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Monday, 8 November 2010

The Latest Round Up from Britain and Ireland

The MARSH HAWK (or NORTH AMERICAN HEN HARRIER) continues its residency in the Tacumshane and Tomhaggart Lake area in County Wexford, roosting overnight in the extensive reedbed at the Lingstown end of the reserve. It seems to have a well rehearsed pattern of roosting overnight with the 7-9 Hen Harriers in the area and then spending the day roaming the locale, visiting both the East End and the Forgotten Corner area.

DIRECTIONS: If twitching from Rosslare Harbour, continue on the N25 for about 3 miles and then take the SECOND turning left in Tagoat - the R736. Continue west along this road towards Tomhaggart and after 4 miles turn left on to the L7113. This brings you down to a crossroads where you turn right for the roost-site or left to the main Tacumshane Lake proper. Turn right (west) and after 0.6 miles, there is a left turning opposite a 5-bar metal gate. This is the narrow lane that takes you down to the extensive reedbed and park after 0.8 miles at the end of the lane (there is an old trailer with a few wooden stakes on it on the other side of the electric fence here). There is a slight rising to the ground here where the reedbed can be overviewed. The Marsh Hawk tends to hang around this area from 0800-1000 hours and return again just after 1600 hours and is the most reliable location in which to see it.

At other times, it may be seen from the East End car park or Forgotten Corner. For access to both of these sites, drive back to the road from the Lingstown reedbed and turn right. You are aiming for Tacumshane Castle which is just three miles to the east. Continue along this road until it eventually merges with another road from the left and after driving through the small hamlet, look out for a turning on the right marked 'cul-de-sac'. From here, you will see the ruined castle on your right. Forgotten Corner is at the end of the road that goes straight down whilst the track off to your left (east) leads down after about a mile to the East End car park. The Marsh Hawk is frequently seen from both locations. A long-staying GLOSSY IBIS favours a dyke close to the East End car park.

Marsh Hawk is an exceptionally rare bird on this side of the Atlantic with the only previously photographed juvenile being recorded on St Mary's (Scilly) from 22 October 1982 until 7 June 1983. There are a number of other records purporting to be of this form, the most convincing of these being the juvenile that spent a day touring St Mary's (Scilly) on 16 October 1979.

Elsewhere in the Republic of Ireland, the second-year INDIAN HOUSE CROW remains in residence in Cobh Town Centre (County Cork), showing well in the vicinity of the monument and the Papa John's restaurant. The regularly returning adult SABINE'S GULL is also a major attraction, often to be located on Cobh Harbour quayside.

Well the weekend saw a spice of activity in the UK, with the Walmsley Sanctuary (Cornwall) first-winter AMERICAN BITTERN doing an unpredicted bunk overnight on Saturday (after showing exceedingly well from the Tower Hide since the middle of last week) and yet another late autumn SQUACCO HERON making an appearance - this time in Northumberland at Morpeth town centre (residing on the river upstream of the old mill accessed from the Whorral Bank and ranging between the library and the blue footbridge at Low Stanners - NZ 204 862). The other bird remains present in Angle Harbour in Pembrokeshire, often showing down to a few yards.

Another big surprise on Sunday following the switch to NW winds was the discovery of yet another first-winter ASIATIC BROWN SHRIKE in Britain - and the second for Yorkshire. It spent the afternoon frequenting scrub skirting the golf course, about 800 yards north of the clifftop car park. It disappeared overnight following very cold, clear conditions in the first half of the night.

Another star bird was yet another RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL - this time in East Kent and at Denge Marsh Road for most of Saturday - the 30th to be recorded this autumn. A PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER was trapped and ringed at Kew Villa, Kilnsea (East Yorks), today, with another seen briefly at Titchwell Marsh RSPB (Norfolk)

Also fresh in was a juvenile/first-winter LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER at Lodmoor NR (Dorset) - which moved today to the North Pools at Radipole Lake RSPB, whilst other Nearctic waders include the first-winter LESSER YELLOWLEGS at Port Meadow, Oxford (Oxon) and juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS at Blakeney Harbour/Cley NWT (North Norfolk) and on the Exe Estuary, just south of the Turf Hotel near Exminster (South Devon).

Another milestone discovery was an adult THAYER'S GULL at Pitsea Landfill in Essex, where gull enthusiast Steve Arlow chanced upon and photographed this bird whilst sifting through many thousands of feeding birds on Saturday morning. The Landfill is strictly private with no access outside of the North Thames Gull Ringing Group.

In Cornwall, the first-winter AMERICAN GREEN HERON continues to attract admirers with its continued residency at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, often favouring the pool overlooked by the hide (for full directions, ask at the entrance kiosk and obtain a detailed map).

In Southwest Norfolk, the long-staying and very confiding GLOSSY IBIS remains at Welney, frequenting the tiny decoy pool just north of the power lines. From Welney village, drive north for a mile to the first sharp right hand bend and then follow the track alongside the Hundred Foot Drain for a further mile to view. Not that far away, in Cambridgeshire, the CATTLE EGRET continues at the fields adjacent to Red Gate Farm at Guyhirn. Other CATTLE EGRETS include a long-staying bird by Withybush Airfield at Poyston (Pembs) and that in the cattle field opposite the parking place next to the yellow half-mile car park sign at Donna Nook (North Lincs).

The BOHEMIAN WAXWING invasion continues unabated, with the Inverness area of Northern Scotland harbouring 2,500 or more birds. The total number involved far exceeds 6,000 and as the weeks progress and berries run out, many flocks will drop further south and west.

RED-NECKED GREBES are hard to come by these days and at present the only bird inland is that at Cheddar Reservoir (Somerset). Meanwhile, Suffolk's major attraction throughout the autumn - the drake KING EIDER now moulting into its second-winter plumage - continues to get seen daily offshore, generally between Minsmere Sluice and Dunwich Beach car park.

A few rare wildfowl are on offer including single drake North American Green-winged Teals at Caerlaverock WWT (Dumfries & Galloway) and Cley NWT Reserve (Norfolk), the pair of SURF SCOTER off Ynyslas car park (Ceredigion) and both FERRUGINOUS and RING-NECKED DUCK at Chew Valley Lake Stratford Bay (Avon). A female NORTH AMERICAN WOOD DUCK of unknown provenance was with a large number of Mallard and Common Teal on the sewage works pool and adjacent Pwll Penarth NR pool (Powys) this morning, whilst the adult RUDDY SHELDUCK which arrived with Dark-bellied Brent Geese in Langstone Harbour (Hants) is now consorting with Eurasian Wigeon at Farlington Marshes HWT.

A GREY PHALAROPE still remains on the West Scrape at Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk) today, with the two first-winters still at Cley NWT (Norfolk).

A RICHARD'S PIPIT continues for a second day at Sleddale (Cleveland), frequenting fields by Sleddale Farm, whilst gathering for winter perhaps are the 24 SHORE LARKS in Holkham Bay (North Norfolk).

A few ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS are still surviving in Norfolk, including one near Abbey Farm, Flitcham, and another in the Burnham Overy Dunes area, whilst northerly winds produced some heavy movements of LITTLE AUKS in the North Sea, with 147 in just over an hour south past Girdle Ness (Aberdeenshire) and 800 past Fife Ness (Fife)..

In NORTHERN IRELAND, a drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK was at Corbet Lough (County Down) today.