Monday 31 October 2011

Just One species to go

Well with October 2011 now over, the tally of species recorded in combined Britain and Ireland now stands at a formidable 444 species.....just one short of the 2008 record

Most incredulous was a first-winter EASTERN CROWNED WARBLER extracted from a mistnet at Hilfield Park Reservoir, near Watford (Hertfordshire) yesterday morning. Although misidentified as a Yellow-browed Warbler at the time, a total of just 8 observers could only stand in astonishment when their in-hand photographs were reviewed. The bird was released close to the reservoir gates at 1030 hours but soon disappeared into a neighbouring wood and was not relocated. A remarkable occurrence and only the second in Britain.

Also new was a SAXAUL GREY SHRIKE in Shropshire. First discovered on Friday 28 October, its true identity was not realised until today, the bird showing fairly distantly 6 miles NNW of Telford at Wall Farm Nature Reserve.

DIRECTIONS: From the B5062, take the road south towards ''The Wall'' for about a mile, parking in the designated field. From this temporary car park, take the track NNW to the hide, then turn right then left and continue over the bridge and NW across the field to view from SJ 680 179.

A first-winter female DESERT WHEATEAR remains for a third day in Orkney on the beach by the car park in Sandside Bay, Deerness.

Sunday was the last day for the longest-staying Siberian Rubythroat ever (on Shetland) but at the opposite end of the country on Scilly, the NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH still survives on Lower Moors, St Mary's, along with the UPLAND SANDPIPER at Maypole and a DUSKY WARBLER in Lower Moors. The WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER has now joined the LESSER YELLOWLEGS and PECTORAL SANDPIPER on Tresco and the WILSON'S SNIPE is still appearing erratically. Meanwhile, an OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT remains on St Agnes.

A RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER was a late find at Europie village, Butt of Lewis, Lewis (Outer Hebrides), whilst a LESSER YELLOWLEGS at Alkborough Flats (North Lincs) and a GLOSSY IBIS at Filey Dams YNT Reserve (North Yorks) were both newly discovered today too.

A juvenile PALLID HARRIER in Irvine (Ayrshire) constitutes a first record for that county, appearing erratically over saltings visible from the footpath beyond the railway bridge at NS 302 412 (located just SW of Garnock Floods SWT west of the railway; park in the latby adjacent to the Recycling Centre and follow the southern perimeter fence to the railway bridge).

Equally popular has been a juvenile SQUACCO HERON performing well on the River Erewash on the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border at Attenborough Sailing Club.

There has been a remarkable surge in GREAT WHITE EGRET occurrences of late with no less than a record 5 birds together roosting with Little Egrets and one CATTLE EGRET at Frampton Sailing Lake (Gloucs). Elsewhere, twos are being seen at Llanelli WWT (Carmarthenshire) and at Warton Marsh, Lyth (Lancashire), with singles at Mockbeggar Lake (Hants), Linford Nature Reserve (North Bucks), Sprotborough Flash (South Yorks), Parkgate Marsh (Cheshire) and the Swale NR/Oare Marshes (North Kent).

North Ronaldsay (Orkney) hosts a late BAIRD'S SANDPIPER whilst the adult SPOTTED SANDPIPER and the two mobile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS continue at Chew Valley Lake (Avon) and the WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER in Manton Bay, Rutland Water (Leics).

A first-winter CASPIAN GULL paused briefly at Portland Bill (Dorset) on Sunday before relocating to Radipole Lake (Dorset) today. Likewise, the Christchurch Harbour RED-BREASTED GOOSE relocated to Ferrybridge and Abbotsbury along the Chesil Beach presumably on route to the Exe Estuary.

A few late Common Swifts have been drifting in and out of East Anglia, with a CATTLE EGRET at Blakeney Freshmarsh (North Norfolk) being the main attraction in that region at present.

A PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER remains on Bardsey Island (Gwynedd), with a late WRYNECK at Hengistbury Head (Dorset) and a GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK still lingering on North Ronaldsay (Orkney).

A juvenile PALLID HARRIER was identified at Power Head (Co. Cork) in IRELAND yesterday, with a CATTLE EGRET at Killala (Co. Clare), AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER at Rosscarberry (Co. Cork), 2 GLOSSY IBIS at Timoleague (Co. Cork) and 3 RING-NECKED DUCKS at Lough Gara (Co. Sligo)

The late DAVID ROBERTS of Spalding

Ironically, David's last British tick - the Chipping Norton Oriental Turtle Dove - was less than five miles away from where he had lived in the 1980's. Here you can see him giving the thumbs up as he sets eyes on the bird.

The top picture sees David with me on one of the May Scottish Highlands and Islands Tours

Friday 28 October 2011

Devastating News - DAVID ROBERTS passes away

It is with particular sadness that today I learnt of the tragic death of one of my closest birding friends - Lincolnshire birder David Roberts. David and his son Matthew had joined me on my annual Scottish Highlands and Islands tours for at least the past 15 years and had always provided some fantastic entertainment and were incredibly popular with all participants. Although over 70, David was incredibly keen and energetic, and even managed every year to make the climb up Sneachda or Applecross for Ptarmigan. He was just so keen and full of life - and full of interesting snippets and mindful of all rarities seen. I am devastated by his passing - he was a rare gentleman of British birding - and such a kind-hearted and genuine individual. I have shared so many golden moments with him - from the Anglesey Black Lark to perhaps one of the best birding days of all time with the St Mary's Lesser Kestrel - memories that I will cherish forever

My condolescences are sent to Matthew and his mother; David I will never forget you

Lee G R Evans

Thursday 27 October 2011

First BUFFLEHEAD for Cornwall

Steve Rogers obtained this selection of outstanding images of the Waterings Pool juvenile female BUFFLEHEAD this afternoon - more to be found on his superb website at


A juvenile female BUFFLEHEAD is present for its second day on The Lizard (West Cornwall), frequenting a very tiny pool surrounded by vegetation SE of the village, between the Lighthouse Road and Housel Bay (see John Swann's images above). Park in Lizard village and then walk south along the Lighthouse Road for 500 yards before taking the track to the left for 200 yards and left along the footpath to view the pool at SW 706 120. The bird is apparently fully-winged and fairly wary, and dives almost continuously, but viewing is at just 20 yards...

Also newly discovered was a RED-EYED VIREO on Scilly in Pittisporum bushes along Salakee Lane at the Porthellick House end.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

As this year's SCILLY season comes to a close, a look back at some of October's highlights; a photographic gallery of GARY THOBURN

And the showstopper - the NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH in Lower Moors. Most watched bird of the autumn on Scilly - enjoyed by over 600 observers - and the longest-staying of all time. Once it discovered Higgonson's Pool behind the tip, it was a regular visitor, and even roosted there. It also spent time at the ISBG Pool and Shooter's Pool and was still present at the end of October, well over a month after it was first seen in mid-September

It was a good autumn for BLUETHROATS - this bird showing well at Porthellick Beach for several days

My only Scilly tick of the autumn - the juvenile LEAST SANDPIPER on Tresco Great Pool. Found by Dick Filby, this bird remained for 10 days at the beginning of the month - the first since singles reported in 1962 and 1965

Two different juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS appeared on Scilly this October, including this stunning performer on Lower Moors. The other was at the NW end of the Great Pool

Another great performer, this juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER on the Tresco Abbey Pool actually approached observers to within a few feet..

