RARE BIRDS & SCARCE MIGRANTS IN BRITAIN & IRELAND IN 2014: A Review of the Year
So that was 2014 over – a whopping 447 species recorded overall – just one less than last year and the third best year ever (see chart below detailing annual totals in Britain and Ireland since Year 2000). It was also the warmest year since records began in 2010 and the 4th wettest.
There was just a single new species for the list in 2014 – a Bermuda Petrel seen off Ireland in May. This was also the first for the Western Palearctic. Otherwise, one could argue that Kent’s Chinese Pond Heron was new, although one (accepted on to Category E by the BOURC) has already occurred in Norfolk and Hampshire. The Systematic List that follows highlights the major ornithological rarity events that headlined during the year – a somewhat sumptuous array of lost waifs.........
In Ireland, one was at Lough Fea (Co. Tyrone) from 19th January to 2nd February with another off Kilcolgan Point, Tawin (Co. Galway) on 5th April. On 22nd November, the adult reappeared for its 7th consecutive winter in Mount’s Bay, Penzance (Cornwall), with that at Finvarra Point (Co. Clare) being seen again on 29th November.
One or two remained in the Bluemull Sound between Fetlar and Yell (Shetland) throughout January to March whilst an incredibly confiding and popular second-winter attracted large numbers of admirers in Brixham Harbour (Devon) until 18th January and again from 2nd-4th February. That on South Ronaldsay at St Margaret’s Hope (Orkney) reappeared from 11th-14th January with one or two reports from the Aberdeenshire coastline during February. Up to 17 were then recorded in the cold waters between Portsoy and Burghead during March-April, as well as up to 7 off of the usual headlands on the Isle of Lewis (Outer Hebrides). Three regular birds reappeared in Shetland and Orkney in November, while one flew south past Filey Brigg & Flamborough Head (Yorkshire) on 1st December.
A long-staying individual remained at Balranald RSPB, North Uist (Outer Hebrides) until 19th April with another at Sruhill Lough, Achill Island (Co. Mayo) from mid March to 16th April whilst spring migrants appeared at Rutland Water (Leics) on 9th-10th April and at Loch Thom (Clyde) from 24th-29th April.
FEA’S SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL
One was seen off Spurn Point (East Yorks) on the exceptionally early date of 10th February, while far more usual were a plethora of reports from coastal sites from 13th July onwards, including singles off Easington (East Yorks) on 13th July, Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 5th August, Flamborough Head (East Yorks) on 21st September (where it was remarkably tracked heading north from at least 12 other sites north to Northumberland) and off Gigha (Argyll) on 24th October. At least 15 were recorded from Irish seawatching locations between 10th August and 15th October, with one seen well at sea 20km SSE of Galley Head on 10th October.
NORTH ATLANTIC LITTLE SHEARWATER
One was photographed 100km WSW of the Skelligs (Co. Kerry) on 21st September
WILSON’S STORM PETREL
As expected, the vast majority of records came from Scilly where pelagic trips regularly encountered 1-3 individuals from 14th July to 24th August, weather conditions allowing. In Ireland, further pelagic trips yielded up to 5 off Galley Head (Co. Cork) on 22nd & 24th July and 1 off Blacksod Bay (Co. Mayo) on 19th July, while Bridges of Ross (Co. Clare) yielded singles on 8th, 12th & 30th August.
SWINHOE’S STORM PETREL
The adult male trapped on Fair Isle in 2013 and present from 7th August to 3rd September reappeared again this summer, being re-trapped on the isle no less than seven times between 9th July and 1st August, whilst in SW Ireland, one flew quickly past Bridges of Ross (Co. Clare) on 25th August.
The first for the Western Palearctic was seen and photographed 315 km WNW of Slea Head (Co. Kerry) on 19th May.
One was seen off Portland Bill (Dorset) at 0700 hours on 5th July.
