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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Breaking News - the shocking and very tragic death of RUSSELL SLACK

I was shocked to hear this morning of the very tragic death of RUSSELL SLACK after he passed away yesterday evening. Unbeknown to even his closest associates, Russell was suffering from acute liver cancer and never recovered from his illness. He had been actively birding at his beloved Wheldrake Ings in Yorkshire as recently as January of this year and continued to work on Volume 2 of his 'Rare Birds, Where and When' in his spare time. Russell was just 46 years of age and leaves behind his wife Linda and his beautiful daughters India and Ruby - my sincere condolescences go out to them at this very sad time.


Russell had a lifelong interest in birds and our paths regularly crossed in the 1990's when he dabbled with twitching for a spell of some ten years or more. His main interest always lied in 'self-finding' birds and intensive 'patch watching', although Rare Birds always remained a core attraction. He co-authored 'Rare and Scarce Birds in Yorkshire' with Andrew Wilson and also spent several years working with the BirdGuides team, often updating the Daily Bird News.

In recent years, Russell contacted me on a more regular basis, primarily in his work on the aforementioned Rare Birds book and my close relationship with our mutual 'in-house' artist, young Mr Scally. The book was the usual labour of love but Russ was bowled over with delight when it finally ran off the presses and landed on the desk and within a very short time, the entire print run sold out it proved so popular.

He was a very popular guy on the Yorkshire scene and will be very, very sorely missed. We have all been robbed prematurely of a major talent.

Lee G R Evans, 28 February 2013

GOSHAWKS performing well today

The weather in East Anglia today was ideal for displaying NORTHERN GOSHAWKS so I took advantage and ran my first trip of the year to see them. They did not disappoint and I saw two males and a female at one site up in the air for nearly an hour from mid-morning. As a word of warning, due to the work on the bypass, there is no access to the regular Ollie's Farm site this spring - birdwatchers today being turned away by security.


Weather permitting, I shall be running my GOSHAWK WORKSHOP days over the next two weeks - provisional dates being 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 12th and 13th March - spaces still available on all of these dates at present. Tours cost £20 per person and depart Junction 18 of the M25 at 0700 hours each day - pickup possible if on route. Vouchers must be pre-purchased - email LGREUK400@aol.com


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Another Scottish Weekender


Planning a Long Weekend Tour to Speyside to see this beautiful male SNOWY OWL on Cairngorm - along with Capercaillie (a rogue male), Ptarmigan, Crested Tit, Grouse, Golden Eagle, Dipper and Surf Scoter. Up to 5 spaces available - email me on LGREUK400@aol.com if interested

New offerings from WILDGuides

Five new titles from WILDGuides have just arrived on my desk -:


1) Britain's Sea Mammals, by Jon Dunn, Robert Still and Hugh Harrop (priced £12.95)

2) A Field Guide to the Wildlife of South Georgia, by Robert Burton & John Croxall (£17.95)

3) A Visitor's Guide to South Georgia, by Sally Poncet & Kim Crosbie (£19.95)

4) Birds of the Masai Mara, by Adam Scott Kenedy (£17.95)

5) Animals of the Masai Mara, by Adam & Vicki Kennedy (£17.95)

All are highly presentable, very well-produced, in full colour and highly informative and of a size that easily allows you to take them into the 'field' or pack within a small bag.

The Sea Mammals book is particularly impressive and focuses exclusively on the 34 species of sea mammal recorded in Britain and Ireland, detailing and highlighting the 14 species that are most readily seen. Its 128 pages include more than 100 fabulous photographs and introductory chapters explore how, when and where to look for each species. Individual species accounts summarise the key identification criteria and include useful information on status, habitat requirements and distribution. It is an essential guide to the Whales, Dolphins, Porpoises and Seals found in coastal Britain and Ireland and at just £12.95, an essential companion volume purchase to those field guides on birds, mammals, butterflies and moths.

