Wednesday, 29 February 2012

More News

As my review was posted prematurely, a few more details....

The LESSER YELLOWLEGS I spoke of was the bird showing well from the second hide near Kingsmill Lake, north of Saltash (Cornwall) (at SX 427 608) - and now present for its 92nd day.

The Kent Hooded Merganser is unringed and reasonably wary and present at Whetsted GP, 3.5 miles east of Tonbridge; park in Five Oak Green and foolow the footpath from Moat Farm to TQ 642 467.

On Scilly, the first-winter WILSON'S SNIPE reappeared at Lower Moors on 25th

February 2012 comes to an end - 268 species

With some early spring migrants appearing such as the likes of Stone Curlew, Little Ringed Plover, White Wagtail and Northern Wheatear, the total number of species now recorded in Britain and Ireland in 2012 stands at an impressive 268 species.

However, it is the rare passerines that continue to steal the show....

In South Wales, the eleventh COMMON YELLOWTHROAT for Britain continues to thrill allcomers in Rhiwderyn, 3 miles west of Newport (Gwent). Park in Caerphilly Close before entering the farmland by the stile.

Meanwhile, on St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, the overwintering NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH continues to parade around Shooter's Pool on Lower Moors, far and away the longest-staying example of a North American 'warbler'.

Hampshire on the other hand, still harbours the first-winter male DARK-EYED JUNCO in the New Forest at Hawkhill Inclosure, 1.5 miles NNW of Beaulieu (in the vicinity of the fallen pines in the main clearing NNW of the car park), with the male SPANISH SPARROW cheeping and chirping in Calshot Close, Calshot village (follow on-site instructions and refrain from visiting prior to 0800 hours; always park 500 yards away at the main car park).

The other main attraction is Pagham Harbour's PADDYFIELD WARBLER in West Sussex. Wintering by itself, this bird has once again reverted to frequenting the grass inside of the North Wall as well as the Phragmites west of the Breach Pool and has been performing very well at times (park at the end of Church Lane in Pagham village and walk west for 400 yards to view)

Now for the rest.......

The most reliable RED-NECKED GREBE in recent days has been that at Alton Water (Suffolk), viewable from Lemon's Hill Bridge in Tattingstone, whilst a plethora of GREAT WHITE EGRETS remain far and wide (including no less than 8 in the Somerset Levels) and the WHITE STORK of unknown origin at Kirkby-on-Bain Landfill Site (Lincs).

GLOSSY IBISES remain in very good numbers with 5 on the island of Eigg (Highland), the first-winter at Leighton Moss (Cumbria), several in the Marloes Mere area of Pembrokeshire, 4 in the Yare and Bure Valleys in Norfolk and the first-winter at Eastbridge/Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk).

Up to 3 different ROSS'S SNOW GEESE remain in Norfolk, with another adult of unknown origin in the Caerlaverock WWT area (D & G), with large numbers of TUNDRA BEAN GEESE still present throughout the country and a number of vagrant GREENLAND WHITE-FRONTED GEESE (including two different birds in Suffolk). The first-winter SMALL CANADA GOOSE remains at Torr Reservoir, East Cranmore (Somerset), with RED-BREASTED GEESE perhaps of continental origin in Dumfries & Galloway, Suffolk, Essex and in Hampshire.

Drake FERRUGINOUS DUCKS continue at Bray GP, Maidenhead (Berks) and Ivy Lake, Blashford HWT (Hants) but are both intermittent in their appearances, with LESSER SCAUPS at St John's Loch (Caithness), Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs) and Cosmeston Lakes CP (Glamorgan) and SURF SCOTERS at Dawlish Warren NNR (South Devon), Mount's Bay, Penzance (Cornwall) and in Wales at

The first-winter female BUFFLEHEAD is still to be found at the north end of the Loe Pool, Helston (Cornwall) whilst a female-type Hooded Merganser of unknown origin remains for a third week at Whetstead GP, Tonbridge (Kent)

The 2nd-winter WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLE appears to have departed back to the Continent, having not been reported from Kent for over a week now, whilst the only (GREENLAND) GYRFALCON of the New Year being a formidable and most majestic white morph juvenile on North Uist at Grenitote (Outer Hebrides)

A LESSER YELLOWLEGS continues to show well from the second hide

whilst the SPOTTED SANDPIPER is still to be seen at Stanpit Marsh, Christchurch Harbour (Dorset). A LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER continues to feed with Common Redshanks on the low tide of the Cydweli Quay (Carmarthenshire).

