Wednesday 26 September 2012

Scottish GOLDEN EAGLE suffers a cruel slow death

Details of a GOLDEN EAGLE picked up in Deeside - disgraceful

A Middle Eastern perspective on rapyor persecution at Gamla

I added a link to some new Wildlife footage taken last spring in Gamla nature reserve in northern Israel.

This footage is part of a local conservation project and a documentary film highlighting the plight of declining Israeli raptors is included -:


Best regards,

Yuval Dax
Production, Videography

Most intense September storm in 30 years wreaks havoc in Northern England and produces a flood of LOCUSTELLAS...

The most intense September storm in over 30 years has wreaked havoc in the northern half of Britain as well as bringing in a flood of locustellas and other rare birds to the country.......

PALLAS'S GRASSHOPPER WARBLERS today were discovered at three widely spaced localities on the East Coast following the two days of torrential rain and strong easterly winds that bought serious flooding to Yorkshire and the closing of the A1.

First to be located was a first-winter at Hartlepool Headland in Cleveland (Chris Bell, Tom Francis, Richard Taylor, et al) but which quickly flew to dense cover and was lost. Next off, one was trapped at Whitburn Coastal Park in Tyne & Wear and after being released at 1350, reappeared several times during the afternoon around the smallest mound. The best was then left to last with a very confiding individual in Aberdeenshire, favouring a tiny copse besides the road to Collieston at Whinnyfold.

LANCEOLATED WARBLERS too were caught up in the conditions, with a second individual trapped and ringed on Fair Isle (Shetland) and another on North Ronaldsay (Orkney). Fair Isle also hosts a bag of other goodies including a PADDYFIELD WARBLER, BLYTH'S REED WARBLER, an OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT, 3 LITTLE BUNTINGS, 3 Barred Warblers, Richard's Pipit and up to 27 Yellow-browed Warblers whilst Foula (Shetland) has two different BLYTH'S REED WARBLERS, a long-staying SYKES'S BOOTED WARBLER, OBP, Richard's Pipit and Common Rosefinches (it also hosted a BLTYH'S PIPIT on Monday).

Kenny Buchan watched a FEA'S SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL pass south off Fraserburgh (Aberdeenshire) late morning, whilst Northumberland down to North Lincolnshire shared in the feast of rare waifs that were blown onshore including an ARCTIC WARBLER on Holy Island, GREENISH WARBLERS at Filey NCCP, Old Fall Plantation at Flamborough Head and at Spurn Point, the odd elusive LITTLE BUNTING here and there, numerous RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHERS and two juvenile Red-backed Shrikes, an Icterine Warbler and a bag of Yellow-browed Warblers. Most odd was an adult BAIRD'S SANDPIPER making landfall on Brownsman (the Farne Islands).

At the opposite end of the country on SCILLY, the 35 or so birders now instilled on the islands are starting to reap rewards, with an AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT showing well around the lighthouse rocks on Peninnis Head (St Mary's), a first-winter CITRINE WAGTAIL on the Great Pool (Tresco), a very confiding ORTOLAN in Hugh Town, a BARRED WARBLER & Wryneck by the Airfield and an AQUATIC WARBLER still opposite the Porthloo Duck Pond.

Portland has an ORTOLAN in the field opposite the Observatory, with the juvenile SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER still at Lodmoor (Dorset), the BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER on Davidstow (Cornwall) and Spotted Crake at Marazion Marsh RSPB (Cornwall).

The BOOTED WARBLER remains elusively just south of Gun Hill, Burnham Overy Staithe (Norfolk), where elsewhere along that coastline ROSE-COLOURED STARLING and Red-breasted Flycatcher are at Holme, Richard's Pipit at Sheringham and Yellow-browed Warblers are scattered in various localities.

The GREATER YELLOWLEGS has reappeared once more at Loch of Starthbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire)

Watch this space - this is just the start........

Monday 24 September 2012

Sunday 23 September 2012

Megas starting to roll in

Shetland has today quickly returned to form with Southeasterly winds raging.....

Fair Isle has a MAGNOLIA WARBLER this evening, showing very well to around 38 observers at Meoness in very windy conditions, whilst Foula in the west of the main Shetland islands has a SWAINSON'S THRUSH and a SYKES'S BOOTED WARBLER. Fair Isle also has a LANCEOLATED WARBLER whilst throughout the archipelago are a supporting cast of many scarcities, including major falls of Yellow-browed Warblers.