South Georgia is the most spectacular of the world's subantartic islands and these two new WILDGuides publications are the first to comprehensively charter the region's exclusive wildlife and provide a photographic guide to identifying them. The 200-page Field Guide features no less than 368 lavish photographs of more than 180 different species, including 65 birds, 20 Sea Mammals, 60 insects and 40 plants - each individual account giving a brief, but concise, guide to identification, status and distribution. The Visitor's Guide gives more of a history of the island, with detailed maps highlighting the key sites and presents a range of specialist expert contributions on the ecology, wildlife, vegetation, historic artefacts and topographical features of the archipelago. There is an excellent section on visiting arrangements and an invaluable guide to the Key Sites, accompanied by detailed maps and top-quality images - absolutely essential purchases for anyone thinking of travelling to the area.

The two Masai Mara productions are very much as they say 'on the packet' - photographic guides featuring the birds and mammals likely to be encountered by visitors to the hugely-popular Masai Mara National Nature Reserve in Kenya. Over 200 species of bird and 65 of mammal are included thus proving indispensable to visitors to this famous park. The photographs used are of a particularly high standard and the design format is unique and eye-catching and perhaps most useful was the detail supplied on key sites for specific species of mammal.

WILDGuides are to be congratulated in providing such outstanding, high-quality, near-pocket guides.

All titles are now available from Princeton University Press

Monday, 25 February 2013

HARLEQUIN DUCK remains top billing


Harlequin Duck (Andrew Kinghorn)

On the Outer Hebrides, the drake HARLEQUIN DUCK in advanced plumage continues to attract a constant stream of admirers, showing well between the offshore rocky island and the beach some 800 yards south of the Skua-watching site at Aird an Runair, Balranald RSPB on North Uist. In modern times (eg, post 1970), this is the best-looking Harlequin to ever grace our shores. The Balranald area continues to host up to 3 juvenile Glaucous Gulls, a juvenile Kumlien's Gull, a female Ring-necked Duck at Loch Scaraidh and a RICHARDSON'S CANADA GOOSE with up to 400 Barnacle Geese at Loch Grogarry. A few miles to the south, at Knockintorran, two adult SNOW GEESE remain with Greylags. WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLES are very much in evidence and easy to see, with up to 7 on the Committee Road.

Elsewhere in Northern Scotland, the record-breaking female DESERT WHEATEAR remains at Rattray Head (Aberdeenshire), with the drake KING EIDER at nearby St Combs (offshore of the Tufted Duck Hotel) and adult drake SURF SCOTERS off Ruddons Point, Largo Bay (Fife) and Loch Ryan, Stranraer (D & G). The drake BLUE-WINGED TEAL is also still present on the River Dee at Lamb Island, Threave (D & G), showing again from the hide at NX 735 606.

At the opposite end of the country and attracting far bigger crowds is Somerset's adult breeding-plumaged PIED-BILLED GREBE - still showing intermittently on the main lake visible from the second observation platform just under a mile east of Ashcott Corner car park at Ham Walls RSPB.

Equally popular is a juvenile WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLE in NW Norfolk, favouring the Bunker's Hill area just NNW of Great Bircham.. Elsewhere in Norfolk, the singing male BLACK-BELLIED DIPPER remains in Thetford just east of the Three Nun's Bridges at TL 874 824.

Newly discovered is a drake NORTH AMERICAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL in Warwickshire at Brandon Marsh NR, where it is frequenting the River Pool, whilst the GLOSSY IBIS that has wintered in Hampshire is now performing south of the natural burial site at Warblington, SE of Havant, at SU 731 054.

The drake RED-BREASTED GOOSE is still consorting with wintering Dark-bellied Brent Geese on Thorney Island (West Sussex), with South Devon's drake AMERICAN WIGEON once more on Dart's Farm Fishing Ponds just SE of Topsham and drake FERRUGINOUS DUCKS at Priory Country Park, Bedford (Beds) and again on Ivy Lake, Blashford HWT (Hants). In Lancashire, a blue morph LESSER SNOW GOOSE is with Pink-feet in the Eagland Hill area, often viewable from Bradshaw Lane.

