Monday, 31 December 2012

Second highest annual total ever

So that was it - 2012 over and done

With the unexpected late addition of the ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK on Scilly, the total number of species recorded in Britain and Ireland in 2012 was 445 species - the second highest total in history following the record 456 in 2011 (and higher than the 441 in 2010 and 434 in 2009).

The last day of the year followed largely in the same vein as before with gale-force winds and heavy rain lashing much of the country. Today's highlights were as follows (available exclusively to members only, special offer of £12 per annum still valid) -:

Sunday, 30 December 2012

BEAN GOOSE conundrum

This is a fairly typical TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE - one of a party of 7 recently photographed by John Richardson........

......But what of this beast - is it a TUNDRA or a TAIGA BEAN GOOSE. Controversy has surrounded this bird and its mate for over two weeks now but what do browsers think - please register your vote on the UK400 Club Yahoo email group poll

Bean Geese really are tricky, especially when just one or two birds are concerned

Still ONE place available on ISRAEL tour in March 2013

I have one place remaining on a tour to ISRAEL from 15-25 March 2013. This will be the full tour, from North to South, with target birds including Brown Booby, European White Pelican, Pygmy Cormorant, Little Bittern, Striated Heron, Western Reef Heron, Black Stork, Greater Flamingo, Marbled Duck, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Lesser Spotted & Greater Spotted Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Booted & Bonelli's Eagle, Black-winged Kite, Pallid Harrier, Long-legged Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Black Francolin, Chukar, Sand Partridge, Grey-headed Swamphen, Common Crane, MacQueen's Bustard, Cream-coloured Courser, Greater Sand Plover, Caspian Plover, Slender-billed Gull, Armenian Gull, Great Black-headed Gull, White-eyed Gull, Black-bellied, Pin-tailed, Spotted & Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse, Laughing Dove, Lilith's Owl, Smyrna & Pied Kingfisher, Little Green Bee-eater, Syrian Woodpecker, Desert, Bar-tailed Desert, Temminck's Horned, Hoopoe & Thick-billed Lark, Long-billed Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Citrine Wagtail, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Eastern Bushchat, Isabelline, Desert, Black-eared, Pied, Finsch's, Mourning, White-crowned Black & Hooded Wheatear, Blackstart, Caspian Stonechat, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Arabian Warbler, Cyprus Warbler, Ruppell's Warbler, Asiatic Desert Warbler, Middle Eastern Scrub Warbler, Eastern Moustached Warbler, Fan-tailed Warbler, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Sombre Tit, Western Rock Nuthatch, Masked Shrike, Palestine Sunbird, Arabian Babbler, Middle Eastern Jay, Brown-necked & Fan-tailed Raven, Indian House Crow, Tristram's Starling, Dead Sea Sparrow, Syrian Serin, Sinai Rosefinch, Trumpeter Finch, Desert Finch, Cretzschmar's Bunting and general migration of thousands of birds.

Email me on  to reserve a space

Also, still one place available on my ROUND BRITAIN TOUR of 19-27 January and 3 places on ROUND BRITAIN tour later in June

Action taken in INDIA against AMUR FALCON slayings and massacre

Dear All

We have exchanged lots of emails on this issue, and I have also replied to some of you. Yesterday I had a meeting with Ramki Sreenivasan of ConservationIndia, the person who brought out this issue through his visit to Nagaland in second half of October, and Dr S. Subramanya. Full credit should go to Ramki for bringing out this issue to our attention. I want to brief you on some points and also update you:

1. BNHS/IBCN is fully involved in this campaign. Neha Sinha, Policy and Advocacy officer of BNHS (funded by RSPB) was involved with Ramki from the beginning and helped in some policy and legal issues.

2. After seeing the massacre, Ramki contacted the Nagaland officials who acted quickly, and prevented further killing. They have posted police and forest guards in the area.

3. The Indian Minister of Environment and Forests, Mrs Jayanthi Natarajan, has asked for an explanation and action taken report from the Nagaland government, so there is a flurry of activity in Nagaland.

4. Small scale opportunistic killing of Amur Falcon annually was going on for a long time, but this large-scale killing started only 5-6 years ago after the development of a reservoir. Possibly the presence of large number of dragonflies (due to reservoir water) attract falcons but this need to be confirmed through studies. Anyway, soon after development of the reservoir the villagers found out falcon concentration and started killing them, although it is legally banned. Two years ago, a separate government notification was brought out by the Nagaland government banning falcon killing but not much was done as the area is remote and difficult to monitor. Now, with this media campaign, people have realized the extent of killing.

5. Ramki is in regular touch with people of that area and yesterday he told me that strict steps have been taken to prevent further killing, and anyway falcon migration is over.

6. Yesterday, Ramki and Dr S. Subramanya (known person in BirdLife, and IBCN State Coordinator of Karnataka) agreed that we have to start a long-term environmental education (EE) programme in Nagaland to prevent all type of bird killing. I will discuss this with Cristi, Mike and Marco next week during BirdLife Asia meeting, and with Ian Barber (whom I am meeting on 17th). We will write a project proposal for funding by Indian MoEF, but we will also require more funds. EE in Nagaland has to be long-term as killing of birds is quite extensive in rural areas all over Nagaland (and some other states of north-east India).

7. International campaign should go ahead and RSPB, BirdLife International, CMS, Conservation International, Raptor NGOs, BirdLife partners etc should write to Mrs Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister of Environment and Forests, Government of India, Paryavaran Bhawan, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi, India. They should congratulate her for her quick action. IBCN members are also writing letters to Mrs Natarajan. I will bring up this issue in the next meeting of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife.

8. Ramki will be regularly updating so please check his website.

9. Atul Sathe, PRO of BNHS has been very active in contacting media so lot of newspaper reports have come out, shocking people. He is in touch with Ramki for updates. Please forward media reports from your country and elsewhere to Atul as he is keeping track. If anyone of you want media reports from India, please contact Atul.

Asad Rahmani

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Pete Naylor's Funeral Arrangements

Peter's funeral has been arranged for FRIDAY 4 JANUARY at the West Chapel at Breakspear Crematorium at 1415 hours. The family have requested for no flowers to be sent but rather for a donation to the RSPB. Can you kindly let me know if you are planning to attend so that Mandy can calculate the catering arrangements

Many many thanks

Lee Evans (

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Birding Tour Availability in 2013

I still have a number of places available on birding tours in 2013, please email me on if you would like to reserve a place or request further details.

1) Round Britain Tour 19-27 January (1 place left)

2) Spain 20-25 February (Spanish Lynx, Eagles, Eagle Owl, Bustards, etc) (2 places)

3) Israel North & South 15-25 March (2 places)

4) Scottish Weekender April (spaces)

5) Goshawk Specials (25 spaces)

6) Lady Amherst's Pheasant feeding station visits (now SOLD OUT)

7) Morocco/Western Sahara (3 places)

8) Cape Verde Islands April (1 place)

9) Round Britain Tour May (3 places)

10) Spain/Portugal 12-18 June (3 places)

11) Ohio May (possibly 1 space)

12) Sicily June (3 spaces)

13) Madeira (July) (3 spaces)

All trips are designed for maximum birding, from dawn until dusk

Monday, 24 December 2012

One of London's finest leaves us for ever - RIP PETER NAYLOR 1950-2012

It is with very deep regret that I have to announce the extremely sad news that PETE NAYLOR has died this evening, after battling with a dehabilitating illness for a number of years. My deepest condolescences go to both Mandy and Simon (Pete's brother) who were with Peter at his bedside when he passed away this evening. At just 62 years of age, he has left us all too early........

Peter had been a very good friend of mine for a very long period of time and we had shared many thousands of great birding moments over a long period, particularly on the Isles of Scilly during what have become affectionately known as 'The Golden Years'. He had been particularly keen on London Birding too, after spending all of his life in the Capital, moving from his birthplace in Uxbridge to neighbouring Hayes, and his enthusiasm and contribution for birdwatching in the area and at his beloved Staines Reservoirs was virtually second to none. His input on the London Birding Scene was extraodinary and for several volumes, he virtually single-handedly wrote and got up-to-date the London Bird Reports. Despite his illness, and the setbacks he suffered, he still managed to fight back and get himself out in the field and testament to his keenness and exceptional ability, was the fact that he discovered the fabulous male RED-BACKED SHRIKE that frequented his local patch at Lake Farm Country Park this June. Sadly, that was the last time I was ever to see Peter in the field, as he was struck down again not long after.