Scilly has still yet to record its first Taiga Flycatcher but this adult male RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER on St Agnes was simply something else - an absolute stunner, and showing for three days in the Parsonage mid-month

A particularly confiding SPOTTED CRAKE on Tresco - on the Abbey Pool. A further small crake - perhaps LITTLE or SORA - was seen several times at Porthellick but never clinched......

Jim Lawrence discovered this oddball UPLAND SANDPIPER in bulb fields at Maypole Junction on St Mary's - and that's where it remained for the rest of the month.......

Almost annual on Scilly in October, this first-winter WILSON'S SNIPE was extremely showy - and particularly educational

PIED WHEATEAR puts on a great show

The bird of the Autumn for many Irish birders - the superb UPLAND SANDPIPER (Aidan Kelly)

A first-winter female PIED WHEATEAR, discovered yesterday afternoon by Gwent birder Darryl Spittle, showed well all day today around the two buildings at Thornbury Yacht Club, half a mile west of the Anchor public house in Oldbury-on-Severn (South Gloucestershire). It was particularly confiding, even perching on a bench whilst a birder was sat on it late morning, and was on one occasion seen with a Northern Wheatear and a lone Scandinavian Rock Pipit. Park sensibly, either in the pub car park or in the five spaces opposite.

In East Norfolk, a first-winter ISABELLINE SHRIKE continues to show very well at Horsey, in Bramble scrub between the Horsey Corner car park and the Nelson's Head track, with another reported in Penwith (West Cornwall) in hawthorns opposite St Just Aerodrome (on 24 October). Southeasterly winds also produced two OLIVE-BACKED PIPITS at Filey North Cliff Country Park (North Yorkshire), wandering around elusively in Top Scrub, with another showing well on the track before the hostel at rattray Head (Aberdeenshire).

PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLERS are now starting to arrive with these charming sprites being seen at Rattray Head (Aberdeenshire), on Bardsey Island (Gwynedd), Hemsby (Norfolk), Holland Haven (Essex), Frinton-on-Sea (Essex) and Porthgwarra car park (Cornwall) today; good numbers of YELLOW-BROWED WARBLERS are also to be found at many sites.

An influx of RICHARD'S PIPITS included singles on Holy Island (Northumberland), Donna Nook (North Lincs), the Great Orme sheep fields (Gwynedd), Land's End (West Cornwall) and at Salthouse Beach car park (North Norfolk). Many more Black Redstarts have now arrived too, as well as larger numbers of Long-eared Owls than usual.

A PALLID SWIFT arrived in Northeast Norfolk late afternoon, initially being seen over Cromer before drifting westwards towards West Runton and Beeston Hall School early evening, whilst an ALPINE SWIFT showed well yesterday evening over Fremnall's Causeway at Hanningfield Reservoir (Essex).

On the Isles of Scilly today, the ever-present first-winter NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH was still performing today - either in front of the screen at the Lower Moors Shooter's Pool or at the nearby ISBG Pool - with a fairly vocal DUSKY WARBLER in exactly the same area and the first-winter WILSON'S SNIPE briefly. The first-winter UPLAND SANDPIPER continues to show well in the bulb fields at Maypole Junction, whilst the COMMON TREECREEPER remains in Carreg Dhu garden at Longstones.. A RADDE'S WARBLER and BLUETHROAT are both being seen in Troy Town, St Agnes, in the cabbage crop by the farm and at Castella Down, whilst also on St Agnes, a Siberian Lesser Whitethroat remains in Chapel Fields at Periglis Beach. Meanwhile, Tresco continues to host the LESSER YELLOWLEGS, PECTORAL SANDPIPER and SPOTTED CRAKE.

Belated news concerns a SWAINSON'S THRUSH on Friday 21 October in the front garden of Kirbuster Farm Museum at Birsay on Orkney (Norman Watt), whilst elsewhere in Orkney, the male SIBERIAN STONECHAT continues for a second day on North Ronaldsay and two NORTHERN TREECREEPERS have been located in recent days. Farther north still, incredibly the dapper male SIBERIAN RUBYTHROAT remains at Wick cottage (HU 441 392), Gulberwick, Lerwick (Shetland) - the longest staying individual ever (and now successfully twitched by no less than 90 observers). Meanwhile, Tiree's first-winter ASIATIC BROWN SHRIKE continues to perform at Balephuill, but without any takers other than the few resident birders.

A SHORE LARK is a rare bird for the London Recording Area and hence why a procession of local listers jumped the fence at the permit-access only Queen Elizabeth II Reservoir in the Walton complex in Surrey today.

A Continental BLACK-BELLIED DIPPER was a nice find today, frequenting the river at Fenso Marston Nature Reserve at Shipley (West Yorkshire), often with a resident Dipper.

The two juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS remain at the east end of Blagdon Lake (Somerset), with the adult SPOTTED SANDPIPER nearby at Herriott's Bridge, Chew Valley lake (Avon) and the ever-present juvenile at the north end of the Plym Estuary at the Marsh Mills Roundabout, Plymouth (South Devon). A juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER in Cumbria is present for a second day on the Lyth Valley, in the field pool between Brigsteer and the A5074, 600 yards south of the Helsington Pool Bridge (SD 472 890), whilst the adult WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER is still present but flighty at Rutland Water (Leics). Another late juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER remains in County Durham - at the Castle Lake at Bishop Middleham, whilst another juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER is at the harbour wetland in Wigtown Bay (Dumfries & Galloway).

A juvenile SNOW GOOSE was identified amongst Pink-footed Geese at Budle Bay (Northumberland), with the first-winter RED-BREASTED GOOSE still with Dark-bellied Brent Geese in Christchurch Harbour at Stanpit Marsh (Dorset). A drake AMERICAN WIGEON remains with Eurasian Wigeon on Cofton Saltmarsh on the Exe Estuary at Dawlish Warren NNR (South Devon), with that still in Loch Bee, South Uist (Outer Hebrides) also. The drake Ferruginous Duck of unknown origin remains on Sandford Lake, Dinton Pastures Country Park (Berkshire), with the first-winter drake still at Far Ings NR (North Lincs), with the juvenile female LESSER SCAUP still in residence in Whitley Bay (Northumberland) on Marden Quarry Pond. A drake SURF SCOTER flew south past Ainsdale Beach (Lancashire) this morning, with another with the adult drake NORTH AMERICAN BLACK SCOTER off the Beachcomber House at Goswick (Northumberland), whilst the regular drake KING EIDER was off Roseisle Beach Car Park in Moray. Red-crested Pochards reached a total of 67 today at Baston & Langtoft Pits (Lincs) - a new site record.