Further south, the pickings have been contrastingly leaner, with a BOOTED WARBLER at Burnham Overy Staithe (North Norfolk) being the pick of the bunch

Friday 21 September 2012

Starting to hot up.....and Species List is now 412

With a touch of east in the wind, newly arrived LANCEOLATED WARBLER and PECHORA PIPIT on Out Skerries (Shetland) this afternoon take the total of birds recorded in Britain and Ireland this year to 412 species...

Other additions during the past week included the second-earliest ever RED-EYED VIREO on Unst (Shetland) and an AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT on North Uist (Outer Hebrides)

Lots and lots of Nearctic waders scattered across the UK (and Ireland) including the two long-staying SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS (on Tresco and at Lodmoor), a juvenile WESTERN SANDPIPER at Meols/Hoylake (Wirral) and at least two SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS (in Ceredigion and in East Lothian). No less than 9 BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS at various sites, 2 different WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS, over 25 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS and a single LESSER YELLOWLEGS.

Two BLYTH'S REED WARBLERS discovered this afternoon (on Unst and on Sanday) plus first Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn at Holme (Norfolk), where also a Red-breasted Flycatcher

Looks set to be an interesting weekend......

BAILLON'S CRAKE giving itself up

I returned once more to RAINHAM MARSH RSPB today to have another look at the BAILLON'S CRAKE - to date having been seen by just over 2,100 observers...

By some surprise, it was its best day so far for viewing duration. Prior to my arrival at 1100 hours, it had performed almost non-stop from 0630 to 0830 hours - the longest period it has ever shown since its discovery some 14 days ago. After this time, it had reverted back to its normal behaviour, offering observers very fleeting glimpses as it moved quickly across the muddy parches on the reedy island.

Although I had been in the hide for over three and a half hours without seeing the bird, at 1505 hours Barrie Hamill suddenly exclaimed that there it was - right out in the open at the back of the main pool. It then spent the next ten minutes walking from right to left, every now and then climbing up on to the reeds to preen. It afforded some outstanding views, allowing several in the hide an opportunity to take pictures. It was a real good showing - the bird now being quite extensively slate grey on the underparts and around the face. This was the first time I had seen it wander so far to the left - its normal behaviour being to skulk in the island area just right of middle hide.

Also at Rainham today were the juvenile MARSH HARRIER, 1 HOBBY, 9+ Little Egrets and several Common Greenshanks. A first-winter DARTFORD WARBLER was still on the reserve, but very elusive.

Special Weekend Viewing will be operative again tomorrow and Sunday, the gates and hide being accessible from 0600 hours.

More direction on SEMIPALMATED/WESTERN SANDPIPER identification with specific reference to the Hoylake juvenile WESTERN

I've quickly put up a page of some juvenile Semipalmated Sandpipers photographed in southern Ontario and New York State that can be viewed here:

These birds are pretty bright overall (to be expected for mid-August), and show some range of plumage and bill length/shapes that are typically encountered on the eastern Great Lakes.

Jim Pawlicki
Buffalo, NY

I think commentators are being a bit too black and white by characterizing female Semi bills as long and straight, since there is incredible variation in Semi overall bill shape and bill tips, as this photo of a bunch of "typical" Semis in spring shows.

The center bird is one of the troublesome Semis that show a long, drooping, fine-tipped bill that I never saw while working in the Alaskan Arctic for four years. This is an Eastern trait, and the bird behind the Sanderling is another female with a fine, drooping tip. The bird three from the left in the rear has a ridiculous drooping tip for a Semi, and not too long either. While I agree that more female Semis have long, straight bills, this sample group shows how many can show the long, fine, drooping tip as well, and often more fine-tipped than male Westerns. Several of the reported Semis from Great Britain look like Westerns to me, and this photo may shed some more light on their structural differences as well.