Peter's contributions to British birding were immense and it was always very pleasurable to be in his company. He had the very same obsession I have for accuracy and for figures and we would pull each other's legs whenever we met at various London reservoirs, comparing the various counts of ducks, passage terns or waders. He was an outstanding ornithologist who always had a notebook to hand, was meticulous for detail and extremely sharp in the field - he would frequently beat me to a flyover Whimbrel or Bar-tailed Godwit in April and would relish the chance at identifying an Arctic Tern from an almighty mass of Common Terns. His list of finds is impressive, especially in Middlesex, where sites such as Perry Oaks Sewage Farm were once in favour and highly productive (and before it made way for Heathrow's Terminal 5).

There are not too many like Peter and I will miss him dearly. Although not forceful like myself, Peter would take time out to help others not so gifted and was often surrounded by a number of faithfuls, always grateful for what Pete would be able to point out for them. He was a very friendly individual and was also extremely tactful and funny at the same time. He had an interesting sense of humour.

Judging by the number of phone calls I have had this evening, Peter was extremely popular and well-liked - his passing will be mourned by many.

Lee Evans

Birds of the Year

With 2012 coming to an end, personal prizes for Birds of the Year go to -:

1) In first place, Suffolk's wonderfully confiding and entertaining HORNEMANNI. My only new bird in Britain in 2012

In second place, Herefordshire's outstandingly beautiful CREAM-COLOURED COURSER. Not only the bird but the location were remarkable.....(Gary Thoburn image)

And in third place - East Yorkshire's ROLLER charming hundreds of admirers during its long stay near Aldbrough.......(John Carter image)

A Whole Lotta TEAL.....

David Rodrigues kindly sent me this card representing part of the 8,000 strong flock of COMMON TEAL currently wintering on the lagoon of the recently ended EVOA project . Now there is a fabulous waterfowl location to visit when passing through Lisbon in Portugal…

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Rain, rain, rain - and severe flooding in the Southwest

The Southwest in particular is suffering from severe flooding together, with all rail links west of Taunton being suspended. Helston is particularly hard hit, and Braunton, with rain expected to continue all day

Not much information on the bird front other than the 2nd-winter LAUGHING GULL still in Rosehearty...

ROSY STARLING still in Milbury Lane gardens, Exminster (South Devon)

Happy Christmas


Friday, 21 December 2012

The Friday Review (21 December 2012)

Well I wasn't expecting to be writing this summary, more expecting some sort of catastrophic incident....

Anyway, the World ending apart, biggest news of this week was the finding of a first-winter male ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK on Scilly - species number 445 of the Year. It is visiting a garden feeder in Pilot's Retreat (at The Elms) at the east end of Hugh Town (St Mary's).

In Berkshire, the AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT remains for its 9th day, showing well on the perimeter bank about half a mile west of the Yacht Club at Queen Mother Reservoir. Once again, the Berkshire Bird Club will be opening up the site for this weekend and directing birdwatchers; just under £2,000 has now been raised.

The first-winter ROSE-COLOURED STARLING remains in gardens near the church in Exminster (South Devon), as does the first-year female SUBALPINE WARBLER in St Just (West Cornwall) in private gardens along Princess Street.

Both GLOSSY IBISES are still to be found (at Marloes Mere, Pembs, and on floodwater south of Ringwood, Hants), whilst 15 or so GREAT WHITE EGRETS are to be found, including at least 3 at Dungeness (Kent). In relation to the latter species, an adult has returned to the Chess River Valley, between Little Chalfont and Chenies Bottom (Bucks), where it can be seen from the bend in Latimer Road just 100 yards downhill from Chenies Village (please park sensibly in village and walk).

In North Norfolk, the adult Richardson's Canada Goose remains at Kelling Quags, whilst the adult Ross's Snow Goose of suspect origin remains with Barnacle Geese near Cley village. The drake LESSER SCAUP has now returned to the Dozmary Pool on Bodmin Moor (Cornwall) (with another at Blagdon Lake, Somerset), with the 3 RING-NECKED DUCKS still on Tresco Great Pool (Scilly) and single drakes at Hawkridge Reservoir (Somerset) and Par Beach Pool, St Austell (Cornwall) and the female at Siblyback Reservoir (Cornwall). The drake AMERICAN WIGEON continues at Wintersett Reservoir (West Yorks).

A GREY PHALAROPE was off Golspie Pier (Sutherland) today whilst inland, the first-winter was still at Dunstable Sewage Farm (Beds) (permit access only).

Inland/freshwater Great Northern Divers include singles at Alton Water (Suffolk) and on Queen Mother Reservoir (Berks), with just one Black-throated Diver on the New Diggings Pit at Dungeness (Kent). A juvenile Red-necked Grebe is on the reserve at Titchwell RSPB (Norfolk), whilst the Queen Mother (Berks) first-year was last noted on 14th. The Slavonian Grebe remains at Rutland Water (Leics), in the South Arm between Old Hall and the Lyndon Centre, with the female Long-tailed Duck also still there in the North Arm. Other Long-tailed Ducks include singles at Stithians Reservoir (Cornwall), on Fairhaven Lake (Lancs) and at Queen Mother Reservoir (Berks). Some 40 Smew are now at scattered localities.

Little to report from IRELAND although the AMERICAN COOT is still at Murloch (Co. Galway), the juvenile female NORTHERN HARRIER remains at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) and the CATTLE EGRET is at St Johnston (Co. Donegal).

Premier Bird News direct to your computer and phone now available on subscription for just £12* per year (* limited offer only) - email for details. Get direct access to the Club Database, detailing all sightings.

Lee G R Evans, Ornithological Consultant, British Birding Association/UK400 Club

Professional Guiding from just £63/70 Euros per day

2013 Tour Itinerary shortly to be announced but vacancies still on Round Britain Tours from 19-27 January and 17-26 May - email Lee at

*NEW FOR 2013 - October Birdathon Fortnights - getting the most out of the rarity jamboree

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

AMUR FALCON disgrace: Raising the profile and keeping the pressure on Indian Government

BNHS India is keeping the pressure on the central and State Government and initiated a story for Rajya Sabha TV on the amur falcon killings. RSTV is a Parliamentary channel and runs only one bulletin a day which government tends to watch a lot. After this story came out, an officer from Ministry of Environment and Forest called the channel to enquire about it and to get a copy of the story.

The BNHS Advocacy Officer in the clip has been instrumental in helping Conservation India to get the whole story out and keep the pressure on the Government. She is funded through our support to the BNHS bird programme.

Ian Barber, RSPB (UK), Partner Development Officer (Asia)

Festive wishes from MOROCCO and the GO-SOUTH team

The catastrophic killing of AMUR FALCONS in India and its effect in Africa

Following the earlier correspondence relating to the disgraceful and illegal massacre of AMUR FALCONS on migration in India, the following link is of interest:


TURTLE DOVE UK population little more than 600 birds

The EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE needs all of your help and is in stark decline across most of its European distribution. This summer, the UK population may have been as low as just 600 birds, hammering home just how rare they have become. When I was a teenager and learning the ropes, Richard Richardson and I would watch several thousand Turtle Doves a day (in May) flying west in large flocks across the East Bank at Cley (North Norfolk) - sadly, just a fading memory now. Looking at my notebook for 2012, I saw a pitiful 12 Turtle Doves in just 5 counties - my worst annual total ever.

Saturday, 15 December 2012


No less than 367 visiting birders were attracted to Queen Mother Reservoir today - the biggest twitch in BERKSHIRE birding history; the bird showed well all day, often walking towards the crowd - a special bird for a special occasion.....

The dawn raiders (Johnny Foster)

Friday, 14 December 2012

What a cracking Xmas Card - Memories....

Gary Thoburn is an outstanding rare bird photographer; just look at his portfolio for 2012 - highlighting some of the avian events of the year


There is an AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT present for its third day at QUEEN MOTHER RESERVOIR (Berkshire). Special visiting arrangements have been organised for tomorrow for all non-members of the Reading Ornithological Group.

The bird will be looked for from first light and news of its presence will then be relayed to RBA for general release. If present, general access will be allowed from about 0930 hours onwards. A Day Permit will be offered at £2 per person. This will be available at the gate. For Health & Safety Reasons, EVERYBODY (including permit holders) MUST be signed IN and OUT - there are NO EXCEPTIONS to this rule.

