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Tuesday, 29 June 2010

More material relating to the West Country MEXICAN HOUSE FINCH occurrence


Neil Alford (of North Norfolk, and one of the UK's leading listers) has very kindly provided me with this very detailed essay on Mexican House Finch occurrence and status in Florida......


''Lee, I have been taking a look at records of HOUSE FINCH (from hereon referred to as HF) from the lower part of Florida. There are some other records from the lower bit of Florida but they are few and far between but there are a couple of interesting records...

This record I thought was of particular note is from the tip of the most southerly county -Monroe - and appears to represent the only record.........

House Finch 1 May 2009

Location...Fort Zachary Taylor historic NP Key West (next stop south is Cuba at 97 miles).
I checked out the length of the Keys from the mainland (Key Largo) out to Fort Zachary and following the road it would be in excess of 100m (and as the HF flies 94miles). There are several considerable expanses of open water following the route which are covered by causeways however one of the longer ones is 14 miles in length. I have been unable to find any records of HF on the Keys themselves. The record begs the question about which direction was the HF going...early May in the company of common migrants moving N would suggest a similar direction but from where. Similarly if it was moving south in May why would it attempt so many open water crosiings (perhaps if HF are reluctant to cross water it could have walked across all the causeways)? However, we know from previous correspondence that there is a record of one up to 20 Nautical miles off New Jersey.

I have provided a map above of the geographical location of the Keys and Fort Zachary is the last point before making a sea crossing. It is also a migration hot spot.

Here is another record I found......2 , 29 sept 2009 at Bill Braggs Cape Florida State Park which is at Key Biscay off shore SE Miami.

I have also been able to obtain the maximum daily counts from every east coast State over the last 10 years which highlights some interesting information..............

Cape May, New Jersey...3000 ..31 Oct 2006 (this is an incredible number moving with other migrants)
1000... 17 Nov 2008
300....17 Nov 2007
250....26 Oct 2009 for example on this day the following movement of migrants were also noted....
Red-bellied Woodpecker 3
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker X
Western Kingbird 1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 20
Tree Swallow 1000
Barn Swallow 10
Carolina Chickadee 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2
Brown Creeper 1
Carolina Wren 4
Golden-crowned Kinglet 5
Eastern Bluebird 10
Hermit Thrush 5
American Robin 3800
Gray Catbird 2
Northern Mockingbird 5
European Starling 300
American Pipit 200
Cedar Waxwing 75
Yellow-rumped Warbler X
Blackpoll Warbler X
Common Yellowthroat 3
Eastern Towhee 2
Chipping Sparrow 10
Savannah Sparrow 5
Song Sparrow 25
Swamp Sparrow 25
White-throated Sparrow 20
White-crowned Sparrow 5
Dark-eyed Junco 5
Northern Cardinal 3
Red-winged Blackbird 4000
Eastern Meadowlark 40
Rusty Blackbird 5
Common Grackle 70
Boat-tailed Grackle 20
Brown-headed Cowbird 100
Purple Finch 10
House Finch 250
American Goldfinch 100
House Sparrow 20
Another location showing significant fall counts is.....................
Lighthouse Point,Newhaven,Connecticut...opp Long Island (20m south across water)

1600 ...... 27 Oct 2008
1400....... 22 Oct 2007
240....... 30 Oct 2006
340........31 Oct 2005
220...... 1 Nov 2004
70..........6 Oct 2003
140.........28 Oct 2002
180...... .22 Oct 2001

I have checked all the other eastern States and Mid-West States maximum numbers but all are low hundreds apart from 413 @ a farm in Maryland on 13/1/08 ....319 in Maine 19/12/09...210 in Virginia 9/10/07.
On the Northern shore of Lake Ontario (New York State) 170 on 3/10/09. There is a banding study from the Mid West showing many recoveries ...I have checked several of the longer trips which I make 679m, 648m, 617m, 591m and 516m.

I presume these birds were merely controlled at fixed locations and may well not represent the maximum distance they could have travelled. I gather weather and feeding in winter is an issue as several commentators reckon numbers reduce considerably during the winter although they are also considered to be capable of managing to feed in severe weather (feeding stations clearly helping). Makes you wonder in bad winters how far south these birds move..The often quoted record is Long Island , New York to Gastonia,N Carolina (on the S Carolina border) which is 560m.

Back to Florida.......................

It seems clear they move about and probably some distance. The next country for the one at Key West wishing to continue going S /or coming from S would have been Cuba and if it found the 97m too much could have dropped onto one of the many ships passing enroute from the Gulf states to Europe.
A supporting cast at Fort Zachary on 1 May 2009...follows. (the date interestingly very similar to the Lands End record).

Here is a list of the other birds recorded ' Fort Zachary on May 1st...

Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica 2
Gray Catbird - Dumetella carolinensis 1
Northern Mockingbird - Mimus polyglottos 2
Northern Parula - Parula americana 5
Cape May Warbler - Dendroica tigrina 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler - Dendroica caerulescens 7
Yellow-throated Warbler - Dendroica dominica 1
Prairie Warbler - Dendroica discolor 1
Palm Warbler - Dendroica palmarum 5 all western race
Blackpoll Warbler - Dendroica striata 6
Black-and-white Warbler - Mniotilta varia 8
American Redstart - Setophaga ruticilla 8
Worm-eating Warbler - Helmitheros vermivorum 1
Indigo Bunting - Passerina cyanea 1
Common Grackle - Quiscalus quiscula 8
I have also been looking at shipping traffic off of the east coast and the Keys...
This map indicates the actual ship movements a few days ago around the Florida Keys for ships from the Gulf of Mexico to Europe.

You will see from the index that passenger ships travel much closer to Key West and they can make the trip across to UK waters in just 7 days and as stowaways birds have feeding opportunities on these ships.

Also incidentally 2 HF recorded at Fort Lauderdale on 3 January 2010 which is a major port for Cruise ships which also travel across to the UK...a recent crossing was to Cork, Cardiff and Southampton...

So to try and put all this into some perspective, it seems East coast and mid west HF clearly move about and at two locations there are some significant numbers during some falls and in association with other migrants. The records from the tip of Florida Keys last May also raises a few questions as does the opportunities from the east coast and Florida for ship assistance. I have been monitoring shipping movements from this area on a daily basis and there are endless movements of ships to all parts of the UK on a frequent basis.

Finally I offer this information in the spirit of trying to help move the issue forward but I have no desire to become involved in a lengthy and bitter debate which appears to have taken place from what I have viewed on various forums on the internet.

