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Thursday, 28 October 2010

AMERICAN BITTERN - additional information and guidance

I just need to reiterate that there has been no question of suppression here. The bird in question was first seen by local farmers, then walkers and then the parents of today's birder. It has been present for at least four days and can be extremely confiding and approachable - it was just being treated as a ''Bittern'' before it was checked out this evening. During the search, it was inadvertently flushed and did leave the pool, but presumably will return overnight.

This is a bird that many of us will want to see and it is likely that it will stay here for a considerable time if not flushed repeatedly or pestered. Therefore I expect everyone to be on their best behaviour and keep others in check - I do not want a repeat of the selfish behaviour that saw the departure of the Eurasian Bittern at Beeston Common a few years back. This latter bird had been kept from the pagers for over a week before being leaked. The news was released and within hours it was flushed away for good by careless and very inconsiderate people trying to take close-up photographs. The American Green Heron at Heligan has also suffered occasionally from the same behaviour during its long stay.

MEGA - AMERICAN BITTERN in West Cornwall

A confiding bittern species which has been wandering about the grass and a small pool at Trewey Common for the past four days was photographed today and appears to be an AMERICAN BITTERN. The site is particularly sensitive and prone to disturbance so any visiting birders need to be sensible and give the bird some space.

ACCESS INSTRUCTIONS: the location is 3.5 miles north of Penzance and a mile south of Zennor and east of the minor road inland of the coast road at SW 459 366. Park carefully in Zennor village and follow the B3306 southwest for a quarter of a mile and then turn left and walk uphill for about 0.75 miles to view. PLEASE DO NOT PARK ON THE ROAD AT TREWEY COMMON - THIS IS ESSENTIAL

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

428 and counting but pace slows right down

Since my last update, just four new species have occurred in Britain and Ireland -:

PIED WHEATEAR (singles on North Ronaldsay and on St Mary's, Scilly)

EASTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL (at Pelistry, St Mary's, Scilly - KEV et al)

GREY-CHEEKED THRUSH (photographed bird present just one evening on St Martin's, Scilly)

SCANDINAVIAN ARCTIC REDPOLL (a first-winter on Shetland)

This takes the total to 428 species, just 6 short of the 2009 total

SOCIABLE PLOVERS

Follow the migrations of the SOCIABLE PLOVER - BirdLife International have proffered a task of supporting and protecting the highly endangered global population of this beautiful and enigmatic species and require your help

Click here for more details - http://www.amazing-journey.org/

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

An exceptional late COMMON CUCKOO in the New Forest, Hampshire
















Martin Bennett discovered and photographed this juvenile COMMON CUCKOO in the New Forest - a very late individual. The separation of this species from the two species of Oriental Cuckoo in Asia is very difficult but both generally lack the prominent white tips to the primaries.

Thousands upon thousands of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS flocking to Britain






























Birdline Scotland featured an incredible 4,000 or more BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS yesterday evening, heralding one of the earliest and largest invasions of this species in modern times. Quite the reason for such an explosion is unclear at present but it will be interesting to know the ratio of young against adult-type birds in the flocks. The largest single flock reported yesterday was of 220+ birds in Orkney, whilst today we are looking at 480+ in Pitlochry and 320 in Aberfeldy.

To get a more accurate assessment of the records and to learn perhaps of more in your region, Birdline Scotland is constantly updated with the latest sightings - phone 09068 700234 for details (please note that this is a premium-rate line).
The superb portraits above were all taken by ace photographer Morris Rendall and represent a fraction of the 400 or so birds currently ranging the Orkney Islands.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Record-breaking RED-FLANKED BLUETAILS


Today saw the 30th RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL of the autumn appear - on Skomer Island in Pembrokeshire - smashing all previous annual totals of the species in Britain by over 50%. This follows the 750 or so singing males located in Finland this summer and continues the remarkable westerly expansion in range of this delightful robin.
Top bird photographer Penny Clarke snapped this beauty at Waxham - one of five individuals to reach Norfolk this autumn (see many more images of this bird and other Norfolk Bluetails at Penny's highly enjoyable website).