Today, the bird showed well throughout, bar a period of 45 minutes late morning when it got lost. It is exceptionally confiding, affording views down to just a few yards, often on the grass at the top of the bank. It is like a heavily sullied Meadow Pipit on its underparts but with ALL BLACK legs, a bold eye-ring and a tiny hint of a superciliary behind the eye.

DIRECTIONS: Leave the M4 at Junction 5. Follow the A4 east to the traffic lights and then take the right turning into Colnbrook. The entrance gate is at TQ 017 771 along Horton Road.

QMR has a circumference of some 3 miles, almost equivalent to walking to Blakeney Point, so save yourself plenty of time. The bird is favouring the SOUTH shoreline - a good 20 minute walk from the car park and Yacht Centre. It has occasionally flown to the far SW corner - a walk of 45 minutes

There is also a first-winter RED-NECKED GREBE present (at around TQ 000 765) and a juvenile LONG-TAILED DUCK NW of the Yacht Club at TQ 015 775

Also of note, and very rare locally, is a GREY PHALAROPE in BEDFORDSHIRE - also present for its third day. Again, special access has been arranged for this Saturday by local permit holders if the bird is still present (it was there at 1610 hours this evening). The bird is favouring the third pan, feasting on insects where the inflow pipe pumps into the basin. Unlike the pipit, this bird IS NOT CONFIDING - it is viewable distantly from by the hide, at around 100 yards distance

DIRECTIONS: Dunstable Sewage Works is situated NW of Dunstable, just east of the A5 and south of the Thorn Turn at TL 003 244. The gate will be manned to direct visitors to the parking place and watchpoint.


Here´s Birdvisions new video on You Tube. It highlights PINE GROSBEAK migration to Southern Finland during winter 2012.

Have a nice Christmastime!

Petri Merta

Thursday, 13 December 2012


American Buff-bellied Pipit (Mike McKee)

Mike McKee photographed a very odd pipit at Queen Mother Reservoir (Berkshire) late yesterday afternoon and after relocating this morning, realised it was an AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT - a first record for the County (and for the London Recording Area which the reservoir also comes within).

The reservoir is strictly permit access - restricted to members of the Reading Ornithological Group. However, on-site day permits of £2.00 are available to non-members

Both the long-staying RED-NECKED GREBE and LONG-TAILED DUCK are still present on the reservoir too.

In Suffolk, despite being traumatised by a local Sparrowhawk yesterday afternoon, the first-winter HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLL remains today, showing well on the shingle beach about 200 yards north of the Martello Tower at the very south end of Aldeburgh. Not that far away, at Minsmere RSPB, a juvenile drake SURF SCOTER was discovered mid-afternoon and drifted slowly north towards Dunwich Cliffs - a mega record for the county. Tundra Bean Geese include parties of 5 at Westleton and North Warren RSPB, Aldeburgh,

The GREAT WHITE EGRET is also still present, frequenting the NW arm of Alton Water - accessed from Lemon's Hill Bridge just off of the A137.

In neighbouring Norfolk, the regular returning female RING-NECKED DUCK was still on Whitlingham Great Broad, Norwich, whilst a BLACK-BELLIED DIPPER (the Thetford bird perhaps?) was at the Nar Millhouse in Narborough. An impressive 54 COMMON CRANES is in Broadland, roosting together in the reedbed north of Horsey Mill.

In Cambridgeshire, the two juvenile PENDULINE TITS were seen again briefly on Ouse Fen - accessed from Long Drove at TL 370 713.

The adult drake FALCATED DUCK was again with Mallards on the north bank of Farmoor 1 Reservoir (Oxfordshire) today, as well as both Slavonian Grebes and 3 juvenile Greater Scaups.

In Bedfordshire, a GREY PHALAROPE remains for a second day on the third pan at Dunstable Sewage Works. The site is strictly permit access only.

In Northeast Scotland, the female DESERT WHEATEAR continues at rattray Head (Aberdeenshire), frequenting the beach in front of the lighthouse

The juvenile BLACK-THROATED DIVER remains on the New Diggings Pit (the one opposite the ARC) at Dungeness RSPB (Kent), whilst inland Great Northern Divers can be found at eight localities.Carsington Water (Derbyshire) harbours both Great Northern Diver and Slavonian Grebe, whilst the Slavonian remains at Priory Country Park (Beds).

In Hampshire, both the GLOSSY IBIS and GREAT WHITE EGRET remain on the floodmeadows south of Ringwood.

In the South West of England, the adult winter PACIFIC DIVER is back to its normal routine, fishing offshore between Marazion Beach car park and Longrock car parks (West Cornwall), the drake LESSER SCAUP and Great Northern Diver are still on Siblyback Reservoir and the exceptionally late RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER is still at Nanquidno Valley.

In South Devon, a first-winter ROSE-COLOURED STARLING is in gardens by Exminster Churchyard for a second day, the female RING-NECKED DUCK is at Slapton Ley, whilst in Somerset, a drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK is present for a third day north of the Bessom Bridge at Wimbleball Reservoir.

Monday, 10 December 2012

FALCATED DUCK in Oxfordshire

This dapper drake FALCATED DUCK was superbly photographed by Roger Wyatt


Following the hysteria of the weekend, today was back to normal with a visit to Oxfordshire.....


A drake FALCATED DUCK had been discovered yesterday and was still present today. Joan, Mike Campbell, Bill Pegrum and I arrived late morning to find it still performing - showing reasonably well along the north shore of Farmoor 1. The bird is unringed and surprisingly wary, swimming away from the shore at speed at 130 yards range, before any of the Mallards it seems to be associating with (incidentally, of which, there has been a huge Continental influx of in the past month, perhaps due to many small lakes freezing over in the Low Countries and beyond). It is an ADULT drake and perhaps a returning bird, maybe that which wintered in South Devon.

Two different SLAVONIAN GREBES were still present on the reservoir, as well as 3 GREATER SCAUPS, one of which was an odd-plumaged juvenile.

Lee G R Evans

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Today's Beauty

Four from JONATHAN LETHBRIDGE and.........

another fine set from MJP......

Bird of the Year for me - and one of my most enjoyable twitches in a long time. Suffolk birders are always such a great bunch - and so friendly. Being face to face with this gorgeous bird for over three hours was momentous.
The first-winter HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLL performed unbelievably today, showing down to just a few feet on the shingle beach just south of Aldeburgh (Suffolk). It was incredibly approachable, delighting upwards of 250 birders during the day; only the second twitchable bird on the Mainland ever.

With this week's adult winter PACIFIC DIVER in Mount's Bay, Marazion (Cornwall), the total number of species recorded this year in Britain and Ireland now increases to 444 species.

An adult drake FALCATED DUCK was discovered today on Farmoor 1 Reservoir (Oxfordshire), keeping to the NW corner

At the north end of Scotland, the female DESERT WHEATEAR continues to show well on the beach near the lighthouse at Rattray Head (Aberdeenshire).

For the remainder of today's News and direct access to the Club's Master Database for 2012, sign up for PREMIER BIRD NEWS today - still on special offer.

Premier Bird News direct to your computer and phone now available on subscription for just £12* per year (* limited offer only) - email for details

Lee G R Evans, Ornithological Consultant, British Birding Association/UK400 Club

Professional Guiding from just £63/70 Euros per day

2013 Tour Itinerary shortly to be announced but vacancies still on Round Britain Tours from 19-27 January and 17-26 May - email Lee at

*NEW FOR 2013 - October Birdathon Fortnights - getting the most out of the rarity jamboree

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Breaking News: HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLL in Suffolk

A first-winter HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLL was this lunchtime giving crippling views on the shingle opposite the Sailing Club at Aldeburgh. Frustratingly, the finder thought it was a Lapland Bunting and as such, the sighting was not followed up. A beautiful bird

Friday, 7 December 2012

The Friday Review: its getting colder

Very, very cold throughout much of the week with some heavy snow in Scotland and Northern England; this theme is to continue next week and more severe.

Not much different has occurred this past week, although well over a thousand WAXWINGS have moved much further south into the Midlands, SE England and along the South Coast, including two single flocks of over 400 birds and perhaps 25 of over 150.

