Friday, 22 November 2013


A first-winter male CASPIAN STONECHAT has been present on St Agnes (Scilly) since Monday, showing well in St Warna's Cove. It represents only the 4th record for Britain and the first since the male at Virkie (Shetland) on 7th May 2006. The British Birding Association now recognises four species of stonechat on the British List - Caspian, Siberian, Stejneger's and Common.

Today, Chris Heard and I succeeded in our goal of seeing all four species of Stonechat in Britain, the bird affording fabulous views in the sunshine. I took well over 300 photographs of it, a small selection being reproduced here. It was not as well marked in the tail as we had expected, so was most likely a western individual, most likely from Turkey, Georgia or Armenia...

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Yet another mega on Shetland - CAPE MAY WARBLER

Cape May Warbler update. The bird was actually seen at three sites in Baltasound today: a single sycamore in the Manse garden (HP 6069 0909), two sycamores at old kirk at Hillside (HP 6043 0921) and in the garden at Hillsgarth (HP 6100 0927). Birders have very kindly been given permission to enter this garden, but note that this is beside Unst Health Centre, so please show respect when passing there and DO NOT park in the Health Centre car park. There is parking at the school (which is still closed for the holidays) at HP 6091 0896, within easy reach of all three sites (per Shetland Wildlife)

Sunday, 22 September 2013


The male ITALIAN SPARROW that had been present at Hungry Hill, Northrepps (Northeast Norfolk) from at least early July was last seen on 6 September. The bird's appearance totally matches that of Italian Sparrows at the northern limit of the species' range.

WILSON'S WARBLER in the Republic of Ireland

A male WILSON'S WARBLER spent four days residing on Dursey Island (County Cork) habitating a densely vegetated garden at the far west end of the island until Saturday 21 September. It represented the first record for Ireland and only the second for the Western Palearctic. Perhaps 65 UK twitchers connected including Richard Bonser, the highest-listing birder of the region. With little interest or appetite now from the majority of British birders in Irish rarities, it was surprising how many did actually make the effort - BUBO Listing, the site where many of these types log their sightings, treat Ireland as a separate entity and do not allow its UK listers to include Ireland (a separate country) within the totals. A nice bird though by the looks of it.

Friday, 20 September 2013

BROWN SHRIKE in Hampshire

Gone are the times when BROWN SHRIKE was a mega but this first for Hampshire was a nice surprise today.......Hampshire patcher Bob Marchant takes up the story.....

''Found the shrike at 09:55 this morning on brambles by the railings guarding the Chilling
sub-station tunnel entrance (SU 500 042). Initially with a brief 2 minute view in poor light
I considered it as a juvenile Red-backed Shrike. Not seen again for about 20 minutes when it showed
in cover and further away by the Solent Way footpath , then flew over the bramble patch
out of sight. I moved up to the footpath and refound the bird on the fenceline running NE alongside
a large bramble patch. Although the bird was some distance away, some 80 – 100m,
the light was more favourable and it became apparent that the bird had more of the
features of a 1w BROWN SHRIKE – chestnut head, brown upperparts not noticeably
vermiculated, long brown tail with reddish rump/base of tail, short primary projection
reaching only to end of reddish patch, buff underparts with noticeable vermiculation
(when not in bright sunlight). The dark mask also continued to the front of the eye
tapering down to the bill. Bare parts appeared grey, bill dark tipped. All of these salient features were confirmed with the gathering birders arriving on the scene, although throughout the day the bird remained distant. It remained until dusk, by which time no less than 75 birders had connected''

I arrived on site at around 1600 hours and remained on site until 1830. Throughout this period, the bird was showing well but distantly along the fenceline, making frequent sorties to the ground for food. I took some 100 or so shots but all were just record - a selection of the best being published below -:

Thursday, 22 August 2013


See link here -

Bird has been present for at least 10 days. Italian Sparrow is now considered a separate species from both Spanish and House Sparrow