BOHEMIAN WAXWING invasion




Quite exceptional numbers (for late October) of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS are pouring in to Scotland and northern Britain today leading to fears over their survival. Perhaps 4,000 or more birds have arrived thus far, which is truly staggering for so early in the autumn. Some 25% or more appear to be first-winters, perhaps indicating a bumper breeding season, but with reports of exhausted birds in Orkney gardens today, the reasons for their arrival is perplexing to say the least. The Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles logged over 500 birds today which again is of some concern. Quite why large numbers are heading to the far west of Scotland so early is very mysterious in itself and begs the question of whether or not flocks are heading out into the Atlantic (where they are likely to perish). Pete Merchant kindly provided the images.

Seabird remains a mystery and fails to get intercepted

Despite some excellent field drawings of the bird by Steve Abbott, we are no further along the line in identifying it. An albatross species was most likely but the flight was powerful and flapping and not particularly gliding. Sadly, the bird was not intercepted further north, not by the lone watcher at Southwold nor by anyone in the Lowestoft area.

Unidentified mega seabird flies slowly north past Dunwich Cliffs, Suffolk

Matt Deans, Steve Abbott, Nik Mason, Phil Whittaker and a few others have just watched a mega seabird fly slowly north past Dunwich Beach car park (Suffolk) between half and two-thirds distance to the horizon. It was moving slowly north from 1550-1555 whilst the observers were watching the long-staying drake King Eider and one of three Little Auks on the sea.

The bird was DEFINITELY not any Gannet plumage of any kind and was incredibly perplexing - most likely an immature albatross of some description. It should be passing further sites to the north...

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

A premature end to the Autumn perhaps?

Since my last update in early October, the total number of species recorded in a combined Britain and Ireland has risen to 424 - with the addition of AMERICAN GREEN HERON, SOLITARY SANDPIPER (a long-staying juvenile at Seaton Black Hole Marsh, South Devon), COMMON NIGHTHAWK (a juvenile present all day at a private site in County Durham), ISABELLINE WHEATEAR (a very fresh first-year at Lowestoft North Denes, Suffolk, for just one day), HERMIT THRUSH (two arrivals simultaneously in the Outer Hebrides), PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER (a widespread influx), SAXAUL GREY SHRIKE (a typically confiding first-winter with tail damage at Strathbeg RSPB, Aberdeenshire, for a few days), RED-EYED VIREO (at least 5 arrivals) and a YELLOW-BREASTED BUNTING in West Ireland seen briefly.

Back to now and with cold NW winds blasting virtually all of the Recording Area, little in the way of new rarities are now being located.....

RED-FLANKED BLUETAILS are now up to 29 this autumn and the latest of these to appear - a first-winter in Hampshire at Sandy Point Nature Reserve on Hayling Island - performed well prior to 1030 hours but then promptly disappeared (and only reappeared just briefly mid-afternoon). This latter bird is present for its third day but present for its fifth is an even more elusive individual - that at Arnold's Walk in north Lowestoft (Suffolk). Another was also still present today on Scilly.

There was no sign of the GREY-CHEEKED THRUSH seen just briefly late yesterday afternoon on St Martin's (Scilly) today, although the MELODIOUS WARBLER and RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL on that same island were both performing well and a late ICTERINE WARBLER was still to be seen on Bryher. St Mary's offered a SUBALPINE WARBLER at Mount Todden Farm, a LITTLE BUNTING along the footpath to Content Farm and a few Lapland Buntings and Hawfinches

The very confiding juvenile AMERICAN GREEN HERON continues its stay at the tourist hotspot of the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, favouring the upper pond along the Jungle Trail; access £10 per person from 1000 hours. Meanwhile in South West Wales in Pembrokeshire, the very confiding juvenile SQUACCO HERON remains in Angle Harbour, frequenting the creek downstream of the stone bridge just behind the church. Not that far away at Poyston, a CATTLE EGRET continues to be seen at Withybush Airfield. Another CATTLE EGRET is present in North Lincolnshire, frequenting cattle fields along Marsh lane close to the Stonebridge Car Park at Donna Nook.

A juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER was picked out amongst European Golden Plovers in the Eye Field at Cley NWT (Norfolk) early morning before flying west but was then fortuitously relocated between Langham and Morston early afternoon and later by Cockthorpe Airfield in the potato field at TF 988 419..

Cley Reserve still hosts a first-winter GREY PHALAROPE (today on Arnold's Marsh) whilst the shingle ridge between Coastguards and Sea Pool has up to 14 wide-ranging SHORE LARKS. At Holkham Pines, the two ivy-clad tall Pine trees just south of the main track 200 yards west of Lady Anne's Drive continues to harbour a first-winter RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER and two Yellow-browed Warblers (a PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER was also with them on 18-19 October).

Late PECTORAL SANDPIPERS include singles at Welney WWT (Norfolk) and briefly at Arlington Reservoir (East Sussex) whilst the long-staying juvenile BAIRD'S SANDPIPER continues at Holland Haven scrape in Essex. In Oxford, the long-staying juvenile LESSER YELLOWLEGS continues to show well on the Port Meadow Flood Meadows, accessed west of the A4414 Woodstock road along Aristotle Lane (please respect resident's parking). Culminating a superb autumn for the species, one BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER remains in West Cornwall frequenting fields opposite Trevedra Farm at Sennen

ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARDS appear to have had an excellent breeding season in Siberia (perhaps due to an over-abundance of Field Voles) with large numbers of juveniles appearing down the East Coast following some exceptional southward migrations off of Falsterbo, SW Sweden. Two were this morning showing well in Suffolk hunting between Potter's Bridge and Easton Broad, whilst others were seen in flight over Pegwell Bay (Kent), over Crathorne, Kirklevington (Cleveland), at Sleddale Moor (Cleveland) and north over Snipe Dales LWT (North Lincs).

There are still large numbers of LAPLAND BUNTINGS scattered about the country, perhaps involving several thousand individuals, with particularly popular birds in Buckinghamshire and Surrey, but the dearth in large pipits continues, with RICHARD'S PIPITS today just singles at Pegwell Bay (Kent), at Telegraph, St Mary's, and at Higher Town Bay, St Martin's (Scilly).

Of excellent local value is a BARRED WARBLER in Elders by the Cop Hole Pool at Shotwick Boating Lake (Clwyd), accessed off of the A548 at the Paper Mill roundabout at SJ 298 722. Meanwhile, a RADDE'S WARBLER was seen and heard in scrub in the vicinity of the last house at the bottom end of Cot Valley (Cornwall).

A few more BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS arrived today, along with several herds of freshly-arrived Whooper Swans. In East Sussex, the single SHORE LARK remains on the west side of the river mouth at Cuckmere Haven, whilst on Fair Isle, a single HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLL remains..

A juvenile ROSE-COLOURED STARLING was in conifers and bushes at the west end of the row of houses by the western car park in Lepe (Hants) mid-morning, whilst for the past week or more, a gorgeous adult has been present in hawthorns and scrub at Newhaven Heights (East Sussex).

A few GLOSSY IBISES left over from the Iberian post-breeding dispersal in August and September include singles at Exminster Marshes RSPB (South Devon) and at Valley lakes RSPB (Anglesey) (located a mile SE of Llyn Trafwll at the rear of the damp cattle field on the south side of the minor road at SH 338 753), whilst GREAT WHITE EGRETS include singles at Pitsford Reservoir Walgrave Arm (Northants), Minsmere RSPB Island Mere (Suffolk) and at Grainthorpe Haven (North Lincs)

A drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK remains at Calder Wetlands at Pugney's Country Park (West Yorks), with three more at Chew Valley Lake (Avon). The latter site also plays host to a long-staying drake RING-NECKED DUCK with the regular Foxcote Reservoir individual of North Bucks reappearing today. The first-summer drake KING EIDER is still to be found between Minsmere Sluice and Dunwich Cliffs (Suffolk)

The adult Ross's Snow Goose which summered at Loch Leven RSPB (Tayside) remains with Barnacle Geese at Rockcliffe Marsh (Cumbria) whilst the adult Red-breasted Goose bearing the orange-red plastic ring remains with Dark-bellied Brent Geese on the Exe Estuary (South Devon).