An explosion of Field Voles in Arctic Siberia and Scandinavia has seen a bumper breeding season for northern raptors with ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS continuing to arrive. Today saw birds at Goswick (Northumberland), Huttoft Bank and Anderby Creek (North Lincs), the Sleddale Moors (Cleveland) (at least two), Beeley Moor (Derbyshire). Skegness and Gibraltar Point NNR (Lincs), Holkham Freshmarsh (North Norfolk), Earith Washes (Cambs) and Dungeness ARC Pit (East Kent). Also related to the influx, juvenile PALLID HARRIERS continue to be located - with a juvenile yesterday over Goonhilly Downs (Cornwall) and another today in Lothian, first seen flying in off the sea at St Abb's Lighthouse and then later over Barns Ness being mobbed by corvids.

A CATTLE EGRET is with livestock at Blakeney Freshmarsh (North Norfolk), where it can be 'scoped from Friary Hills, whilst unusually late was a juvenile PURPLE HERON at the Bottom Tank at Saltholme Pools RSPB (Cleveland) (it flew to Haverton Hole at dusk). GREAT WHITE EGRETS include long-staying birds at Linford NR (North Bucks), Denge Marsh (East Kent) and Mockbeggar Lake, Blashford Pits (Hants) and further singles in the borrow dyke north of the southern seawall at Copt Hall Marshes (Essex), roosting in trees at the rear of Fowlsyke Flash (SK 525 997) (South Yorkshire), at Vennford Reservoir (SX 685 710) (South Devon) and in fields by Watermill on the Ogmore Estuary (East Glamorgan).

The adult AZOREAN ATLANTIC GULL roosted again at Rutland Water (Leics) this evening.

Up to 3 GREY PHALAROPES were seen on rough seas off Cley NWT (North Norfolk), with another two off Waxham Gap (East Norfolk) and another at Breydon Water (Norfolk), with one stranded at Mersehead RSPB (D & G)

A juvenile ROSE-COLOURED STARLING is still visiting gardens in Nefyn (Gwynedd) whilst a very late WOOD WARBLER was in the plantation on the seaward side of Strathbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire)

Massive numbers of continental MEALY REDPOLLS are arriving, along with numerous Siskins, Firecrests and Short-eared Owls

In IRELAND, the star prize remains the first-winter UPLAND SANDPIPIER on The Mullet (Co Mayo) in the rushy fields by the road to Glebe House at Termoncarragh Lough (see Aidan Kelly's superb images above). In County Wexford, two different NORTHERN HARRIER-types are being seen - a juvenile and a second-winter male - both roosting at the Lingstown reedbed.

In County Galway, the juvenile DOTTEREL and AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER are still at Aillebrack, whilst two GLOSSY IBISES still remained at Timoleague (Co. Cork) this evening.

A SUBALPINE WARBLER was a late find at the Old Head of Kinsale (County Cork), favouring vegetation inland from the plantation in the roadside hedgerow opposite the pink bungalow, with both the BARRED WARBLER and RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER and RED-EYED VIREO still at Mizen Head (Co. Cork)

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Record could be broken by the end of October at this rate !

With an additional three new species for the year in the past three days, this year's total now moves forward to an incredible 441 species - just four short of the record in 2008

The additional birds have been -:

1) OVENBIRD - an elusive individual on Barra at Castlebay Woods (Outer Hebrides) on 23-24 October;

2) SIBERIAN STONECHAT - a first-winter male identified today on North Ronaldsay (Orkney);

3) PIED WHEATEAR - a first-winter female type seen today at Thornbury Yacht Club at Oldbury-on-Severn (Gloucs)

Sunday 23 October 2011

And now an OVENBIRD makes landfall.........

Clive Saunders enjoyed a 3 second view of an OVENBIRD this afternoon on Barra (Outer Hebrides) at Castlebay in the woodland behind the football pitch and Co-op. He saw it at about 1430 hours but could not relocate it before early evening.........

Meanwhile, there was no sign today of the first-winter male Scarlet Tanager on St Mary's in Sandy Lane. Plumage inconsistencies seem to suggest that two birds were involved in both the Cornish and Scilly sightings

TANAGER relocates

First-winter Wilson's Snipe, Lower Moors, St Mary's, Scilly, October 2011 (John Hague) - a fantastic and most instructive set of images, showing the axillary and underwing pattern

What was presumably the St Levan first-winter male SCARLET TANAGER was relocated today at the top end of Holy Vale, St Mary's (Scilly), just over 23 miles away. It quickly moved to hawthorns and scrub along Sandy Lane, about 150 yards along from the Four Lanes junction. It showed on and off for nearly two hours before going missing throughout much of the afternoon..........The first on Scilly since October 1982

Both OLIVE-BACKED PIPITS were again showing well in fields along Watermill Lane, whilst the NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH was seen quite a few times from the screen at Shooter's Pool, Lower Moors. The WILSON'S SNIPE was nearby on Lower Moors (see the outstanding pictures taken by John Hague above)

New record approaching..........

A belated record now received of a COMMON YELLOWTHROAT at Trevose Head (Cornwall) for 10 days in October 2010 (photographed) forwards that year's total to 441 species......

Today's first-winter ASIATIC BROWN SHRIKE at Balephuil on Tiree (Argyll) renders that species the 438th to occur in Britain and Ireland this year.

I suspect we are going to see a new record set this year, especially with a week of South-easterlies forecast for this coming week........

Friday 21 October 2011

SCARLET TANAGER shows up briefly

See Steve Rogers' writeup here

Bird seen just once today, mid-morning - with about 25-30 observers connecting

Thursday 20 October 2011

TANAGER in West Cornwall

A first-winter SCARLET TANAGER was discovered early afternoon in St Levan valley (West Cornwall). Two local lads both found it (Dave and Matt) and watched it on and off for about 25 minutes as if fed in a Pear tree in the grounds of Grey Gables, close to the church. As neither are twitchers, it was not until late afternoon that they passed the news on to one of the main contacts in Penwith. About 25 birders then quickly gathered at the site, but there was no sign of anything in clear, cold conditions from 1630 hours until dusk. This is the first Scarlet Tanager in the county since Brian Mellow's bird at Nanquidno in the mid 70's.

Parking is being offered by the church at the end of the narrow lane at £2 per car

At the opposite end of the country in Shetland, the gorgeous male SIBERIAN RUBYTHROAT continues to show intermittently in the garden at Ockendons, at Gulberwick - 2.5 miles SW of Lerwick. Now present for its fourth day, several birders flew in today and connected from the south. A bonus bird came in the form of a PECHORA PIPIT at the same site - this bird showing somewhat more frequently (see Dougie Preston's excellent images above).

On the Isles of Scilly, the first-winter NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH remains on Lower Moors at Shooter's Pool, with 1-2 RED-THROATED PIPITS on St Mary's in the Pungies Lane area, 1 OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT still in fields along Watermill Lane, the WILSON'S SNIPE on Lower Moors and the UPLAND SANDPIPER still at Maypole. A MELODIOUS WARBLER has relocated to Penninis Head, favouring Pittisporum bushes by the entrance to the Farm Trail. On Tresco, both the LESSER YELLOWLEGS and SPOTTED CRAKE remain.