Kevin Karlson

For the sake of comparison, here are links to ID photo galleries for both Semipalmated and Western Sandpipers that appear in our online field guide that we've created ( There are several images of juveniles in each gallery. I would direct your attention to images #18-30 in the Western Sandpiper gallery. These juveniles were all photographed during September. I think most of you will agree that many look just like the birds in the photos that Lee has shared. As you scroll through the thumbnails, click on the thumbnail of the image that you want to see and it will fill the larger featured image box on the right hand side of the page. By rolling your mouse cursor over the feature image, the caption will appear. If you then click a second time on the larger feature image on the right it will be enlarged to full size.

One thing to pay attention to is how much lighting and angle affect the apparent contrast between the scaps and coverts. Though rusty margins are evident on the scaps of all of these Westerns, the degree of contrast is highly variable in this series of images.

I hope that you find these galleries useful.

Dave Irons
Content Editor

Thursday 20 September 2012


An apparent juvenile TUNDRA PEREGRINE has been present on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) for a few days, most likely associated with the arrival of large numbers of Nearctic waders. See images at

Debate continues to ensue over the identification of Hoylake's 'peep' - favoured mostly as WESTERN SANDPIPER by North American experts but still possibly a long-billed juvenile female SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER. The bird mainly shows at high tide and is very mobile, moving in tandem with the large flocks of feeding Dunlin on the Dee. Barry Barnacal has some excellent photographs of the bird

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Back to BLUE-WINGED TEAL HYBRIDS for a minute

For photographs of an apparent Blue-winged Teal x Northern Shoveler in North America, go to

and the photographs that immediately follow.

Steve Mlodinow


Seconding Kevin M's and Alvaro's comments, I would agree that the Outer Hebrides bird is a clear example of a juvenile WESTERN SANDPIPER. Here on the eastern Great Lakes it would certainly stand out based on plumage alone, regardless of bill/size shape.

As an example there is an excellent comparison photo of juveniles of these two species standing next to each other on the Point Reyes Bird Observatory "Los Farallones" blog here (scroll down to last photo in entry):

Jim Pawlicki, Buffalo, NY

Another controversial stint

Steve Duffield very kindly emailed me these images of a small stint, initially identified as a juvenile SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER, present at Balgarva on South Uist (Outer Hebrides) from at least early September. Nick Lethaby, now residing in North America, raised concerns over its identification and along with a number of leading US ornithologists, consider it more likely to be a juvenile WESTERN SANDPIPER, based on the length of the bill, the ear covert pattern, the richness of the scapulars and a suite of other features. Interestingly, at the same time as this bird was discovered, there was a very similar bird further south in Scotland on Tiree in Argyll. Boy, these peeps can be tricky.......

Pledge your support for BADGERS

PLEASE Click here and sign -


Queen guitarist and animal lover Brian May has initiated an E-petition registered against the Badger cull, which has already attracted 34,000 + signatures after only a few days. Please add to this number with your support

Lee Evans

Good on them - Supermarkets come out in support of our BADGERS

A number of supermarkets including Asda and Marks & Spencer have tonight announced that they are NOT going to purchase milk from any of the farms that take part in the proposed Badger cull trials expected to begin in Gloucestershire and Somerset this week. Furthermore, some real heavyweights with substantial funding and wealth are supporting the Badger Trust with a will to prevent the culls from taking place.

The government intends to kill over 140,000 Badgers over 10 years in the designated trial areas - science on countless times already proving such actions as futile and pointless. The Farmers Union claim that this will reduce Bovine TB by 16%. Poppycock. Farmers need to vaccinate their herds, not decimate defenceless Badgers. BTB is rife on the Isle of Man - no Badger has ever set foot there.

The Badger Trust has been and is continuing to do so daily, vaccinating Badgers that they are trapping close to the setts. Any injured animal bought into rescue centres is also being immunised too. This is the way forward.

Please support the Southwest Badgers in any way that you can

Many thanks

Lee Evans

Monday 17 September 2012

''BLUE-WINGED TEAL'' at Daventry Reservoir (Northamptonshire)

This Blue-winged Teal-type was discovered by Gary Pullan at Daventry Country Park this morning and was showing well throughout much of the afternoon. I arrived just over an hour after it was found and was amazed to see its Shoveler-like bill, this leading me to believe it was more likely a Northern Shoveler x Blue-winged Teal hybrid. The bill had orange on the edge of the flanges and on the underside of the base and the legs were orange, Otherwise though, features were of a Blue-winged Teal. Images by kind courtesy of Bob Bullock

Friday 14 September 2012

RED-EYED VIREO still on Shetland - the first record for that archipelago

At the extreme north end of the Shetland Islands, the elusive RED-EYED VIREO remains for its third day in the garden at Valyie, Norwick (Unst). This is an incredibly early arrival for this species but one has previously arrived even earlier - on Cape Clear Island (County Cork) on 5 September 2004. But surely the remnants of Tropical Storm Lesley displaced more than one Nearctic passerine.......