The juvenile COMMON CRANE is still frequenting the ploughed field close to the B1407 near East Linton (Lothian) (at NT 607 784)

The LESSER YELLOWLEGS is still to be found in Ernesettle Creek by the River Tamar (South Devon), with the LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER still showing well on the Pickeridge Pools at the north end of the Gann Estuary at Dale (Pembs).

In East Sussex, the adult winter BONAPARTE'S GULL continues to show very well in Eastbourne on Princes Park Crumbles Pond, with adult RING-BILLED GULLS still in Dingwall (Highland) and Walpole Boating Lake, Gosport (Hants).

The first-winter ROSE-COLOURED STARLING is still favouring the lone Hawthorn to the right of Milbury Lane, Exminster (South Devon), just as you enter the road from the High Street, whilst on the Hampshire/Berkshire border, the PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER is still with Long-tailed Tits on the River Blackwater SW of Moor Green Lakes..

Freshwater GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS include singles at Rutland Water (Leics) and Staines Reservoirs (Surrey), and the juvenile BLACK-THROATED DIVER still at Lisvane Reservoir (Glamorgan), whilst LONG-TAILED DUCKS include singles at Queen Mother Reservoir (Berks), Angler's Country Park (West Yorks)

It has been something of an excellent winter for HAWFINCHES with still some 35 birds being attracted to the flowering shrubs at Romsey (Hants), 4 still at Millfield LNR, Old Basing (Hants), 23 by Norton sub Hamdon Churchyard (Somerset), up to 12 at Llanbedr (Conwy), 8 in Bramfield Churchyard (Herts) and the very confiding female at Wimpole Hall (Cambs). Two TWITES at Aust Warth (Gloucs) are an excellent local record.

In IRELAND, recent highlights include the continuing CATTLE EGRET at St Johnston piggery (County Donegal), the FORSTER'S TERN in Galway Harbour (County Galway), the NORTHERN HARRIER at Tacumshin (County Wexford) and the two AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS at Crookhaven (County Cork).

Winter Scottish Trip a huge success

Just returned from another extremely successful Scottish trip. Although pretty gruelling, with a total of 1,715 miles covered, species encountered included the fabulous drake HARLEQUIN DUCK on the Outer Hebrides, thousands of wintering geese including 2 SNOW GEESE and a single SMALL CANADA, lots of raptors including some spectacular WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLES, GOLDEN EAGLES, MERLIN, Peregrine and Hen Harrier, 70 TWITE, Corn Buntings, a cracking juvenile GLAUCOUS GULL on a Seal carcass, numerous Common Ravens and some nice breeding-plumaged Black Guillemots.


Elsewhere, we enjoyed fabulous views of ermine PTARMIGAN, fed an adult RING-BILLED GULL, came face-to-face with CAPERCAILLIES, attracted Coal and CRESTED TITS to peanut butter and watched 6 cock BLACK GROUSE feeding in stubble.

Finished off with drake KING EIDER and record-staying DESERT WHEATEAR and Tree Sparrows

Fantastic and most memorable trip

Have added one more space to my forthcoming ROUND BRITAIN TOUR of 25 May to 2 June 2013 if anybody is interested - email me on LGREUK400@aol.com for details

Thursday, 21 February 2013

HARLEQUIN Winter Scottish Trip FULL but still some places on GOSHAWK/LESSER SPOT tours

The 'Harlequin' Winter Scottish birding tour is now completely FULL but availability is still there on GOSHAWK tours in early March. Available dates are 1, 4, 5, 8, 11 & 12 March. Tours are £20 each and commence 0700 hours from Junction 18 of the M25. LADY A tours are completely sold out for 2013 and 2014 at present but spaces are available on LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER tours in March. To receive your Voucher, please email Lee on LGREUK400@aol.com

Still lots of places on forthcoming tours, particularly SPAIN (two different trips), EGYPT (7 days in early April), MOROCCO/WESTERN SAHARA (10 days in May), OHIO (May), CHINA (September) and seawatching trips from late summer onwards. Three places left on OCTOBER EXTRAVAGANSA rarity specials (1-2 week trips).