A ‘barking’ male was at Elton Reservoir (Greater Manchester) on 25th-26th May, with another at Gosforth Park (Northumberland) from 22nd-27th June. At the regular site in Somerset, just one male returned this summer and breeding was not seen to have taken place.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON
The first to appear in spring was on the Isles of Scilly at Lower Moors, St Mary’s, on 17th-20th March, followed by singles on Shetland at Reawick on 18th-21st April (found dead) and Quendale & Spiggie from 18th-30th April and at Leaswowe (Wirral) on 23rd-27th April. An adult was seen at Shapwick Heath NNR (Somerset) in May, with further singles at Cosmeston Lakes (Cardiff) on 12th-15th June, Pittville Park, Cheltenham (Gloucs) from 12th-13th June & 6th July into August, Ham Wall RSPB (Somerset) from 20th June to 15th July (up to 3 individuals), Bough Beech Reservoir (Kent) from 13th-16th July and at Seeswood Pool, Nuneaton (Warks), from 19th July to 5th August. At the end of the year, a juvenile roosted in Riverside Park, Burnham-on-Crouch (Essex) on 30th December.
In the first winter period, singles were noted in Cornwall, Devon, Buckinghamshire, County Down and County Waterford, with a spate of migrants in early March and April. Up to 3 remained at Dungeness (Kent) in May and June, with 2 summering at Tacumshin Lake (Co. Wexford) and non-breeders at Huntspill (Somerset) on 9th June, Brading Marshes (Isle of Wight) on 9th June and Whitley Bay (Northumberland) on 1st July. What appeared to be a family party then appeared at Frampton-on-Severn (Gloucs), with 3 birds present from 27th July to 5th August, and other post-breeding youngsters at Susworth (Lincs) on 3rd-5th August and at Marsh Farm, Sidlesham (West Sussex), from 31st July into September. A further influx of at least 8 individuals took place in September and October, with 2-3 in the Dungeness & Rye Harbour areas staying into 2015.
The only record of the year involved a near-adult at the north end of the Ouse Washes RSPB reserve (Cambs) on 9-10th June.
CHINESE POND HERON
Only the second-ever for Britain – a first-winter – frequented garden ponds and utility ponds in Hythe (Kent) from 20th January before being shot sometime in mid March.
GREAT WHITE EGRET
Further breeding took place in Somerset this year with at least 4 young fledging, while wintering numbers in the first winter period averaged 43 birds and 57 birds in the second, Dungeness once again attracting up to 12 individuals.
Another poor year with the odd spring migrant (on St Mary’s, Scilly, on 25th March, at Millbrook, Cornwall, on 2nd-3rd April, Kinsale, Cork, on 13th April, Dungeness, Kent, on 22nd April & 1st-2nd May, Kenfig Pool, South Glam, on 30th April, St Martin’s, Scilly, on 9th-11th May and in Cornwall, Pembs, Scilly & Suffolk in May). In mid-summer, a handful of sightings, with singles on Skomer (Pembs) on 11th June, Dale (Pembs) on 13th June, Ham Wall RSPB (Somerset) on 18th June, Clodgy Point, St Ives (Cornwall) on 22nd June and Blashford Lakes HWT (Hants) on 4th July. Late summer saw one move from Oulton Broad (Suffolk) on 26th July to Claxton (Norfolk) later the same day then onto Salthouse, Cley and Blakeney Point (Norfolk) on 1st August before moving inland to Sculthorpe Fen, Fakenham (Norfolk), where it was last seen on 5th September; elsewhere, others were seen at Glynde (East Sussex) on 3rd August and North Curry Moor (Somerset) on 3rd & 6th August, with a long-staying juvenile at South Huish Marsh (Devon) in September. In November, a juvenile showed well on Anglesey at Capel Gwyn near Valley from 18th-25th November.
