Rar­ity Round-up

From seabirds to passer­ines, Au­gust de­liv­ered the goods, re­ports Lee Evans

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents - COM­PILED BY: LEE EVANS

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

AU­GUST WAS A very busy month in terms of rare va­grants, with no fewer than 12 new species be­ing added to the coun­try’s year list and thus push­ing the cu­mu­la­tive Bri­tain and Ire­land to­tal to a very impressive 413 species. If we take the con­tin­u­ing Purple Gallinule out of the equa­tion, the high­lights of the month were both seabirds and both in the Repub­lic of Ire­land – a stow­away im­ma­ture Brown Booby off County Kerry and a near-adult Royal Tern in Coun­ties Kerry, Clare and Mayo. The booby roosted overnight on a trawler not far off­shore of Din­gle on 13th-14th, while the tern pitched up on Roon­agh Lough, south-west of Louis­burgh, on 16th-17th, en­ter­tain­ing and pleas­ing 19 of Ire­land’s top twitch­ers be­fore be­ing re­lo­cated at Beale Point, north-west of Lis­towel, on 23rd. It then be­came a bit eas­ier, roost­ing with Sand­wich Terns at Lit­tor Point in Bun­na­clugga Bay for al­most a week, be­ing last noted on 28th. An adult White-billed Diver off Mur­car Beach (Aberdeen­shire) on 14th was most un­ex­pected, while the only Red-necked Grebes in­land in­volved sin­gles at Ab­ber­ton Reser­voir (Es­sex) un­til 7th and a ju­ve­nile at Far­moor Reser­voir (Oxon) from 22nd. It was an ex­cel­lent Au­gust for the scarcer seabirds, with bumper num­bers of both Cory’s and Great Shear­wa­ters, par­tic­u­larly off Ire­land and Corn­wall/scilly and in­volv­ing num­bers of 200 or more on sev­eral days, and al­most a dozen Fea’s Pe­trels with the ma­jor­ity off Ire­land but also in­clud­ing sin­gles past Pen­deen Watch­point (Corn­wall) on 28th and Port Eynon Point (Glam­or­gan) on 21st. There was a mas­sive dis­place­ment of Balearic Shear­wa­ters in the English Chan­nel on 20th, with 532 past Port­land Bill (Dorset), 287 past St Ald­helm’s Head (Dorset) and 116 past Rame Head (Corn­wall) and Wil­son’s Pe­trels al­most on a daily ba­sis from the Scilly boat trips, in­clud­ing six on 4th and four on 22nd. At least one Wil­son’s Pe­trel flew west past Pen­deen on 21st while on Fair Isle, one of the pre­vi­ously ringed Swin­hoe’s Pe­trels was trapped there again overnight on both 14th-15th Au­gust. In west Corn­wall, the adult Dal­ma­tian Pelican re­mained on the Hayle Es­tu­ary from 1st-4th, be­fore mov­ing back to the Re­stronguet Creek Point Quay on 5th-23rd and dis­cov­er­ing Hel­ston Loe Pool from 25th into Septem­ber. A sin­gle bark­ing male Lit­tle Bit­tern re­mained at Ham Wall RSPB, Shap­wick Heath (Som­er­set) un­til 2nd, while the first in Bedfordshire in more than 120 years in­volved a ju­ve­nile at The Pillinge Pit, Marston Vale Mil­le­nium Coun­try Park all day on 20th. Sev­eral Cat­tle Egrets re­mained, with long-stay­ing, semi-res­i­dent birds at Marsh­side

Marsh RSPB, Southport (Lancs) and Tacumshin (Co. Wex­ford), two at the Nene Washes RSPB (Cambs) on 18th-21st, Sand­wich Bay (Kent) on 18th and at Slim­bridge WWT (Gloucs) on 21st. Great White Egret num­bers lev­elled out at about 35, in­clud­ing at least nine ju­ve­niles from this year’s nest­ing at­tempts on the Som­er­set Lev­els. A Squacco Heron vis­ited Far Ings NR, just south of the River Hum­ber (North Lincs), from 4th-8th, with Purple Herons at Hick­ling Broad (Nor­folk) on 3rd, Ot­moor RSPB (Oxon) from 7th into Septem­ber and at Bran­don Marsh NR (Warks) on 17th, White Storks were at Bed­ding­ton Sewage Farm, Croy­don (Sur­rey) un­til 6th, Pul­bor­ough Brooks RSPB (West Sus­sex) again on 7th, Cow­ard’s Marsh, Christchurch (Dorset) on 7th and over Port­land Harbour (Dorset) on 8th. A Black Stork flew over So­ham (Cambs) on 6th. At least 16 Glossy Ibises were recorded, sev­eral now seem­ingly res­i­dent, such as the pair at Ham Wall RSPB; with per­haps 52 Spoon­bills in the UK. Two Ruddy Shel­ducks re­mained in East Kent at Peg­well Bay and en­vi­rons from 10th-19th, while in High­land, the drake Black Duck re­mained with Mal­lard at Loch Su­nart, Stron­tian, through­out. An un­sea­sonal Ring-necked Duck on Fair Isle (Shet­land) on 23rd was not only that is­land’s sec­ond record but the first since Oc­to­ber 1978. The drake deg­landi White-winged Scoter con­tin­ued to moult off Black­dog Dunes (Aberdeen­shire) un­til at least 22nd, as did at least two Surf Scot­ers, 43 Vel­vet and up­wards of 2,200 Common.

