Rar­ity Round-up

May saw two po­ten­tial ‘firsts’ for the UK, plus many more ex­treme rar­i­ties, re­ports Lee Evans

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents -

Lee Evans re­views the rare birds seen in the UK and Ire­land through­out May

MAY 2016 WAS ex­cep­tional – a long spell of south-east­erly winds en­sur­ing a long list of mouth­wa­ter­ing va­grants en­ter­ing the coun­try. From Shet­land and the Outer He­brides south to Corn­wall and Scilly, no re­gion was left un­touched – the na­tion’s bird­watch­ers en­joy­ing a glut of lost waifs. So much so that by the end of May, an un­prece­dented and quite in­cred­i­ble 388 species had been recorded in Bri­tain and Ire­land. Two highly con­tro­ver­sial va­grants stole the lime­light, both mak­ing ‘land­fall’ in the South West: Dal­ma­tian Pel­i­can and Lammergeier; and both po­ten­tial na­tional ‘firsts’. Patch birder Paul Free­stone was the first to en­counter the pel­i­can, as it flew over him at his lo­cal patch of Gwith­ian Sands (Corn­wall) on 7th May. Next day, it vis­ited St Ives Har­bour, be­fore mak­ing the short jour­ney to Pen­with and the val­leys around Land’s End. For more than a week, it com­muted be­tween the tiny pools of Skew­jack, Nan­jizal, Trevo­rian, Sen­nen and Swingates House, be­fore fi­nally the fog lifted and it dis­cov­ered Drift Reser­voir. Pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence con­firmed that it was the same adult that had pre­vi­ously vis­ited Ger­many and Poland in April, and later France, briefly in May, and as such was con­sid­ered to be a gen­uine vagrant, rather than es­cape from cap­tiv­ity. Even more in­cred­i­bly, a ju­ve­nile Lammergeier was pho­tographed and videoed by the River Sev­ern at Sud­brook (Gwent) on 12th May – the bird bear­ing no rings or ev­i­dence of it em­a­nat­ing from one of the many con­ti­nen­tal rein­tro­duc­tion schemes. It re­lo­cated to Devon and Corn­wall, be­ing seen by rel­a­tively few bird­ers over two weeks, mainly around Dart­moor.

Divers to terns

Although the ma­jor­ity of our win­ter­ing White­billed Divers re­grew their pri­maries and de­parted north-east, Tory Is­land in County Donegal man­aged to at­tract no fewer than four mid-month, with fur­ther late birds mi­grat­ing past North Uist (Outer He­brides) and Shet­land. For the third year run­ning, an adult Pied-billed Grebe took up ter­ri­tory in Ar­gyll, pair­ing up with a Lit­tle Grebe from 5th. Keith Pel­low could hardly be­lieve his eyes on 28th, as em­bark­ing from the Good Shep­herd in North Haven, Fair Isle, he saw an adult Black­browed Al­ba­tross in the bay! The bird then went on to tra­verse the is­land through­out the morn­ing, treat­ing those few present to some ex­cep­tional views as it ex­plored the var­i­ous geos. At least four bark­ing Lit­tle Bit­terns turned up, in­clud­ing one in south Devon and an­other at Barnes WWT (Lon­don) on 29th-31st, while four

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 Black-billed Cuckoo, Bay­head, North Uist, Outer He­brides, May

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