Shetland also has a LESSER GREY SHRIKE today at Aithbank (Fetlar), with 2 BARRED WARBLERS on Unst and a scattering of COMMON ROSEFINCHES; also a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER at Esha Ness as usual.

Both juvenile SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS are also still to be found - showing well on the beach by Skirt Island on the SE side of Tresco (Scilly) and at Lodmoor, just east of Weymouth (Dorset). Further Nearctic waders include a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER at the Butt of Lewis (Outer Hebrides), 2 AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS at Titchwell RSPB (Norfolk), Sandwich Bay (Kent), Dungeness (Kent), Seaton Common (Cleveland) and Baker's Fen, Wicken (Cambs).

In Greater London, the juvenile BAILLON'S CRAKE is still to be seen but incredibly elusively (perhaps revealing itself for literally seconds at a time, five times a day). It favours the reedy island and back edge just right of the centre of the Rifle Butts Hide - a 20 minute walk from the reserve centre. Special opening times operate again this weekend thanks to Howard Vaughan, the RSPB reserve staff and local volunteers - from 0500 to 1930 hours. The hide can take up to 125 birders at a time and has special access for wheelchair users, although to be in with a chance of seeing the bird, one needs to be at the right hand end of the hide.

At Landguard NR (Suffolk), the male SPANISH SPARROW is still resident with the local House Sparrows, being best located late afternoon as the pre-roost gathering takes place between 1700 and 1800 hours. Not much else on offer in East Anglia though, but seawatching has been reasonable today with the North Norfolk coast yielding its second GREAT SHEARWATER of the autumn, a lingering juvenile SABINE'S GULL and several LONG-TAILED SKUAS in recent days. Two flocks of GREAT SKUAS entered Cambs from the Wash this afternoon, whilst the Ouse Washes RSPB Reserve (Cambs) has an excellent selection of birds on offer from its first three hides north of the centre, including GLOSSY IBIS, GREAT WHITE EGRET, up to 104 Little Egrets, 50+ Garganey and a superb selection and variety of waders (an adult WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER has been present until yesterday at least).

A MELODIOUS WARBLER was seen briefly on the Sandwich Bay Estate (Kent), whilst one still remains on Bardsey Island (Gwynedd), with Lundy Island (Devon) attracting another as well as GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK and ORTOLAN BUNTING this past week. Up to 4 ORTOLANS are on Scilly, where also 1-2 first-winter CITRINE WAGTAILS remain. A MONARCH BUTTERFLY continues to show well in Easton, Portland (Dorset).

Lots of nice birds are now being seen and located in IRELAND with that mecca Tacumshin (County Wexford) attracting GLOSSY IBIS, WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and Pectoral Sandpiper, no less than 4 BUFF-BREASTS together at Carrahane Strand (County Kerry) (and a GREY PHALAROPE), another BUFF-BREAST at Reenroe (County Kerry), a juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPER still in Smerwick Harbour, a juvenile BAIRD'S SANDPIPER at Kilcoole NR on Wevbb's Field (County Wicklow) and a new BLUE-WINGED TEAL at Lough Beg (County Derry).

Thursday 13 September 2012

''The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades''

Top Bird Photographer Penny Clarke captured these two images of me as I was chatting with my good friend Keith Betton. Keith is writing a new book with Mark Avery and was asking if he could feature me in the publication. Penny has some great images and memories from the 2012 Rutland Birdfair at her excellent website 

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Another stab at the CRAKE and a day-roosting NIGHTJAR


Returned to RAINHAM MARSH RESPB RESERVE (GREATER LONDON/ESSEX) this morning to obtain further views of the first-winter BAILLON'S CRAKE present on site since Friday...

