Tuesday 25 October 2016

A SIBERIAN ACCENTOR irruption into Europe sees UK's first records

Autumn 2016 - the Year of the SIBERIAN ACCENTOR irruption
When news of a Siberian Accentor trapped & ringed on Utsira (Norway) on 6th August 2011 hit the headlines, no birder could have foreseen what was to follow just five years later in October 2016. With a protracted period of strong East/NE winds starting late September and continuing well into October, indications of something incredible happening began in Finland on 4th October, when another Siberian Accentor was discovered, followed by several more in Scandinavia over the next few days. It seems that because of a particularly bumper breeding season in Arctic Russia, presumably due to a startling bloom in insect matter, this tiny but beautiful Dunnock-like bird has irrupted. So much so, that by 24th October, a staggering 153 had been discovered in Europe, including 56 in Sweden, 45 in Finland, 10 in Denmark, 7 in Germany, 6 in Estonia, 6 in Poland, 5 in Latvia, 5 in Norway, 3 in Lithuania and a single in The Netherlands. With such a huge arrival, it was inevitable that the UK would share in, that being achieved when a brightly marked individual was discovered by Judd Hunt in a small quarry at Scousburgh (Shetland) on 9th October - the first record for Britain & Ireland. As one would expect, that sparked off an epic twitch, with no fewer than 177 observers connecting during its two-day stay. However, for those with less money or time to spend on the hobby, the prayers were answered on 13th October, when Spurn stalwart Lance Degnan discovered a first-winter feeding at close range with up to 4 Dunnocks on hard standing opposite Easington Gas Refinery in East Yorkshire. Being at such an accessible location for many, this bird was a real top drawer, attracting over 4,000 observers in its week-long stay! In fact, the irruption proved remarkably kind to the home range, Britain reaping 9 different records between 9th and 24th October - truly sensational!
1) Scousburgh, Shetland, 9th-10th October;
2) Easington Village, East Yorkshire, 13th-19th October;
3) Huntscliff, Saltburn, Cleveland, 15th October;
4) Hendon South Dock, Sunderland, County Durham, 16th-18th October;
5) Holy Island, Northumberland, 18th October;
6) Troila Geo, Fair Isle, 20th October;
7) Lund, Unst, Shetland, 22nd-24th October;
8) Fair Isle, 22nd October;

9) Sandside Bay, Deerness, Orkney, 24th October