Arranging trips for up to 6 persons on an ongoing basis, so if you have ideas or favour a particular venue, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Drake HARLEQUIN DUCK off North Uist

At 1615 hours this afternoon, Steve Duffield photographed a drake HARLEQUIN DUCK 80 yards offshore near Balranald RSPB on North Uist (Outer Hebrides). Farther north, at the NW tip of Lewis, the first WHITE-BILLED DIVER of the year there was offshore at Port Nis.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

STEJNEGER'S STONECHAT added to UK List

The BBA/UK400 Club has added STEJNEGER'S STONECHAT to the latest List - Saxicola stejnegeri - following the latest revisions by the CSNA in their most recent report (Dutch Birding 35: 40-43). This form is now considered distinct from both Siberian and Caspian Stonechats (cf Wink et al 2002; Zink et al 2009 & Gill & Donsker 2012). The first for THE NETHERLANDS was on Texel, Noord-Holland, from 8-23 October 2012 and this same bird was present (and trapped) at Portland Bill, Dorset, on 24-26 October 2012 (see Birding World 25: 408).

The species is also added to the latest update to the WESTERN PALEARCTIC LIST, along with PRAIRIE WARBLER from The Azores last October. Three species previously only recorded from Mauretania have been removed from the list - Temminck's Courser, Kordofan Lark and Grey-backed Fiscal Shrike - all occurrencies were south of the WP boundary line it now transpires (Crochet et al, Dutch Birding 35: 28-30)

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Friday Review 15/2




The adult drake Ferruginous Duck at Priory Country Park (Mike Lawrence)



Singing male Black-bellied Dipper in Thetford (Gary Thoburn)




Adult winter Bonaparte's Gull in Princes Park, Eastbourne (Paul Rowe)





The Pallas's Leaf Warbler in the snow at the Blackwater River (Simon West)



Adult male Penduline Tit on the Alder Trail, Stodmarsh (Simon Knight)


North Collafirth Pine Grosbeak (Rebecca Nason)

Thankfully for 5 or more car loads travelling up this weeked, South Collafirth's first-winter male PINE GROSBEAK is still present today on Shetland once more in the Spruce trees at Greenbrae.


In West Cornwall, the adult winter PACIFIC DIVER has reappeared, offshore of Long Rock Beach, midway between Penzance and Marazion. As is always the case with this individual, its appearances are very erratic, and often weather/wind related. At least 9 Black-throated and 5 Great Northern Divers are also in the bay, with 5 Black Redstarts by the railway station.

A CATTLE EGRET was seen this week in North Kent briefly, whilst Great White Egrets still number at least 22 in Britain. The GLOSSY IBIS continues at Marloes Mere (Pembs), occasionally being seen in flight from the hide.

A RICHARDSON'S CANADA GOOSE is still present with Barnacle Geese at Balranald RSPB, North Uist (Outer Hebrides), with another still in the Gruinart RSPB area on Islay (Argyll). Four of Suffolk's RED-BREASTED GEESE have moved south to Essex and Hamford Water, with one of the first-winters still with Eurasian White-fronted Geese at North Warren RSPB, Aldeburgh (Suffolk). Two adult TUNDRA BEAN GEESE appeared at Radwell Lakes (North Beds) on 14th-15th, with the 3 still at Slimbridge WWT Dumbles (Gloucs), 5 at Dungeness RSPB (Kent) and 6 at North Warren RSPB (Suffolk), whilst 23 TAIGA BEAN GEESE remain in the Yare Valley at Cantley Marshes (Norfolk). A flock of 6 GREENLAND WHITE-FRONTED GEESE in the flooded field behind the golf course between Dunster Station and Minehead (North Somerset) is noteworthy, presumably different to the 6 first-winters that have spent the winter on Scilly.