It had initially been seen briefly at 0630 hours but had then disappeared. It had then disappeared. I arrived at 0940 and as I walked around to the hide from the RSPB car park, Matt Deans, Gerald Jobson and around 50 others relocated it feeding at the back of the pool. It showed quite well at around 0950 - even preening in the open for a minute or so - and was kept on by observers for about 5 minutes. Just as I got in the hide it disappeared again.

Anyhow, I sat down and watched intently. Once again, it was favouring the reedy island slightly right of the middle of the Rifle Butts Hide, where on occasions, it wandered into the two areas of open mud visible through the vegetation. I 'scoped it on these two areas on several occasions but it was extremely difficult getting/directing others on to the bird. Fortunately, at one stage, it wandered to the edge of the island and showed out in the open for about 20 seconds, enabling quite a few observers a chance to connect. This modus of operandii continued throughout, with the bird only tantalising observers with frustrating glimpses up until 1500 hours when I departed. This bird really is extremely elusive and demands a lot of your time.

Howard Vaughan and the remainder of the Rainham Marsh RSPB staff have been outstanding in all of their kind help and assistance, from opening up early and late to providing temporary toilet facilities close to the hide. It is extremely appreciated by all of us - a very big THANKYOU.

Other than the Baillon's, the only other birds I saw of note were 3 HOBBIES......

Later in the afternoon, JT and I headed down to PAGHAM HARBOUR (WEST SUSSEX) where a NIGHTJAR was present for a second day. Arriving shortly after 1730 hours, I quickly located the bird (a first-year) roosting on the stone wall bordering the Severalls at Church Norton. It was giving very good views and was woken up a couple of times by a passing Grey Squirrel. Rather than fly off, the young Nightjar stood its ground and performed a defending display, holding its wings high and arching its body. It was brilliant to watch.

DIRECTIONS: Park by the church at Church Norton and follow the footpath 85 yards down to the shore. Turn right and then follow the footpath past the wooden gate for a further 75 yards. You will see a concrete wall looking inland towards the Priory and the Nightjar is sat roosting on this within feet of the tall spike.

With low tide, the harbour itself was very quiet, with just a few Grey Plover, Turnstone and Ringed Plovers on view. A single FIRECREST was in the bushes by the hide, as well as Blackcap, Common Whitethroat and numerous Common Chiffchaffs.

SIDLESHAM FERRY POOL held 5 Green Sandpipers

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Product Review - OWLS OF THE WORLD


By Heimo Mikkola

The author of this new photographic guide has worked with owls for almost 50 years, beginning in 1965 at the University of Oulu, Finland, with later research at the University of Kuopio. His research has focused on the ecology of European owls, particularly the Great Grey Owl, and he has previously written the Poyser Guide to the Owls of Europe.

It is a heavy book and suitable for home use only but is a treasure trove of information and places together for the first time, photographic evidence of all of the World's owl species. The photographers who forwarded hundreds of their amazing images make this book truly a work of art and there are many - over 200 individual photographers.

Much of the information included on the taxonomy, distribution and identification is clearly based on the previous work of Konig, Weick and Becking (2008) but information I had not gleaned before was that of longetivity records (page 53) and the fact that no less than 5 new species of owl has been discovered since year 2001 (following 57 between 1901 and 2000 and 190 prior to that). In addition to these 'new' five (Pernambuco Pygmy, Little Sumba Hawk, Serendip Scops, Togian Hawk ad Sick's Pygmy), the book declares a further four for the very first time - Hume's Hawk, Northern Little, Grey-bellied Little and the Santa Marta Screech. Furthermore, it also details 433 described and 9 undescribed subspecies - 37 of which I would say have isolated themselves long enough to be considered a separate species.

Page 69 is depressing, highlighting Extinct Owls, but it is the remarkable collection of photographs that make this tome such an essential purchase. From the albino Long-eared Owl on page 77 to the Vermiculated Fishing Owl on page 303, this book is sumptuous and filled with first-rate representations.

No less than 249 separate species of owl are covered in the Species Accounts (pages 72-503) and each account is subdivided as follows: measurement & weight, identification, call, food & hunting, habitat, status & distribution and Geographical variation. Of these 249, 14 have apparently NEVER been photographed, but for five of these the author has included photographs of skins held at Tring Museum. Thus, almost 850 photographs illustrate almost all of the currently known species.

