Tuesday 24 July 2012


An adult TEREK SANDPIPER on the River Adur at Shoreham for about 30 mins this evening. It was found by Chris Corrigan just before 8pm who then went home to get his scope to confirm the identification. We joined him at about 8.20pm and had excellent views of the bird for about 5 mins feeding on the water's edge on the west side of the river just south of the Tollbridge. As I was in the process of putting the news out, it started calling, took off, flew down river and then departed high NE not to be seen again. Sadly there was not even time for other Shoreham locals to get there and see it. (Chris Corrigan, Paul & Bridget James).

Friday 20 July 2012

SHARPIE on Orkney

Still present on Swartsmill Loch this evening - Don and Sandra Otter obtaining these excellent photographs. FIRST RECORD FOR ORKNEY


A worn adult SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER is this evening on Westray (Orkney) - the first record for the archipelago and the 388th species of 2012

Autumn begins......as summer weather arrives

21 July in the avian world is traditionally the first day of autumn in UK and Irish birding, although the forecast weather for next week suggest that summer has just arrived.......

As such, a FEA'S SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL past Mizen Head (County Cork) on 16th July represents the 387th species of the year

This past week has been fairly quiet as expected but claiming pole position has been a twitchable 2nd-summer CASPIAN TERN traversing the River Bure, east of Norwich from Tuesday to Thursday. It favoured the pool 150 yards east of the derelict windmill at Buckenham Marshes RSPB (Norfwich) but also visited Strumpshaw Fen, Cantley Beet Factory Pools and Breydon Water during its visit, the latter being utilised as a roosting site late in the day; there was no sign of it today however.

Seabirds have been hitting the headlines most of the week with WILSON'S STORM PETRELS now being easily found in the Western Approaches south and SW of Scilly and a small scattering of GREAT and CORY'S SHEARWATERS, the latter including the odd bird off Porthgwarra (Cornwall) and daily now off SW Ireland. ROSEATE TERNS have been moving south with up to 4 individuals being noted at Minsmere South Scrape and at Lowestoft North Beach (Suffolk).
The male RED-BACKED SHRIKE has delighted a stream of visitors to Lake Farm Country Park, Hayes (Middlesex), showing well in Elder and Hawthorn scrub 100 yards NE of the reserve car park - and still present today - with the first of returning passage Whinchats and Common Redstarts turning up at a variety of locations.

A ROLLER at New Pitsligo in Lovie Quarry (Aberdeenshire) from 13th-15th July was a superb record for Scotland.

Returning adult waders this week have included an adult PECTORAL SANDPIPER at Holland Haven (16th) and Old Hall Marshes (both Essex) on 18th, with another at Cresswell Bay (Northumberland) from 16th-19th and an adult WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER at Wagon Wheel Pits, Grimley (Worcs) (14th only) and at Frmapton Marsh RSPB (North Lincs). A splendid summer-plumaged GREY PHALAROPE graced Martin Mere WWT (Lancs) on 17th, with an adult in near winter plumage at Old Moor RSPB, Barnsley (South Yorks) today (20th), whilst an adult TEMMINCK'S STINT was at Greatham Creek, Teesmouth (Cleveland) throughout the week.

Three WHITE STORKS were on the floodmeadows at Templecombe (Dorset) until Wednesday whilst GLOSSY IBISES continue at Marloes Mere (Pembs), Pagham Harbour (West Sussex) and wandering birds at Holland Haven (Essex) and Grove Ferry NR (Kent) on 17th.

GLOSSY IBISES continue in IRELAND with singles at Timoleague (County Cork), Tacumshin (County Wexford) and Tralee Bay (County Kerry) whilst the female SNOWY OWL on The Mullet (County Mayo) reappeared at Termon Hill and a male was on Arranmore Islands (County Donegal). An adult ROSE-COLOURED STARLING remained in Dungarvan (County Waterford) at Abbeyside, Seapark.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Norfolk CASPO gives itself up

A CASPIAN TERN, most likely that which has been wandering East Anglia in recent weeks, appeared at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB Reserve, east of Norwich (Norfolk) yesterday evening.