Monday, 19 August 2013

Latest Mega - RED-BILLED TROPICBIRD lingering off Pendeen Watchpoint

On Sunday morning (18 August), Devon birder Tom Whiley was fortunate enough to stumble upon an adult RED-BILLED TROPICBIRD whilst photographing Gannets and Great Skuas passing close inshore off Pendeen Watchpoint. The bird was lingering very close inshore, even flying back and forth, Tom being able to take an enviable number of photographs - at least 6 of which are of a reasonable quality - and two of them are excellent.Working from the sequence of shots, it seems the bird was on view for only a maximum of 25 seconds just prior to 0841 (and not several minutes as had previously been believed), before eventually drifting off west and out into the Atlantic (initial timings were incorrect and time is based on camera reading). After realising the enormity of his sighting, Tom walked back up the rocky incline and slope (he had been down at the water's edge) and showed a few of those by the lighthouse wall his images. He then shot back up to his car at the top and informed John Swann of his find - meeting John at Carnyorth and driving down to Carn Gloose in an attempt to relocate it. John Ryan was at the site also but despite their best efforts, the bird was not seen again.

It represents the first record for Mainland Cornwall but follows a record of an adult photographed at sea 32kms SSE of Scilly on 7th June 2001 (plate 282 in British Birds 95: 480) and another reported from the Scillonian on 29th March 2002, seen subsequently off The Lizard on 21st April 2002 (British Birds 96: 549). One was also reported flying past Old Head of Kinsale (County Cork) on 8th September 2009, whilst an adult was seen off Guernsey (Channel Islands) on 16th September 2001.

Saturday, 27 July 2013


The UK400 Club/British Birding Association now considers MONGOLIAN SAND PLOVER as a separate species to both LESSER and GREATER SAND PLOVER, based largely on the original paper/fieldwork here and many years of study by Erik Hirshfeld. Further references include Birding World 16: 377-385, 4: 399, 6: 369-372 & 6: 454-455; British Birds 93: 162-189; Dutch Birding 4: 113-130 & 5: 37-66 and in Alula 1/96: 28-33


Dennis O'Sullivan discovered a summer-plumaged MONGOLIAN SAND PLOVER in County Cork this evening, the bird being sighted at Pilmore Quay just prior to dusk. This could be the bird seen two Tuesday's ago at Lossiemouth Beach (Moray).....
Northumberland's BRIDLED TERN moved to the Isle of May (Fife) last night whilst on Fair Isle, a SWINHOE'S STORM PETREL was trapped and ringed overnight

Meanwhile, more TWO-BARRED CROSSBILLS continue to arrive with the tally over 25 now - most on Shetland - although a twitchable juvenile still remains on Salthouse Heath in North Norfolk

Friday, 5 July 2013

Another Day, Another Mega...

What on earth is going on......this morning a first-year ASCENSION ISLAND FRIGATEBIRD was found in Bowmore Harbour, on the island of Islay in Argyll. RSPB warden David Wood was sent/shown these images by the finders, the bird remaining until at least 0900 hours. It was looked for by John Armitage and others early afternoon but there was no further sign of it.

Panic stations set in among certain UK twitchers with one entrepid Yorkshire lister chartering a 3-seater aircraft at two grand......

The only other British record was of an immature picked up alive on Tiree (Argyll) on 8-9 July 1953 whilst there is a single record of a MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD from Salop more recently (which died in care).

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Latest ROUND BRITAIN tour nets 208 species

My most recent ROUND BRITAIN tour from 24 May through 2 June 2013 netted a staggering 208 species of bird - a new record for a week-long period - highlights being undoubtedly the drake HARLEQUIN DUCK on North Uist and the exciteable male CAPERCAILLIE in Abernethy Forest

It was another great team effort with young Chris Birding (Bromley) joining us for the second time this year. Above, we took rare time out to dine in style

I have at least two ROUND BRITAIN TOURS planned for 2014, so if you would like to reserve a space, contact me now at

Spaces still remain on this autumn's OCTOBER EXTRAVAGANZA TOURS, concentrating on twitching all of the great rares on offer, from Shetland to Scilly. If its new birds you want, then don't miss out on these limited space trips 

Booking Dates 5-12 October; 14-19 October; 21-25 October

BRIDLED TERN on Inner Farne

Three from DAVID CARR

...And three from PAUL ROWE

The adult BRIDLED TERN currently residing on Inner Farne in Northumberland - now present for its fourth day. Boats can be booked from Seahouses Harbour at a cost of £15 per person for two hours viewing. Bird is extremely erratic in its appearances though but favours roosting with Arctic Terns on rocks by the quay...