I liked the layout of the Account pages and in general, there was sufficient text on each individual species to attempt separation. More effort could have been made into concentrating on differences where species were very similar and I was somewhat surprised at the lack of information and clarity on the recently rediscovered Turkish population of the Western Brown Fish Owl. These are just minor quibbles though on what is overall an outstanding contribution to Owl Identification. I ended up with a few 'new' ticks too, including American Barn Owl (furcata), Rock Eagle Owl (bengalensis) and Arabian Scops Owl (pamalae).

This is a beautiful book and one to be cherished - after all, there are few birders that are not mesmerised by these mysterious birds of the night. An essential purchase.

Once again, Wildsounds ( can supply this book free of delivery charge at an unbeatable £29.99.



By Aulagnier, Haffner, Mitchell-Jones, Moutou & Zima

I have long yearned for a pocket Field Guide to the MAMMALS of the Western Palearctic region and at last one has been published. This superbly illustrated guide (by Chevallier, Norwood and Varelo Simo incidentally) provides Species Accounts for no less than 403 species, although it does not cover or include the majority of marine species, such as Whales and Dolphins (although all 40 that occur are listed on page 10).

The layout is very much of what you find in a Bird Guide, with text on the left and the plates on the right. All of the species mentioned are represented by accurate artwork but I was surprised at the odd omission - no Scilly Shrew mentioned for example. It is a nice format and easy-on-the-eye, each account summarising the identification, habitat and biology of each species. It made for fascinating reading - I didn't realise it was still possible to find Cheetah and Musk Ox in the Western P still for example.

This is an essential and excellent companion to any Field Guide on Birds of the region and could not come recommended highly enough. The book features over 100 plates, comprising over 600 colour artworks, the information provided being generally concise and authoritative. Distribution maps are included and where relevant, variation between the sexes is illustrated and anatomical diagrams are provided to assist identification of those more tricky separations.

Wildsounds have this book in stock now, where it can be ordered POST FREE at just £22.99. Visit to place your order

Lee Evans

Monday 10 September 2012


The BAILLON'S CRAKE was showing again today, creeping out from the reeds about once every few hours (viewable from the Rifle Butts Hide at Rainham Marsh RSPB).

Two juvenile SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS were also to be found, with singles still at Lodmoor (Dorset) and for the second day on Tresco South Beach (Scilly). The latter archipelago also held a first-winter CITRINE WAGTAIL at Porthellick Pool and 2 BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS on St Mary's Airfield.

A large BALEARIC SHEARWATER movement along the South Coast today, with over 250 past Start Point (South Devon) and up to 150 past Dawlish Warren NNR, Berry Head and Portland Bill.

Another BAIRD'S

The juvenile BAIRD'S SANDPIPER was still present today at Seaton Snook (Cleveland), with the PECTORAL SANDPIPER still at Burton Mere Wetlands. In Sheffield, an eclipse drake RING-NECKED DUCK was at Orgreave Lagoon

A further juvenile BAIRD'S SANDPIPER was located at Titchwell Marsh RSPB (Norfolk) this morning, with the PECTORAL SANDPIPER at Cley NWT and a DOTTEREL on the beach at Holme. In Cambs, the adult WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was still on the Ouse Washes RSPB viewable distantly from the Kingfisher Hide, 300m from the visitor centre. Abberton Reservoir (Essex) also hosts a PECTORAL SANDPIPER

SEMIP PLOVER still on South Uist

The juvenile SEMIPALMATED PLOVER was still present at the south end of South Uist today (Outer Hebrides), with 2 BUFF-BREASTS and a GREY PHAL at Baleshare and a single PECTORAL SANDPIPER at West Gernish. An AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER was also seen.

The juvenile SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER was still in Broadford Bay on Skye, whilst on Lewis, a BUFF-BREASTED SAND and 22 LAPLAND BUNTINGS were at the Butt of Lewis. Tiree (Argyll) had another BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER at Sandaig, with the male SNOWY OWL still on St Klida

Saturday 8 September 2012

Rainham BAILLON'S CRAKE refuses to play ball

The BAILLON'S CRAKE appeared from the grey and misty gloom this morning at dawn (0548 hours) and made its way from left to right along the back of the reedy pool in front of the Rifle Butts Hide. It then showed until 0620 hours, occasionally climbing up on to the reeds. I then watched it run off along a dyke behind a reedy island. At 0705, it was very briefly glimpsed in flight and that was it. I counted 84 lucky souls that connected in this relatively short span of time and as far as I know, it was not seen again all day. A resident Coot was taking a dislike to other birds visiting the pool.