Rap­tors to terns

Up to four dif­fer­ent Honey Buz­zards were found to be sum­mer­ing on the Suf­folk coastal belt around Mins­mere, Westle­ton and Wal­ber­swick. Also in Suf­folk, Bri­tain’s first-ever Purple Gallinule stayed at Mins­mere RSPB un­til dusk on 5th. For those that dipped over the week­end that fol­lowed, there was a re­prieve when it (or an­other adult) was lo­cated just south of the River Hum­ber in north Lin­colnshire at Alk­bor­ough Flats NR on 30th, sur­viv­ing to at least 12th Septem­ber. Spot­ted Crakes were once again scarce, with that at Bur­ton Mere Wet­lands RSPB (Cheshire) be­ing seen to 4th and an oft-con­fid­ing ju­ve­nile at North Cave Wet­lands NR (East Yorks) from 16th to the month’s end. Au­gust is the month for rare waders and this year a wide va­ri­ety was recorded. A Ken­tish Plover was at Peg­well Bay (Kent) on 10th, Pa­cific Golden Plovers at Tacumshin on 14th and on Tiree (Ar­gyll) on 29th-30th, five Tem­minck’s Stints, Least Sand­pipers at Cley NWT (Nor­folk) on 7th-8th July (ini­tially misiden­ti­fied as a Tem­minck’s Stint), Black Hole Marsh, Seaton (Devon) on 2nd-3rd (with an in­cred­i­ble two present on 3rd), Tacumshin (Co. Wex­ford) on 13th and at Cloughaun Lough, near Loop Head (Co. Clare) from 14th-20th. Semi­pal­mated Sand­pipers were on the Gann Es­tu­ary at Dale (Pembs) on 4th-7th, Bal­garva, South Uist (Outer He­brides) on 20th-22nd and at Fer­riter’s Cove, Bal­ly­fer­riter (Co. Kerry) from 26th-31st and White-rumped Sand­pipers at Mon­trose Basin LNR (An­gus) on 1st-3rd, Framp­ton Marsh RSPB (Lincs) on 1st-6th, Cley Marshes NWT on 4th and 17th, Snet­tisham (Nor­folk) again on 6th, Belfast Lough RSPB (Co. Down) on 3rd-7th, Girdle­ness (Aberdeen­shire) on 10th-15th and Am­ble Harbour (Northum­ber­land) from 21st-31st. A Terek Sand­piper vis­ited Tacumshin on 21st-22nd, and a Soli­tary Sand­piper was at Cloughaun Lough, Loop Head, on 15th-18th, while

