Sunday 31 March 2013

QUIZBIRD 2 - worth 6 points

The biggest twitch that I have been on this year by far but what mega bird was being espied by us all - six points on offer for the first correct answer

It was this fabulous adult male CASPIAN PLOVER that was causing all of the excitement - all 6 points going to Bardsey's Steve Stansfield......

2) Craig Fulcher, 5 points; 3) Miguel Demeulemeester, 4 points; 4) Paul Higson, 3 points; 5) Mark Bailey, 2 points and 6) Pete Kinsella, 1 point

For the latest league positions, browse the UK400 Club forum

Thursday 28 March 2013

We have a leader board

Here he is - the tertials should have been a dead giveaway. Quizbird 1 was in fact Radipole Lake's famous dapper drake HOODED MERGANSER. Many of you plumped for Harlequin Duck but you were all wrong. The leaderboard is as follows - Belvide's Stevie Nuttall leading the way...

1) Steve Nuttall, 7 points
2) Sean Foote, 6 points
3) Will Brame, 5 points
4) Miguel Demeulemeester, 4 points
5) Pete Kinsella, 3 points
6) Jake Everitt, 2 points
7) Sam Viles, 1 point

Quizbird 2 will be uploaded on Sunday

RED-NECKED GREBE at Siblyback Reservoir

Just look at this outstanding shot taken by Steve Rogers of the Siblyback Reservoir RED-NECKED GREBE - a pretty rare bird these days. See more top quality images on Steve's site at

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Quizbird Part 1 - The new UK400 Club challenge

Identify this bird. This particular challenge is worth 7 points, the first correct answer receiving all 7 points and the seventh just 1 point. A league table of contestants will be found on the new UK400 Club forum. Email your correct answers to

Wednesday 13 March 2013

The Ham Wall Spectacular - breaking new records (GREAT WHITE EGRETS)

I visited Ham Wall RSPB Reserve today on the Somerset Levels where, amongst other rares, I saw the 9 GREAT WHITE EGRETS on the drained Meare Heath lagoon, 250 yards west of the main car park at Ashcott Corner. This is the largest single concentration ever recorded in the UK beating by just one, a gathering of 8 on the ARC Pit at Dungeness (Kent) last week. Two birds are from Brittany, bearing colour-rings from the scheme at Loire Atlantique.

All 9 birds on the drained lagoon

8 of the 9 individuals followed by closer, enlarged shots of all 9 individuals

Two different birds are ringed - both from Brittany

Sunday 10 March 2013

Winter returns with a vengeance

Paul Rowe Rare Bird Photography: drake American Wigeon at Bowling Green Marsh RSPB and Pied-billed Grebe at Ham Wall RSPB

Bitterly cold Northeasterly winds battered the country today pegging back further migration and halting up the likes of Sand Martin, White Wagtail and Northern Wheatear. The first House Martin was reported today (in Berks) and Little Ringed Plover, with a few European Barn Swallows being seen.

Nothing really new on the rarity front but quite a movement inland of PIED AVOCETS and KITTIWAKES, as well as eastbound Northern Pintails

The drake HARLEQUIN DUCK remains on North Uist, with a record 9 GREAT WHITE EGRETS on the Somerset Levels at Meare Heath and the PIED-BILLED GREBE nearby at Ham Walls RSPB

Still an adult RED-BREASTED GOOSE (at Farlington), 15 Black Brants, 7 Hutchinsii, 4 American Wigeons, 15-22 American Green-winged Teals, drake Ferruginous Duck in Hampshire, 2-3 drake Lesser Scaup, 9 Ring-necked Ducks, 3 BONAPARTE'S GULLS, 5 Ring-billed Gulls, 2 GLOSSY IBIS, the YELLOWLEGS and Welsh LBD, the Thetford BBD, Rosy Starling (Exminster) and of course the DESERT WHEATEAR at Rattray Head

Friday 8 March 2013

New BBA Forum is now launched

After a number of technical problems, the new BBA Forum is now up and running and available to use for members. You may be prompted to register - if so, I would prefer that you log on under your own names and not pseudonym names

Many thanks


The New Site is at

Defra refuse to give BLACK GUILLEMOTS their full rights

Read on.....and make your feelings known


Marine protection for the only breeding black guillemots in England

Walking along the Cumbrian coast at this time of year, the cliffs with their sheer drops can look wild and inhospitable; it is easy to think that nothing could exist here. But come spring 8 million seabirds will make the long trip home to their breeding grounds around the UK's coast; soon the cliffs will be alive with squabbling guillemots, groaning puffins and graceful fulmars.

At St Bees Head in Cumbria an additional treat is in store for visitors as these cliffs are home to the only breeding black guillemot population in England; if you are lucky, you might just catch them descending into their burrows with sandeels and butterfish in bills ready to feed their chicks.