Cheers,

Neil Alford''

Controversial finch still awaits decision on its fate

The orange-yellow variant MEXICAN HOUSE FINCH remains at East Prawle village in picturesque South Devon. It is loosely associating with House Sparrows and is repeatedly returning to the garden and feeders of 'The Old Cider House', as well as frequently perching on the long roof of 'The Shippen' - all adjacent and just behind the cafe (Piglet Stores) on the village green. The bird appears intermittently and goes missing for long periods of time but repeatedly comes back to the same area of gardens, where it performs very well. It now seems likely that this bird is a ship-assisted arrival from North America, considering its easterly coastal movement between Land's End and Prawle Point, although the possibility of it being an escape still cannot be completely ruled out. Categorization of such an individual is still being looked into, as is that of 21 further species of transatlantic ship-assisted arrivals to Britain and Ireland.

ACCESS INSTRUCTIONS: East Prawle is best accessed from Kingsbridge and the A379, along four miles of very minor and hazardous narrow country lanes. Limited parking is available by the village green upon arrival but please respect the privacy of residents when searching for the bird, preferably avoiding early morning visits. The bird is no longer singing regularly but returns to the gardens perhaps once every two hours, less frequently in the afternoons and evenings.

A pair of GULL-BILLED TERNS were an excellent reward for a local patchworker at Bowling Green Marsh RSPB, Topsham (South Devon) yesterday evening, the two birds remaining until dusk in the high tide gathering of waders, Black-headed Gulls and Sandwich Terns. Just under 25 lucky individuals connected.

SPOON_BILLED SANDPIPER population severely threatened

Getting a handle on Spoon-billed Sandpipers –one of the world’s rarest birds

The SPOON-BILLED SANDPIPER, one of the world’s most threatened birds, could be rapidly heading towards extinction. The latest research outlines why, and what we can do to save this enigmatic species. Evidence from the breeding area indicates that the Spoon-billed Sandpiper declined by 88% between 2002 and 2009, making this one of the most rapidly declining birds in the world. British scientists have been involved in finding out why this might be and have just published their findings in two scientific papers.

The entire breeding population, found in Russia’s far north-west, numbered around 1,000 pairs in 2002. This had dropped to 120-220 pairs by 2009. No changes were found in adult survival over the same period and parents fledged chicks in each year. However, the recruitment of these young birds back into the adult population was zero in all but one of the years studied. Observations from wintering areas confirm the declining trend observed in the breeding areas but until recently little was known about the wintering areas of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper. The rapid decline of this species resulted in expeditions to possible wintering areas to find out more....

In both 2009 and 2010 around 200 birds were found wintering in the Bay of Martaban, Myanmar, constituting most of the known world population. There was extensive evidence of the hunting of waders in all the sites visited, the majority of hunters encountered knew of Spoon-billed Sandpiper and probably caught them every year. For a species with such a small known breeding population, it is likely that hunting in the wintering area is the major cause of the species’ decline, exacerbated by the fact that the Spoon-billed Sandpiper’s core wintering area happens to be in an area of high hunting pressure.

Dr Nigel Clark, Head of Projects at the British Trust for Ornithology and a scientist on the Spoon-billed Sandpiper expeditions, commented, “Urgent action is needed to find ways to give the local hunters economic alternatives to hunting. An awareness campaign will also help to persuade hunters to release Spoon-billed Sandpipers they catch. It is also vitally important to protect the habitats of the Bay of Martaban. Without urgent conservation action, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper could become extinct within 10–20 years.”

Christoph Zockler, Lead Author on both papers, said, “Both papers illustrate the critical state of the species that will be extinct in the next decade or so if the rate of decline continues. Fortunately the expeditions during the two winters found what is probably the main wintering population in the world, in Myanmar, and we are confident that we can address the threats caused by hunting and trapping there.” He added, “There is some hope. Local people in Myanmar hunting waders for food are keen to cooperate with the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Recovery Team and find alternatives. This will help to halt the current state of rapid decline.”

1) Hunting in Myanmar is probably the main cause of the decline of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmeus. Zockler et al., studied them on their winter grounds.To view a pdf of this paper visit http://www.bto.org.It was recently published in the journal of the International Wader Study Group. www.waderstudygroup.org

2) Hunting has a greater effect on young birds. After leaving the areas they were hatched, young birds spend the whole of their first year in the wintering areas and are therefore far more susceptible to hunting than the adults that return to the breeding areas for the northern summer. Anecdotal evidence points to increased hunting pressure on waders during the monsoon season, as fishing is difficult in these conditions. The monsoon season is between May and September, the period the adults are on the breeding grounds.

3) Concerted international conservation action is essential if this species is to avoid extinction. This requires (i) improved understanding of the main wintering and staging areas and associated threats; (ii) addressing those threats that can be tackled with immediate effect, such as hunting; (iii) continued long-term monitoring on the breeding areas; (iv) an exploration of other potential breeding areas; (v) conservation action at all important stop-over and wintering sites along the entire flyway and (vi) consideration of a captive-breeding programme to ensure the survival of this species.

4) The BTO is the UK’s leading bird research organisation. Over 30,000 birdwatchers contribute to the BTO’s surveys. They collect information that forms the basis of conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Norfolk and Stirling, who analyse and publicise the results of project work. The BTO’s investigations are funded by government, industry and conservation organisations.

...........And EURASIAN GRIFFON VULTURES now in Normandy

Northern France sightings but may be of interest….
5 Griffon Vultures at Maheru in the department of Orne, Lower Normandy at the moment. Also 5 wild Flamingos with Camargue rings on them in the Somme estuary near Calais now around the Marquenterre reserve. Balearic Shearwater numbers have not really built up in the Channel yet, but 20 or so for a month now off western Brittany (Tom Brereton, www.marine-life.org.uk/coastallatest.html

Monday, 28 June 2010

GREATER FLAMINGOES post-breeding dispersal northwards

Five GREATER FLAMINGOES were in the Baie de Somme in Northern France yesterday afternoon, not that far as the flamingo flies from the South Coast of Britain. As in recent years, the very hot weather is causing certain species to make unusual northward post-breeding dispersal movements. Species previously affected have been Marbled Duck, White-headed Duck, Pied Avocet, Great White Egret and Little Egret, so it is well worth keeping an eye out for these Mediterranean wanderers......

MEGA - BRUNNICH'S GUILLEMOT on Orkney

A BRUNNICH'S GUILLEMOT in full breeding plumage was discovered off of the end of the Lyness Pier on Hoy this morning (Stuart and Jim Williams)

Sunday, 27 June 2010

VOTE TODAY for your personal opinion of the MEXICAN HOUSE FINCH

Enter your vote today! A new poll has been created for the UK400Club group:

A year ago, the UK400 Club had a vote on the validity and countability of a Great-tailed Grackle in Belgium and the overwhelming decision at that time was that ship-assisted vagrants of this nature should NOT be admitted to the UK400 Club list and be countable. This same scenario has now reared its ugly head again in Britain, with a yellow variant perhaps ship-assisted vagrant MEXICAN HOUSE FINCH that has moved between Land's End, West Cornwall, and East Prawle village, South Devon, this spring. The species is introduced in Eastern North America and is generally regarded as sedentary, with localised movements of up to 800 kms. Once again, I am soliciting a wider audience for a view on this

o I believe that non-migratory species such as the Mexican House Finch should be admitted to Category A of the UK400 Club List

o I believe that largely sedentary species such as the Mexican House Finch should NOT be admitted to the List

To vote, please visit the following web page:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/UK400Club/surveys?id=13020426

Note: Please do not reply to this message. Poll votes are not collected via email. To vote, you must go to the Yahoo! Groups web site listed above. Thanks!

