Rar­ity Round-up

Two more ‘firsts’ ap­pear dur­ing a record break­ing Oc­to­ber, re­ports Lee Evans

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

A review of the rare birds seen through­out the UK dur­ing Oc­to­ber

OC­TO­BER 2016 WILL go down in his­tory as one of the best months for rare va­grants ever, as an ex­tended pe­riod of south-east­erly winds saw a flood of ex­tremely rare visitors pour in. Another two species (at least) will be added to the Bri­tish List. One of th­ese will surely be the big­gest bird story of this year of new birds and ex­treme rar­i­ties: Siberian Ac­cen­tor. After a few ex­am­ples of this de­light­ful lit­tle rel­a­tive of the Dun­nock had ap­peared in Fin­land and Swe­den, many UK bird­ers were pre­dict­ing the ar­rival of the UK’S first. Our own Shet­land UKBS cor­re­spon­dent Hugh Har­rop and his friend and col­league Judd Hunt came up with the goods with a showy, beau­ti­ful in­di­vid­ual at Scous­burgh, Main­land, Shet­land on 9th Oc­to­ber. A few of the keen­est (and wealth­i­est!) UK lis­ters rushed up to see the bird still present for one more day. The rest of the nation looked on in agony. But it was short-lived pain, as the UK’S sec­ond Siberian Ac­cen­tor duly turned up at Eas­ing­ton, East York­shire on 13th. The flood­gates were opened and what ap­peared a once-in-a-life­time find soon turned into the first of at least 13 Siberian Ac­cen­tors found in the UK, all in north-east Eng­land or Scot­land, par­tic­u­larly the North­ern Isles. This was part of a move­ment of at least 220 into Swe­den, Fin­land, Nor­way, Ger­many, Poland, Es­to­nia, Lithua­nia and the Nether­lands. The sec­ond ‘new’ bird for the Bri­tish List will be ei­ther Pale-legged War­bler or Sakhalin War­bler, after one was found dead at St Agnes, Scilly on 21st. DNA will con­firm the spe­cific iden­tity of this in­di­vid­ual of this oth­er­wise just about in­sep­a­ra­ble (in the field) pair. An im­ma­ture Black-browed Al­ba­tross that flew south past Fi­ley Brigg (North Yorks) on 5th was seen by more than 50 for­tu­itous ob­servers at Bemp­ton Cliffs (East Yorks) less than half an hour later be­fore pass­ing Flam­bor­ough Head at two lo­ca­tions and out into Bridling­ton Bay. The fol­low­ing af­ter­noon, the same bird was off Cley Coast­guards (Nor­folk), and other Nor­folk sites. Another was then seen north off Sheigra, High­land, on 7th, which per­haps was tracked past Bard­sey Is­land (Gwynedd) on 16th, Lundy (Devon) on 17th and south past Cape Corn­wall (Corn­wall) on 18th. A Fea’s Pe­trel flew west past North Ron­lad­say (Orkney) on 30th. There was a big up­surge in Cat­tle Egret num­bers dur­ing the month, in­clud­ing a flock of four at Blith­field Reser­voir (Staffs) on 16th then into Cheshire (join­ing another), and a fur­ther flock of five at Slim­bridge WWT (Gloucs) from 26th-31st. Mean­while, Great White Egrets reached new heights, with more than 100 in­di­vid­u­als present in Bri­tain and Ire­land by the end of the month,

