Rar­ity Round-up

The best rare birds seen in the UK and Ire­land through­out July

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents -

Hands up if you have ever heard of Trindade Pe­trel, or even can point to Trindade Is­land on a map. For this bird was po­ten­tially the great find of the month (and per­haps of the year). The bird was seen by a group of sea watch­ers at Porthg­warra, Corn­wall on 29 July. Trindade Pe­trel is a Ptero­droma species, closely re­lated to birds such as the Fea’s Pe­trel and Zino’s Pe­trel, though po­ten­tially dis­tin­guish­able in the field (be­ing some­what ‘hooded’ in pale birds, and with dark un­der­tail coverts etc). It breeds in the South­ern At­lantic, some 1,100km east of Brazil (which owns the ter­ri­tory) on Trindade and Mar­tim Vaz Is­lands (and pos­si­bly also on Round Is­land in the In­dian Ocean). The global pop­u­la­tion pos­si­bly num­bers in the few thou­sands. In the Pa­cific Ocean there are very closely re­lated species with which it was for­merly lumped, called the Her­ald Pe­trel (and the darker Hen­der­son Pe­trel) Trindade Pe­trels have been seen some­what reg­u­larly off the south-eastern USA and have been recorded off the Azores (which sit astride the Mid-at­lantic Ridge); so the pos­si­bil­ity of one wan­der­ing into Bri­tish wa­ters is very much ‘real’. A seabird which is also as­so­ci­ated with is­land nest­ing, but which is much more abun­dant on a global scale, is the Sooty Tern. There have been only about 30 Sooty Terns ever seen in the UK, so these hand­some birds re­main very de­sir­able. So, the find­ing of one on the Farne Is­lands, Northum­ber­land on 7th was spe­cial. The bird re­turned on 19th and was also seen at Long Nanny, Northum­ber­land. The next day, how­ever, it re­lo­cated to the Ythan Es­tu­ary, Aberdeen­shire, where it was seen on sev­eral dates un­til the end of the first week of Au­gust. Prior to this bird, the last ‘twitch­able’ Sooty Tern in the UK was the long-stay­ing in­di­vid­ual seen on An­gle­sey (and in Ire­land) in July and Au­gust 2005, so it is un­der­stand­able that this year’s Sooty proved pop­u­lar. A less trop­i­cal seabird, but even rarer in the UK, is Au­douin’s Gull, a Mediter­ranean breed­ing species, which has seen an up­surge in its pop­u­la­tion over re­cent years. De­spite this, there

have only been eight ac­cepted records in the UK (the first be­ing at the ‘Au­douin’s hotspot’, Dun­geness, Kent, in May 2003; and the lat­est be­ing at the same site in Oc­to­ber 2013). All pre­vi­ous records have been coastal (typ­i­cal for this species), so it was ex­tra spe­cial when a sec­ond-sum­mer Au­douin’s Gull was found on the River Don, at Nor­folk Bridge, Sh­effield, South York­shire, on the early even­ing of 13th (de­part­ing early on 14th). And while on the sub­ject of rare gulls, an adult Franklin’s Gull (just more than 100 UK records) was a great find at Scal­ing Dam Reser­voir, Cleve­land, on 21st. It was still present into the first week of Au­gust.

Lovely plovers

Mov­ing away from seabirds, one of the rarest, as well as most at­trac­tive, rare birds of the month was the adult male Greater Sand Plover on the beach at Eas­ing­ton, East York­shire, on 14th and 15th. There have only been about 20 ac­cepted records of this Asian plover in the UK, and the last was a fe­male in June 2012 (at the de­light­fully named Stinky Bay, Ben­bec­ula, Outer He­brides). Con­tin­u­ing the plover theme, Pa­cific Golden Plovers were at Hayle Es­tu­ary, Corn­wall (to 1st) and Find­horn Bay, Mo­ray and Nairn from 31st into Au­gust.

The best of the rest

Other no­table rare birds around the country in­cluded a singing male Lit­tle Bit­tern at Chel­marsh Reser­voir, Shrop­shire (6th to 13th). A Squacco Heron was seen at Llangwm, Pem­brokeshire, on 4th, af­ter the Kilnsea, East York­shire, Squacco had de­parted (on 1st). Pur­ple Herons were at Rut­land Wa­ter (into Au­gust), Stud­land, Dorset, March Farm­ers, Cam­bridgeshire, and Sevenoaks Wildlife Re­serve, Kent, dur­ing the month. Rut­land Wa­ter also had a cou­ple of Glossy Ibises dur­ing July. A Lesser Yel­lowlegs took up res­i­dence at Titch­well RSPB, Nor­folk, af­ter a brief spell at Buck­en­ham Marshes RSPB, in the same county. There was a fam­ily of four Black-winged Stilts (two ju­ve­niles) at Oare Marshes, Kent from 5th to the end of the month. The lin­ger­ing male was again at Pot­ter Heigham, Nor­folk, mid-month. A group of four Bee-eaters seen over Gi­bral­tar Point, Lin­colnshire (4th) were pre­sum­ably the same four seen at Mins­mere, Suf­folk the next day. From more northerly climes, Snowy Owls were on An­gle­sey and North Uist. Up to three Two-barred Cross­bills were on Westray, Orkney (19th to 23rd). Fi­nally, there were still at least a dozen or so Rose-coloured Star­lings in the country dur­ing the month, though nearly all were on Scot­tish is­lands.

Lesser Yel­lowlegs, Titch­well RSPB, Nor­folk, 13 July

Above: Male Lit­tle Bit­tern, Chel­marsh Reser­voir, Shrop­shire, 8 July

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