MEXICAN HOUSE FINCH in South Devon and the species in its natural habitat







Roger Wyatt very kindly emailed me these images of MEXICAN HOUSE FINCHES in Mexico - the natural variety.
This morning, the yellow variant Land's End Mexican House Finch has relocated to South Devon, where it has been singing from the roof of a house by the village green in East Prawle (from 0730-1230 hours at least). Whether the bird is an escape or a ship-assisted vagrant is still open to conjecture (Lee Evans)

Friday, 25 June 2010

LESSER KESTREL success and increases in FRANCE

The Lesser Kestrel remains classified as a globally threatened species, its population in western Europe having declined by nearly 90% between 1950 and 1990. In recent years there has been a welcome increase in southern Europe, numbers in France having reached a nadir of just three pairs in 1983. However, by 2009 the French population had reached 259 pairs, with two new colonies now established further west along the Mediterranean hinterland from the long-established one on La Crau, close to the Camargue. These falcons are cavity nesters, and on La Crau have favoured the piles of stones which dot this semi-desert plain. However, in such sites they are very vulnerable to ground predators like snakes, polecats and foxes, and so the LPO has been working to provide nestboxes at a higher level, under the tiles of some of the disused shepherd's huts and old military buildings which are another distinctive feature of the landscape here. The fledging success rate is much better in these sites, and as a result the population had reached 150 pairs by 2009.

The second colony was discovered in 2002, when a dozen pairs were found to be breeding in a village in the Hérault département. These birds nest under the roof tiles which are such a characteristic feature of the Mediterranean villages of this part of France. Conservation work here is centred on ensuring that the proprietors of the buildings concerned do everything possible to manage their roofs in such a way that neither they nor the birds are disadvantaged. So far, things seem to be going well, with 97 pairs raising 259 young to fledging in 2009, from here and from other colonies newly founded in nearby villages.

The third main colony, in the next département west again, the Aude, is the result of a reintroduction programme. Back in the 1960s, the Massif de la Clape was home to a colony of around 40 pairs of Lesser Kestrels, but they died out during the subsequent decline of the population that affected the west European population generally. Subsequent to the spontaneous appearance of a couple of pairs in 2003, nestboxes were placed in a restored winery building and on some electricity pylons nearby and, starting in 2006, young birds from Extremadura in Spain were released close by. Happily, half of these birds returned the next spring, and again the next year, and by 2009 a dozen pairs had started breeding, producing 15 fledged young. The results for 2010 are eagerly awaited, with hopefully the return of the first young actually born at the site. The work of the LPO in this project is ongoing, and has been greatly helped by funds donated during a special appeal in the recent past – many thanks to all who contributed to that (kindly contributed by Ken Hall)

Midsummer Update


An unseasonal TAWNY PIPIT on North Ronaldsay, found by Pete Donnelly and excellently photographed by Paul Brown. The first for the island and only the fourth for Orkney.
ROSE-COLOURED STARLINGS are specialities of flaming Junes and this year's representative is a fine adult consorting with Common Starlings in the Porthgwarra and St Levan area of West Cornwall. Meanwhile, a WHITE STORK was seen yesterday morning in a recently cut hayfield by the Millpool turning, 4 miles north of Bodmin (at SX 114 710).

The pair of PURPLE HERONS are now actively feeding young at Dungeness RSPB reserve (Kent) and are best observed from the Denge Marsh road overlooking the reserve near Brick Wall Farm, whilst the adult male LITTLE BITTERN present for its second successive season continues to bark from the reedbed at Loxton Marsh, Ham Walls RSPB (Somerset).

The singing male beautiful red COMMON ROSEFINCH remains on territory in Kinross, favouring the bushes and scrub in the vicinity of the log cabin in the car park adjacent to the Tormaukin Inn (NN 982 049), whilst on Shetland, the adult summer LONG-TAILED SKUA remains paired up with an Arctic Skua at East Burra. On Orkney, their fourth-ever TAWNY PIPIT remains on North Ronaldsay, showing very well on the road towards the north end (first island record).

A female FERRUGINOUS DUCK remains present at Minsmere RSPB reserve (Suffolk), favouring the Island Mere

Late news concerns yet another WHITE-THROATED SPARROW in 2010 - this time in Lincolnshire and present for two days in a Fulbeck garden (18-19 June).

In County Dublin (IRELAND), the TEREK SANDPIPER continues today, showing well this afternoon from the North Hide on the Rogerstown Estuary.

Scottish 'Lady' makes remarkable recovery

http://blogs.swt.org.uk/osprey/

I am delighted to report that 'Lady' - the adult female OSPREY at Loch of the Lowes SWT Reserve - appears to be now fully recovered from her virus of a week or so back and is now busily feeding the two chicks and guarding against other Osprey intruders (Lee Evans)

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Total now 369 species

Despite the World Cup, Wimbledon, Glastonbury and other summer events to divert the attentions of the keen birder, these last two weeks of June 2010 have seen some impressive finds. Since my last update, a further EIGHT species have occurred, pushing the total number of species recorded in Britain and Ireland to an impressive 369 in less than six months. The new additions are thus -:

1) Cory's Shearwater

2) WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER (at Scatness, Shetland, on 20 June);

3) TEREK SANDPIPER (a well twitched individual on the Rogerstown Estuary, County Dublin, IRELAND);

4) BRIDLED TERN (an adult photographed at East Chevington Pools, Northumberland, on 21 June);

5) CASPIAN TERN (at several sites in North-central and NE Scotland on 19 & 21 June);

6) PADDYFIELD WARBLER (a very confiding bird photographed at Grutness, Shetland, on 21 June);

7) BLYTH'S REED WARBLER (trapped & ringed on Fair Isle)

8) GREENISH WARBLER (two June records)

Monday, 21 June 2010

Taxonomic Announcement - MOLTONI'S SUBALPINE WARBLER added to BBA/UK400 Club List





Moltoni's Subalpine Warbler, Skaw, Unst, Shetland, June 2009 (Dougie Preston)

After some recent correspondence with Brian Small and Andreas Corso and a review of detailed studies kindly referenced and supplied by Alexander Lees, the UK400 Club has upgraded MOLTONI'S SUBALPINE WARBLER (moltonii) to full species status, treating it as distinct from both WESTERN and EASTERN SUBALPINE WARBLERS.