The rarest bird continues to be the AMERICAN COOT in IRELAND, whilst the South Uist PIED-BILLED GREBE is not far runner-up. Today, it was back once more on Loch na Bagh, Smerclate. Also rare on paper is PACIFIC DIVER, the regular adult reappearing for yet another winter in Mount's Bay, Marazion (Cornwall), this week.

PENDULINE TITS were once again a feature of the week, with a juvenile pair showing well at Ouse Fen, Over (Cambs) for three days and another seen briefly in Pegwell Bay (East Kent), whilst the female DESERT WHEATEAR survived all week on the beach by the lighthouse at rattray Head (Aberdeenshire).. A LITTLE BUNTING was at East Burrafirth (Shetland) today, where at least 4 HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLLS continue in residence on Unst.

Most unseasonal is a first-winter TEMMINCK'S STINT in Somerset, favouring the pool at Stockland Reach near Steart at ST 278 446 (Use the Natural England car park and walk east then south along the seawall to view)

Long-stayers include the LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs) (again on South Lake with Black-tailed Godwits), the WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER north of Bournemouth (Dorset) at Longham Lakes (SZ 062 981); lots of GREAT WHITE EGRETS still around, including the 4 at Dungeness RSPB (Kent), plus both GLOSSY IBISES at Marloes Mere (Pembs) and Bickerley Common, Ringwood (Hants), respectively.

Also still to be seen are the BLACK-BELLIED DIPPER in Thetford (Norfolk) on the River Thet

On the wildfowl front, drake AMERICAN WIGEON still at Wintersett Reservoir (West Yorks), drake LESSER SCAUP again at Blagdon Lake (Somerset)

With the cold weather encroaching from the Near Continent, quite a few Smews are now appearing at traditional wintering sites, whilst inland VELVET SCOTERS include 3 at Swithland Reservoir (Leics), 2 on Island Barn Reservoir (London) and a juvenile on Cliffe Pools RSPB (Kent), LONG-TAILED DUCKS at Alston Reservoirs (Lancs), Pugney's Country Park (West Yorks), Foxcote Reservoir (North Bucks) (2) and at Queen Mother Reservoir (Berks) and the RED-NECKED GREBE at QMR (Berks).

Irish WAXWINGS include 100 on bushes by the Old Mill pub in Tallaght (County Dublin).

As per usual, the adult winter FORSTER'S TERN and up to 3 wintering Sandwich Terns (presumably European) are in Galway Harbour east of the Mutton Island Causeway, with the adult SABINE'S GULL still at Kennedy Pier in Cobh (County Cork).

As mentioned above, the AMERICAN COOT is still to be found on Murloch, south of Ballyconneelly (County Galway), whilst in Wexford, the juvenile female NORTHERN HARRIER was again at Tacumshin Pools. The juvenile drake SURF SCOTER is still to be seen off Dungarvan (County Waterford).

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


In West Cornwall, the adult PACIFIC DIVER was seen today in Mount's Bay, distantly feeding with Great Northern Divers off of the Station House Inn. This is presumably the bird seen on numerous occasions before

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

My first Christmas Birding Card of the Year

And very topical - from Lee and Roy at SUFFOLK BIRDING

Monday, 3 December 2012

The WAXWING invasion reaches CORNWALL

Check out Steve Rogers' superb website images -

Some nice summaries for Cornwall

Friday, 30 November 2012

WAXWINGS streaming South

With temperatures plunging over much of this past week, scores of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS have been moving south, with large numbers reaching the South Coast and infiltrating the Midlands and central Wales.

As far as vagrants are concerned, Conwy's female DESERT WHEATEAR remains the highlight, still showing well on the north side of Rhyl Golf Course today, with 1 of 2 LITTLE BUNTINGS in with 60 or so Reed Buntings at Rosenannon Downs (Cornwall) and a newly-discovered DUSKY WARBLER along the coastal track west of the West Bexington (Dorset) car park, midway between the nature reserve entrance and the Mere. A further DUSKY WARBLER, initially seen on Monday, was again seen and heard at Swanvale NR today, at the north end of Swanpool, Falmouth (Cornwall).

A LESSER YELLOWLEGS was still to be found at Alkborough Flats (North Lincs) this morning, with the other wintering birds remaining at Aldcliffe Marsh (Lancs) and in Ernesettle Creek, Plymouth (South Devon). Meanwhile, the LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER was again on the Tack Piece at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs)

The adult drake Blue-winged Teal of likely captive origin was again at Lamb Island, on the River Dee, near Threave (Dumfries & Galloway) in recent days, the same bird that spent the summer in Clyde and Kinross.

A first-year Glossy Ibis was present for at least its 4th day at Ham Wall RSPB (Somerset).

Long-tailed Ducks include the juveniles at Rutland Water (Leics) and on Lade GP (Kent) and Queen Mother Reservoir (Berks), the female at Pugney's Country Park (South Yorks) and the drake at William Girling Reservoir (London).

The first-winter Red-necked Grebe remains on Queen Mother Reservoir (Berks), with Slavonian Grebes at Rutland Water (Leics), Carsington Water (Derbyshire), Scotney GP (East Sussex) and Priory Country Park, Bedford (Beds). A juvenile Black-throated Diver was new in at Dungeness New Diggings (Kent) whilst Great Northern Divers continue at Chasewater (Staffs), Shustoke Reservoir (Warks) and Horrock's Flash, Wigan (Gtr Manchester).

Portland Harbour (Dorset) was very productive today with a Black Guillemot seen, 10 Great Northern Divers, 14 Black-necked Grebes and a Red-necked Grebe, whilst Shell Bay near Sandbanks, Poole, yielded an astonishing 52 wintering Black-necked Grebes.

In IRELAND, the AMERICAN COOT remains for a fourth day at Murloch, just south of Ballyconneely (County Galway), with the juvenile drake SURF SCOTER off Dungarvan (County Waterford) and BLUE-WINGED TEAL at Ballylongford.

Additionally, a very late BAIRD'S SANDPIPER was seen today at Black Rock Strand (County Kerry).

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


Within days of one on South Uist, today sees another AMERICAN COOT in western Ireland in County Galway, just south of Ballyconneely at Murloch.

In the Outer Hebrides, the PIED-BILLED GREBE continues on Loch na Bagh, just NE of Smerclate, with 2 SNOW GEESE at Knockintorran and a Ring-necked Duck on Loch Aeval.

In North Wales, the female DESERT WHEATEAR is still surviving between Rhyl and Prestatyn on the north side of Rhyl Golf Course on the beach and sea wall at SJ 034 826, whilst a GREY PHALAROPE was seen in Holyhead Harbour (Anglesey) briefly.

The juvenile ROSY STARLING remains in gardens in St Columb Major (Cornwall)

Monday, 26 November 2012

STEVE SEAL'S the man...

What a fabulous collage: Rhyl's DESERT WHEATEAR

Didn't South Uist do well...

Rhyl's DESERT WHEATEAR, captured excellently on film by Jason Stannage

On South Uist (Western Isles) this afternoon, a PIED-BILLED GREBE then an AMERICAN COOT were found: the grebe was on Loch Smerclate whilst the Coot was showing well at Eilean nan Ramh, opposite the Co-op shop. The latter represents the 443rd species of the year.

Elsewhere, in North Wales, the female DESERT WHEATEAR was showing well (see photos above) north of Rhyl (Conwy), on the north side of the golf course on the beach opposite where the cycle path reaches from the golf course.

In Norfolk Breckland, the BLACK-BELLIED DIPPER is still to be found on the River Thet, in central Thetford

Sunday, 25 November 2012

and a nice video of Denbighshire's DESERT WHEATEAR.

Click link

Nice bot of footage from JASON STANNAGE

It has been an excellent year for DESERT WHEATEARS in Britain, with 2 during January and this the most recent of 7 birds this November


Nothing new today of any note but the female DESERT WHEATEAR still showing well in North Wales adjacent to Rhyl Golf Course (Conwy) - see Tim Vaughan's nice shot above.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Apparent BLYTH'S REED WARBLER in Cambs

See images here:

An apparent BLYTH'S REED WARBLER, albeit a warm-toned individual photographed today in the Peterborough area

The Birdwatcher's Yearbook 2013

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4) National tide-table information through to April 2014;

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This new edition is now published and can be obtained, priced £18.50 (including p & p), from: Buckingham Press Ltd, 55 Thorpe Park Road, Peterborough, PE3 6LJ. However, if ordered prior to 31 December 2012, you can SAVE £2. For further information, email

Friday, 23 November 2012

The Friday Review

Well we have had some torrential rain in recent days, with parts of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Wales being hit the hardest; the Environment Agency has no less than 112 flood warnings in operation and huge areas of the west country are under water.. Gale force winds accompanied the rain too, causing structural damage and numerous fallen trees in their wake.