Dave Holman was up nice and early this morning and watched the bird constantly searching for food over pools by the Tower Hide for just under an hour from 0500 hours. It flew off south prior to 0600 hours but reappeared briefly an hour and a half later, before doing the same once again.

It was then relocated at Buckenham Marsh RSPB, less than a mile to the east, where it visited the pool 150 yards east of the derelict windmill. This was obviously to its liking and as the day wore on, this proved to be its favourite site. It seemed to spend almost an hour here on numerous occasions (0930-0950; 1130-1145, 1339-1545 & from 1610-1655), just once returning to Strumpshaw (very briefly at 1335). Later in the day, it visited Breydon Water to rest (1914-1937 and again at 2100 hours).

I picked it up flying in from Cantley Marshes at 1318 hours and watched it fly along the River Bure the entirety of Buckenham Marshes. It was clearly searching for food. On this occasion, it made it all the way to Strumpshaw but then quickly returned, flying back east over my head and on to the pool. It made several attempts at regurgitating pellets so was clearly successfully finding food.

Although essentially in adult plumage, the fact that it had a few dark feathers in the tail and had some dark grey outer primary coverts suggested some immaturity.
A great bird and some great views


Tuesday 17 July 2012


Chris Batty obtained these very educational shots of Frodsham's odd godwit, clearly showing the presence of a gleaming white underwing. BLACK-TAILED GODWIT it is but what an odd plumage variant, almost showing hybrid features.

Sunday 15 July 2012


Paul Crawley photographed what appears to be a breeding-plumaged HUDSONIAN GODWIT today, roosting amongst several hundred Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits on No 6 marsh at Frodsham New Workings in Cheshire. To access the site, drive west through Frodsham and then turn right into Marsh Lane and continue over the M56 north to the marshes.

The bird was looked for this evening but not seen

Friday 13 July 2012

Midsummer doldrums

Little going on it seems, although the weather remains unsettled with continuous localised flash flooding....

In Greater London, a gorgeous adult male RED-BACKED SHRIKE continues for a fourth day north of Heathrow Airport at Lake Farm Country Park just south of Hayes. It is frequenting a small patch of bushes 100 yards NE of the car park in Dawley Road.

Returning rare waders include an adult WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER at Frampton Marsh RSPB (North Lincs) and an adult PECTORAL SANDPIPER at the north end of Cresswell Pond (Northumberland)

In North Norfolk, a GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK remains on Blakeney Point, frequenting the base of the Yankee Ridge area, a 50 minute walk west from Cley Coastguards, whilst in Suffolk, the female EUROPEAN SERIN continues to tease vsitors at Landgaurd Nature Reserve (but generally disappears after 0700 hours).

A great local bird, a male MONTAGU'S HARRIER, is still being regularly seen in Lancashire, where it remains ESE of Slaidburn at Champion Moor.

Minsmere RSPB has a GLOSSY IBIS still present on the South Levels

BALEARIC SHEARWATERS are currently a daily event at Portland Bill (Dorset), whilst at least 3 WILSON'S STORM PETRELS were seen from a Scilly pelagic yesterday evening.

In Ireland, the only recent reports are of at least 1 GLOSSY IBIS still at Tacumshin (County Wexford) and another at Timoleague (County Cork) and a BLACK STORK that flew over Ballyvaughan towards Black Head (County Clare)

BADGER CULLING: disgrace at the High Court

Proposals by this failed coalition government to cull BADGERS has been given the green light by the High Court despite scientific evidence being provided by the Badger Trust legal team indicating that such actions will only spread bovine TB further into the countryside. This decision is disgraceful and further solidifies my intolerance of Fera

The RSPB and other organisations have fenced off sensitive areas of reserves where it is known that Badgers visit in search of ground-nesting birds (eg, Lapwings and other declining waders) so maybe it is about time that farmers fence off fields inhabiting livestock. Farmers are currently crying out for sympathy because the supermarket cartel want to buy in milk, 2p a litre less than it costs dairy herders to produce it. Well, if they continue to demand the destruction of our Badgers, I for one will not be lending any support for their campaign