There is just one acceptable British record of this form - that of a singing male at Skaw, Unst, Shetland, from 1-11 June 2009 (see an exhaustive selection of images at the Shetland Wildlife website, as well as definitive sound recordings made of the bird, at http://www.nature-shetland.co.uk/naturelatest/archives/birdarchive09jun.htm

MOLTONI'S SUBALPINE WARBLER (from hereafter recognised as Sylvia moltonii) differs from both Western and Eastern Subalpine Warbler in plumage, moult, timing of breeding, habitat and contact calls (Gargallo 1994, Shirihai et al. 2001, Brambilla et al. 2007). Recent studies have shown that the breeding ranges of Moltoni’s Warbler and Western Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia cantillans) overlap at several localities in mainland Italy without evidence for interbreeding (Brambilla et al. 2006). Playback tests conducted within and outside the area of overlap in Italy have demonstrated that the two groups do not respond to each other’s songs (Brambilla et al. 2008a). A molecular phylogenetic study indicated that Moltoni’s Warbler and Eastern Subalpine Warbler form separate clades and failed to find evidence for gene flow, even in areas where the two forms have overlapping breeding ranges (Brambilla et al. 2008b). The level of sequence divergence between Moltoni’s Warbler and both Subalpine Warblers is consistent with those typically observed in species taxa, including several pairs of Sylvia warblers (Brambilla et al. 2008b). Therefore, Moltoni’s Warbler and Subalpine Warbler are best treated as separate species (cf. Brambilla et al. 2008a,b,c).

ATLANTIC PUFFIN falls prey to Great Black-backed Gull


Irish bird photographer Darragh Sherwin captured the moment when this poor defenceless ATLANTIC PUFFIN was captured by a nesting Great Black-backed Gull and taken away, presumably to be fed to its young.
Quite how many adult auks end up like this is unknown but in 'wrecks' in late autumn/winter, large numbers of Little Auks succumb in this manner.

Accidental deaths of reintroduction WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLES in County Kerry, IRELAND

PROTECTING WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLES

The following letter has been sent clarifying the facts surrounding the unfortunate accidental deaths through poisoning of reintroduction WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLES in County Kerry, Ireland. At no point were such actions directed at the eagles but as a result of controlling vermin against lamb attacks, deaths of these majestic birds has been a very unfortunate side-effect.

''We wish to clarify matters regarding news coverage of the poisoning of WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLES in Co Kerry. This publicity has led to a number of letters by the public that are potentially damaging to farming interests in Kerry as they give the false impression of the widespread use of poisons.

Sheep farmers in particular have a difficult job to produce lamb reared to high environmental standards while protecting their flock against losses to foxes and crows. The vast majority of landowners do not use poison to control foxes and crows, but now use alternative safer methods and are careful to adhere to the many regulations farmers now have to comply with under cross-compliance regulations.

On behalf of the organisations we represent we wish to state that it is our belief that the incidents in Co Kerry have resulted from accidental poisoning as a result of ingesting poison targeting foxes during the lambing period when foxes are known to take lambs. Thus, contrary to suggestions in some correspondence, eagles have not been deliberately targeted. Further, we do not, nor have ever condoned the use of poison illegally, either on fallen livestock or using banned substances. On the contrary, all of our organisations are actively promoting the use of safer alternative means of control. Farming in upland areas in Co Kerry complies to high environmental standards in order to produce a high quality product. It is not in the interest of any of us, or the members we represent, to support any activity that would damage this image.

JAMES MacCARTHY, Chairman, Irish Farmers’ Association, Co Kerry;
DENNIS CARROLL, Secretary, Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association, CoKerry;
GABRIEL GILMARTIN, President, Irish Cattle and Sheep Breeders’ Asscociation;
MICHAEL GOTTSTEIN, Sheep Specialist, Teagasc, Co Kerry;
ALLAN MEE, Golden Eagle Trust, Black Valley, Beaufort, Co Kerry
Det PAT KELLIHER, An Garda Síochána, Killarney, Co. Kerry

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Another TUFTED PUFFIN in NW Europe















Drake Blue-winged Teal, Berry Fen, Earith, Cambridgeshire, June 2010 (Mike Lawrence)
Incredulously, yet another TUFTED PUFFIN was seen today in NW Europe - flying past Nesseby in Finnmark (NORWAY). Maybe the UK's birders will get another chance of finding one of these after all.

Newly discovered today was a cracking adult male RED-FOOTED FALCON in the Adur Valley in East Sussex, east of Seaford at Cuckmere Haven. The bird has been showing very well this afternoon and evening on the fenceposts and in the meadow north of the footpath between the Coastguard Cottages and the Golden Galleon pub. Meanwhile, a RED-FOOTED FALCON was recently east of Baston and Langtoft GP at Cradge Farm (Lincs) at TF 161 151.

The drake BLUE-WINGED TEAL (which incidentally bears a metal ring) continues SW of Earith (Cambs) at Berry Fen (see Mike Lawrence's excellent images above). Park carefully by the A1123 east of Bluntisham village and follow the footpath through the metal gate in a southerly direction before walking west for about quarter of a mile to view (TL 373 738)

Incredibly, after such a long period, the male WHITE-SPOTTED BL:UETHROAT continues to sing and show in reeds and vegetation by the Lyle Hide at Welney WWT (Norfolk), whilst over in Derbyshire, their first-ever GREAT REED WARBLER continues to perform and bellow from Phragmites WSW of Ilkeston at Straw's Bridge Reserve, accessed from the A609 High Lane East car park. A male MARSH WARBLER was present at Spurn Point (East Yorks) today, with another still singing NE of Newchurch (Isle of Wight) north of the cycle track and just east of the conifer plantation. The male IBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF 3 miles SE of Doncaster (South Yorks) at Potteric Carr YWT in St Catherine's Field.

An adult ROSEATE TERN is present for a second day on Minsmere RSPB scrape (Suffolk), whilst in the Midlands, a female RED-NECKED PHALAROPE arrived at Upton Warren NNR, where it showed well from Avocet Hide on The Flashes.

A COMMON CRANE was today south of Chester (Cheshire) in fields by the A483 by the Pulford roundabout before flying east

On the Isles of Scilly, a singing male EUROPEAN SERIN remains on St Agnes.

On the Isle of Sheppey (North Kent), the 3 summering EURASIAN SPOONBILLS remain, whilst the usual summer build-up of Spotted Redshanks increased to 23 birds.

Yesterday, the first CASPIAN TERN of the year appeared at Loch Lomond (Clyde), where it was seen at the SE end of the Endrick Mouth on a couple of occasions.

Recently, a singing male COMMON ROSEFINCH remained 10 miles west of Kinross (Perthshire) and a mile NW of Glendevon by the A823 in the car park of Tormaukin Inn at NN 982 049.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Concern mounts for 'Lady' OSPREY in Scotland

See Loch of the Lowes diary here - http://blogs.swt.org.uk/osprey/

Concern is mounting for the welfare of an adult female OSPREY sat on an eyrie overviewed by the hides at the Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve at Loch of the Lowes, near Dunkeld. It is not known at this stage what is wrong with her and for several days now she has barely moved. The two offspring are being attended by the father at present but this does not bode well for the survival of the female.

