SLOW SUM­MER BIRDING

The long, hot and dry spell of mid­sum­mer did not pro­duce a great rush of rare birds

Bird Watching (UK) - - Uk Bird Sightings -

June 2018 will prob­a­bly be re­mem­bered more for its glo­ri­ous weather and Eng­land’s un­ex­pected progress in the World Cup than for the qual­ity and quan­tity of the rare birds in the coun­try. That said, there were, of course, plenty of good birds about, just in June-style quan­ti­ties. One of the most ex­cit­ing birds for many bird­ers was an old favourite re­lo­cat­ing. The Royal Tern which first ap­peared on Guernsey in Fe­bru­ary last year, was last seen there in early May. But on 19 June it reap­peared, this time on the Bri­tish main­land for the first time. Ini­tially dis­cov­ered at Church Nor­ton (Pagham Har­bour), West Sus­sex, within the Sand­wich Tern colony, it stayed on to roost. Early bird­ers on the 20th saw the tern fly out to sea not long af­ter 4.30am and it was not seen again in West Sus­sex. How­ever, in the evening, it was found again, this time 75 miles fur­ther west at Wey­mouth, Dorset, vis­it­ing Lod­moor RSPB and Fer­ry­bridge. The next morn­ing it was on Wey­mouth beach, but has not been seen since 21st. Surely, this is not the last we will see of this ‘long-stay­ing’ bird, which is the sixth ever in the UK. Pre­vi­ous birds have been in Corn­wall, Glam­or­gan (two), Loth­ian and Gwynedd; the lat­ter be­ing the most re­cent record, in June 2009 at Porth Ceiriad, Aber­soch, Porth­madog and Llan­dudno. Much of the rest of the rare bird news for the month was dom­i­nated by war­blers, par­tic­u­larly early in the month. Chief among these war­blers was a male Moltoni’s War­bler, singing and call­ing at Blak­eney Point, Nor­folk. Hot on the heels of the Dun­cansby Head, High­land, Moltoni’s, which was last seen on 30 May, the Nor­folk in­di­vid­ual was found on the 2nd. Those who could face up to the chal­lenge of the long shin­gle trudge to the point could en­joy the Moltoni’s War­bler un­til the evening of 3rd. In­trepid walk­ers over the next cou­ple of days were com­pen­sated for the ab­sence of the Moltoni’s with a Pad­dy­field War­bler (4th to 5th) and a Short-toed Lark (as well as a pos­si­ble Marmora’s War­bler). Other war­bler stars in­cluded a singing River War­bler at Skirza, High­land, near the north­ern­most tip of Great Bri­tain (3rd). Great Reed War­blers are much less reg­u­lar vis­i­tors than they once were, and there were a pleas­ing three dur­ing the month, at Dungne­ness RSPB, Kent,

Hal­li­garth, Unst, Shet­land, and Fen Dray­ton Lakes RSPB, Cam­bridgeshire. Green­ish War­blers were at Rat­tray Head and Gir­dle Ness, Aberdeen­shire, and also at Bard­sey Is­land, Gwynedd. Early on, there were Savis’s War­blers reel­ing at Lon­don Wet­land Cen­tre WWT, Spurn, East York­shire and Mins­mere, Suf­folk. Half a dozen new Ic­ter­ine War­blers were found, par­tic­u­larly on Shet­land, and there were a dozen or so new Marsh War­blers dur­ing the month. And talk­ing of mas­ter singers, a male whitespot­ted Bluethroat was ‘hold­ing ter­ri­tory’ at a site with re­stricted ac­cess in east­ern Eng­land in the mid­dle of the month, though no fe­male was thought to be present. A re­mark­able four, widely-scat­tered, male Black-headed Buntings were seen dur­ing the month. They were at Bridling­ton, East York­shire (2nd), Moyl­grove, Pem­brokeshire (6th), Brims Ness, High­land (17th-18th) and at Nor­wick, Unst, Shet­land (from 26th).

Rare ‘wad­ing birds’

A Semi­pal­mated Sandpiper was a great find at Wash­ing­ton WWT, Co. Durham (21st). A Pa­cific Golden Plover was at St Goth­ian Sands, Gwith­ian, and nearby Hayle Es­tu­ary, Corn­wall on 29th and 30th. Other rarer waders dur­ing June in­cluded a Marsh Sandpiper at Pen­ning­ton Marshes, Hamp­shire (10th); and Buff-breasted Sand­pipers at David­stow Air­field, Corn­wall, and Pot­ter Heigham, Nor­folk, mid-month. On a slightly larger scale, a Squacco Heron was at Kilnsea, East York­shire on the 29th into early July. Mean­while, Bon­a­parte’s Gulls were at Cross­ness, Lon­don (first-sum­mer), Oare Marshes, Kent (adult), and Tiree, Ar­gyll (first-sum­mer).

Mid-sum­mer snow

Con­tin­u­ing one of the themes of the year, Snowy Owls were still grab­bing some of the head­lines in June. In­di­vid­u­als were present at Big­ton, Main­land, Shet­land, St Kilda, Outer He­brides, Point Ly­nas, An­gle­sey and Stron­say, Orkney, dur­ing the month.

Rosy fu­ture

The Rose-coloured Star­ling in­flux con­tin­ued at a pace, with nearly 100 ‘new’ birds recorded across the coun­try by the end of the month. Most were found around the coasts, but there were a de­cent hand­ful of re­ports from well in­land. How many will come out of the wood­work dur­ing the rest of the sum­mer re­mains to be seen. As we have said be­fore, keep your eyes peeled on those Star­ling flocks, in­clud­ing the early au­tumn pre-roost mur­mu­ra­tions.

Bon­a­parte’s Gull, Oare Marshes, Kent, June

Above: Spoon­bills, Pen­ning­ton Marshes, Hamp­shire, 10 June

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