As I have said many times before, JUST LEAVE BADGERS ALONE. Life's not all about personal greed

Lee Evans

Saturday 7 July 2012

Serious flooding across Europe and UK

Police and environmental bodies are advising people to keep away from South Devon, especially those river valleys between Plymouth and Paignton because of very, very serious flooding

Likewise, this year's Silverstone event in Northamptonshire is having serious problems with its car parks and camping ground, having to turn away over 10,000 people today because of sodden ground and deep water

In southern Russia, torrential rains have also caused unprecedented flooding throughout the region, with 99 people killed overnight and some towns being completely washed away

Waders are clearly suffering from the effects of the weather, with large numbers of presumably failed breeding birds appearing here in the UK, including WOOD SANDPIPERS and RUFFS

Norfolk listing stalwart dies suddenly in his sleep

Robin Able, just 59 years of age, died suddenly in his sleep this week. Robin was very well known in Norfolk circles being keen as mustard on county-yearlisting and surveying, achieving in 2010 an annual county tally of 281 species (UK400 Club Guidelines) - the highest number of species recorded in any single county in one calendar year. He was out in all weathers, virtually on a daily basis and would mark out regions of the county to check, especially in spring and autumn when migrants were coming through. He always seemed to be a tower of strength and remained to this day of internet birding news, a major cog in my birding information chain. Although very much a birding loner, he was always keen to chat at a rare and leaves behind a lot of friends he had become attached to during his long and illustrious career within Norfolk. Another huge loss to birding - rest in peace, Robin

Lee Evans

Friday 6 July 2012

Torrential rain again affecting the UK and no sign of an end to it this summer

Hours and hours of torrential rain has hit central parts of England and Wales today resulting in over 138 flood warnings and the closure of major routes including the M50. Large parts of the Midlands are currently under several inches of water and many thousands of houses/properties have been flooded. An even worse stream of weather is about to be unleashed on the Southwest of Britain, from Cardiff and Basingstoke west to Penzance, perhaps culminating in three month's rain in one 15-hour period. The Environment Agency is warning of very serious repurcussions and is advising people to contact them for advice

Spaces on short trips to Egypt and Morocco

I currently have spaces on short trips to Morocco and Egypt in the next month or so - please email me if interested - LGREUK400@aol.com

CASPIAN TERN at Minsmere

A CASPIAN TERN visited Minsmere South Scrape (Suffolk) ffor 25 minutes this afternoon before flying off south along the beach towards Sizewell...

Also, good numbers of early returning waders on the move (probably due to failed breeding), with no less than 7 WOOD SANDPIPERS at Rainham Marsh RSPB this afternoon

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Waders starting to return

A spell of further unseasonal weather has resulted in the appearance of a first-summer SABINE'S GULL far from the sea at Startop's End Reservoir, Marsworth, about a mile from Tring town centre (Hertfordshire). The bird has been showing exceptionally well, often down to a few feet at times, since its initial discovery on Sunday and represents the first record for the reservoirs since the 'Great Storm' of October 1987. The bird is a real photographer's dream and as a consequence may result in it being the most photographed rarity of the year ! See my various local blogs for an array of images.

Other than the Sabine's Gull, the other main attraction is the heavily moulting ALPINE SWIFT that has now been present for at least five days at Buckton and Bempton Cliffs in East Yorkshire, ranging back and forth over the various vantage points over a couple of mile section of cliff coastline.

We are also seeing the first wave of returning waders with WOOD SANDPIPERS now appearing at a number of sites, as well as numerous Green Sandpipers and Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits. A lot of Spoonbills are around, including 6 on Minsmere South Levels (Suffolk) and 8 at Cley NWT Reserve (North Norfolk).

Three SACRED IBIS of unknown provenance are also on the wander with 2 in Northumberland and another at Walsey Hills Marsh, Cley (Norfolk). Although these could well be the 3 that escaped from Cheshire in 2011, there is no direct link at present and there is a possibility that they have arrived from France.

At Blackdog/Murcar Golf Links (Aberdeenshire), the summering seaduck flock offshore continues to harbour up to 5 different SURF SCOTERS, a first-summer drake AMERICAN BLACK SCOTER and the regular drake KING EIDER.