The adult RED-NECKED GREBE remains near the Axbridge Tower at Cheddar Reservoir (Somerset) whilst further south in the county, a late SPOTTED CRAKE can still be seen from the hide at Greylake RSPB Reserve. A first-winter RED-NECKED GREBE is also still to be found at Bawdsey East Lane Lagoons (Suffolk)

In IRELAND, an AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT continues to show very well on the seaweed at Clonea Strand, Ballinclamper, in County Waterford, whilst not that far away, a juvenile LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER is at The Cunnigar Pools. A LITTLE BUNTING was on Cape Clear Island (County Cork) this morning, with the BARRED WARBLER and Yellow-browed Warbler still at Mizen Head (County Cork). In Cobh Harbour (County Cork), the adult SABINE'S GULL is along the harbour front again and the 2nd-winter INDIAN HOUSE CROW continues its residency in the town square.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

AMERICAN GREEN HERON in Cornwall

First seen yesterday morning, the (AMERICAN) GREEN HERON was still present today 4 miles SSW of Mevagissey at Pentewan at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, showing intermittently from the hide in the Hidden Valley, a 15 minute walk from the entrance gate.

The Gardens open at 1000 hours and allow last entry at 1530 hours and tickets for visiting cost £10 per person.

There is also a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER in Cornwall today just NE of Wadebridge at Walmsley Sanctuary CBWPS, visible from the Tower Hide and present for its third day. A long-staying but elusive juvenile BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER also remains on Davidstow Airfield.

On the Isles of Scilly, a BLACK-HEADED BUNTING is new in on St Agnes, showing well this evening at Porth Coose, whilst on St Mary's, the juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER and juvenile BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER remain on the Airfield.

Shetland is once again where all the action is - with a twitchable LANCEOLATED WARBLER brightening up proceedings. Discovered by Rob Brookes and Martin Garner last night, the bird is creeping about in short grass in full view at Skaw, at the northernmost part of Unst. Nearby, a BLYTH'S REED WARBLER is present for a fifth day on Fetlar at Aith and in the south Mainland, the SYKES'S BOOTED WARBLER is still being seen occasionally at Channerwick. A SWAINSON'S THRUSH spent two days at Levenwick at the weekend where it was admired by over 60 observers - the second for Shetland this autumn.

In IRELAND, a first-winter MYRTLE WARBLER is present for a third day on Cape Clear Island (County Cork) with the year's first RED-EYED VIREO further east at Firkeel Glen.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

How unlucky is that ?





When Mark Warren wandered out in the field early on 2 October, little did he expect to stumble on a second for Britain only yards after leaving the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory on Orkney. Following nearly a week of gale force South-Easterlies, this foul weather proved all too much for this major distance waif - Mark picking up a freshly dead RUFOUS-TAILED ROBIN, a species which breeds in southern Siberia from northern Sakhalin and the Russian maritime provinces bordering the Sea of Okhotsk, west to the Altai Mountains and the upper Yenisey River and south to the mountains of NE China.

There is just one previous British record - a first-winter trapped and ringed on Fair Isle on 23 October 2004 (British Birds 99: 236-241) - whilst just over a year later, on 30-31 December 2005, another was seen and photographed at Bialystok Sewage Works in Eastern Poland - the only two West Palearctic occurrences.

MYRTLE WARBLER in County Cork perhaps heralds arrival of Nearctic birds









The juvenile SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER at Abberton Reservoir and the juvenile BAIKAL TEAL at nearby Chigborough Lakes EWT that remained for just 20 minutes before flying off with Eurasian Wigeon (Adrian Kettle)

A MYRTLE WARBLER discovered this afternoon by Peter Phillips on Cape Clear Island (County Cork) constitutes the 415th species recorded in Britain and Ireland this year and follows Olive-backed Pipit, RUFOUS-TAILED ROBIN, Siberian Stonechat and LANCEOLATED WARBLER since my last update.