Howard Vaughan, Ruth, Dave, Andy and other volunteers are to be commended for the superb management of the site that was put in place, and many owe a debt of gratitude for being allowed in to the reserve half an hour earlier than planned. As a result, access will run from 0500 hours on Sunday

Having to kill a lot of hours on site today, I was impressed by the number of WATER VOLES on the reserve - and often very easy to see; also the MARSH FROGS and WASP SPIDERS. Other avian highlights included Common Greenshank, numerous Hobbies, a juvenile Marsh Harrier, Corn Bunting and 20 flyover Yellow Wagtails

Friday 7 September 2012

Could this MONARCH be a forebearer of better to come,,

A big twitch today - this beautiful MONARCH BUTTERFLY in Easton, Portland (Dorset). Lots of people twitching the Lodmoor Short-billed Dowitcher rushed up to see it after hearing of its arrival, including John Foster who obtained this fine photo in hot sunshine

Busy, busy, busy

The birding really starting to hot up this autumn with the remnants of Hurricane Isaac depositing a wave of Nearctic waders in the far Northwest and high pressure and warm weather producing birds in the south.....

A busy weekend seems set....

A BAILLON'S CRAKE was discovered this afternoon at Rainham Marsh RSPB (Essex/London), being seen and photographed between 1600 and 1630 hours and then seen again by a further eight observers at 1830 hours. It was on the fabulous 'crake' pool overlooked by the new 'Shooting Butt Hide' and afforded very close views to the hide. QUIET is the key word with this individual so tomorrow morning should be very testing..

The gates will be opened especially early in the morning and on-site directions will need to be followed.

In Dorset, the juvenile SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER is still present at Lodmoor Country Park, Weymouth, showing intermittently with Common Snipes amongst the sedges on the westernmost scrape. View from either the perimeter footpath or the mound adjacent to the recycling centre. Not that far away on Portland, a MONARCH BUTTERFLY gave amazing views on buddleias in the ornamental park by the health centre in Easton.

It seems as if many North American waders have made landfall on the Outer Hebrides with 2 BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS on machair at Traigh Eachcamais on North Uist, a SPOTTED SANDPIPER at Ardvule Point, South Uist', a SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER and 2 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS on South Uist at Bornisha. Pride of place however goes to a SEMIPALMATED PLOVER on South Uist on the north side of the Sound of Eriskay at Glendale. A juvenile SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER was also showing well today at Harrapol, Broadford Bay, on the Isle of Skye (Highland).

Further PECTORAL SANDPIPERS are to be found on Skokholm Island (Pembs), at Grutness (Shetland), the two juveniles at New Lambton flooded field, Washington (County Durham), two more at Feu Farm, Slains (Aberdeenshire), the long-stayer at Burton Mere Wetlands (Cheshire), 2 on Copperhouse Creek, Hayle Estuary (Cornwall), at Cley NWT (Norfolk) and at Bakers Fen, Wicken (Cambs)

Both juvenile BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS remain on St Mary's Airfield (Scilly) (where also the first-winter CITRINE WAGTAIL remains at Lower Moors and a different bird on Porthellick Pool)

A gorgeous male RED-FOOTED FALCON continues to hunt dragonflies over Nunnery Pit, adjacent to Ivy Lake, immediately east of the B2145 and just south of the A27 Chichester Bypass roundabout. It favours the trees in the extreme NW end of the pit to rest and preen - an awesome bird.

In Suffolk, the stowaway male SPANISH SPARROW-type is still present at Landguard NR, moving with House Sparrows across the common and roosting near Customs House, whilst yet another MELODIOUS WARBLER was trapped and ringed on Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) today (this site gets more that Portland Bill these days).

In IRELAND, the FORSTER'S TERN remains off Soldier's Point, Dundalk (Co. Louth), the WILSON'S PHALAROPE is still in Cork and several Pectoral Sandpipers have appeared, including 3 at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford), this latter site also hosting 2 GLOSSY IBISES again.