Both LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS remain in situ: at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs) and Alkborough Flats (North Lincs) respectively, as do the two LESSER YELLOWLEGS - on the Wildfowler's Pool at the end of Railway Crossing Lane at Aldcliff Marshes (Lancs) and in Ernesettle Creek, Plymouth (South Devon), whilst a GREY PHALAROPE was this afternoon on the Yeo Estuary, Clevedon (Avon) in the Blake's Pool vicinity. In Staffordshire, a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER is at Drayton Bassett GP.

Rare wildfowl include drake Ring-necked Ducks at Chew Valley Lake (Avon), Eyebrook Reservoir (Leics), Helston Loe Pool (Cornwall) and on St John's Loch (Caithness), 3 drake Surf Scoters still offshore of Llandulas (Conwy), the drake American Wigeon still at Wintersett Reservoir (West Yorks) and the adult RED-BREASTED GOOSE at Farlington Marsh Deeps (Hants).

No less than 20 Great White Egrets are wintering in the UK, including 4 at Dungeness RSPB (Kent) with the GLOSSY IBIS still surviving at Marloes Mere (Pembs)

Freshwater displacements include a first-year Red-necked Grebe on Queen Mother Reservoir (Berkshire), Slavonian Grebes at Priory Country Park, Bedford (Beds) and Thorpe Park (Surrey), Great Northern Divers at Chasewater (Staffs), Chelmarsh Reservoir (Salop) and Blithfield Reservoir (Staffs).

Still perhaps 5,000 Bohemian Waxwings in the UK, sizeable flocks including 600 on the south side of Ullapool (Sutherland), 400+ on Skye (Highland), 80 in Aberdeen, 64 in Broome Road, Dumfries (D & G), 60 still by the entrance to Bielside Gardens, West Barns (Lothian), 86 in Milner St, Warrington (Cheshire), 180 on Arnott Crescent, Hulme (Gtr Manchester), 55 in Lenton (Notts), at least 200 in Denbigh (Clwyd), 52 in Birkenhead (Cheshire), 50 at Fairburn Ings RSPB (West Yorks), 380+ in Sheffield (South Yorks) and 200 in Hunslet (West Yorks).

Wintering Great Grey Shrikes include singles on Cannock Chase (Staffs), Thursley Common (Surrey), Beaulieu Road Station, New Forest (Hants), Morden Bog (Dorset), Santon Warren (Suffolk), Therfield Heath (Herts) and near Colchester at Hardy's Green (TL 942 234) (Essex)

A RICHARD'S PIPIT was seen briefly at Long Nanny Burn (Northumberland) with just wintering SHORE LARK at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse (Norfolk) whilst up to 8 HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLLS remain on Unst (Shetland). In West Cornwall, a first-winter SUBALPINE WARBLER remains in suburban gardens in St Just - generally at the rear of 41 Princess Street, whilst in Scotland, the EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER at Kilminning (Fife) was last reported on 20 November.

In IRELAND, 12 Waxwings are at the Albert Bridge Road/Short Strand junction in Belfast (County Antrim), with a further 55 at the Liffey Valley Shopping Centre in Clondalkin, Dublin (County Dublin).

A BLUE-WINGED TEAL is at Ballylongford, with the long-staying GLOSSY IBIS at Timoleague (County Cork).

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Just 3 places left

Still 3 places remaining on my January 2013 Round Britain tour, whilst places also on the February trip to see Spanish Lynx, Spanish Imperial Eagles and Bustards in Spain - please email me at for details

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

More on the plight of the WESTERN HEDGEHOG in the UK - could its demise really be down to the increase in Badgers

After processing Richard Broughton's comments and trying to understand the science behind his arguments, I phoned up one of the organisations charged with looking after many hundreds of injured, sick or poisoned Hedgehogs to see what they had to say. Having not the time nor the inclination to do an in-depth study before I put pen to paper unlike Richard, I have to admit that my statements were based on conjecture and a falasy of what I had come to believe was the key factor in their decline. It does look as though my comments were baseless - and I commend Richard for quickly pointing this out in a highly reasonable fashion. I raised the issue of slug pellets and was surprised at how little affect they do seem to be having on the UK Hedgehog population. I cannot thank the organisation highly enough and they spent some 40 minutes discussing the plight with me, and emailed me a lot of literature on the subject. This is a summary of the key points that were raised and gleaned from the respective information -:

The Mammal Society and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society now believe the UK population of Hedgehogs has crashed in recent years and it has even been suggested that they could become extinct in many places before the end of the decade. Little work has been done on the reasons for this steep decline, but it is very likely that loss of habitat, combined with the relentless toll of accidents, is a major factor in their decline. A number of reasons are put forward for the alarming and steep decline. One is intensive farming, with the loss of hedgerows and the increase in pesticides, depriving hedgehogs of their prey of slugs and insects. Another is increased vehicle numbers leading to increased road kills, and a third is urban development, with tidier gardens and better fences meaning urban populations of hedgehogs cannot move about, become fragmented and die out.

And there could be another reason...........

Contrary to popular belief, Western Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) are more common in towns and villages than they are in the open countryside. The reasons for this are not fully understood, but perhaps, as Richard intimated (and somewhat a revelation to me and could explain why my own Hedgehogs have gone), their natural enemy, the Badger, tended (until recently) to steer clear of human habitation, offering it some protection, while much of the persecution they formally suffered at the hands of farmers and game keepers, would have been largely absent in these places. Badgers are the hedgehog's only British predator – their powerful front claws can uncurl the hedgehog's tight defensive ball of spines – and in recent decades their numbers have increased enormously, almost certainly because of the warmer winters brought about by climate change. Badgers eat hedgehogs readily, and hedgehogs are terrified of them.

Ironically though, this protection comes at a price, as being in such close proximity to humans, has left them vulnerable to our destructive and wasteful activities. Animal charities in the UK in a typical year see a hugely disproportionate number of Hedgehogs bought to their door compared to other species of wild animal (or certainly did so in the first decade of the New Millenium).

Hedgehogs are, by the nature of their structure, somewhat ungainly and although they can climb well and are good swimmers, they cannot climb out of broken drains or uncovered post holes and trenches, while their swimming skills are quickly defeated by steep-sided ponds and uncovered swimming pools. They are also often the victims of entanglement in plastic garden netting, while attacks by domestic dogs are an increasing problem (and their spines offer very little protection, especially when terrier breeds are involved). Additionally, burning in bonfires, garden pesticides, broken glass and litter and discarded games netting, all take their toll on the population.

During their breeding season (which begins in April and extends right through until October) many nests are dug out by dogs or destroyed by gardeners. A typical hedgehog nest comprises a football-sized ball of woven grasses, leaves, plastic bags and litter, situated just below the surface and they can be difficult to spot.

Electric strimmers, too, are a common cause of injury and death, as many hedgehogs, especially in very warm weather, will sleep in the open, usually in long grass and undergrowth.

In many areas of the Southeast, unprecedented house building has taken place in the past few years, with large gardens often being sold off to developers, who then squeeze three or four new houses into the one space, removing at a stroke, much prime hedgehog habitat. Hedgehogs it seems do not like such disturbance and often, soon afterwards, disappear completely.

Amazingly, hedgehogs enjoy very little legal protection. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 makes it illegal to catch, trap or kill them without a licence and The Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 protects them from cruelty, but that’s about it.

The facts relating to this decline are frightening and of major concern. In the past 20 years or so, Hedgehogs have disappeared from much of Britain. This has not really registered yet in the public consciousness, but it is an astounding phenomenon. There were an estimated 30 million Hedgehogs in Britain in the 1950's, but now it is believed that less than half a million survive, and recently the rate of decline has grown even steeper.

Lee G R Evans

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Catastrophic declines in Bird Populations

This is a response I published recently addressing Steve Dudley (BOU) and Richard Broughton (ecologist) sums up my feelings........