The drake NORTH AMERICAN BLACK DUCK remains by the hotel at Strontian Loch (Highland Region), with drake AMERICAN WIGEONS on Loch Bee, South Uist (Outer Hebrides) and in Udale Bay (Highland) and a female reported at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs). The drake LESSER SCAUPS continue at Cardiff Bay Wetlands NR (East Glamorgan) and Colliford Lake, Bodmin Moor (Cornwall), whilst 11 RING-NECKED DUCKS are still to be found from Scilly to North Uist.

The adult drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK is still to be found from the hide at Priory Country Park, Bedford (Beds) The adult drake SURF SCOTER continues off of Ruddon's Point, Largo Bay (Fife)

An adult male ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD continues to be well-watched at Burnham Overy Marshes (North Norfolk), with 2 more still surviving the winter at Haddiscoe Levels in south Norfolk.

A juvenile COMMON CRANE is present for a fourth day in fields viewable from the A198 near Knowes Farm at Tyninghame, Dunbar (Lothian)

The LESSER YELLOWLEGS is still frequenting Ernesettle Creek, Plymouth (South Devon), with Common Greenshanks and Redshanks, generally frequenting the area 600 yards upriver of the railway bridge, whilst the LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER is still frequenting Pickeridge Pool, at the top end of the Gann Estuary (Pembs).

The adult winter BONAPARTE'S GULL continues to take bread almost from the hand at Crumbles Pond, Princes Park in Eastbourne (East Sussex)

The singing male BLACK-BELLIED DIPPER is still performing well in the vicinity of the Three Nuns Bridges in Thetford (Norfolk), where along the Spring Walk, 3 OTTERS are still resident and showing often.

A RICHARD'S PIPIT was seen yesterday (14th) at Hesketh Out Marsh RSPB (Lancashire) whilst one of Norfolk's two wintering SHORE LARKS appeared briefly near Salthouse car park this morning. The female DESERT WHEATEAR completes its 75th day at Rattray Head (Aberdeenshire).

The PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER is still present in the riverine vegetation on the Berkshire/Hampshire border on the River Blackwater, Moor Green Lakes NR

The first-winter ROSE-COLOURED STARLING is still favouring the Hawthorn clump at the top of Milbury Lane, just as you turn off the main road in Exminster (South Devon) whilst the adult male PENDULINE TIT continues to pluck bulrush heads literally yards from the boardwalk on the Alder Trail between the car park and the Lampen Wall at Stodmarsh NNR (Kent).

A juvenile BLACK-THROATED DIVER has been showing well at Lisvane Reservoir, Cardiff (East Glamorgan), with an adult at Lade Pits, Greatstone-on-Sea (Kent) with GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS still at Carsington Water (Derbyshire) (4 birds), Rutland Water (Leics), Pittville Park Lake, Cheltenham (Gloucs) and Staines Reservoirs (Surrey).

In IRELAND, the two NORTH AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS are still being seen at Crookhaven (County Cork), in flooded fields near the caravan park at White Strand, whilst the CATTLE EGRET continues at the organic piggery at St Johnston (County Donegal). An immature male SNOWY OWL is again present on the Pettigo Plateau near Lough Awaddy (County Fermanagh) with the RICHARD'S PIPIT showing intermittently on the beach at Cooley Point (County Louth). No sign of the drake BAIKAL TEAL since last weekend but the juvenile female NORTHERN HARRIER still roosting each evening in Lingstown Reedbed, Tacumshin (County Wexford).

At last we have a winner...


This GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL was born in NORWAY in May 2008, thus making it a 5th Winter - over 4 and a half years old. It was a bird I saw in Lowestoft this January and had been processed by the Stavanger Museum in Norway. The Lista Ringing Group very kindly provided me with the history of its movements and interestingly, it has spent five consecutive winters in the Lowestoft area, Andrew Easton recording it in each year. It has also been sighted in Denmark and Holland.

Surrounded by adults of the same species, one can clearly see noticeable differences with the bird, with leg colour, bill pattern and colour and primary pattern most notable. Many observers considered it a 4th-winter but the ring proves how variable and difficult it is to accurately determine the true age of large white-headed gulls.