West Cornwall offers two migrant RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHERS today, with singles in the Willows and Sallows by Porthgwarra car park and in the garden at the seaward end of Kenidjack Valley, whilst further east, the LESSER YELLOWLEGS continues on the Tresillian River at Truro.

A juvenile PALLID HARRIER adds Cleveland to its tally of counties, showing well today at times in the reeds at the north end of Dorman's Pool at Teesmouth. ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS have been arriving in numbers, with two being present at Abberton Reservoir (Essex) viewable from Stafford's Corner.

The wide-ranging adult AZOREAN ATLANTIC GULL seen in September at Stewartby Lake (Beds) and Grafham Water (Cambs) was relocated today in the roost at Rutland Water (Leics).

Two juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS continue to commute between Blagdon Lake (Somerset) and Chew Valley lake (Avon), with the juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPER still at the north end of the River Plym (South Devon). A WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER remains at Balgarva on South Uist (Outer Hebrides).

An adult drake NORTH AMERICAN BLACK SCOTER remains with Common Scoters, an adult drake SURF SCOTER and 3 drake Velvet Scoters 6 miles SE of Berwick-upon-Tweed (Northumberland) offshore of Goswick, whilst further south, the juvenile female LESSER SCAUP continues on Marsden Quarry in Whitley Bay. A drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK is at Pugney's Country Park (West Yorks).

A first-winter RED-BREASTED GOOSE remains with 200 Dark-bellied Brent Geese in Christchurch Harbour (Dorset) at Stanpit Marsh.

The UPLAND SANDPIPER at Termoncarragh Lake (Co. Mayo) continues to be the main attraction in IRELAND, although a RED-EYED VIREO in County Cork at Mizen Head is also of major interest.

A plethora of rare Nearctic waders continues including 4 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford), a juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER at Aillebrook (Co. Galway) and 2 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS at Lough Atedaun (Co. Clare).

Recent BARRED WARBLERS have included singles at Slyne Head and at West Beara at Gerinish

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Shetland hits back with yet another mega.........

A male SIBERIAN RUBYTHROAT at Gulberwick, south of Lerwick (Shetland) this afternoon represents the 436th species to be recorded in Britain and Ireland this year.........

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Cold Northwesterly winds set in

Belated news concerns a suppressed juvenile SEMIPALMATED PLOVER that was present on Crowdy Reservoir and Davidstow Airfield (Cornwall) from at least 18-30 September - the first record for the county. The bird was consorting with a flock of up to 25 Ringed Plovers and 15 Dunlin, so if any of you photographed the flock at the same time as the well-twitched juvenile Buff-breasted Sandpiper there, you may wish to review your images......

As predicted for Saturday, there was no sign of the Rufous-tailed Robin at Warham Greens (Norfolk) that had remained until dusk the previous evening........

So, with Northwesterly winds now set in for most of the week, this is how we stand at present.....

On the Isles of Scilly, where 190 birders are still in temporary residence, St Mary's showstopper - the first-winter NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH - continues to survive, showing well intermittently at Higginson's Pool, Lower Moors. The first-winter WILSON'S SNIPE is also still present, commuting between Lower Moors and Porthellick Pools, as well as the first-winter UPLAND SANDPIPER at Maypole, whilst the first-winter male BLUETHROAT remains on Porthellick Beach, 1-2 RED-THROATED PIPITS on the Golf Course and Longstones Fields, a RADDE'S WARBLER along the Salakee Lane and a MELODIOUS WARBLER at Carn Gwaval. Newly discovered today were 2 OLIVE-BACKED PIPITS in fields along Watermill Lane. The three BLACK KITES drifted over from West Cornwall on Sunday and at least one remained about the islands today, whilst both the juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS remain on St Martin's and Tresco Great Pool respectively.

A total of 9 RED-FLANKED BLUETAILS turned up over the weekend with just one remaining today - that in brambles by the entrance to South Landing car park at Flamborough Head (East Yorks). Yesterday's adult male ISABELLINE SHRIKE at Cliffe Pools RSPB (North Kent) (present since Saturday) also disappeared overnight.

A WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER continues for a fourth day at Rutland Water (Leics), showing best from Lapwing Hide, whilst GREY PHALAROPES on freshwater include singles at Daventry Reservoir (Northants), Grafham Water (Cambs) and at Cudmore Grove Country Park (Essex). The LESSER YELLOWLEGS remains near Truro (Cornwall) on the Tresilian River at Tresemple Pool, whilst a late juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER is still near the dam at the south end of Drift Reservoir (Cornwall) (further singles are at Castle Lake, Bishop Middleham, Cleveland, and on the Flask Lake at Nosterfield Quarry, North Yorks)..

A juvenile GLOSSY IBIS continues to show well from the viewing screen at the Fire Station Field at Saltholme RSPB (Cleveland) whilst the two juveniles reappeared at Cudmore Grove CP (Essex) today. A further bird was seen at Pett Level (East Sussex) this morning, before relocating to West Rise Lake, Langney, later in the afternoon.

A juvenile/first-winter RED-BREASTED GOOSE of unknown but perhaps natural origin appeared today amongst a large flock of Dark-bellied Brent Geese in Christchurch Harbour (Dorset), favouring the South Marsh on Stanpit Marsh.

There has been a healthy influx of early ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS in this past week, with one juvenile even making it as far as West Cornwall. Today saw 2 in the Winterton North Dunes area (Norfolk)

The juvenile LESSER SCAUP continues to show well on Marden Quarry Pool (Northumberland)...

A fair few YELLOW-BROWED WARBLERS are now scattered about, as well as a good number of GREAT GREY SHRIKES. Large numbers of MEALY REDPOLLS and Siskins continue to arrive from the near continent, as well as Common Crossbills and Woodlarks. The first waves of immigrant Woodpigeons are also now appearing

An adult WHITE-BILLED DIVER flew past Aird, Tiree (Argyll) at 0810 hours


In County Mayo, the UPLAND SANDPIPER discovered by Dave Suddaby remains at Termoncarragh Lake, frequenting the small flooded field by the road to Glebe House, whilst in County Cork, both a juvenile ROSE-COLOURED STARLING and a RED-THROATED PIPIT are at Ballycotton and a juvenile WOODCHAT SHRIKE at Galley Head. Cape Clear island (Co. Cork) still hosts a GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK, RED_BREASTED FLYCATCHER and ROSE-COLOURED STARLING. A 2nd-winter male NORTH AMERICAN MARSH HAWK (NORTHERN HARRIER) is again at tacumshin Lake (Co. Wexford)

Monday 17 October 2011

The RUFOUS-TAILED ROBIN at Warham Greens - the circumstances of the find by James McCallum

Firstly congratulations to Rob Martin for an amazing find!

It was disappointing that the Rufous-tailed Robin didn’t stay for all to see. It was also frustrating to find out about the mix up on the pagers despite the news being put out as soon as the bird had been identified (none of us who phoned the news out have pagers so we didn’t know what message was put out, I thought we had done our bit and concentrated on trying to relocate the bird for those arriving!). This mix up unfortunately resulted in many familiar local faces not setting off immediately and only after the mistake was noticed and corrected. Many therefore arriving late and missing the bird due to failing light.