Steve and Richard may point towards 'reasonings' behind the declines in some species but lest remember, we are seeing something in the magnitude of 44 million birds lost from the equation, in a relatively short time span (50 years). This is catastrophic, and talks of a 24% increase on a vastly reduced Song Thrush population is glossing over the situation

I really cannot see how bird populations can sustain long-term such devastating effects on population indices, especially when one considers the continual carnage in the Middle East (Kuwait and the UAE mainly, but also in Turkey and Egypt), Malta and other countries still intent in murdering each and every migrant they can get their hands or guns on. They are killing literally millions of birds per annum, wiping out entire flocks of birds such as Black Storks and White Pelicans. Vast numbers of migrating raptors are slaughtered, and passerine numbers are just too frightening to comprehend. If you spent just four weeks in Kuwait, you would see the magnitude of the killing.

And look what has happened in China in recent years - entire populations of the likes of Yellow-breasted Bunting, Tree Sparrow, Mongolian Lark and an assortment of Rosefinches virtually wiped out - and a frightening increase in markets trading in small wild birds for food

Just look at the recent slaying of 160,000 migrating Amur Falcons in India - it just does not bear thinking about, the scenarios bird populations have to put up with

Pressure needs to be placed on the door of these countries supporting such devastating slaughters with not just idle threats. In the case of Malta, they continually flout EU directives on wild bird protection, so why have they not been thrown out. Just like Israel I suppose, nobody really cares who has the power to do anything about it. Another old boys club

I believe we are going to see Turtle Dove become extinct as a breeding bird in Britain in some of our lifetimes' - and this was once a very common bird of our countryside. Likewise, Willow Tit's days must surely be numbered.

Red-backed Shrike was still locally common when I took up birdwatching in 1968 but where is it now, some 44 years on. Gone - and a fading memory.

Velvet Scoter was once a common sight on a trip to Scotland in winter, particularly in the Moray Firth, with huge diving flocks of 6,000 birds or more - but now, Scottish wintering population now possibly as low as 650 birds in total; Long-tailed Duck and Greater Scaup gone the same way too. And it's not just a case of them reorienting north to winter in the Baltic or elsewhere, I struggle in Varanger Fjord (Arctic Norway) now to record the numbers. The RSPB recently found that horrendous numbers of seabirds (including wildfowl) were being caught in fishing nets and drowned off of the NE coast of Britain - and in just two days of secret filming, revealed the deaths of over 400 birds in just one small area. Just extrapolate those figures over an entire winter and over a vast stretch of coastline and see how much carnage that would cause - and these often being species that perhaps fledge just one young in 7 years. Catastrophic

Defining potential causes of steep declines is one thing but actually taking measures to counteract them is another - and I see far too few signs in this happening. The reason that the story is not entirely bleak and has some plusses is that many households in the UK are bird-friendly nowadays and feed them throughout the year - but could this too play catastrophic as birdtable-borne diseases strike hard. And the rise in many Mediterranean species to our shores is only resultant upon changes in climate and the effects drought-like conditions are having in countries such as Spain and Portugal.

Monday, 19 November 2012


What an incredible find. When walker Roger Card walked in to the kiosk at Samphire Hoe Country Park and showed Paul (the resident birder on site) these images on his camera screen, he could not believe it - especially as the bird had been showing down to just feet in the grass besides the main footpath that runs between the overflow car park and the beach. Several people raced down there but like these things happen, there was no further sign of the bird after Roger last left it at around 0955 hours. What an amazing find.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The PINE GROSBEAK invasion in Scandinavia


There has been 42.000 Pine Grosbeaks in Finland between 15th October and 18th November. Vast majority have been recorded in Southern Finland and the migration was peaking from 20th October to 5th November. Source is BirdLife Finlands Tiira-database (Petteri Mäkelä)


So far almost 200 Pine Grosbeaks (at 20 sites) have reached Denmark during 30th October to 18th November 2012. The biggest flocks were 13 and 14 birds at Skagen and Nordmandshage respectively (Nordjylland).

62 birds migrating south at Nordmandshage east of Aaborg on 12th was a new Danish record count. The Skagen og Nordmandshage birds had probably flown in from sea (Kattegat) from Sweden shortly before being discovered. Following the first records in the far NE, birds have migrated to central and even western Denmark but still there are no records from southernmost Denmark. Most records are along the Kattegat coasts including several birds that have finally also reached northern Sjælland despite just three Skåne (Sweden) records this year.This is by far the biggest invasion ever recorded in Denmark (Rolf Christensen)


An ASIATIC DESERT WARBLER was seen this morning along the track besides the railway at Samphire Hoe Country Park, south of Dover, but was lost at around 0945 hours, whilst in the north of the county, a first-winter male DESERT WHEATEAR was discovered on Harty Marshes along the sea wall west of the hide between Harty Church and Shell Ness.

Also newly found today were a DUSKY WARBLER in Winspit Valley (Dorset) and a white morph GYRFALCON on South Uist (Outer Hebrides), whilst a probable SUBALPINE WARBLER was in a garden in St Just (West Cornwall)

Two new RING-NECKED DUCKS included a drake at Eyebrook Reservoir (Leics) and a female at Siblyback Reservoir (Cornwall)

Friday, 16 November 2012

Not a lot new turning up

Same old, same old......

Not much on offer today I am afraid, so little to target for at the weekend

Pick of the bunch perhaps, a relatively new-ish GREAT WHITE EGRET in Cambridgeshire - 2 miles east of Whittlesey amd SE of Eastrea at Wype Doles favouring fenland ditches north of Wypemere Farm, whilst up to 4 (of the 5) still remain in the Dungeness RSPB reserve area.

Both LESSER YELLOWLEGS' remain present with that at Aldcliffe Marsh (Lancs) and the other at Ernesettle Creek, Plymouth (South Devon), with the LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS still at Long Nanny Burn (Northumberland) at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs) and a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER at Drayton Bassett Pits (Staffs) on the new workings just south of the North Pit (park sensibly by Middleton Hall and take the muddy track to the conveyor belt and canal).

An adult COMMON CRANE is a good bet at Amberley Wild Brooks (RSPB (West Sussex), having been present all week, whilst a LITTLE AUK has survived swimming back and forth along the beach between Cley and Salthouse (North Norfolk) for a second day. In West Sussex also, the first-winter female HOODED MERGANSER remains faithful to the tidal creek at the north end (North Wall) of Pagham Harbour (park in Church lane and walk to the sluice).

In the Southwest, Chew Valley lake (Avon) offers both LESSER SCAUP and RING-NECKED DUCK, whilst in Hampshire, the adult RED-BREASTED GOOSE continues to graze The Deeps fields amongst 2,500 Dark-bellied Brent Geese at Farlington Marshes HWT. All 3 of this autumn's RING-NECKED DUCKS still remain on Tresco Great Pool (Scilly), as does the female on Slapton Ley (South Devon)..

Other RED-BREASTED GEESE include single adults ESE of Anthorn at Whitrigg (Cumbria) and on Islay (Argyll), where on the latter island, up to 9 different vagrant CANADA GEESE remain with Barnacle Geese.

In Breckland Norfolk, a BLACK-BELLIED DIPPER has started to get more reliable, showing up more frequently just north of the bridge over the River Theyt in central Thetford

A PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER present for its third day in the old lighthouse garden at Dungeness (Kent) (with the ever-present GLAUCOUS GULL nearby on the beach) whilst in Scotland, the EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER that has no plans to leave still lingers in the Rose bushes within the lower car park at Kilminning (Fife Ness, Fife).

Up to 6,000 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS remain in Britain, still largely in northern England and Scotland - the largest single gathering of which being the flock of 1,000 or so birds in the Kyle of Lochalshe and Kyleakin areas (Highland).