in­clud­ing a record 24 together at Chew Val­ley Lake (Avon) from 20th, 14 in the Dun­geness area (Kent) and an ex­cep­tional 11 in the North West, at Bur­ton Mere Wet­lands, Cheshire. A ju­ve­nile White-tailed Ea­gle roosted overnight on Black Down, near Blag­don Lake (Avon) on 28th-29th, be­ing later re­ported over Ched­dar Reser­voir (Som­er­set). Another batch of Pal­lid Har­rier sight­ings in­clud­ing singles in Shet­land’s south Main­land un­til at least 12th, Pot­teric Carr YWT (South Yorks) on 14th and at Grey­lake RSPB (Som­er­set Lev­els) on 17th-19th. A ju­ve­nile Sora fre­quented the Tresco Great Pool (Scilly) from at least 2nd-15th with another found dead at Exmin­ster Marshes RSPB (Devon) on 17th. The adult Pur­ple Gallinule (aka Swamphen) re­mained res­i­dent but elu­sive at Alk­bor­ough Flats (North Lin­colnshire) through­out. Some 15 Amer­i­can Golden Plovers were noted, plus a Pa­cific Golden Plover at Rat­tray Head (Aberdeen­shire) on 9th. A Great Snipe was at Nor­wick, Unst (Shet­land) from 3rd-7th, a Sharp­tailed Sand­piper at Car­ra­hane Strand (Co. Kerry) on 7th; late Baird’s Sand­pipers were at Boul­mer Beach (Northum­ber­land) un­til 15th, David­stow Air­field (Corn­wall) on 2nd-6th, Low New­ton-bythe-sea (Northum­ber­land) on 7th-16th and Kenfig Pool (Glam­or­gan) on 13th-15th. Six Lesser Yel­lowlegs in­cluded long-staying in­di­vid­u­als in Dorset and Som­er­set, Long-billed Dow­itch­ers at Framp­ton Marsh RSPB (Lincs) all month, at Oare Marshes, Faver­sham (Kent) from 15th, Dun­dalk Har­bour (Co. Louth) from 20th-31st and at Tacumshin (Co. Wex­ford) from 20th. Adult Franklin’s Gulls were at Whit­tle Dene Reser­voir (Northum­ber­land) un­til 6th and on the Hayle Es­tu­ary (Corn­wall) from 26th-29th. The first Caspian Tern for Scilly was on St Mary’s, on 6th, later mov­ing to Pen­zance (Corn­wall) then north Devon to the Taw Es­tu­ary at Yel­land on 7th-8th. The only Oc­to­ber Pal­lid Swifts to be cor­rectly iden­ti­fied were singles on St Mary’s (Scilly) on 24th and on Lundy (Devon) the fol­low­ing day. Nine late Hoopoes were lo­cated, as were five Wry­necks. Eight Short-toed Larks in­cluded a very con­fid­ing bird at St Agnes Head (Corn­wall) from 12th-18th. Late Tawny Pip­its were at Gore Point, Ex­mouth (Devon) on 10th and Lang­stone Har­bour (Hants) on 14th, Blyth’s Pip­its on Scilly on St Mary’s on 4th-5th and 31st, just 34 Richard’s Pip­its, a Buff-bel­lied Pipit at Dun­moran Strand (Co. Sligo) from 31st, a mas­sive ar­rival of Olive-backed Pip­its per­haps in­volv­ing 75 in­di­vid­u­als. A Pe­chora Pipit was on Fair Isle from 2nd-7th; Red-throated Pip­its on St Mary’s on 7th and Fair Isle from 2nd-6th, An in­flux of East­ern Yel­low Wag­tails in­cluded singles at Carin­ish, South Uist (Outer He­brides) on 11th, St Mary’s (Scilly) on 13th-18th, Cley and Salt­house (Nor­folk) on 17th-20th and in the Bo­sis­tow area (Corn­wall) on 29th and a pop­u­lar black-bel­lied Dip­per on the River Gip­ping in Need­ham Market (Suf­folk) from 21st, which stayed into Novem­ber. Some 20 plus Bluethroats were found, plus a record 37 Red-flanked Blue­tails, in­clud­ing the first for North­ern Ire­land, at St John’s Point (Co. Down) on 8th-10th. An un­prece­dented in­flux of East­ern Black Red­starts in­cluded first-year males at Spurn Point (East Yorks) on 25th, Donna Nook (Lincs) on 26th-28th and a long-stayer at Skin­ningrove (Cleve­land) from 27th. There was also a record in­flux of Is­abelline Wheatears, in­clud­ing singles at Spig­gie (Shet­land) on 16th-20th, Eas­ing­ton (East Yorks) from 17th-21st, Go­drevy Point (Corn­wall) on 20th, Burn­ham Overy Dunes (Nor­folk) from 22nd into Novem­ber, and a first-win­ter well in­land at Wardy Hill (Cambs) from 29th-30th. Desert Wheatears were at Hartle­pool (Cleve­land) on 14th, Bridling­ton North Beach (East Yorks) on 15th-17th, Spig­gie (Shet­land) on 18th-21st, Gun Hill, Burn­ham Overy Dunes (Nor­folk) on 22nd-26th and Cley/salt­house Beach (Nor­folk) on 25th-27th; and Pied Wheatears at Flam­bor­ough Head on 14th, Scat­ness (Shet­land)