It has been SHETLAND which has been making all of the headlines in the past week and with up to 160 observers scouring every nook and cranny of suitable habitat in search of rarities, an impressive haul has been unearthed. The star of the show still remains that snowball of a first-winter HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLL on Unst at Norwick, whilst an AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT remains at Esha Ness and a presumed SYKES'S BOOTED WARBLER is still being fleetingly glimpsed at Channerwick. The Out Skerries continue to host both a BLACK-HEADED BUNTING and a CITRINE WAGTAIL, with the two juvenile BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS still by the lighthouse at Esha Ness machair and at least two LITTLE BUNTINGS remaining on Unst. Elsewhere, a scattering of Yellow-browed Warblers, Barred Warblers, Lapland Buntings and Common Rosefinches.

At the opposite end of the country, SCILLY has been very poorly represented - and with just 45 observers in town, perhaps not that surprising. Moving in front of the latest depression to be crossing the Atlantic was a freshly-arrived juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER today - moving from Porthcressa Beach to finally settle on the St Mary's Airfield. A RUSTIC BUNTING on St Agnes was also early for that archipelago but it quickly disappeared into cover and was not relocated. Porthellick Pool still hosts the long-staying juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPER and the Pectoral Sandpiper as well as Jack Snipe, whilst a RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER was near Longstone and WRYNECKS were on Bryher and Wingletang Down, St Agnes..

West Cornwall is struggling to provide much of avian interest in this past week but a confiding and easy first-winter male SIBERIAN STONECHAT is the best on offer, sharing a roadside field with 2 Whinchats and a Common Stonechat near Gurland Farm, adjacent to the road to Nanquidno at SW 367 286. Also popular is an adult drake SURF SCOTER in Mount's Bay, Penzance, often scoped from the Jubilee Pool by the quayside, with a juvenile ROSE-COLOURED STARLING nearby roosting with Common Starlings on St Mary's Church in Penzance.

It has been an excellent year for WILSON'S PHALAROPES with the first-winter at Welney Refuge (Norfolk) still showing well today on the main lagoon in front of the Observatory. Late juvenile RED-NECKED PHALAROPES included singles at Cley NWT (Norfolk) and Blagdon Lake (Somerset) with a juvenile GREY PHALAROPE from recent gales still on show at Burnham Overy Dunes (Norfolk) - Norfolk clearly allowing all three species to be netted in one day !

It has also been an exceptional autumn for SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS with the latest - a juvenile with up to 5 Little Stints -arriving on the extensive mud at Abberton Reservoir (Essex) on Sunday. The bird was still to be seen today and showing from the boardwalk vantage point close to the Information Centre.

A juvenile AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER remains for a third day with European Golden Plovers at Great Heck (SE 576 200) SE of Eggborough (East Yorks), on the flood just south of the village, whilst PECTORAL SANDPIPERS include juveniles at Rigifa Pool, Cove (Aberdeenshire), Upton Warren (Worcs), Minsmere RSPB East Scrape (Suffolk) and Abberton Reservoir Layer de la Haye causeway (Essex). BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS are also in excellent supply with a confiding juvenile with a damaged lower mandible at Arlington Reservoir dam (East Sussex), two juveniles at the SW end of Scotney GP (East Sussex/Kent border) and another juvenile at Davidstow Airfield (Cornwall).

The long-staying and most incredibly confiding juvenile SPOTTED SANDPIPER remains on the Exe Estuary at the Turf Hotel, Exminster (South Devon) where it can be accessed whilst essential road repairs are taking place along the trail from the RSPB car park adjacent to the railway bridge. In Dumfries and Galloway, a late and confiding juvenile DOTTEREL is at The Wig at Loch Ryan, Stranraer.

Whilst the pair of ROSS'S SNOW GEESE have made a sudden disappearance after a two-week sojourn in the Aberlady Bay area (Lothian), another has appeared with the 65,000 or so returning Pink-footed Geese at the Montrose Basin (Angus/Dundee) and the Caerlaverock WWT (D & G) adult of suspect origin relocated with Barnacle Geese to Rockcliffe Marsh (Cumbria). An adult RED-BREASTED GOOSE located with newly-arrived Dark-bellied Brent Geese at Thorney Island (West Sussex) on Saturday was sadly sporting a red plastic ring whilst concern is mounting if the family party of 5 unringed individuals decide to depart Minsmere RSPB Levels for pastures new.

The drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK remains at Wintersett Reservoir west bank (West Yorks) with up to 3 in residence at Chew Valley Lake (Avon) whilst perhaps of natural origin was a juvenile BAIKAL TEAL at Chigborough Lakes EWT (Essex) on Saturday morning; the bird had arrived with a noticeable increase in Wigeon numbers (see Adrian Kettle's images above). A drake LESSER SCAUP continues to be seen off of the Hensborough Bank at Draycote Water (Warks), whilst the first-summer drake KING EIDER continues to range between Dunwich Cliffs and Minsmere Sluice (Suffolk).

Remnants from last week's fall on the East Coast of Britain include a very confiding, pale and white-winged juvenile WOODCHAT SHRIKE at the Croft Terrace Park on Hartlepool Headland (Cleveland), an adult NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE at the Sands of Forvie NNR (Aberdeenshire) and a female/first-winter RUSTIC BUNTING at North Landing, Flamborough Head (East Yorks). Newly discovered though was a juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE by Meadow Road Children's Play Area in Cromer (Norfolk).

Tiree (Argyll) birder John Bowler continues to reap rewards after his outstanding NORTHERN PARULA find of recent times and today located a BLUETHROAT at Balemartin. Another BLUETHROAT was seen at St Margaret's at Cliffe (East Kent) yesterday morning, with another trapped and ringed at Romsey Water Meadows (Hampshire) at the weekend. Tiree today also hosted a GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK at Sandaig, 2 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS and a BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER with European Golden Plover at Heylipol and 2 GREY PHALAROPES off Hynish.

The LAPLAND BUNTING invasion continues unabated with very large numbers still present on the Northern Isles, with more notably two at the Sence Valley Forest Park in Leicestershire and at least one at Abberton Reservoir (Essex).

There has also been large numbers of RING OUZELS on the move, with a RED-RUMPED SWALLOW south over Donna Nook (North Lincs) this morning.

Other long-stayers include the WHITE STORK on the Wareham Bypass Water Meadows (Dorset) and the exceptionally confiding juvenile GLOSSY IBIS on the West Marsh at Stanpit Marsh, Christchurch Harbour (Dorset).

In addition to the aforementioned Dendroica in Cork, which incidentally moved towards the Cotter's Garden late on, IRELAND today also played host to a possible CHIMNEY SWIFT at Farranfore Airport (County Kerry) and the first-winter WILSON'S PHALAROPE reappeared at the Webb's Field at Kilcoole (County Wicklow). Interestingly, two WILSON'S PHALAROPES had been seen near the Wellington Bridge at Barrystown (County Wexford) on 28 September.

Tacumshin Lake continues to harbour a host of vagrants, including a WILSON'S PHALAROPE and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, with 3 GLOSSY IBISES at Ring Marsh (Wexford), BLUE-WINGED TEAL at Rahasane Turlough and ROSE-COLOURED STARLING at Garinish (Cork). An impressive find was an AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT at Truska, Slyne Head (County Galway) on Sunday.

Friday, 1 October 2010

ALDER FLYCATCHER - second record






















North American expert Peter Pyle very kindly reviewed the Blakeney Point empidonax flycatcher record for me and the UK400 Club Advisory Committee and came to the conclusion that the bird was a first-winter ALDER FLYCATCHER - and therefore the second record of this species for Britain, following the first-winter female that was present near Porthgwarra (West Cornwall) in early October 2008.
I would also like to thank the large number of North American commentators that helped out with this difficult identification (especially Tony Leukering and Julian Hough) as well as all those photographers that sent me excellent images (including Mike Lawrence who provided the selection above, Penny Clarke, Vincent Le Grand, Alan Lewis and Kevin Du Rose amongst others). Chris Heard also significantly added to the discussions, as well as Chris Batty, Stuart Piner and Andrew Holden. Most importantly however, I would like to congratulate and commend the bird's finder James McCallum. James has always rated extremely highly on my radar and I have always been extremely impressed by his field capabilities, diligence and knowledge - he is a first rate observer of the highest degree and is offered the highest accolade of my organisation. Finding a bird of such quality in such conditions was nothing short of a miracle !