Huge numbers of ICELAND-TYPE gulls remain in Scotland and elsewhere, including a record count of 75 in Stornoway Harbour on Lewis (Outer Hebrides), with perhaps 4% being KUMLIENI in appearance. GLAUCOUS GULLS, on the other hand, remain few and far between, perhaps indicative of the source of the influx.

The four SHORE LARKS remain in Holkham Bay (Norfolk), ranging up to 400 yards east of the Gap, with WATER PIPITS more numerous than of late (with 35 in the Stour Valley at Stodmarsh, Kent) and the first wave of Continental WHITE WAGTAILS arriving.

A male PENDULINE TIT remains elusively in the reedbeds close to the Hanson Hide, Dungeness ARC Pit (Kent), with a superb adult ROSE-COLOURED STARLING visiting gardens in Muirhead, Troon (Ayrshire) and a more dowdy first-winter in Holyhead (Anglesey). A single first-winter SCANDINAVIAN ARCTIC REDPOLL remains at Titchwell Marsh RSPB (Norfolk).

In IRELAND today, an immature BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS was seen at sea a staggering 184 miles SW of Mizen Head (County Cork), with the adult BONAPARTE'S GULL still at ballygally, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER at The Cull (County Wexford), juvenile PALLID HARRIER at Lough Corrib (County Galway), the adult FORSTER'S TERN at Traught Beach, Galway Bay (County Galway)and CATTLE EGRET at Hillsborough Lake (Co. Down).

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Help for wiontering DALMATIAN PELICANS

Due to the abnormal severe winter in Daghestan, since mid February over 500 DALMATIAN PELICANS have found shelter in the port of Makhachkala, on a small area of unfreezing Caspian waters near the shipyard. These rare birds, escaping from frosts and starvation, left nobody unconcerned.

The very first days Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Daghestan organized extra feeding of the pelicans with fish. Many other organizations and institutions joined the action such as Daghestan Nature Reserve, Russian Bird Conservation Union (RBCU), Charitable Fund ‘ChistoyeSertse’, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Corporation ‘Sibirskoye Zdorovye’etc., and thousands of volunteers – common citizens, students and school children.

Several birds (the most weakened and injured) were brought to the cordon of Daghestan Reserve. There, in cooperation with Russian Bird Conservation Union and Bird Hospital ‘Zeleny Popugay’ (Green Parrot), was organized a field hospital. The hospital has enough room, food, necessary medicine and equipment, among them a mobile laboratory, ultrasound apparatus, etc. Now, it is important to provide pelicans with necessary conditions to restore and gather strength and help these birds be ready for the spring migration.

Gadzhibek Dzhamirzoev, Daghestan, Russia

Sunday, 19 February 2012

New parking instructions for YELLOWTHROAT as heavy rain turns field into mudbath

We have had to change parking and access arrangements due to the poor weather experienced today. Updated information including a map is now available at

Glad you liked the 'service' Lee A whole band are helping including Richard Clarke, Chris Jones, Matt Meehan, Tom Chinnick, and the finder Matt Broome (who deserves the top credit). Hope I haven't forgotten anyone. Some new volunteers on hand tomorrow too.

Darryl 'push the car' Spittle

Friday, 17 February 2012

The COMMON YELLOWTHROAT in Gwent - 8th British record

I was one of at least 400 people today twitching the Gwent first-year male COMMON YELLOWTHROAT and first of all, I must congratulate the finder on an outstanding discovery and secondly, say a massive thank you to Darryl Spittle and other local observers involved in the crucial organisation of parking facilities. A truly top job and very much appreciated by all those that visited.

The bird itself is pretty difficult, fast-moving and generally elusive. It is ranging widely over an area of farmland and without large numbers of observers, could well prove hard to locate. I have marked on the map above the circuit is was following this morning (marked in red). These are the hedgerows it was frequenting.

After the initial panic had subsided, and many observers actually had a 'tickable' view rather than just a fleeting flight view, the bird was watched feeding in the grass for over 20 minutes, affording some excellent views. In fact, it seemed to favour the grassy edges of the hedgerows, eeking out tiny grubs in the damp soil and grass blades. At very close range, its weak 'tacc' call-note could be heard.


