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).