Wednesday 5 September 2012

And another fab selection - Vaughan Ashby's (Birdfinders)

And more shots of the DOWITCHER - these from KEVIN LANE........

The Lodmoor SBD

Ace Dorset photographer PETE COE took shot after shot this afternoon in the sunshine and this was one of his impressive results. At just 70 yards range, this juvenile SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER at Lodmoor really performed. In fact, we had it like this for the best part of half an hour and it was a real educational opportunity. This is a really difficult individual being somewhat similar to numerous juvenile Long-billed Dowitchers we have had in Britain of late. Of course, the early date of arrival should park alarm bells, but apart from the strongly barred tertials, internal covert markings and strikingly broad eye-stripe, there is not that much to go on. At first glance it seems surprisingly long-billed but when up close and personal, and alongside Common Snipe, it seems proportionately shorter. Also, the peachy underparts normally associated with juvenile SBD seem to be lacking, with grey shading to the head, neck and upper mantle contrasting strongly with the rest of the upperparts. Very white at the rear end though, and marginally wider white barring than black, and very black on the crown. A number of observers heard it calling too - the call being transcribed as a double or triple note and quite different to the normal call of Long-billed. Full marks must go to PIM WOLF, who had the instinct to realise this was interesting and quickly contacted Nick Hopper to inform him.

Lodmoor DOWITCHER gives itself up this afternoon

In Dorset, a juvenile SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER is present for its third day at Lodmoor Reserve, just east of Weymouth. Initially distant and difficult to view, photographic evidence suggested Short-billed and after several hours today, the bird finally showed exceptionally well, wading out in shallow water and feeding at just 70 yards distance. It is generally keeping company with Common Snipe and is favouring a section of dense sedges visible by looking east from the footpath that skirts the western fringe of the reserve. It spends very long periods out of view (up to four hours at a time) and rarely leaves the shelter of the sedges.

Parking is available in the adjacent council car park but is expensive at £1.00 per hour. There are two vantage points overlooking this part of the reserve - 1) the main footpath that flanks west or 2) the higher ground of the former landfill site accessed from by the recycling centre.

It represents the 402nd species of the year and was today admired by just under 160 observers. It is the first to be seen since 1999.

It is really rare waders all the way at the moment with the long-staying adult LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER still on the South Lake at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs), a wave of AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER arrivals today with adults on North Ronaldsay (Orkney), on the Cefni Estuary at malltraeth (Anglesey), SW of Glasson (Lancs) at Cockersands Sands Country Park and on St Mary's (Scilly) and a juvenile at the Butt of Lewis (Outer Hebrides), a juvenile BAIRD'S SANDPIPER for a third day at Seaton Carew, Teesmouth (Cleveland), a juvenile SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER in Gott Bay on Tiree (Argyll), a juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS at Kingmill Lake (Cornwall), BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS at Marazion Beach (Cornwall) and on St Mary's Airfield (Scilly) (two birds) and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS at Lockwood Reservoir, Walthamstow (Greater London), Burton Mere Wetlands (Cheshire), Gibraltar Point NNR (Lincs) and at New Lambton, Washington (County Durham).

High pressure and very light winds in the south is surprisingly failing to produce many drift migrants but ORTOLAN BUNTINGS were seen at both West Bexington and Hengistbury Head (Dorset), a juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE remains at Wembury Point (South Devon), at least 15 WRYNECKS remain but of course are generally shy and retiring, a BARRED WARBLER at Burnham Overy Dunes (North Norfolk) and a COMMON ROSEFINCH on Tiree (Argyll). A ship-assisted male SPANISH SPARROW at landguard Point (Suffolk) has infiltrated the local House Sparrow clan and is to be found at dawn leaving the Custom House Buddleia roost-site.

IRELAND has also been dominated by Nearctic wader arrivals with a WILSON'S PHALAROPE at Kinsale Marsh (Co. Cork), BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS at tacumshin (Wexford), Bridges of Ross (Clare), Kilshannig (Kerry) and Carrahane Strand (Kerry). A FORSTER'S TERN also lingered at Soldier's Point, Dundalk (Louth) until 1st whilst the male SNOWY OWL remains on Arranmore Islands (Mayo).