There was obviously a lot of disappointment that evening and more so the following morning. As ever lots of tension and emotional energy was generated by the process of travelling to the site, then waiting to see if the bird would still be there...etc. When it was clear that the bird had gone this energy turned to disappointment and frustration. People deal with this in many ways, for some the focus point is an analysis of the circumstances surrounding the find and subsequent release of news. Things get said in the heat of the moment that are not really meant and frequently these are levelled at the finders. If you happen to be the finder it’s not pleasant but it’s all part of it and you learn to take it on the chin (But I do remember getting some negative comments concerning the release of news of the Alder Flycatcher by somebody who was watching it within hours of it being found – I remember looking at this chap, scratching my head and thinking ‘What?!’)

This weekend, however, I’ve encountered a little too much bitterness and hostility and have certainly heard too many different and often peculiar scenarios of what people think happened on the afternoon it was found. So much so that, for the first time, I feel the need to put the record straight.

So for those who are interested here is my account of just what happened at the Rufous-tailed Robin;

Along with Andrew Bloomfield and Baz Scampion I had been birdwatching on the East Hills, Wells. Whilst out there we met Rob Martin who had been on site since first light. We chatted for a while then Andy, Baz and Rob left while I stayed to look for a Yellow-browed Warbler that Rob had seen earlier. After around an hour of unsuccessful searching I decided to leave so crossed the creeks and saltmarsh until I reached Warham Greens. On entering Garden Drove I saw Rob standing with another birder. I was surprised to see him still there as he had told me that it was his birthday and he had to get back to meet his wife early that afternoon. I jokingly asked what he was still doing there and he replied that he had seen a bird that he couldn’t identify but looked interesting. He went on to say that it looked chat-like. I quizzed him further and it turned out that the sighting had been very brief; basically the bird had flicked up from the ground and darted into the canopy of a hawthorn. Rob had managed a short, largely obscured view but strongly believed that he had seen a few distinct semicircular markings on its breast. Then a Chaffinch had chased it and the bird was lost. ‘I jokingly said crescent markings – as in Rufous-tailed Robin?’ To which Rob replied ‘Well, sort of but it could easily be something like a young Robin in some kind of retarded moult or even something like a Thrush Nightingale’ I could tell from his body language that he was clearly ruffled so I knew that he felt he had seen something interesting and it was not simply a case of ‘Oh what was that?’ I remarked that I thought that likelihood of a young robin in mid October seemed very remote and the behaviour didn’t really sound typical of a Thrush Nightingale.

The bird had already been lost for around 40 minutes and after further searching for ten minutes the other birder drifted off. Rob remained in the immediate area and I started looking further up the drift. He was determined to see it again and his self-belief in what he had seen, especially after what sounded like very brief views, was admirable and made me want to stay and help look for it. A car suddenly appeared halfway down the drift and I recognised the driver as Norman Williams who had come to do a bird count. We chatted and I mentioned to him what was happening. Then Rob started waving – he had seen the bird again. By the time we had reached him it was gone. Norman had seen a movement as we approached but I was yet to get a view. Rob again had had poor views mainly of the bird directly above him but from what he could see on this occasion the markings below looked extensive but, confusingly, this time they appeared ‘more blotchy’. The bird just seemed to vanish into mid air. Rob was getting increasingly ruffled, he now knew that it was something really unusual but he still couldn’t put a name to it. He remarked that at times it had appeared almost Ovenbird-like from below! Although I hadn’t even seen it I was now wondering if it was going to turn out to be an American Thrush!

Another long wait began but we just couldn’t work out where it could be hiding. Rob remained in the same place and Norman and I checked the nearby bushes. After another fifteen minutes Rob suddenly announced that there was a movement above in the canopy where it had last been seen (We later realised that the bird was actually flitting then freezing – sitting totally motionless for periods of up to c20 minutes). Rob then felt sure that the markings were more crescent-like than blotched but the views were tough in thick canopy and the bird was moving quickly. The bird had now dropped on to the ground. Norman saw it with his naked eye running fast along the ground before it flicked up into tall hawthorns. At last I had my first view! Its flitting movements were lightning fast almost Red-breasted Flycatcher-like but on landing it would stop dead, completely motionless. It was a movement quite unlike a Robin or Redstart but did remind me of a Red-flanked Bluetail that I watched last autumn in thick canopy at Kergord, Shetland.

I saw that it had a relatively short, bright red tail. My next view was very brief of the bird perched low down, most of its body was obscured and all I could see was a large eye and an obvious dark malar stripe. It then flicked up again and landed, again frustratingly obscured but in good light. I then knew it was from the East! A wonderful big dark eye with a thin but complete eyering and obvious pinky gape. On landing the short red tail was half-cocked then seemingly left to drop back down again and there, protruding below a tangle of branches, were its bright, pale pink legs. During the moment that followed I was blessed with a wonderful view of the bird – it flicked forwards then stopped side-on in full view. If this wasn’t enough it then turned to face me showing off fully its intricate breast markings before darting off out of view once more.

I turned to the others and said ‘It’s a Rufous-tailed Robin!!!’ I shook Rob’s hand congratulated him on his amazing find then wished him happy birthday! It was such a tricky bird to see and full credit to him for believing in what he had thought he had seen and sticking with it. During all the chaos Rob had rattled off a few shots and later looking at some of the images I saw that they had come out amazingly well considering the circumstances.

We were naturally all quite shocked by the situation and could hardly believe what we had seen. But, at last, we had confirmed the bird’s identity and then wanted to get the news out straight away to give others the chance of seeing it.

By then the time was about 5pm – it had taken an hour and a half just to get a view good enough to identify it – anybody on site that evening can confirm just how difficult it was to locate the bird let alone get a perched view!

Rob’s phone battery was flat so he sprinted to the car to plug it in order to contact RBA and get the news on the pagers, Norman phoned the Natural England staff at Holkham NNR and I called two local birders, both of whom I knew didn’t have pagers, but who regularly watch the local area, Andy Bloomfield and Ash McElwee. With this combination of calls I was pretty confident that everybody would get the news very quickly.

Within 15 minutes the first people had arrived, Natural England staff, closely followed by Richard Millington then several visiting birders and several minutes later the two locals I’d called. As none of us had pagers it initially appeared that all was going to plan and the news was out. After a further ten minutes there were only around 30 people there – this didn’t add up as I knew that lots of locals should have arrived by that time. It then transpired that half of the people, including Richard Millington, had actually come to twitch a Barred Warbler that had just been found nearby on the Greens and were using the Drift to gain access to it!

Something had clearly gone wrong with the pager message – people with pagers then informed me that the message stated that the Rufous-tailed Robin was on East Hills – inaccessible with the tide then flowing- and not Garden Drove!! I don’t know what had happened as I didn’t make the call but it was obvious that a genuine mistake had been made and wires had been crossed, presumably in all the excitement. This was very unfortunate for by the time the information was corrected this delayed many birders by 20 – 30 minutes and resulted in some locals, including good friends, missing the opportunity to get there before it got dark.