A few snippets from IRELAND where the 5 COMMON CRANES and at least one juvenile NORTHERN HARRIER remain at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford), the female SURF SCOTER and VELVET SCOTER offshore at Glenbeigh (Co. Kerry) and pair of SURF SCOTERS at Gowlane, a RICHARD'S PIPIT in stubble fields near Forgotten Corner (Tacumshin), a SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF for a second day in Churchtown (Tacumshin), the adult FORSTER'S TERN in Galway Harbour (Co. Galway) and a LESSER SCAUP (one of three recent birds) near Castlegregory (Co. Kerry) at Lough Gill.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Irish invaders and special offer on large format COLLINS BIRD GUIDE

In addition to the large numbers of apparent IRISH COAL TITS that made it to the Isles of Scilly and West Cornwall, it now appears that an IRISH RED-BILLED CHOUGH may have immigrated and made landfall in the region. A Chough sadly died there at the beginning of November and DNA is being tested on the bird's feathers to see if it can be linked to the Irish population

Also, just in case anybody has not purchased the following, Amazon are offering an exceptional deal on the large format Collins Bird Identification Guide at the moment - just £15 post free - a saving of £35

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Congratulations - we have 4 winners

The first four observers to email me with the correct answers of female DESERT WHEATEAR, Abberton Reservoir Car Park and Peugeot 406 Estate were -:

1) Robin Edwards at 1153 hours
2) Pete Kinsella at 1218 hours
3) Tony Wells at 1715 hours
4) Geoff Williams at 1721 hours

Frustratingly, Geoff publicly blew the gaffe and the competition had to be suspended

However, Chris Parnell was so close with his answer that I am giving him the complimentary membership anyway

Well done guys

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Identify this car, bird and location

The first 5 correct answers at will receive a free year's subscription to the UK400 Club's newly launched Premium Rare Bird News information, saving them £24 per year.

In West Sussex, both the first-winter drake HOODED MERGANSER and adult BLACK BRANT remain at Pagham Harbour North Wall, whilst COMMON CRANES continue at Pulborough Brooks RSPB and Scotney GP (in fields inland of the extreme west end).

The adult RED-BREASTED GOOSE can still be found along the East Bank at Farlington Marshes Deeps (Hants) feeding with Dark-bellied Brent Geese, whilst nearby, the regularly wintering adult RING-BILLED GULL is at Walpole Boating Lake, Gosport.

A DUSKY WARBLER was seen briefly by Portland Castle (Dorset) whilst Chew Valley Lake (Avon) harbours both LESSER SCAUP and RING-NECKED DUCK.

In Kent, PENDULINE TITS remain at Grove Ferry and Dungeness ARC Pit (both highly elusive), with GREAT GREY SHRIKES at Thursley Common (Surrey) and near Colchester (Essex)

Lots of GREAT WHITE EGRETS about, including 4 in the Dungeness Area (Kent), a colour-ringed bird in Ringwood (Hants) and 2 at Burton Mere (Cheshire).

In Scotland, both the EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER and BARRED WARBLER remain at Fife Ness at Kilminning (Fife).

There was no sign of the Bee-eater in County Durham today

Monday, 12 November 2012

Lots more PINE GROSBEAKS moving south

Following none seen during the weeekend, a new Danish record 62 PINE GROSBEAKS flew south during 1100-1300 hours today at Nordmandshage, Nordjylland (a coastal site near the Kattegat sea east of Aalborg).

Also very surprisingly one flew north past Blåvands Huk, Vestjylland (the westernmost Danish point, near the Waddensea) - a new species here, and some 10-12 were at Skagen, Nordjylland including 3 ringed by me at Grenen.

Surely they are Russian and Finnish birds leaving Sweden coming in from the sea of Kattegat heading SW (and some NE to Skagen)?

Rolf Christensen

Friday, 9 November 2012

PINE GROZZERS still moving south

Denmark today has seen more PINE GROSBEAKS arrive in Skagen suggesting that the southerly exodus is picking up, whilst in North America, large numbers of RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, PINE SISKINS and EVENING GROSBEAKS are irrupting.

Here in Britain, the westerly winds have put paid to arriving vagrants and we are left with a paucity of birds of wider interest.....the total remains at 440 species.....

Highly popular is a first-winter female HOODED MERGANSER in West Sussex, present for just over a week in Pagham Harbour. The bird is favouring the tidal creek by the sluice at the North Wall and is concentrating its efforts at catching Crabs and other crustaceans. An hour either side of high tide should provide the best views, otherwise the bird swims down the creek and is very distant or out of view. Park sensibly at the end of Church Lane and walk 200 yards to the sluice bridge to view. As there is nothing to suggest that this bird is an escape (unringed and fully-winged) and its appearance in November mirrors that of the majority of recent records of this species in the UK, it is considered by the UK400 Club to be most likely a genuine vagrant.

In Kent in the Stour Valley, the PENDULINE TIT flock at Grove Ferry NR (Stodmarsh) increased to four birds first thing this morning, showing well pulling Bulrush heads apart from the David Feast Hide. However, with an increasing westerly wind, they were not seen again despite searching (at least one bird has been present all week).

After several weeks, the EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER continues to survive at Kilminning, Fife Ness (Fife), showing well in Rose bushes close to the green building on the seaward side of the lower car park at NO 631 088. At the same site also is a very long-staying juvenile BARRED WARBLER. Further north on Shetland, no less than 8 HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLLS remain, with 5 in crops around Baltasound School on Unst. Shetland also yielded a late ARCTIC WARBLER in Helendale on Wednesday and Thursday. Also managing to survive and find suitable food is the EUROPEAN BEE-EATER in County Durham, favouring properties and gardens along Dartford Road in Seaham (SR6 8HF for those of you with Sat-nav's)

A RICHARD'S PIPIT remains on the clifftop SE of the church at Covehithe (Suffolk) whilst a late juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE was trapped and ringed in Denmark House garden, Weybourne (Norfolk), this afternoon. In Breckland Norfolk, an elusive BLACK-BELLIED DIPPER is frequenting the River Thet in Thetford.

An adult BONAPARTE'S GULL continues in South Devon at Dawlish Warren NNR, ranging along the beach between the Lifeboat lookout and Groyne 1, whilst the influx of CASPIAN GULLS continues with perhaps 45 birds recorded from Derbyshire to Buckinghamshire.

The adult LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER remains with Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs) on South Lake, whilst a first-winter was still present yesterday at the Long Nanny Burn in Northumberland. An adult AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER still retaining partial breeding plumage remains for a second day with 850 European Golden Plovers on mudflats at Pickerings Pasture NR (Cheshire).

A fair number of wintering GREAT WHITE EGRETS are to be found, with 4 in the Dungeness Area (Kent), the regularly-reappearing French-ringed adult at Ringwood (Hants), a bird at Willington GP (Derbyshire) (at SK 284 275), the usual bird at Leighton Moss RSPB (Lancs), up to 3 at ham Wall RSPB (Somerset) and 2 at Burton Mere Wetlands (Cheshire). Contrastingly, just one GLOSSY IBIS remains - at Marloes Mere (Pembs).

This time of year always sees a scattering of rare wildfowl with the adult RED-BREASTED GOOSE grazing with Dark-bellied Brent Geese and Canada Geese on The Deeps, Farlington Marsh (Hants), RING-NECKED DUCKS including a female in Ireland Bay, Slapton Ley (South Devon), a drake at Chew Valley Lake (Avon),one on Skomer (Pembs) and a young drake on Alvie Loch, near Aviemore (Speyside), a drake LESSER SCAUP in Villice Bay, Chew Valley Lake (Avon) and the drake AMERICAN WIGEON remaining at Wintersett Reservoir (West Yorks).

There continue to be large numbers of arriving BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS into the UK, from Shetland to Scilly, although individual flock sizes are generally small (less than 25) when compared to recent influxes of the species. A flock of 112 however is to be found in Blaydon (County Durham), 330 in Hull (East Yorks), 200 in Morrison's Car Park in Stirling (Forth) and 150 on Euston Street in Preston (Lancs). At least 150 Waxwings have been colour-ringed in Orkney in recent weeks and if you see any of these birds, please email with details.

The largest flock of BRAMBLING I have heard of so far is of 125 birds in Beech in Screetham Lane, Beeley Moor (Derbyshire)

Just one freshwater GREAT NORTHERN DIVER has been reported (on the Main Pit at Theale, Berkshire), whilst inland LONG-TAILED DUCKS can be found at Stocks Reservoir (Lancs) and at Dungeness RSPB (Kent).