from 14th-19th, Red­car (Cleve­land) on 29th-30th and at Don­mouth (Aberdeen­shire) on 30th. There was a re­mark­able in­flux of ‘East­ern Stonechats’ in­volv­ing at least a dozen western Siberian (mau­rus types), per­haps five Ste­j­neger’s (in­clud­ing a first-win­ter trapped and ringed at Land­guard Bird Ob­ser­va­tory, Suf­folk, on 6th-7th) and a first-win­ter Caspian on St Mary’s (Scilly) on 21st-22nd. A Swain­son’s Thrush re­mained at Aith, Fet­lar (Shet­land), from 3rd-7th with an amaz­ing run of White’s Thrushes in­volv­ing singles at Ham­navoe (Shet­land) on 3rd, Kirk­wall (Orkney) on 3rd, Fet­lar on 5th, Holy Is­land (Northum­ber­land) on 5th, Skaw, Unst, on 7th and Spig­gie (Shet­land) on 17th. A first-win­ter male Siberian Thrush was at Uyea­sound, Unst, on 6th while an in­flux of Black-throated Thrushes in­cluded singles on the Out Sk­er­ries (Shet­land) on 3rd, Sul­lom Plan­ta­tion (Shet­land) on 4th and Scolt Head Is­land (Nor­folk) on 13th-14th. A Dusky Thrush made land­fall on the Isle of Scilly on Penin­nis Head, St Mary’s, on 26th con­sti­tut­ing the first record for that ar­chi­pel­ago. Mean­while, it was a good month for Barred War­blers with 28 dis­cov­ered; two dif­fer­ent Western Or­phean War­blers with singles at Loch of Ben­ston (Shet­land) on 6th and trapped and ringed at Firth (Orkney) on 18th-22nd, more than 40 Siberian Lesser Whitethroats, a Desert Lesser Whitethroat at Fi­ley North Cliff Coun­try Park (North Yorks) on 18th. A showy Western Subalpine War­bler was on St Mary’s (Scilly) in Hugh Town on 9th-19th and another at Port­land Bill (Dorset) on 5th. Lance­o­lated War­blers were at Bod­dam (Shet­land) on 2nd and Fair Isle on 2nd-4th; and a re­mark­able 24 Blyth’s Reed War­blers in­cluded 13 on Shet­land dur­ing 20th Septem­ber to 15th Oc­to­ber. Pad­dy­field War­blers were on Unst on 2nd-3rd, Flam­bor­ough Head on 12th and Nan­jizal (Corn­wall) on 20th. A very oblig­ing Booted War­bler on the Great Orme (Conwy) from 3rd-7th; a Western Bonelli’s War­bler was on the Isle of May (Fife) on 6th. There was a huge in­va­sion of Dusky War­blers to­talling more than 80 in­di­vid­u­als and in­clud­ing no fewer than 10 on the Spurn penin­sula alone (East Yorks) on 12th-14th. There were also 33 Radde’s War­blers, Arc­tic War­blers on Fair Isle on 2nd, Bemp­ton Cliffs RSPB (East Yorks) on 6th-8th, Prior’s Park, Tynemouth (Northum­ber­land) on 9th-10th and on Barra (Outer He­brides) on 13th. An East­ern Crowned War­bler was at Bemp­ton Cliffs RSPB on 4th-6th (fourth Bri­tish record). There was a Two-barred Green­ish War­bler on Papa Westray (Orkney) on 9th. Hume’s Leaf War­blers were at Flam­bor­ough on 22nd-24th and 26th-29th, Bemp­ton Cliffs RSPB on 25th and Rhos­sili (Pembs) on 30th-31st. There were also 44 Pal­las’s Leaf War­blers and 39 Red-breasted Fly­catch­ers. An ex­cep­tional in­flux of Brown Shrikes in­cluded sin­gle first-years at Voe (Shet­land) on 6th-7th, San­day (Orkney) and at Spurn Point on 31st and late ju­ve­nile Wood­chat Shrikes at Whit­burn (Tyne and Wear) on 3rd, South Ef­ford Marshes (Devon) on 2nd-7th, Spurn Point from 11th-12th and at Mizen Head (Co. Cork) on 13th-15th. Is­abelline Shrikes were at Gir­dle Ness (Aberdeen­shire) on 18th-19th, Holy Is­land on 18th-19th, Colch­ester Hythe (Es­sex) on 27th-28th, Wal­ney Is­land (Cum­bria) on 28th, South Shields (Tyne and Wear) on 28th-30th, Verne Com­mon, Port­land (Dorset) on 30th and at Toe Head (Co. Cork) on 31st. In the Outer He­brides, the UK’S first East­ern King­bird was re­lo­cated briefly on South Uist on 2nd while a bumper ar­rival of eight Nearc­tic Red-eyed Vireos in­cluded two in St Agnes Par­son­age (Scilly) from 25th Septem­ber. An un­prece­dented ar­rival of Pine Bunt­ings in­clud­ing no fewer than four on Fair Isle dur­ing 11th-25th, a male at Hill­well (Shet­land) on 22nd and fur­ther im­ma­ture on Blak­eney Point (Nor­folk) on 24th, Bres­say on 25th and trapped and ringed on Port­land Bill (Dorset) on 26th. A Black-faced Bunt­ing was on Bres­say, Shet­land.

ABOVE (LEFT TO RIGHT) Red-flanked Blue­tail, Donna Nook, Lin­colnshire, 15 Oc­to­ber East­ern Black Red­start, Skin­ningrove, Cleve­land, 28 Oc­to­ber

Wry­neck, St Mary’s Scilly, Oc­to­ber

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...

ABOVE (CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT) Caspian Tern, Porthel­lick, St Mary’s, Scilly, 6 Oc­to­ber Subalpine War­bler, Hugh Town, St Mary’s, Scilly Oc­to­ber Is­abelline Wheatear, Burn­ham Overy, Nor­folk, 31 Oc­to­ber Swain­son’s Thrush, Fet­lar, Shet­land, Oc­to­ber

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