Loch of the Lowes has seen the birth of 71 baby Ospreys since 1969, making it one of the most prolific sites in Scotland for the species. 'Lady' as she is known has been responsible for raising many of these youngsters to flying stage and she and her mate have been on my annual Scottish itineries for many a year. It is heartbreaking news

Lee Evans

Friday, 18 June 2010

Global warming is 'cooking' ASIA

Global Warming Is 'Cooking' Asia

In this parched part of the world, only tourists disbelieve humans are altering the climate.

Written by Peter ter Weeme, 11 Jun 2010, and published in 'The Vancouver Observer '

Putu, a local village guide in Keliki, Bali, stops to mop his brow and sighs, "It's hotter than I can remember." He takes another few steps and turns, "We're just not used to it. The seasons seem to be all mixed up."



It's another steamy day in Bali and difficult to see where exactly the rice paddies end and the sky begins. The horizon is merely a blurry line lost in the haze of heat. As he tramps along a muddy path in the rice field, Putu carries a cloth to wipe his glistening face and neck. He's used to the heat but today is too much for him to bear.

Yes, it's May, the so-called "dry season" in Bali, but it's anything but dry this year. Rain has fallen almost every day for the past three weeks. The island's climate has been organized around the rhythm of wet months and dry ones, but this year it's definitely topsy-turvy. Putu, 35, trudges along a muddy path in the rice field as he talks about how the weather has changed. He's no scientist but he is in tune with his environment. Nature, he concludes, is confused.

"When I was a kid, we used to head into the rice fields for the day without sun tan lotion. Now, we can barely stand the sun in the afternoon. After a couple of hours, we go inside for a break because our skin hurts so much," he says. His voice is steady but you can hear the fear. He talks about seedlings that die from the heat, about shortages of water and then flash floods that come from nowhere. Some of these patterns were always there but now they're magnified and grotesque, like the muscles of a bodybuilder on steroids.



And while he doesn't understand the intricacies of climate science, Putu's observations are backed up by the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) in Jakarta. According to their climate scientists, global warming has triggered several anomalies, including rising sea levels and increased sea surface temperatures. It's led to unpredictable rainfall that bears no resemblance to normal patterns. All over Asia, the effects of climate change are being felt on the ground. After interviewing dozens locals in Vietnam, Laos, India, Bhutan and Indonesia, I've found no one who has refuted the fact that the climate is different than it was 20 short years ago. And none of them are disputing that humans are causing it. 



Over in India, Delhi has just finished its hottest April in 52 years. May has been a record-breaker too. Throughout Rajasthan, the state southwest of Delhi, water issues are at critical levels. It's not just a recent phenomenon either -- drought has ravaged the state for the past 10 years, withering crops, drying up wells and virtually roasting cattle before they are even butchered.

City of lakes, no more

One telling example of the drought is occurring in Udaipur, a beautiful, historical city that lies amongst centuries-old man-made lakes created by various maharajas. Udaipur has been called the City of Lakes. It's a misnomer now. 

If you've ever seen the movie Octopussy, you'll remember James Bond speeding across a gorgeous blue lake with a wedding cake palace in the background. That was Lake Pichola in Udaipur. Shockingly, the lake is now almost dry and has been for a few years. The rains don't come anymore, and under the searing sun and growing population, the demand for water is too great. 

Today, instead of an azure lake set against the arid Rajasthani mountains, you'll find a toxic concentration of green sludge and a faint ring around the shore to mark the former waterline. It looks like the residue left behind from after a good scrub in the bathtub. But it smells much worse.

Uday, a local guide, comments how the five lakes surrounding the city are all at record low levels. "The last big rain came in 2006, but now they grow vegetables on the lake bed with what moisture remains. We are all hopeful the rains will return. What tourists want to come to see this?" he laments as he gestures at the empty lakebed. His voice is heavy with resignation.



Meanwhile, in Laos, boat traffic on the Lower Mekong River was suspended three months ago due to a dramatic drop in the water level. It is below 1993 levels, which followed the most extreme regional drought on record.
This year's low water levels are the result of conditions in Northern Thailand and Laos, and are part of a wider regional drought being experienced upstream in Yunnan Province in China. The 2009 flood season was drier than normal, with wet season river levels in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, among some of the lowest on record in the last 100 years.

Drying up tourism

This lack of water is creating regional tensions around water management. It's also making life difficult for the subsistence farmers and fishers who rely on the water for their livelihood. Living on a knife-edge, just one bad season can generate devastating impacts and personal economic ruin. The people here don't have the luxury of savings to cushion the losses and their governments lack cash and capacity to provide relief.

Tourism has frequently been fingered as an economic saviour. However, it too is not immune to the vagaries of a changing climate. 

"One of the cruise boats that plies the upper Mekong broke up on the rocks earlier this season," offers Myriam, a French hostess on a lower Mekong ship. "The captain hadn't realized just how shallow the river had become. Passengers had to be evacuated but fortunately there were no casualties." Immediately following the incident, all fast and slow boats on the river were suspended until further notice. More jobs were put in jeopardy.



These stories of climate change are but a drop in the proverbial bucket, and they have a sad irony to them. Our lifestyles, our privileged position, our arrogance has created climate change. Yet it's the poorest, least resilient people in developing countries that are bearing the most dramatic social, environmental and economic costs. 


Visitors in denial
In dozens of conversations about changes in that region's climate, the only suggestion that climate change is either imagined, trumped up or a hoax is voiced by European and American tourists. Whether it's a Dutch executive at Shell or Republican seniors who live on a golf course in Pennsylvania, they're enjoying Asian vacations made less threatening thanks to their comfortable blinders and convenient explanations. 

These travellers are resolute in their belief that this is all part of the planet's natural climate variability. Indeed, they suggest that the fact that we've never had such high concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere is mere fear-mongering and has no relevance. Are they ignorant or is it just easier to deny responsibility? After all, who wants to be reminded that the carbon footprint of their flight is far greater than that of an entire Asian village?



The future impacts of climate change globally remain uncertain, but each new piece of data confirms that it's not likely to be pretty. That prognosis is all too evident to many Asians already. Just ask them.

This article first appeared in the Vancouver Observer. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Peter ter Weeme is a 16-year veteran of the sustainability movement with expertise in sustainability issues, business strategy, and green marketing and communications. He has founded and grown two successful consultancies, including Junxion Strategy, and led the marketing and communications at Mountain Equipment Co-op, Canada's national retail leader in social and environmental responsibility.