So the lengthy account above is my experience of what happened.

In short Rob had found an interesting-looking bird, it took c.90 minutes to get a decent view and fortunately this view was good enough to identify it. As soon as the bird was identified news was released to all parties including the pagers, there was no ‘chosen few’. There was not enough light left to even think about being selective with news. Individuals twitching a Barred Warbler can count themselves exceedingly lucky in being at the right place at the right time. If people still find issue with the circumstances I’ve written here then I don’t know what more I can say. I guess they will never be happy with what happened.

If we wanted people not to see it then it would have been straightforward simply not to report it! If we wanted to delay people then we could have simply phoned it out later! – the idea that we wanted to confuse people by putting out the wrong location seems totally bizarre to me – what a strange concept! The area is not tidal, there is access and parking so I see no issues for withholding news.

If it had of been on the East Hills at that time of day with the tide then flowing then I would have thought twice about releasing news – I think that would have been irresponsible and very dangerous.

Finding rare birds is seldom a case of walking along a hedgerow and seeing a vagrant sitting out in the open in perfect lighting, well not in my experience at least! It frequently involves seeing an unfamiliar movement or shape and having the belief that it is worth pursuing. Sometimes, as in the case of the bird in question, it can take a very long and tense time but ultimately it can be very exciting!

If some of the energy certain birders spent in being unpleasant had been channelled into looking for migrants then maybe more birds could have been found this weekend.

At the end of the day Rob Martin found a fantastic bird – the result of much time and effort – congratulations to him!

James McCallum

Sunday 16 October 2011


See Rob Martin's write-up on his most memorable of borthday finds at

SHORT-TOED SNAKE EAGLE arrives in South Devon

What may have been the same SHORT-TOED SNAKE EAGLE that was seen in the Channel Islands last week flew low over Lee Collins' head minutes after lunchtime today at Dawlish Warren (South Devon). Lee watched the bird flap heavily as it made its way across open water of the River Exe and then once over Exmouth, circled around for five minutes. It then gained height and appeared to fly inland and Lee lost it from view.

At around the same time, the bird was reportedly intercepted independently by A.J.Bellamy, and was watched heading out to Orcombe Point to the south of Exmouth. It then flew strongly east at 1215 hours.

Just under three hours later, at 1515 hours, it was watched flying east over the sea offshore of Lyme Regis (Dorset), but interestingly was not seen by watchers in the Seaton/Axmouth area or at Portland Bill.

A large raptor, considered to be an eagle, was also seen by Robin Kham over Haldon Forest (South Devon) at 0938 hours

Friday 14 October 2011


Whilst walking back from East Hills this afternoon, Rob Martin stumbled upon a RUFOUS-TAILED ROBIN feeding on the Warham Greens westernmost track. The bird was favouring the track about 90 yards north of the concrete pad and initially showed well. James McCallum was also quick on the scene, as well as Richard Millington, who happened to be on site on spec after a report of a Barred Warbler there came through. News slowly filtered out and within an hour, just over 50 birders gathered on site, perhaps 20 of them obtaining some reasonable views. With more and more people arriving, the bird became more furtive and kept very much to the foliage on both sides of the track, only occasionally being glimpsed in flight. It was assumed to have roosted in some ivy.


It is imperative for all concerned that NOBODY walks down the track before daylight beyond the pad and once dawned, attempts made by just a few to locate it. It is also important that birders all approach the site from the same direction to minimize disturbance and to not spook the bird.

There is room for about 50 vehicles on the Warham Greens track and arrangements are being made to allow further parking in one of the fields. I shall be on site trying to organise things and will attempt to make sure that everybody that wishes to, gets an opportunity to see this mega-rare Siberian vagrant.

Frustratingly, it is a clear, cold night this evening in North Norfolk and there is a high degree of likelihood that the bird will move on. Who knows !

Thursday 13 October 2011

Winds swing Southeasterly..........

Light Southeasterly winds and intermittent drizzle saw a mass arrival of birds from the Continent today including large numbers of Short-eared and Long-eared Owls, Great Grey Shrikes, Yellow-browed Warblers, Bramblings, Siskins and Fieldfares and Redwings. Amongst them were no less than 5 RED-FLANKED BLUETAILS........

The first was trapped and ringed mid-morning at North Landing, Flamborough Head (East Yorks), followed by another early afternoon at Whitburn Coastal Park (County Durham) and then another on Orfordness Island in Suffolk. There was then another discovered in the Sluice Bushes at Minsmere Beach (Suffolk), with a second (unringed) individual in Whitburn - in the tall trees along Church Lane.

The easterly element to the weather also produced an ISABELLINE WHEATEAR late afternoon - at the caravan park at Lowestoft North Denes (Suffolk), where nearby, a juvenile WOODCHAT SHRIKE remains showing well in bushes on the west side of Links Road car park at Lowestoft North Denes

A RED-THROATED PIPIT flew south over Pegwell Bay Country Park (East Kent) at 0950 hours, whilst the first PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER of the autumn was at Brook Lane in Reculver (Kent).

With most holidaying birders now either on Scilly or Shetland, the former shrouded in dense fog offers the following.....

The first-winter NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (the longest-staying ever) continues to be the show-stopper. This fabulous and very enchanting lost Nearctic waif is very much in a routine now, regularly appearing at Higginson's Pool on Lower Moors and giving itself up bigtime. Take the footpath alongside the allotments and rubbish tip on the outskirts of Hugh Town and at the Dump Clump, take the well-worn track through the clump and out for 150 yards into the reedbed. The pool can be overlooked from a raised mound.

A first-winter UPLAND SANDPIPER is also present on St Mary's, commuting between two fields in the Maypole junction and Borough Farm area, with a juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS on Lower Moors, a first-winter WILSON'S SNIPE on Porthellick Pool, a RED-THROATED PIPIT with Meadow Pipits on the Golf Course, a first-winter male BLUETHROAT on Porthellick Pool and Beach, a juvenile ROSE-COLOURED STARLING just above Sallyport on the Garrison, a female-type SUBALPINE WARBLER in the pine belt behind the tennis courts on the Garrison, a GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK on the Airfield, a COMMON ROSEFINCH near the tip and at least 5 different WRYNECKS about the island.

On Tresco, both the LESSER YELLOWLEGS and LEAST SANDPIPER remain in their respective opposite ends of the Great Pool, with the juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE nearby on the Abbey Pool crossroads and a confiding SPOTTED CRAKE on the Abbey Pool, whilst on St Martin's, the juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and 3 Eurasian Golden Plovers continues by the Daymark and an unidentified large pipit is by the Beady Pool on Wingletang Down, St Agnes.

Fair Isle saw the first LANCEOLATED WARBLER of the year arrive, whilst Shetland South Mainland still housed the AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT in the kale field above the dam at Quendale Burn and the adult female ISABELLINE SHRIKE at Brake, Hillwell; the juvenile PALLID HARRIER remained too at Wester Quarff.