Leave the M4 at Junction 28 and then head NNW on the Caerphilly road (the A 4072). Continue towards Caerphilly on the next two roundabouts and after less than a mile on the A 468, turn left in Rhiwderyn at the Ruperra Arms. Take this Pentre Porth Road SW for just over a mile and then turn right onto the very narrow, single track road adjacent to the brown 'Farmer's Daughter Restaurant' signs. Drive very carefully and slowly down this road to just beyond the Bryphedydd Farm and park in the field on the left (please note that the car park opens at 0700 hours). The field is at SO 258 868 and the bird is in the valley to the east of the road.

This morning, the bird first appeared at 0825 hours.

Thursday, 16 February 2012


The Welsh COMMON YELLOWTHROAT has been present since last Friday but only positively identified today. Five people saw the bird this afternoon and negotiated access arrangements with locals.

The bird is in Gwent west of Newport at Rhiwderyn. It is frequenting a number of hedgerows in farmland and seems to be following a well-rehearsed circuit around them and special temporary access has been granted by the local landowner. The gates to the field will NOT be opened until 0700 hours and access to the car park field is only possible by a single track narrow lane. Therefore,DO NOT arrive any earlier as this will create disruption to a number of local residents.

From the A468, take Pentre Porth Road southwestwards for about a mile before turning right opposite the sign for The Farmer's Daughter restaurant and park in the specially designated field (£3 per car charge)


Click Gwent Birding here for images and full directions and map

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Please support petition to safeguard Shibdon Pond

Shibdon Pond has been a particularly productive site with several Spotted Crake records over the years, 2 Laughing Gulls, Ring billed Gull, Ring necked Duck, Golden Oriole and a host of other interesting species.
The link to the petition is on the Gateshead Birders website::-

and the relevant piece on the front page reads:

The continued management of countryside sites by Gateshead Council’s Countryside Management Team is under serious threat of being axed in next year’s budget spending plan.
If the proposal is accepted it will have a catastrophic effect on Gateshead’s countryside and the wildlife. The country parks and nature reserves will fall into decline and degradation, litter and vandalism will grow quickly. Sites will become insecure.
We would urge you to go to Gateshead Council’s website and sign the e-petition “Save the Countryside Management Team” using the following link:

I would be most grateful if you could sign and support the petition

Monday, 6 February 2012

Shocking news from North Kent - GORDON ALLISON dies at the tragic age of 50

Chris Gibbard telephoned me this evening with the shocking and most devastating news that Elmley and Northward Hill RSPB reserves warden Gordon Allison died in his sleep early this morning. Gordon was just 50 years old, a year younger than me. He was also incredibly keen and birdwatched from dawn until dusk whenever he could. He was a great guy, a good friend and a keen twitcher and was part of the regular 'RSPB bunch' that visited the Isles of Scilly in October regularly between 1984 and 2000. He travelled the world extensively and was particularly fond of India and was tragically with Ray Turley in Goa when that legend of a man also died. He leaves behind many good friends from the KOS and the Kent birding fraternity, as well as professional partners within the RSPB, particularly Adam Rowlands, and will be very sorely missed

Lee Evans

Saturday, 4 February 2012

More shots of the Sussex large-billed Crossbill

This selection of new images were taken by Mike McKee of the apparent PARROT CROSSBILL at Blackdown

Thursday, 2 February 2012

PARROT CROSSBILL identification

Jaane Aalto has corresponded with me further on Parrot Crossbill identification. I have sent the Finns a selection of the Sussex bird images and many agree with me about the concerns over the head structure and silhouette. We still need sound recordings. In every respect though, it resembles a Scottish Parrot Crossbill
Some more pictures to browse -:

A nice male Parrot here
A female Scottish Parrot from Abernethy
A female Scandinavian Parrot Crossbill that does share characteristics with the Sussex female, having a forehead and a smaller bill


Last year's incredible record annual tally just keeps on rising with news of Heatherlea's BRUNNICH'S GUILLEMOT in Burghead Harbour, Moray, on 17 November - see more photographs here on Mike Weedon's blog :

This revises the total for the year to 456 species

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Apparent PARROT CROSSBILL remains on site today

The bird showed up at about 0910 hours this morning and then remained in the area for about an hour, showing well. Undoubtedly large-billed, it still seems to have too much profile in the forehead. Whether an aberrant Common Crossbill, a Scottish Parrot Crossbill or vagrant Eastern Crossbill or Scandinavian Parrot Crossbill is still indetermined and I still look forward to sound recordings of its call. More of Simon West's excellent images can be found at his Flikr site at