St Bees is a fantastic example of how faithful seabirds are to the sites they use; some seabirds return back to the exact same nests every year.Thankfully the colony here is a nationally designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which means that seabird nest sites are protected from damaging human activities; however the areas that these birds use at sea are not.

It's a sad truth that this story is the same all around the UK - seabirds are currently protected when on land, but as soon as they leave the shore to hunt for food for themselves and their chicks, they face threats such as net entanglement and disturbance from offshore developments in unprotected waters.

I'd like to thank everyone who Stepped Up for Nature and signed the RSPB's Marine Pledge throughout 2011-12. At the moment less than 0.1% of the UK's waters are protected from all damaging activities and there is an urgent need for the development of an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas. In November 2011, thanks to your support, we were able to hand-in over 50,000 signatures to Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon and show the UK Government that people out there like you care about the marine environment including the fate of our seabirds.

But we must ask you now to take further action.

We were thrilled that in September 2011 it was agreed that BLACK GUILLEMOT should be a species for protection within the recommended Cumbria Coast Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ). This MCZ would form part of a collection of 127 sites around English waters, for consultation in 2013.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched their public consultation on the designation of English MCZs in December 2012. We now know that Defra only intend to take up to 31 of the 127 sites forward for designation in 2013. What's more, black guillemot has not been taken forward as a species within the Cumbria Coast MCZ which means that they will continue to have no protection at their key feeding and loafing areas close to their nesting grounds. We are bitterly disappointed by these unambitious proposals.

What you can do to help:

Please join us in letting Defra know that that they need to reinstate BLACK GUILLEMOT (or Tystie as it is affectionately known) as a species for protection within the Cumbria Coast MCZ for designation in 2013. Furthermore, that they need to implement a well-managed network of Marine Protected Areas, including MCZs, which offers full protection for all our marine wildlife, including seabirds, without further delay. You can do this and encourage others to do the same by responding to Defra's English Marine Conservation Zones consultation.
You can submit your letter email to

mail to: or by writing to the address below:

MCZ Team

C/O Post Room, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR

The consultation closes on 31 March 2013.

Why not also add a personal flavour to your letter by describing why the Cumbrian coast is so special to you and why our marine environment needs protecting.

Thursday 7 March 2013

LESTER MULFORD meets the end of the line

When I first got into twitching in the early 1970's, one of the first 'teams' that John White and I first came across was that lead by Tony Smith. There were about eight members of this 'band' around this time and LESTER MULFORD was an integral part of it. The team 'operated' out of West London, Tony with his Ealing connections and Lester his Feltham. Other members included Pete Smith, Ralph Hobbs, John East,  John Williamson, 'Surf City', 'Collocks' and Wayne Borras, and amongst their remit was to visit every pub in the land featuring a bird name in its title. Both Tony and Lester instilled their interests from their early LNHS days in the 1960's, quickly relocating from Dungeness to Portland Bill as there favoured weekend haunt. Lester quickly fell in love with Portland Bill and for 30 years or more, the entire batallion would be partially resident in the Observatory (particularly during the Mike Rogers period). Lester also held Staines Reservoirs as his 'local patch' and it would be both of these localities that I would see him on often a weekly basis. Workwise he spent years at British Airways, where his priveleged travel passes would frequently take him on global birding trips, Kenya and its Guinness Breweries being a particular favourite. Latterly, Thailand took his favour - and he married there - and spawned at least one toddler.

Lester loved birding - he lived and breathed it - and even after a serious motorbike accident in the 1980's was up-and-running after a short time and bagging Wheatears and other spring migrants. Like me, he loved Scilly - and never missed a year between 1966 and 2002. Tregarthen's then became his local and on many an occasion, I would be running through the arches on the Garrison on route for a rare to be faced with Lester and a Guinness in his hand asking me what had just turned up. Like many of his ilk, he was a true British birding character, the likes of which will never be replaced. Although he never joined the twitching jetset, prepared to 'cheque book' birds at any cost, he did finally achieve his goal, scoring his 500th UK-only species in 2009 (Ireland was never in his remit). He was a lovely man, very compassionate, caring, trusting and kind - and doting to the end to his mum, whom sadly died at the age of 102 in 2009. After that, Lester moved to Wisbech in Cambridgeshire to be closer to Tony and Liz in Holt. I very rarely saw him after that. Another huge loss and a gaping hole in my history. Goodbye Lester.

Sunday 3 March 2013

GOSHAWK TOURS - weather forecast is poor

The weather forecast for this week is poor (rain from Wednesday) so the only planned trip for this week is TUESDAY 5 MARCH. Meet at Junction 18 of the M25 at 0700 hours prompt or pickup en route - trip vouchers obtainable from LGRE at

More trips are planned from Monday to Thursday of next week weather allowing

Breaking News of a mega mammal - WALRUS on North Ronaldsay

Discovered loafing at Bridesness today - see spectacular images at