A first-winter male ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK was reported from Orkney on the weekend, with an OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT on North Ronaldsay today and two PECTORAL SANDPIPERS at Herston on South Ronaldsay. Yesterday also saw an ELEONORA'S FALCON photographed between Kilspindle and Gosford (Lothian) - this following a very convincing description of an adult SOOTY FALCON at Birling Gap, Beachy Head (East Sussex).

An AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT was an excellent find in East Sussex on Sunday, the bird being photographed again yesterday afternoon along the tidewrack consorting with 4 Rock Pipits at Newhaven Harbour, just west of the West Arm (no sign today however, despite exhaustive searching). Meanwhile, a first-winter YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO died today after being taken into care from a Liverpool garden yesterday.

A juvenile LESSER SCAUP continues to show well at Marden Quarry Pool (Northumberland) whilst offshore in the same county at Goswick, a drake NORTH AMERICAN BLACK SCOTER, an adult drake SURF SCOTER and 3 Velvet Scoters are amongst Common Scoters off of Beachcomber House. A first-winter drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK remains on the pit right of the visitor centre along the approach road to Far Ings NR in North Lincolnshire

There are still at least two BLACK KITES present in West Cornwall and showing intermittently SW of Catchall between Drift and the B3283 junction at Bojewans Carn, viewed south from the A30 layby a mile west of Drift.

GLOSSY IBISES remaining from last week's influx include the 3 juveniles at Priory Marsh, Stanpit (Dorset) and the single juvenile at the southern causeway of Stithians Reservoir (Cornwall), whilst a new arrival today included a bird off Kirkholme Point at Hornsea Mere (East Yorks).

A first-winter GREY PHALAROPE remains for a second day at Daventry Reservoir (Northants) (with another on Noah's Lake at Shapwick Heath NNR, Somerset) whilst in what has been an exceptional autumn for LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS sees two juveniles still together at Chew Valley Lake (Avon) (viewable from the Stratford Hide) and singles on the Folly Pond at Caerlaverock WWT (Dumfries & Galloway) and at Lochlea Farm Pool (NS 457 303) in Ayrshire. The long-staying juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPER continues to be seen at the north end of the Plym Estuary by Marsh Mills roundabout, Plymouth (South Devon), as well as the moulting adult on Herriott's Pool, Chew Valley Lake, with the juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS at Truro along the Tresilian River (Cornwall). A WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was newly discovered at St Serf's Island, Loch Leven (Perth & Kinross) today.

A PECTORAL SANDPIPER remains at Dungeness ARC Pit (Kent) (where a fall of over 10 Ring Ouzels took place in the Moat and Trapping Area) as well as the Denge Marsh GREAT WHITE EGRET, whilst the CATTLE EGRET is still to be found on the marsh viewable from the footpath between the end of Thornham Lane and Chichester Harbour on Thorney Island (West Sussex).

Stornoway Harbour on Lewis (Outer Hebrides) is yielding a 2nd-winter RING-BILLED GULL, whilst the Uists have an outstanding array of Nearctic waders including a BAIRD'S SANDPIPER at Balgarva, BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER at Loch Sandary, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER and 8 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS at The Range, West Gerenish and 4 GREY PHALAROPES at Ardivachar Point.

A GREAT NORTHERN DIVER is inland at Ringstone Edge Reservoir (West Yorks), with a confiding SLAVONIAN GREBE on Fairhaven Lake (Lancs)

In IRELAND, most excitement surrounds an UPLAND SANDPIPER in the Termoncarragh Lough area in County Mayo. The bird is typically vocal and flighty but favouring the wet grassy fields at F 650 357 - the fields to the west of the graveyard along the single track road to Glebe. Found by Dave Suddaby.

Although the recent RED-EYED VIREO was not seen today on Cape Clear Island (Co. Cork), the GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK remains and at Galley Head (Co. Cork), the WOODCHAT SHRIKE is still in residence.

An adult FORSTER'S TERN is at Cruisetown Strand (Co. Louth) with the juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPER still by the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarberry (Co. Cork) and at least 17 GLOSSY IBISES at Courtmacsherry (Co. Cork).

In County Down, a juvenile male PALLID HARRIER was seen at St John's Point yesterday.

Friday 7 October 2011

Escaped Lilac-breasted Roller in Cambridgeshire

This gorgeous Lilac-breasted Roller is currently present at Abbots Ripton, near Huntingdon, favouring horse paddocks in between two houses. Stuart Elsom took the image above.

The only collection so far traced housing this species is Birdworld at Farnham in Surrey.


The adult SANDHILL CRANE, photographed superbly by Peter Beesley, seems to have departed Boyton. It was seen to fly off strongly to the south at 1035 hours and has not been relocated subsequently. Interestingly though, it was not picked up at Landguard Point, so it could still be in Suffolk somewhere...........

Thursday 6 October 2011

First LEAST SANDPIPER since August 1965.....

The THIRD LEAST SANDPIPER for Scilly - Robin Mawer photographed this juvenile on Monday after Dick Filby had discovered the bird on South Beach.....

WILSON'S SNIPE joins the roll-call on Scilly

An apparent WILSON'S SNIPE is commuting between Lower Moors and Porthellick Pool on St Mary's (Scilly), present now for at least its third day. It is the only Snipe being seen at the moment so should be easy enough to pick out! It represents at least the eighth record for Scilly of what has become an annual late autumn vagrant to the archipelago.

With the wind in the North West and strong, nothing new has arrived on the islands but nothing has departed either. The long-staying first-winter NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH is still clambering about the emergent vegetation on Higginson's Pool, Lower Moors, early morning, where also both the SOLITARY SANDPIPER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS are dropping in from time to time.

A BLACK KITE is loafing around St Mary's, especially over the eastern end of St Mary's, and the dark morph juvenile HONEY BUZZARD is also still putting in appearances. Several WRYNECKS are to be seen, as well as the GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK, juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and the small BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER flock on the Airfield. There is also a SUBALPINE WARBLER present on the Garrison - in scrub by the football pitch near the playground.

Tresco is still hosting the very confiding LEAST SANDPIPER (commuting between South Beach and the SE end of the Great Pool), the LESSER YELLOWLEGS and 3 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS (at the NW end of the Great Pool) and WRYNECK and juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE. There are also at least 3 Yellow Wagtails on the island as well as 2 Whinchats.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Stranded 60-foot whale in Outer Hebrides dies

Sadly, despite the best intentions and efforts, the 60-foot SEI WHALE that became stranded at Griminish, in the Outer Hebrides, has died this afternoon. It was decided, after a close examination, to leave the animal to die rather than to stress it further by trying to refloat it on the tide

Annual total rumbles on with the addition of 7 new species in the past 10 days

With the addition of PALLAS'S REED BUNTING for 2010 (a female recorded At Sea in Dogger - plate 337 in British Birds 104: 623), that year's total now climbs to 440 species, whilst with 7 new species recorded in Britain and Ireland in the past 10 days (Lesser Kestrel, Semipalmated Plover, Olive-backed Pipit, Siberian Blue Robin, Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, Isabelline Shrike and Yellow-breasted Bunting), the total for this year now climbs to 425 species.....