Tony Wileman was the first observer to email me with the correct species and ageing of the bird, a year's free subscription now winging its way to him.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Free Year's Membership for the first correct answer


Identify the species in the centre of the picture (the individual with the ring on) and give me the CORRECT AGE of the bird (eg, in 2nd-winter format and in number of years). Email your answer to LGREUK400@aol.com and the first correct answer to reach my PC will receive a year's free membership to the UK400 Club.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The UK400 Club and Premier Rare Bird News - A Reminder

Most of the daily workings of the British Birding Association and the affiliated UK400 Club is now done within the confides of the Premier Bird News group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PremierBirdNewsForTheUKandWP/

All fully paid up members of the club MUST enrol at the above address to receive the latest Life List totals, Announcements, Online List forms and whatever, particularly as the official website has been hacked and is not operative at present. You will also be eligible to receive all of the latest breaking News and full access to one or other of the Club's Rarity Databases, providing highly detailed directions to well over 700 individual rarities at any given time.

For an extended limited period, membership is still on offer at half price - £12 instead of the normal £25 - so don't delay, JOIN TODAY. For those of you that are able to contribute substantial information, membership is complimentary

All the very best

Lee G R Evans

Overwintering PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER




Oxfordshire birder ROGER WYATT is a truly exceptional photographer and I have repeatedly looked in awe at his rarity efforts. He has further excelled himself with his latest offerings, capturing the River Blackwater PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER as it fed low down by the overhanging riverine vegetation.

The bird has been wintering on the site that straddles both the Berkshire and Hampshire borders since early January and is still to be found there now.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Twitching the Shetland PINE GROSBEAK



Just one of 'Becca Nason's outstanding images of Saltoo's 'PINE GROZZER' - undoubted bird of the year thus far

A first-winter male PINE GROSBEAK is still present today in the North Collafirth and Housetter areas of Shetland North Mainland, after first being photographed in Urafirth on 2 November 2012. It seems set to stay for some time and has thus far been successfully twitched by over 100 birders. I visited the site on Thursday 7 February along with 21 others but despite searching all 9 plantations/gardens incessantly for hours on end, the bird was nowhere to be found. Then, at 1530 hours, it suddenly appeared in a narrow belt of pines opposite the Greenbrae entrance, allowing Deryk Shaw time to get a few photographs before he raced off to alert the rest of us searching elsewhere. It disappeared almost immediately but was relocated over a mile north in the garden of 'Saltoo', just NE of the pier at North Collafirth. This seems to be its favourite feeding place where it showed extremely well until dusk - presumably its roosting site each night. It seems to feed voraciously throughout the day on the Spruce needles and seeds and calls quite frequently.


FAVOURED PLACES

It has visited 9 different plantations/gardens during the past week including that at Saltoo and three gardens across the hill from here in Housetter. It has also visited the plantation at Hill of Skea, the large plantation at Greenbrae and the equally large plantation at North Collafirth, both sites immediately east of the A970. It is highly mobile and thinks nothing of moving over a mile in one flight. If all else fails, wait for it to come into roost at Saltoo.

OTHER BIRDS/MAMMALS

Both Colla Firth and Housetter Lochs held showy Otters whilst I also saw Woodcock, Waxwings, Lapland Bunting, 38 Snow Buntings, 34 Twite, 2 Whooper Swans, numerous Common Ravens, Hooded Crows, Rock Doves and Merlin in the vicinity.

ACCESS

It takes just 45 minutes to drive from the Lerwick ferry terminal to North Collafirth. The ferry leaves Aberdeen each evening between 1700 and 1900 hours and arrives in Lerwick at about 0700 hours each morning (weather conditions allowing). It costs just £52 return plus £67 for a cabin and has the best fish & chips in the region priced £8.95. Car Hire in Lerwick ranges from £31.80 to £46 per day, depending on size of car - a litre of fuel working out at £1.47.