Pamela Gale Malhotra - Trustee, SAI (Save Animals Initiative) Sanctuary Trust, Theralu Village & Post, South Kodagu, 571249, Karnataka, India

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Flamingo dilemma





This afternoon, a pair of CHILEAN FLAMINGOES is present on Minsmere RSPB scrape in Suffolk (photographed above by Craig Holden). First glances appear to suggest both birds are unringed but my guess is - is that these birds are derived from the non-naturalised breeding and semi-resident population in The Netherlands and German border. When I last visited, this population numbered 43 individuals but I would be most grateful for an update on population from our Dutch counterparts.

As such, like some previous Chilean Flamingoes recorded in Britain, these fall into Category C vagrancy. A decision of whether or not to add species such as Australian Black Swan, Bar-headed Goose, Sacred Ibis and Chilean Flamingo to Category C of the UK400 Club/BBA British List is still pending

Monday, 14 June 2010

More cracking images of the Welsh MARMORA'S WARBLER
















These tremendous shots of the Welsh MARMORA'S WARBLER were taken by Dave Hutton

Remarkable crash-landing of migrant EURASIAN HONEY BUZZARD in Central London

I am usually very sceptical of flyover Honey Buzzards in London, as so many photographs taken usually result in their reidentification as Common Buzzards. Consider my surprise then when David Bradnum emailed me this little snippet - a Eurasian Honey Buzzard stunned and sitting in a confined space bang in the centre of the Capital - see here http://t42bsg.blogspot.com/2010/05/if-youve-already-read-entry-below-about.html

Spring Migration coming to a close














The BLYTH'S REED WARBLER trapped and ringed on Fair Isle last week (photographed above - very top picture - by Penny Clarke - see more of Penny's images and some delightful extracts at her blog-site www.pennyshotbirdingandlife.blogspot.com) represented the first of the year in Britain, whilst the BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER so well pictured by Ian Boustead remains for the best part of a week on site. Ashley Stow photographed Blorenge on a cloudy day but was pleased to see the Wentowwd Forest IBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF performing well.

With mid June rapidly approaching, the annual spring migration of birds is virtually over. Our star performer of the spring - the very confiding and sprightly first-summer male MARMORA'S WARBLER - continues to delight on its chosen moorland territory just south of Blorenge and NE of Blaenavon (Monmouthshire/Gwent border). It is still favouring the area visible from the lower car park at SO 270 109. Not that far away, the singing male IBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF is still to be seen in Wentwood Forest, at the edge of the clearing 125 yards south of the Cadira Beeches car park (ST 425 945).

The BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER (superbly photographed above) remains in Cleveland, again frequenting the flood at Port Clarence viewable from the fence just west of the A178, whilst in South Devon, the BLACK STORK is still roaming, flying over Jurston, near Fernworthy Reservoir, yesterda

An excellent record for London - a singing male first-summer COMMON ROSEFINCH - remains present for a second day today. The bird is singing quite frequently but is extremely elusive and difficult-to-see and is present at Tottenham Marsh, immediately west of the Lee River Navigation and Lockwood Reservoir. It is commuting between the scrub just south of the Stonebridge Lock car park and bushes beside the busy A1055 and is primarily seen in flight.

The long-staying GREAT REED WARBLER continues to bellow out from its chosen clump of Phragmites at SK 453 416, in the NW lake at Straw Bridges NR, west of Ilkeston (Derbyshire), with the even longer territorial male WHITE-SPOTTED BLUETHROAT close to the Lyle Hide at Welney WWT (Norfolk). A male RED-BACKED SHRIKE appeared today at Buston Links, south of Alnmouth (Northumberland) following a male at Snettisham (Norfolk) over the weekend, whilst on the Isle of Wight, a male MARSH WARBLER continues to sing east of Newchurch cycle track in the reedbed just east of the plantation.

In Scotland, an adult COMMON CRANE is present for a third day in a bare field inland of Shell Bay at Drumeldrie, to the east of Lower Largo village (Fife) (at NO 453 022), with two Eurasian Spoonbills still present on the pools in front of the Starnafin centre at Loch of Strathbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire). At least 11 RED-NECKED PHALAROPES have returned to Scottish breeding sites including a male visible from the viewing platform at Loch na Muilne, Arnol, on Lewis (Outer Hebrides). A LONG-TAILED SKUA has paired up with an Arctic Skua at a moorland locality.

Eurasian Spoonbills today include a party of 8 on Jackson's Marsh, Gibraltar Point NNR (Lincs) and another at Cley NWT North Scrape (North Norfolk)

A female RED-FOOTED FALCON was an excellent local record at Exminster Marshes RSPB (South Devon) - present from 11-13 June.

No significant news from IRELAND has been received in recent days. On the AZORES, a pair of KILLDEER have apparently nested - the first breeding occurrence of this North American shorebird in the Western Palearctic (per Alan Vittery)

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Endemic LUZON QUAIL rediscovered at market - but not saved from the pot

See http://www.aroundglobe.net/2009/02/extremely-rare-bird-foundthen-eaten.html

Further comments on HOUSE FINCHES at sea

As part of a large baseline survey of New Jersey's Atlantic Ocean waters out to 20 nautical miles, I was part of a two-year effort to map distribution and abundance of birds. In about 1100 hours of survey effort, we recorded House Finch (HOFI) just once, in fall 2009. This despite finding American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins on multiple occasions and recording some 30+ species of landbirds. Add this in to the rest of the time that I have spent at sea on birding trips in the western Atlantic, the sum of my experience with HOFI at sea is... just once.

Additionally, I do not find yellow-variant HOFIs to be all that rare. I suspect that the phenomenon may have a local aspect to it, but I have run across yellow male HOFIs nearly everywhere that I've spent any considerable time and where there were at least reasonable numbers of HOFIs, including California, Colorado, New Jersey, and New York. I suspect that the phenomenon is under-reported, as are many aspects of bird species with wide distributions and found in high abundance - they're "trash" birds and overlooked by many/most birders.

It seems exceedingly presumptuous to state that a particular yellow House Finch found in the UK is from a particular chunk of Florida, just because one or two people seem to believe that yellow birds are more prevalent there than in the rest of the regular range of the species. There are NO good data supporting that contention. Additionally, it would be unlikely for a rare variant to account for the first record from such a far-flung location, though I do understand that the UK has some experience with just that phenomenon (i.e., the oddball Varied Thrush)

(kindly contributed by Tony Leukering, Villas, New Jersey)

The variability of suburban MEXICAN HOUSE FINCHES in Orlando, FLORIDA


Paul Heuber very kindly provided me with this very valuable information from his home town in Florida, clearly illustrating the variation of Mexican House Finches occurring in this area.

Hi Lee,

Birding World magazine contacted me last month regarding a photo of a yellow variant House Finch that I had taken in my yard in January, 2008 and posted on my photo page. After they contacted me, I posted several color variants that can be seen at this link below: http://www.flickr.com/photos/musicarver/4624433792/

This past winter, I had at least eight male birds here at my feeders. I say at least eight because they never all came to the feeders at once, always in smaller groups. Of those eight birds, I had the following color variants:

2+ of the typical red male. There may have been more but I never saw more than 2 at one time.
2+ of the salmon color shown in the link above. Again, there may have been more.
3 of the yellow variants. One with pale yellow on the forehead and no color on the breast, one a lemon yellow, and one a deeper orange-yellow.
1 bicolored male seen in the link above. I have seen and photographed at least one other bicolored male in September, 2008. Photograph attached and published above.