an in­flux of Au­gust Spot­ted Sand­pipers in­cluded adults at Haux­ley NR (Northum­ber­land) from 4th-26th, Sut­ton Bing­ham Reser­voir (Som­er­set) on 5th-8th, South Ef­ford Marsh, Ave­ton Gif­ford (Devon) from 8th-20th and Fluke Dub, Dun­bar (Loth­ian) from 15th-22nd, with an early ju­ve­nile on Tiree from 14th-18th and fur­ther ar­rivals on Great Skel­lig (Co. Kerry) and Cape Clear Is­land (Co. Cork) on 31st. There was also an in­flux of Lesser Yel­lowlegs from North Amer­ica with sin­gles on the Swords Es­tu­ary (Co. Dublin) from 11th-15th, Ring Marsh (Co. Wex­ford) on 14th, Clon­akilty (Co. Cork) on 16th, Black Rock (Co. Cork) on 19th, Blith­field Reser­voir (Staffs) on 20th and Vange Marshes RSPB (Es­sex) on 21st-31st, with the only Baird’s Sand­piper, a ju­ve­nile, on Packards South, Hat­field Moors NNR (South Yorks) from 30th, Buff-breasted Sand­piper at Port­noo on 15th and an ar­rival of at least 16 widely scat­tered Pec­toral Sand­pipers. A ju­ve­nile Red-necked Phalarope re­mained at Snet­tisham Pits (Nor­folk) from 8th-16th, with two to­gether at Tacumshin on 11th. A dozen or so ju­ve­nile Long-tailed Skuas were seen, in­clud­ing a con­fid­ing dark-morph feed­ing on a dead Oys­ter­catcher at Ains­dale Beach (Lancs) on 22nd, with the long-stay­ing adult Bon­a­parte’s Gull at Oare Marshes (Kent) all month, the adult Azorean At­lantic Gull at Stan­wick GP (Northants) again from mid-month, a marked ar­rival of Caspian Gulls in­volv­ing at least 65 in­di­vid­u­als, one or two Sabine’s Gulls in The Minch, Skye (High­land), all month, the Forster’s Tern in County Louth all month and White-winged Black Terns at Meikle Loch (Aberdeen­shire) on 5th, Water­mead CP (Le­ics) on 21st, Lod­moor (Dorset) on 27th, Llan­gorse Lake (Powys) on 28th and Saltholme Pools (Cleve­land) on 29th. Hoopoe sight­ings came from Ald­bor­ough Hatch on 18th and Portsmouth (Hants) from 25th-30th, with Bee-eaters on Big­gar Ferry (North Sea) on 4th, Wal­ber­swick (Suf­folk) on 16th and Mins­mere RSPB on 18th. There was a ma­jor ar­rival of Wry­necks from 11th, even­tu­ally in­volv­ing 70 or more in­di­vid­u­als by the month’s end. The first of the au­tumn’s Citrine Wag­tails in­volved ju­ve­niles on Bard­sey Is­land (Pembs) on 17th and Pol­gigga (Corn­wall) on 25th-26th, while Barred War­blers be­gan ap­pear­ing from the sec­ond week, with per­haps eight recorded by 31st, in­clud­ing two at Spurn (East Yorks). An Aquatic War­bler was ringed at Titch­field Haven NNR (Hants) on 13th, with one at Pagham Harbour (West Sus­sex) on 16th and one at Lytch­ett Fields, Poole Harbour (Dorset) on 31st. Other rare war­blers in­cluded an ex­tremely early Blyth’s Reed War­bler on Fair Isle on 28th, 18 Ic­ter­ine War­blers, eight Melo­di­ous War­blers, early Booted War­blers on Fet­lar (Shet­land) on 22nd, at Porthg­warra (Corn­wall) on 23rd, Sum­burgh Head (Shet­land) from 27th-31st and on Fair Isle on 27th-31st, a pos­si­ble Sykes’ War­bler on North Ron­ald­say (Orkney) on 28th, Western Bonelli’s War­bler on Bard­sey Is­land on 15th-17th, Arc­tic War­blers at Scat­ness (Shet­land) on 28th and Geoset­ter Burn (Shet­land) on 29th and an in­flux of at least a dozen Green­ish War­blers. An early male Red-breasted Fly­catcher was on Shet­land late in the month, while nine Red-backed Shrikes ap­peared, a Rose-coloured Star­ling at East Mey (High­land) on 8th (adult) and Fair Isle on 31st (ju­ve­nile) and Or­tolan Buntings at Skokholm (Pembs) and Spurn Point on 17th and at a num­ber of Dorset lo­cal­i­ties dur­ing 25th-31st soundrecorded overnight.

Great Shear­wa­ter, Scilly pelagic, 20 Au­gust

Lee Evans is the UK’S most well-known and fa­nat­i­cal ‘twitcher’, hav­ing recorded 588 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

Purple Gallinule (Swamphen), Mins­mere, Suf­folk, 31 July

ABOVE (LEFT TO RIGHT) Ic­ter­ine War­bler, Gar­ri­son, St Mary’s, Scilly, 19 Au­gust

ABOVE (CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT) Royal Tern, Beale Point, Co. Kerry, Ire­land, 23 Au­gust

Least Sand­piper, Seaton Marshes, Devon Au­gust

Wil­son’s Pe­trel, Scilly pelagic, 20 Au­gust

Terek Sand­piper, Tacumshin Lake, Co. Wex­ford, Ire­land, 22 Au­gust

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