Sunday, 3 February 2013



Wow, what a bird - this juvenile white morph GYRFALCON showing well for three days on Orkney last week. Morris Rendall's images are truly captivating and gripping

It now transpires that the female-type immature PINE GROSBEAK currently residing in SHETLAND has been present in the vicinity since at least 2 November 2012 - coinciding with the large numbers that reached southern Scandinavia at the time. The bird is showing very well today in the garden of 'Saltoo' just north of the pier at North Collafirth, Northmavine - often affording views down to a few yards. I am planning a trip for this week with one space in the car - email me at LGREUK400@aol.com if you would like to come.


Not much else on Shetland at the moment other than a first-winter RING-BILLED GULL and a few Iceland Gulls at East Voe of Scalloway (HU 407 396).

Elsewhere in Scotland, the female DESERT WHEATEAR continues to make headlines - now completing its 64th day on site on the duneslack by the lighthouse at Rattray Head (Aberdeenshire). An adult drake SURF SCOTER on Loch Ryan, Stranraer (Galloway) is an excellent record, the bird consorting with the huge Greater Scaup raft off of The Wig on the west side. Further south, there was no sign of the Holy Island (Northumberland) Cattle Egret today.

Although erratic in its appearances, the adult winter BONAPARTE'S GULL spent all day today at Princes Park Lake, Eastbourne (East Sussex), often showing down to just a few yards as it came in for bread with Black-headed Gulls. The adult was also still present on the Ogmore Estuary, Bridgend (West Glamorgan), frequenting the island just upstream of Portobello House. A first-winter was also identified on the Outer Hebrides yesterday at Stoneybridge on South Uist.

On the South Coast, the only overwintering HOOPOE was performing today on lawns in Hamworthy village, Poole (Dorset), generally in the Dawkins Road and Freshwater Drive areas, whilst the PALLAS'S LEAF WARBLER was still frequenting the River Blackwater on the county boundary between Berkshire and Hampshire at Moor Green Lakes NR..

The 3 TUNDRA BEAN GEESE remain at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs) (back again on the Dumbles and visible from the Holden Tower) as do the 6 in Suffolk once more in fields between Westleton and Dunwich and 4 on Southwold Town Marshes, whilst the last 28 TAIGA BEAN GEESE remain in the Yare Valley, commuting between Cantley and Buckenham Carrs. One of the recent six RED-BREASTED GEESE in Suffolk was at Sudbourne Marshes with Dark-bellied Brent Geese this morning

It has been an excellent winter for RING-NECKED DUCKS with a drake still on Helston Loe Pool (Cornwall), 3 immatures still on Scilly, two different immatures at Slapton Ley (South Devon), a female at Siblyback Lake (Cornwall), an adult drake at Hawkridge Reservoir, Spaxton (Somerset), a first-winter drake at Marloes Mere (Pembs) and a drake on Tophill Low 'D' Reservoir (East Yorks), whilst a cracking drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK remains with Northern Pochards at the east end of Priory Country Park, Bedford (Beds). A drake LESSER SCAUP was present for a second day today at Shotton Pools (Clwyd), north of the A548 on 'Cop Hole' at SJ 298 722, whilst the recent Blagdon bird relocated to Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve in South Wales.

The LESSER YELLOWLEGS is still to be found in the Ernesettle Creek by the Tamar (South Devon), generally in the area between the blue boat and the upturned barge 600 yards east of the bridge, with the first-year LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER on the Gann Estuary at Dale (Pembrokeshire). There seems to be at least 4 wintering WHIMBRELS this winter, with singles in Clyde, Kent, West Sussex and Cornwall

Still lots of GREAT WHITE EGRETS to be found, including 4 in the Dungeness Area (Kent), 3 on the Somerset Levels and singles at Marshside RSPB (Lancs), Parkgate Marsh (Cheshire), Coate Water CP, Swindon (Wilts), Pitsford Reservoir (Northants), Paglesham Lagoon (Essex) and on the Gower at Llanrhidian Marsh (West Glamorgan).

A juvenile white morph GYRFALCON afforded some fabulous views as it roosted on a post close to the road not far north out of Stromness (Orkney) (see Morris Rendall's exceptional shots above) from 1-2 February whilst Norfolk suddenly produced a scattering of ROUGH-LEGGED BUZZARD sightings with 2 at Haddiscoe Levels, one at Hickling Church, an adult at Burnham Overy Marshes and a juvenile near Heath Farm on the Hempstead Marshes.

