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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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 !