LEAST SANDPIPER joins the cast on Scilly

On the Isles of Scilly, the NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH trapped and ringed at the weekend on Porthellick Pool is back once more at its favoured locality of Higginson's Pool by the Dump Clump on Lower Moors, where it is showing well early mornings. This same pool is also playing host to the juvenile SOLITARY SANDPIPER and juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS, whilst elsewhere on St Mary's, the grassy airstrip still has 4 juvenile BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS in residence.

On neighbouring Tresco, a juvenile LEAST SANDPIPER is showing well for a second day in the Abbey Pool and South Beach areas as well as at the SE end of the Great Pool, with another juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS and 3 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS at the opposite NW end of the pool. The Least Sandpiper represents only the third ever record for the archipelago following singles on St Agnes on 6 October 1962 and on Tresco Great Pool on 24 August 1965. A HONEY BUZZARD is also lingering on Tresco, with a mobile BLACK KITE about St Mary's.

In Cornwall, a juvenile SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER is showing particularly well with Ringed Plovers on the runway and grass sidings at Davidstow Airfield, mainly in the area of the old concrete control tower, with a GLOSSY IBIS present for a second day at Stithians Reservoir. A juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE remains at Porthgwarra Moor (Cornwall), with the 3 BLACK KITES still ranging the Drift Reservoir area.

In Suffolk, the adult SANDHILL CRANE continues to show well, favouring the two large recently tilled fields SE of Boyton at the end of Mill Lane (at TM 388 461), whilst all 3 juvenile GLOSSY IBISES remain at Stanpit Marsh, Christchurch Harbour (Dorset) and another on the Ogmore Estuary (Glamorgan)..

SPOTTED SANDPIPERS remain at Chew Valley Lake (Avon) and at the north end of the Plym Estuary at Marsh Mills, Plymouth (South Devon), whilst the crowd-pleasing juvenile SOLITARY SANDPIPER in Lancashire continues SW of Garstang and SE of Nateby at Humblescough Farm (at SD 472 438). LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS can still be found at Baron's Haugh RSPB (Clyde), Kidwelly Quay (Carmarthenshire) and Freiston Shore RSPB (Lincs), with a juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER still on Barra (Outer Hebrides).

On Shetland, a LITTLE BUNTING remains in the iris bed above the dam at Quendale, with the first-winter DAURIAN ISABELLINE SHRIKE still showing well at Levenwick and a first-winter CITRINE WAGTAIL at the south end of Boddam in the farmyard at Fleck. In the extreme north, an OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT continues on Unst at Baltasound School.

The adult AZOREAN ATLANTIC GULL roosted on Grafham Water (Cambs) last night, whilst in North Lincolnshire, the juvenile NORTH AMERICAN BLACK TERN was still present at Covenham Reservoir yesterday evening.

PALLID HARRIERS still include up to 4 different individuals on Shetland (one badly oiled) and the Burpham bird (West Sussex), whilst a 'new' juvenile was seen in the Gamlingay area (Cambs) and near Little Tempsford (Beds) on 2-3 October.


A BLYTH'S REED WARBLER was a pleasant surprise in Cotter's Garden, Cape Clear Island (Co. Cork), with the SUBALPINE WARBLER still at Marconi at Crookhaven (Co. Cork) and RED-EYED VIREO at Mizen Head (Co. Cork).

The juvenile WHITE-WINGED BLACK TERN continues to linger at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford), along with 9 remaining BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS, with SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS at Inch Lake (Co. Donegal) and elsewhere in County Mayo and AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS at Truska Marsh, Ballyconneelly, and at Black Rock Strand.

The COMMON CRANE is still to be found on the North Slob (Co. Wexford), whilst GLOSSY IBISES have increased to an impressive flock of 15 birds at Courtmacsherry.

Monday 3 October 2011

SANDHILL gives itself up to the 'Southerners'

Phil Bishop took this shot as it flew over us this morning, just after the first sun rays shone through the clouds.........fortunately for latecomers, it pitched down again after a mile further south

The adult SANDHILL CRANE that had been present at Loch of Strathbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire) from 22-26 September and was later seen flying between Northumberland and North Yorkshire on 29 September, over Rimac (North Lincs) and later in the Wash (Norfolk) on 1 October, finally gave itself up in Suffolk on Sunday, after being tracked from Kessingland, Aldeburgh, Sudbourne and eventually to Boyton.

After being relocated at Boyton Marshes early afternoon on 2 October, some 350 observers connected with it before it went to roost on site. A further 300 managed to see it today - the bird still present until at least 1800 hours.


Boyton lies some 5 miles ESE of Woodbridge and is accessed by taking the Hollesley road east not far out of Melton, then Boyton road about a mile beyond the RAF base. Special parking arrangements have been organised inside Boyton village, whereby space is being allocated at the church and an additional overspill field - please donate £1 to the church for this kind generosity.

From the village, walk down Mill Lane to the gate at the end and then continue to the end of the wood to the right. The Sandhill Crane can be feeding in either of the two recently large tilled fields in front of you or with cattle in fields on the seaward side of the Hollesley Youth Detention Centre, accessed by continuing SE to the seawall and walking south for a further mile.


Another great find was that of a juvenile SOLITARY SANDPIPER by Stuart Piner on Sunday - still present today. Just SW of Garstang (Lancs) and SE of Nateby on the flood viewed Humblescough Farm SD 472 438. From Nateby Drive along Humblescough Lane, fork left at the Poplar Grove signpost to the farm. Park sensibly at the farm - £4 per car.


Another recurring feature of recent autumns has been the post-breeding dispersal of Iberian GLOSSY IBISES and this year has been no different. A flock of at least 11 birds roosted this evening in trees behind the hotel in Courtmacsherry (Co. Cork) following at least 10 recorded along the South Coast of Britain over the weekend, including a party of 7 on the Isle of Wight, 3 at Stanpit Marsh (Dorset) and another on the Ogmore Estuary (Glamorgan) in South Wales.


With such fine weather even extending to Shetland over the weekend, noteworthy birds found in that archipelago included a SIBERIAN BLUE ROBIN on Foula (found freshly dead sadly), a PALLAS'S GRASSHOPPER WARBLER on Fair Isle, PECHORA PIPIT on Foula (and another on neighbouring North Ronaldsay in Orkney), BLACK-HEADED BUNTING on Unst, 3 juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS on Fetlar and ISABELLINE SHRIKE, ALPINE SWIFT, 5 OLIVE-BACKED PIPITS, 5 LITTLE BUNTINGS and a CITRINE WAGTAIL in South Mainland.


What was presumably a second NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH was trapped on Porthellick Pool, St Mary's on Saturday, with the long-staying bird still elusively feeding at Higginson's Pond on Lower Moors. A GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK was about the Airfield area, where the juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and 4 juvenile BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS remained, with two different juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS being present (on Lower Moors and Tresco Great Pool respectively), several Wrynecks, a Red-backed Shrike on Tresco and the odd mobile ORTOLAN BUNTING on St Mary's.