The family party of 7 COMMON CRANES are still to be seen distantly from the Watchpoint along Harty Ferry road, Sheppey (Kent), with the adult on Walland Marsh (Kent)

A first-winter RING-BILLED GULL has been showing very well on the canal in Bude (Cornwall), with other regular birds in Dingwall (Highland) and on Walpole Boating Lake, Gosport (Hants).

The male BLACK-BELLIED DIPPER is still performing well on the River Thet just east of the Three Nuns Bridges in Thetford (Norfolk), this same site also yielding up to 3 OTTERS on a regular basis.

The only wintering YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER of 2013 is that at Gwennap Sewage Works near Redruth (Cornwall) whilst no less than 75 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS are wintering. The somewhat scruffy first-winter ROSE-COLOURED STARLING continues to frequent the first Hawthorn on the right as you enter Milbury Lane in Exminster Village (South Devon)

Freshwater grebes include Black-neckeds at Priory Country Park, Bedford (Beds), Draycote Water (Warks) (2 near the Valve Tower), Shapwick Heath NNR Noah's Lake (Somerset) (2), Rockford Lake (Blashford GP) (Hants) (2), Blagdon Lake (Somerset) and Staines Reservoir (Surrey), Slavonian Grebes at Knotford Nook GP (West Yorks), Astbury Mere CP (Cheshire), Rutland Water (Leics), Pitsford Reservoir (Northants), Tongwell Lake (North Bucks), Brogborough Lake (Beds), Alton Water (Suffolk), Cliffe Alpha Pool (Kent), Littlebrook Lake (Kent) with Great Northern Divers at Pittville Park Lake, Cheltenham (Gloucs), Staines Reservoirs North Basin (Surrey) and Rutland Water (Leics). The only Red-necked Grebe inland is that at Ogston Reservoir (Derbyshire) (viewable distantly from the Public Hide) whilst Long-tailed Ducks are to be found at Gouthwaite Reservoir (North Yorks) (2), Queen Mother Reservoir (Berks), William Girling Reservoir (London), Anglers Country Park (West Yorks), Rutland Water (Leics) and on Stithians Reservoir (Cornwall). In Derbyshire, the first-winter drake Velvet Scoter remains on Steetley Quarry deep water pit.

In IRELAND, a RICHARD'S PIPIT is present for a second day at Cooley Point (County Louth), with an adult LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER at Lady's Island Lake (Co. Wexford), the CATTLE EGRET at the organic piggery at St Johnston (Co. Donegal), the AMERICAN COOT at Murloch (Co. Galway) and 5 COMMON CRANES and juvenile female NORTHERN HARRIER in the Tacumshin Area (Co. Wexford). Rare wildfowl include drake Green-winged Teals at Ballyquintiin Point (Co. Down) and at Murloch, with the drake LESSER SCAUP near the Information Centre pier at Oxford Island NNR (Co. Armagh).. It is an excellent winter for RING-BILLED GULLS with 3 adults at Nimmo's Pier Slipway, Galway harbour (Co. Galway), 2 at Cuskinney Marsh (Co. Cork), 2 at Tralee Bay Wetlands NR and singles at Wexford Town Centre (Co. Wexford)

The total number of species recorded in Britain and Ireland in 2013 now rises to 254

Nailed him on third attempt.......









At last ! After 5 attempts, finally added a BONAPERTE'S GULL to my Year List, when today's adult at Princes Park, Eastbourne (East Sussex), gave itself up and showed to within a few yards (see images above). Luke Dray obtained the top three and Paul Rowe the latter, many more to be found at their respective websites http://www.lukedrayphotography.co.uk and http://www.essexbirds.com/bonaparte

Friday, 1 February 2013

PINE GROSBEAK on Shetland

On Tuesday of this week, a PINE GROSBEAK was photographed at Collafirth on Shetland........almost certainly still in the vicinity