rossbeigh, Kerry

3) Osprey (4+ early migrants)

4) Stone Curlew (18+ early migrants)

5) Little Ringed Plover (many now in)

6) Common Tern (exceptionally early individual)

7) European Turtle Dove (2 wintering individuals)

8) European Hoopoe (3 South Coast migrants)

9) White Wagtail (first wave of arrivals on South Coast)

10) Willow Warbler (a few early birds)

The STEJNEGER'S SCOTER twitch on Saturday

On Saturday, a contingent of 59 British birders joined upwards of 20 Irish birders at Rossbeigh (Ross Behy) SW of Killorglin in County Kerry. After being welcomed at the airport by a very charming and outstandingly helpful Ed Carty, Rossbeigh was just 35-minutes drive away for the majority of us that had opted to jet in from Britain.

Davy Farrar's favoured birding spot was invaded for a third day running and our quarry - the vagrant adult drake STEJNEGER'S SCOTER - did not disappoint. In fact it had been performing well in the light swell just west of the Rossbehy spit since early morning but had gradually drifted further out in the bay, despite the incoming tide. Just as the majority of us arrived on site, it chose that moment to fly and joined four Common Scoters and flew about a mile west and disappeared.

A sharp-eyed Alan Lewis intercepted it some 15 minutes later in flight viewing from the high vantage point of the cul-de-sac and as it landed on the sea over a half-a-mile away, Chris Heard, Barry Reed and I were also able to get on to it. It then swam quite speedily back eastwards but after three long dives was sadly lost and it was some time before any further observers were to connect. Car-loads split up and began searching both ends of the bay and after taking advice from John Murphy and other informed Irish birders, Richard Bayldon and Stuart Elsom did very well in relocating the bird virtually two kilometres west of the main spit, about half a mile out in the bay. The bird was then to stay in this area for the rest of the day but with optical lenses of 60 and 70x and very good light conditions, adequate detail could be made out on the bird, including the head shape, bill cob protrusion, comparative size, bill colour, body colour and white wing markings.

There were many more Common Scoter wintering in the bay than I had bargained for - perhaps 700 or more - but fortunately only one 'white-winged' scoter. There were also impressive numbers of Red-throated and Great Northern Divers present, as well as Black Guillemots and commoner auks, and a nice selection of corvids, including Hooded Crows, Red-billed Choughs and Common Ravens.

Although early mornings particularly favour viewing from the beach and toilet block at the first 200 yards of the spit and dune complex at the east end of Rossbeigh, the cul-de-sac entered from just 100 yards as you rise high up the slope is inevitably the best place to search and where, if fortunate, the premium views may be experienced. Being so high in elevation allows one an ideal opportunity to scan the entire bay and to carefully browse through the scoter rafts.

The day was rounded off with a quick stop at Cromane Strand to see the wintering EURASIAN SPOONBILL, the same site yielding a Pale-bellied Brent Goose bearing two coloured rings (yellow ring with black 'H' on left leg and light blue ring on right leg).

Great to see Ed, John, Dermot, Colin, Aidan and the other Irish boys - thanks for your generous hospitality. Great people and a superb and immensely rare bird. Until next time.......

Lee G R Evans

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON still surviving at Edinburgh Zoo

This colour-ringed free-flying adult BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON is still surviving at Edinburgh Zoo - many many years after the population was initially released - thanks to Stewart for his images and observations.
County Recorder Stephen Welch has very kindly contributed
''Nice to see one of the remaining Night Herons on your blog*. As you may recall full information in LBN post 14943**. To summarise, the bird shown, red over blue left, was banded between 1983 and1987, hence age must be now at least approaching 24 years, a longevity record for this species''

£865 raised for Daisy - many thanks indeed

Hello Lee

Final total raised for Daisy was £865 which is fantastic and please say thank you to all those Birders who kindly donated after visiting the garden to see the Oriental Turtle Dove in Chipping Norton.

Kind regards

Emma & Jebs

Saturday, 12 March 2011


Paul Kelly has now obtained these superb images of the Irish scoter - see

Friday, 11 March 2011

Mega - STEJNEGER'S SCOTER off West Ireland

An adult drake STEJNEGER'S SCOTER (Melanitta stejnegeri) is present with up to 300 Common Scoters (nigra) in County Kerry, offshore about 9 miles SW of Killorglin and north of the N70 off Rossbeigh village.

The bird was first discovered by local birder Davy Farrar in November 2009 and was noted as a 'Velvet Scoter' again in January 2010. It returned again in December of last year and was noted by Davy on three further occasions in January and February. Josh Jones and Oliver Metcalfe happened to be in County Kerry on Monday 7 March whilst on a short birding trip twitching American Coot and the like further north and after seeing a sign for Rossbeigh and remembering a Velvet Scoter report from the location (incidentally a very rare Irish winter visitor in its own right), decided to take a look. As luck would have it, the drake Velvet was almost the first bird their 'scopes set eyes on, and after watching it for a short time, realised that this was no normal looking beast. Josh attempted to photograph and video it and texted Richard Bonser in London to clarify the differences between Velvet and North American White-winged Scoter. This set the wheels in motion and Davy Farrar having much better images from previous visits emailed them over to Killian Mullarney for comment. This was one very interesting bird indeed.

Josh informed Kerry Bird Recorder Ed Carty of his sighting and of his thoughts as soon as he returned to Britain and local birders returned to the site in an attempt to relocate it. It was not seen on Wednesday but with more eyes looking on Thursday, it was soon refound. Richard Millington was one of the first British birders to see it, and like some of the local Irish observers, his thoughts soon turned to Stejneger's Scoter from North-east Asia. The bill-shape, head-shape and overall body colour soon eliminated the more likely North American White-winged Scoter (deglandii) - the record constituting the first for Britain and Ireland (a drake deglandii had previously been recorded in Loch Glencoul, Highland, on 21 June and 1 July 1994 - Ian Rowlands et al)


Michael O'Clery has very kindly provided the following access material; From Glenbeigh, take the coast road towards Rossbeigh and just as you arrive at the obvious main beach car park, the road continues steeply uphill. There are viewpoints of the entire bay immediately to your right, and a little further on, the road forks and take the right. This narrow road contours along the cliff for several kilometres, with extensive views over any potential area the scoter might favour. In the last two days, it was favouring the SE corner of the bay.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Long-distance CETTI'S WARBLER recovery

Chris Hughes reports that "one of the juvenile Cetti's Warblers ringed at Bainton, Cambridgeshire, on 27 June 2010 has turned up in Wales. The bird was controlled on 21 and 28 November 2010 at Kilpaison Marsh, Rhoscrowther, Pembrokeshire by Pembrokeshire Ringing Group. This bird travelled some 337km and although there is now much better evidence, through ringing recoveries, of the dispesive nature of this species, having checked back through 10 years of annual BTO ringing reports, this is the longest distance travelled within the UK. Oddly enough, the few foreign recoveries have tended to be French ringed birds caught on the south coast with less that 200km on the clock."

Brian Stone