Last week's LITTLE SWIFT is now but a distant memory but from 22-24 June, this bird treated observers to a stunning display, flying back and forth along the New Brighton Promenade (Wirral) in poor weather conditions. One of the birds of the summer, without doubt.

WILSON'S PETRELS are starting to show up in the Western Approaches with 2 seen from a St Mary's Pelagic on 2nd, whilst the first GREAT SHEARWATERS of the autumn were noted with one from the same boat and further singles off Start Point (South Devon) and off Cape Clear Island (County Cork) on 1st. The latter site also recorded a very unseasonal 40 POMARINE SKUAS past on 3rd, following 13 on 2nd - presumably failed breeders from the Arctic.

The female RED-NECKED PHALAROPE remains at Coombe Hill Meadows (Gloucs), with a migrant male at Minsmere Scrape (Suffolk) on 2nd and female at Backworth Flash (Northumberland) on 1st-2nd.

In the Northern Isles, both the RIVER WARBLER and PADDYFIELD WARBLER remained on Fair Isle until at least 2nd July, whilst the first WESTERN BONELLI'S WARBLER of the year remained on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) from 1st-2nd.

Belated news concerned a first-summer female BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR at Frampton Marsh RSPB (Lincs) on 12 June whilst other late June sightings included a GULL-BILLED TERN in SW Wales in the Llanelli area (Carmarthenshire) on 26th-26th then at Lodmoor CP (Dorset) on 29th, a superb summer-plumaged adult PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER at Cley North Scrape (Norfolk) until 27th, a male WOODCHAT SHRIKE near Whitby (North Yorks) on 26th-28th, an ARCTIC WARBLER on Whalsay at Skaw (Shetland) on 27th, an adult WHITE-WINGED BLACK TERN that moved from Staines Reservoirs (Surrey) on 25th to Cotswold Water Park Pit 74 (Wilts) on 27th and Shapwick Heath NNR (Somerset) on 28th, an adult PURPLE HERON at Stodmarsh NNR (Kent) on 29th-30th, a PECTORAL SANDPIPER on Fetlar (Shetland) on 29th, a SQUACCO HERON at Welney WWT (Norfolk) on 30th and another ALPINE SWIFT in North Norfolk on 30th and past Spurn Point (East Yorks) on 1st July.

An interesting phyllosc on Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) on 30th was either a BRIGHT GREEN WARBLER or a GREENISH WARBLER.

In IRELAND, most welcome was a reeling SAVI'S WARBLER at Lingstown Reedbed, West Tacumshin (County Wexford), with this phenomenal reserve and wetland also yielding 2 different GLOSSY IBISES, a BLUE-WINGED TEAL and the continuing MONTAGU'S HARRIER. A GULL-BILLED TERN was seen on 29 June at Ballyneety near Dungarvan (Co. Waterford) and a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER in Mayo on The Mullet on 2 July.

First-summer SABINE'S GULL on my local patch for 4th day

A truly astounding set of images taken of the Startop's Sabine's by Roger Wyatt

The gorgeous first-summer SABINE'S GULL is still wowing the crowds at Startop's End Reservoir and showing down to 20 yards at times. We really are blessed to have so many good photographers amongst you and I have spread over three of my local blogs (Birding Tring Reservoirs, Hertfordshire Birding and Buckinghamshire Birding) some of the impressive shots that have been amassed - from the likes of Dave Hutchinson, Roger Wyatt, Francis Buckle, Martin Parr, Alan Reynolds, John Foster, Chris Holt and others - they are sheer brilliance. But please keep them coming - very pleased to showcase the work of our local photographers.

Startop's End Reservoir is best accessed at the car park by the Angler's Retreat pub by the Grand Union Canal bridge in Marsworth at SP 919 141 - just off the B489 two miles SW of Ivinghoe. For those travelling from further afield, leave the A41 at Tring and follow the B486 to the reservoirs
An awesome bird and not to be missed. Hugely memorable as Sabine's Gulls always are. Also in an unusual plumage - first-summer - not witnessed very often