Very little in the way of news from IRELAND but the regularly-reappearing adult SABINE'S GULL is back at the Kennedy Pier in Cobh (County Cork), the adult FORSTER'S TERN is once more at Nimmo's Pier, Galway Harbour (County Galway), a young drake LESSER SCAUP is on Lough Gash and at least 2 RICHARDSON'S SMALL CANADA GEESE are in the Lissadell Area. A party of 5 COMMON CRANES have been present at Tacumshin (County Wexford) in recent days, as have 2 juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS on the Myroe Levels, whilst the regular blue morph LESSER SNOW GOOSE is back at Lower Lough MacNean (County Fermanagh). Highlight though, was news of a BLACKPOLL WARBLER late this afternoon, feeding in a private garden on the Mullet at Blacksod (County Mayo), whilst on Sunday 4 November, this year's only PIED-BILLED GREBE remained near Louisburgh at Lough Baun (County Mayo).

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

New Service from the British Birding Association


The first 100 members will be eligible for a 50% discount whilst regular contributors will receive free alerts. Please email LGRE on for membership details

New KENT BIRDING email group - please join

Due to the demise of Kosnet and other Kent news dissemination email groups, I have set up a new one here which will concentrate on wildlife sightings. Please feel free to join

Click below and press Join This Group Now

Lee Evans

New Petition: Stop the carnage in CHINA

Dear All

I recently saw some very interesting posts from Terry on his Birding Beijing blog about a campaign, led by Chinese birders, to tear down illegal mist nets used to trap birds in China. I've just recorded a podcast with him which I've uploaded to Talking Naturally (it's just 18 minutes long and very encouraging!).

If podcasts are not of interest to you, then please do have a look at the website highlighting the problem. It's at

As Terry says in the podcast, if overseas birders/conservationists leave a message of support (using the field at the bottom of the page) to encourage the activists it will make a great difference to them - a really easy and quick way to support their efforts.

Charlie Moores

Friday, 2 November 2012

First twitchable AGP for Oxfordshire but make sure you see the right bird

The real McCoy (upper 3 images) and the imposter (grey bird in the middle of flock) (taken by Jason Coppock) Check out and Bookmark Jason's 'Oxon Bird Log' for all the latest Oxfordshire Bird News.

Having not seen the previous AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER in Oxfordshire, I was very keen to get my eye on to this one and hence a visit this morning...

The Golden Plover flock today were particularly flighty and difficult to pin down but eventually landed long enough to enable a proper perusal. There were a total of 699 birds all told, give or take perhaps 3% error. What soon became apparent was that there were two very interesting birds in the flock - the juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and a very striking and eye-catching pale (grey) Golden Plover which, when it revealed its white underwing, was a particularly grey adult European Golden Plover with an obvious white eye-stripe. Adam Hartley (the AGP finder and Port Meadow obsessive) had seen this bird within the flock several times previously but it did cause major problems with those twitching the flock.

The real AGP was nothing like as distinctive as this bird, being overall very beige-grey in colouration but with distinctively longer legs, a much smaller and slimmer body, diagnostic tapered primaries with long projection and dark smoky underwing coverts/axillaries. It was a much smaller bird compared to the European Goldies but make sure if you visit that you see the correct bird......

Port Meadow also held 5 Dunlin and 35 Common Snipe, along with a large number of wildfowl, including 460 Common Teal, 128 Wigeon, 42 Gadwall and 18 Shoveler.

At nearby FARMOOR RESERVOIRS, I could only find one of the SLAVONIAN GREBES and one of the female GREATER SCAUPS, along with 45 Great Crested Grebes and 2 female Common Goldeneyes. Fabulous new hide on the main causeway but shame that the door doesn't fit !

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


I am just putting together my 2013 Trips Itinerary. I have places available on many at the moment. First off, there are a few places on my very popular ROUND BRITAIN tours - 19-27 January 2013 and 16-25 May 2013. These are exhaustive trips taking in Scotland, Wales, East Anglia and the South Coast, this year's trips respectively recording 192 and 189 species respectively, including ALL of the UK's wintering and breeding specialities bar Lady Amherst's Pheasant and Quail. For more details and to make a reservation, simply email Lee Evans at

Also planned for 2013 are trips to Thailand (January), Spain (February, for Spanish Lynx, Bustards & Imperial Eagles), Egypt (March), Israel (March), Cape Verde Islands (April), Georgia/Turkey (April), Spain (May), Morocco & Western Sahara (May), Finland/Sweden/Norway (late May/June for Owls, Great Snipes, Steller's Eiders, etc), and Sicily (June), with more trips to be announced later. Please email me if you fancy joining me on any of the above.

But please remember, these are hard-core birding trips, birding from dawn until dusk and concentrating on seeing ALL of the specialities possible in the shortest time

Monday, 29 October 2012

Surprise meal for a BARRED OWL

BARRED OWL captures pet cat


HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLL in North Norfolk - and I missed it

On Friday (26 October), Josh McCallum-Stewart located a large fluffy redpoll feeding alone in the dunes at Holkham Beach, some 800 yards west of the Gap. The fact that it had a striking, clear white rump immediately led Josh to realise he had an Arctic Redpoll - but which one? An hour later, local birders Si Dennis and Steve Hack independently stumbled across it and phoned it in to the Information Services. As soon as the pager reported a redpoll feeding in the dunes, I was concerned - and telephoned Neil Alford, Mark Golley and a number of other North Norfolk birders - in the hope that it would quickly get checked out. With very strong northerly winds bathing Norfolk in recent days and with an unusual number of Hornemanni about the Northern Isles, I was really worried about this bird. In fact, Steve and Simon even reported it as a Hornemanni but it seems this message was ignored - just Arctic Redpoll being relayed.

What made matters worse was the bird's insistence to remain elusive and although a lot of people searched for it later, only Peter Glute connected briefly at 1700 hours. Nobody was any wiser.

Anyway, Saturday dawned and a few diehard observers ventured out into the dunes and eventually located it. A considered Redpoll expert was amongst those looking at it and frustratingly his choice of id was exilipes (aka as Coues' or Scandinavian Arctic Redpoll). Seeing this come up on the pager, I contacted Mark Golley and after listening to the description of the bird MAG had been given by observers, I decided it was not worth persuing and drove off in the direction of Somerset for a showy Hoopoe - what a disastrous and catastrophic decision that turned out to be.

At around 1500 hours, RBA took some worrying phone calls relating to the appearance (and tameness) of the Holkham Redpoll - and getting hold of Neil and Mark it was clear that a major cock-up had been made. This was no ordinary Arctic Redpoll but a HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLL - the rarest of them all and a real Shetland speciality - and the first-ever UK Mainland individual. I was mortified - suicidal - absolutely numb - 290 miles away at Weston-Super-Mare !

Incredibly, even after RBA had highlighted its presence as a true snowball, interest was slight - just 35 observers joining Richard Millington, SJMG, Jim Lawrence, Mark and Neil during the late afternoon. Incredible.

I drove home deeply depressed, knowing full well the enormity of my mistake and mis-judgement - after all, hornemanni is a £300 plus bird to get. It has been a real bogey bird of mine for years and at last I had the opportunity to grip back a bird. Fat chance of that I thought. The weather forecast depressed me even further - the strong Northerly winds were to drop overnight and veer WSW.

Anyhow, Allan Stewart and I arranged to meet at 0500 hours and arrived at Lady Anne's Drive at 0715 hours. It was bleak and from the word go, I admitted defeat - Starlings were pouring west at a rate of over 1,000 an hour - it was clear migration was in full swing. I joined James McCallum, Andy Bloomfield, Neil Bostock, Alan Lewis and Graham Ekins in the dunes and walked aimlessly for miles and miles of dune-slack. After three circuits, I was tired - and despite back-up in the form of Chris Batty, Andy Clifton, Malcolm Goodman, Phil Rhodes and others later, the Arctic wanderer was nowhere to be found - we had all mostrously dipped !

And the beast itself - just look at Jim Lawrence's mouthwatering shots above. Showing down to just a few feet, this was a Hornemanni from the start. Just look at the bulk of the bird and its heavily feathered thighs and deep-based bill. Although not as white as many, this first-winter showed all of the traits associated with this mega-rare - large size, large head and steep forehead, long tail, long primary projection. honey-buff face and frontage extending onto the upper breast, broad-fringed tertials, obvious tramlines, indistinct narrow streaking on the flanks, restricted crimson forecrown, massive bulging unstreaked white rump and spartan undertail-covert streaking.

Unsurprisingly, this represents the first record for Norfolk, although there is a video of a late September 'Arctic Redpoll' seen by Dick Bagnall-Oakley in Wells in 1966 (from 28 September to 10 October) which may have related to this species.