The rarest birds of January were dominated by larids
NEW YEAR’S DAY resulted in 229 species being recorded in Britain and Ireland and by the end of January 2016, that figure had risen to 242, a very poor total by comparison to recent years; the reason for this being the continuing mild conditions, with very little in the way of snow and ice away from the Highlands of Scotland. Most of Europe was also unseasonally mild, although the Netherlands did very well in attracting a wide array of very rare vagrants, including a cracking male Siberian Rubythroat of unknown origin. For us, it was a slow start to the year, highlights all being larid, with a Ross’s Gull in West Cornwall for a few days, a Franklin’s Gull briefly in Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, a Bonaparte’s Gull in Hertfordshire and a Glaucous-winged Gull in Co. Cork. Pride of place however went to the Western Palearctic’s first- ever Vega Gull – identified, photographed and fully documented by Killian Mullarney at Duncannon Harbour (Co. Wexford) from 10th-13th January. This individual was particularly unpredictable in its behaviour, with some 42 Irish observers connecting on its second day and just two British twitchers on its fourth day. Subsequently, it was never seen again, despite a lot of searching. Lee Evans is the UK’S most well-known and fanatical ‘twitcher’, having recorded 585 species in Britain and Ireland, 863 in the wider Western Palearctic and 386 in just one calendar year in the UK. He has written many ornithological publications and runs numerous birding tours throughout the year, including custom-led trips. Visit bbabirding.blogspot.co.uk and uk400clubrarebird alert. blogspot.co.uk The adult Pacific Diver remained throughout in Penzance Harbour (Cornwall), commuting between Newlyn and just east of St Michael’s Mount, Marazion, depending on weather conditions and wind direction, while in Co. Galway, one remained off Tawin until at least 28th. At least eight Cattle Egrets overwintered, with two in Somerset and singles in south Devon, Norfolk, Suffolk and Counties Limerick and Wexford, as well as 27 Great White Egrets. Glossy Ibises remained numerous, particularly in Ireland, where at least 14 remained at Garryvoe (Co. Cork) from 16th-22nd, nine at Tramore Backstrand (Co. Waterford) on 12th and six at Timoleague (Co. Cork) on 23rd-24th. Five longstayers remained in Britain (Suffolk, Essex, East Sussex, Somerset and South Devon) while new arrivals included singles in Avon, Carmarthenshire (at least five), Cornwall, North Devon and Kent. A total of 46 Spoonbills overwintered, including 42 on the South Coast in Poole Harbour (Dorset).
Glaucous-winged Gull, Castletownbere Harbour, Co. Cork, Ireland, 14 January