Last year, I observed at least one pinkish red male that I didn't photograph.

There were an approximately equal number of female birds here this winter. At this time, I only have two male birds and their families coming to the feeders, one red and one yellow.

When the birds come to my feeders, they almost exclusively eat black oil sunflower seed. The only other food I have observed them eating away from my feeders is loquat fruit in early spring.

It is my understanding that House Finches are a relatively new occurrence here in Central Florida. I first observed a House Finch here in my yard in November, 1999. My next record was not until October, 2004. They were sporadic visitors to my feeders until July, 2007. I have seen them here almost daily since then. I didn't keep records of the color variations over the years but my recollection is that there were more yellow than red birds early on. The unusual color variations (bicolored, peach, pink) started showing up more recently.

Paul Hueber
Altamonte Springs, Florida

http://www.flickr.com/photos/musicarver/

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Another BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD evades the masses

With four additional birds to add to the list of birds recorded in Britain and Ireland in 2010, the total now increases to 361.

Two of these species are particularly frustrating for the high listers, with yet another male BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD going by the way in an unannounced garden (this time a backyard visitor to a Seaburn, County Durham, garden on 10 May) and an advertising male NORTH ATLANTIC LITTLE (BAROLI'S) SHEARWATER on the island of Lundy, North Devon, that can only be heard but not seen (present since Friday 4 June and still present today).

In addition, a singing first-summer male MARMORA'S WARBLER on a Welsh moor at Blorenge (SO 269 107), Monmouthshire/Gwent border, was totally unexpected (present since 3 June) and a GULL-BILLED TERN was seen briefly at Titchwell and Holme, North Norfolk, on 6 June.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Save your money - listen here ! The LITTLE SHEARWATER on Lundy

A recording of the Lundy NORTH ATLANTIC LITTLE SHEARWATER calling from an inaccesible part of the island can be heard here -

http://www.xeno-canto.org/europe/recording.php?XC=54722

MARMORA'S WARBLER continues to delight


Marmora's Warbler on territory (Chris Thomas)

The male NORTH ATLANTIC (MADEIRAN) LITTLE SHEARWATER advertised from its chosen cavern location on Lundy Island (North Devon) from midnight until 0115 hours last night but could not be seen. Overnight excursions via boat charters can be arranged, costing approximately £70 per person.

On the Monmouthshire/Gwent border, the first-summer male MARMORA'S WARBLER continues to build its nest in the isolated gorse bush by the road and advertise by song-flighting from its territory, up to 150 yards either side of the lower car park. The bird affords exceptional views and chooses prominent perches from where to sing - please view ONLY from the road or car park. DIRECTIONS: once in Blaenavon, continue north on the B 4246 for about one mile and then turn right on the minor road leading out on to the moor. It is best to park in the car park by the masts and walk the 700 yards east to the lower car park at SO 269 107.

Likewise, the long-staying male IBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF continues to sing from by the tall conifer 120 yards south of the Cadira Beeches car park in Wentwood Forest. Leave the A48 north and continue through village, past Wentwood Reservoir on the left to the car park after 350 yards.

A BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER continues for a second day at Port Clarence Floods (Cleveland), viewable from the fence west of the A178, whilst nearby, a male RED-BACKED SHRIKE is at Hendon Town Moor, just west of Sunderland West Dock (County Durham). A PECTORAL SANDPIPER also remains for a second day at Frampton Marsh RSPB (Lincs), showing intermittently from the 360 Hide.

Being the peak time for spring passage birds, male MARSH WARBLERS are in song at Druridge Pools NR (Northumberland) (in reeds in the SE corner close to the entrance to the Bill Oddie Hide) and just west of Long Melford (Suffolk) in Willows along the fence behind the former BBA factory at TL 847 461. Meanwhile, a male GOLDEN ORIOLE remains in the plantation at Gibraltar Point NNR (Lincs).

There is no sign this morning of the summer-plumaged adult WHITE-WINGED BLACK TERN that graced Belvide Reservoir (Staffs) all day yesterday and a Salop site the day before, nor of the drake BLUE-WINGED TEAL that visited Billy's Wash, Cley NWT Reserve (North Norfolk) yesterday evening..

Monday, 7 June 2010

Twitching the Lundy LITTLE SHEARWATER - behaviour

Once again, I need to stress that unwarranted disturbance to the seabird colony on Lundy Island will NOT be tolerated by the National Trust and the island wardens.

The calling male LITTLE SHEARWATER has chosen a site which is totally inaccessible - on a sheer cliff over 100 feet high - and has arrived on site in total darkness between midnight and 0100 hours. It was first heard on Friday (Chris Townend and his partner) and again on Sunday evening and was perfectly audible from the steep track that leads up from the quay to the main stay of the island.

So, in a nutshell, anyone visiting Lundy Island can at best only hope to hear this very rare seabird. The wardens have repeated their request for a total ban on use of TAPE-LURING and TORCHING, both from on the island and from any chartered boats moored offshore. Nicola will be monitoring any offshore activities carefully, as it has been reported that four chartered vessels are departing Clovelly for an overnight vigil this evening. Please, please adhere to these instructions - the National Trust and a team of RSPB volunteers have worked wonders with the local Manx Shearwater population here, eradicating the local Rat population and ensuring that the Manx colony has increased by almost 10-fold in recent years. It is imperative that twitchers do not act irresponsibly in this instance.

The bird will be perfectly audible from the designated footpath from the quay, provided the weather overnight is favourable. There will be NO attempts made to capture the bird, primarily because of the precarious position that the bird has chosen to call from

The Killing Fields of Kuwait

I have written much recently on the disgraceful killing of migrant birds in Kuwait and have complained at the highest level in the country about the wanton destruction. Howard King, who has spent long periods in the country, has also put together this article, accompanied by photographs of the carnage. This killing MUST stop if there is to be any hope of the populations of our precious migrant species recovering (LGRE).

See http://www.hawar-islands.com/blog/20_stub.php

MADEIRAN LITTLE SHEARWATER on Lundy Island, NORTH DEVON

A male NORTH ATLANTIC (MADEIRAN) LITTLE SHEARWATER (baroli) was heard during darkness last night advertising from a chosen potential nest-burrow on the slope not far from the landing quay on Lundy Island in North Devon. The bird was audible 200 yards NW of the quay, close to the cave and NT sign.

This is only the second-ever 'singing male' recorded in Britain and follows a male that returned to Skomer Island (Pembrokeshire) from 26 June to 10 July 1981 and 21 June to 25 July 1982 (British Birds 78: 532 and 79: 28-33, plates 35-36) whilst a female was heard on Skomer on 3 May 1983 (P C James).

The advertising call of 'baroli' is somewhat reminiscent of an Oystercatcher and very different to the night sounds made by Manx Shearwaters.

Very limited accommodation is available on the island. The National Trust wardens have asked that no torches should be used to distract the bird and have indicated that they shall be present keeping a watchful eye over proceedings. As shearwaters choose the darkest nights to advertise their presence, the possibility of seeing the bird is virtually nil.

Another garden WHITE-THROATED SPARROW - this one in SUFFOLK




All of yesterday (Sunday 6 June), the majority of Suffolk's keenest birders were able to savour the delights of a beautiful singing male WHITE-THROATED SPARROW present in a back garden near Woodbridge. The bird, a typical white rather than tan-striped male, was frequently visiting the lawn beneath the birdtable, whilst singing out of view in a thick hedgerow. Up to 30 local birders got the invite but because of the frailty of the house occupants (the couple both in their 90's), it was decided that it was in the best interests to keep the news 'in-house' as to say. The bird has not been seen today.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Welsh MARMORA'S WARBLER







Chris Thomas obtained these amazing images of the male MARMORA'S WARBLER in Wales, the bird still being present and showing very well today. See more of Chris' work on his website at http://www.ceeege.com/Birds/Birds_News_201005a.php

BLACK STORK on Unst, SHETLAND

The adult BLACK STORK that has been ranging widely over Northern Scotland in recent weeks and has now pitched up on Unst on Shetland is bearing a white ring inscribed ''50P9''. This bird was ringed in the nest in HUNGARY on 26 June 2007 and last registered there on 17 September 2008. In early spring 2009, it was in The Netherlands from 29-31 March.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

MEGA - MARMORA'S WARBLER in GWENT

Early June is notoriously good for mega vagrants and so far, it is meeting expectations. This morning, a singing male MARMORA'S WARBLER (Sylvia sarda) was discovered in GWENT, 1.5 miles NE of Blaenavon and just south of Blorenge and about 700 yards ENE of the radio masts at SO 270 109. The bird is a first-summer male and appears to have a territory.

DIRECTIONS: From Blaenavon, take the B4246 north for a mile and turn right. Please view from the car park or road and do not wander out on to the moor where birds are breeding. Also, please refrain from tape-luring this particular vagrant, as such activity could unsettle it prematurely.

Although the majority of Marmora's Warblers are sedentary and remain within their breeding range all year, a population winters in North Africa (from Algeria to Libya) and migrates north in spring to the Mediterranean Basin. Vagrants have reached Spain, Gibraltar, mainland France, mainland Italy and even Greece and this latest Welsh male is the FIFTH to reach Britain (the previous records involving singing males at Midhope Moor, South Yorkshire, from 15 May to 24 July 1982, Spurn Point, East Yorkshire, on 8-9 June 1992 and at St Abb's Head, Borders, from 23-27 May 1993 and what was probably the same individual at Scolt Head Island, Norfolk, from 12-18 May 2001 and at Sizewell Power Station bushes, Suffolk, on 29 May 2001).

Aside from these British records, the only other records in northern Europe are of vagrants in Belgium from 3-12 May 1997 and in Denmark on 12 June 2005.

Also today, a dark morph BOOTED EAGLE flew SE over the Gipping Valley over warehouses in Stowmarket (Suffolk) from 1235-1238 hours (John Walshe) and was then intercepted as it flew low SSE over the same valley at Baylham Pits at 1259 hours (Lee Woods). At this latter site, it was being chased by an army of corvids and was being hounded by noisy Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The same bird had initially been seen over Pipps Ford GP, Needham Market, briefly early morning on 13 May (Phil Whittaker) and had previously been reported in Essex.

As far north as one can go in Britain, the wandering BLACK STORK has now reached Unst (Shetland) where this evening it is feeding along the shoreline at Burrafirth and showing well. Shetland also yielded an adult drake SURF SCOTER today - in Weisdale Voe

RED-FOOTED FALCONS today included the first-summer male near Over at Ouse Fen (Cambs) and another for its fourth day along Denge Marsh Road (Kent).

The Cley Trumpeter Finch was NOT seen today, nor was the male Red-backed Shrike, but in the Fenland, the long-staying singing male WHITE-SPOTTED BLUETHROAT is still present by Lyle Hide at Welney WWT.

Spurn Point (East Yorks) produced both GOLDEN ORIOLE and female RED-BACKED SHRIKE today, whilst in Derbyshire, the singing male GREAT REED WARBLER remains at Straw Bridges Ponds, Ilkeston.

More Wildlife Crime in Scotland

RSPB assisting with investigation into allegations
of wildlife crimes in the Moy area

Investigations staff at RSPB Scotland this morning assisted Northern Constabulary Police and other multi agency partners in the search of an estate in the Moy area following up allegations of serious wildlife crime.

Working with the SSPCA, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Wildlife Crime Unit and Scottish Government's Rural Payments Inspectorate, the intelligence-led operation focused on searching outbuildings, vehicles and a large area of open ground.

The operation focused on the illegal poisoning of protected birds of prey after a number of dead birds were recovered in the vicinity in recent weeks, as well as a grouse carcass which tested positive for illegal poison. One of the recovered red kites had been satellite tagged and adopted by a local school who were monitoring its progress on-line. Suspicions arose after the signal from the bird stopped moving.

Police recovered a number of further items of evidence in the operation today, which have now been taken away for forensic examination. RSPB will continue to assist the police upon request.

Stuart Housden, director of RSPB Scotland, said: "Serious crimes against our most spectacular birds and wildlife are utterly deplorable, and do major harm to our reputation as a country that values and cares for its wildlife and natural environment.

"There is a growing body of compelling evidence which abundantly demonstrates the scale and impact that illegal poisoning is having on the populations of iconic birds of prey such as the red kite and golden eagle. The perpetrators of these crimes must be pursued with the full vigour of the law.

"We are extremely thankful to the efforts of the Northern Constabulary, Scottish Government and all other partner agencies whose diligent work makes it possible to thoroughly investigate allegations of this nature."
ENDS.
For more information, images and to arrange interviews please contact RSPB Scotland's Head of Media James Reynolds on 01313116500 or 07725065186.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Species List now rises to 357 for year

The total number of species recorded in Britain and Ireland in 2010 has now risen to 357, with the addition of six new species in the past two weeks -:

1) SQUACCO HERON (very confiding individual in Cornwall);

2) WHITE-TAILED PLOVER (2-day bird at Seaforth NR, Merseyside);

3) RED-THROATED PIPIT (two records, both in the Northern Isles);

4) THRUSH NIGHTINGALE (singing male at Walsey Hills, Cley, Norfolk);

5) Marsh Warbler (several singing males now arriving);

6) WHITE-COLLARED FLYCATCHER (first-summer male on Lewis, Outer Hebrides)