One drifted slowly over Whixall Moss (Salop) on 28th April, with one then passing from west to east over Colwyn Bay (Denbighshire) and sites in Gtr Manchester, Yorkshire and North Lincs during 20th-26th May. Elsewhere, singles were seen in Sussex on 27th May, the Outer Hebrides on 31st May, North Devon on 31st May and at a number of sites in East Anglia on 3rd-5th June and then at Newby (Yorks) on 10th June. At the latter enmd of the year, a juvenile bearing a white German ring flew over St Osyth (Essex) on 15th November before being relocated at Trimley Marshes (Suffolk) on 15th-16th. It was then seen in flight over Hazelwood Marshes (Suffolk) on 17th November, Waxham (Norfolk) on 20th November and Bradwell, Great Yarmouth (Norfolk) on 24th November.
In the first winter period, some 25 or so individuals were present in Britain and 5 in Ireland, with most remaining until June. At one location (Frampton Marsh RSPB in Lincs), a pair bond was established between two birds with nest-building resulting but no nesting activity following. By the end of the summer, some 16 individuals were still semi-resident but by December, just two were to be found – in Cambridgeshire and in County Waterford.
AMERICAN WHITE IBIS
A juvenile of unknown origin was present at Sevenoaks NR (Kent) from late November into 2015. An adult was recorded within a tree-nesting colony of Spoonbills, herons & egrets in The Netherlands in summer 2014, perhaps that recorded in east Kent in previous years.
A pair frequented kale crops at Boyton Marshes (Suffolk) throughout December but were found to have originated from a private collection near Wickham Market.
ROSS’S SNOW GOOSE
In Lancashire, the first-winter of unknown origin remained with Mallard at Marshside Marsh RSPB until at least early January. In autumn, a regular adult reappeared from Greenland/Iceland with Pink-footed Geese, roosting in Aberlady Bay (Lothian) on 27th-29th September.
An adult remained with Pink-footed Geese in the Solway Firth at Loaningfleet (Dumfries & Galloway) until 22nd April with that regularly wintering on the South Coast with Dark-bellied Brent Geese at Keyhaven Marshes and Needs Ore Point (Hampshire) from 13th-18th January. An additional first-winter then appeared on the Solway in early March, that bird being last reported on 15th. The Hampshire adult moved to Poole Harbour (Dorset) on 30th March, before moving east to Stanpit Marsh, Christchurch Harbour (Dorset) from 31st March to 3rd April and migrating east with Brent Geese past Seaford Head and Birling Gap, Beachy Head (East Sussex) later on 3rd April. In November, an adult was with Greylag Geese in the Loch of Harray/Tormiston area of Orkney from 10th-25th.
Few records of substance during the year other than a pair in Pagham Harbour (West Sussex) from January to March and again during August to December, a pair at Pitsford Reservoir (Northants) from late June through December and a female at South Huish Marsh (Devon) in November-December.
AMERICAN WOOD DUCK
A drake, considered to be of Nearctic origin, was on South Uist (Outer Hebrides) on 27th-30th March.
AMERICAN BLACK DUCK
The regular County Mayo drake was on the Mullet peninsular at Termoncarragh and Sruhill Loughs until at least early May with that other in Highland at Loch Sunart at Strontian again with Mallard from 6th February to 26th March.
In the first winter period, 5 were present (including one in Ireland) with singles in spring on Tiree (Argyll) on 21st April to 9th June and 5 others in Scotland and the Northern Isles. In autumn, the first 3 appeared in September (Loch Leven on 23rd-28th, Sanday, Orkney, from 29th to 2nd October and in County Donegal at Inch lake from 30th) followed by 10 in October and at least 3 more in November.
A drake was at the Loch of Bosquoy (Orkney) on 18th January, with a regular bird near Threave (Dumfries & Galloway) from 15th February to 1st March. A migrant drake touched down briefly at Stanwick GP (Northants) on 1st April, with others in spring at The Shunan (Orkney) on 13th April, Sandwich Bay (Kent) on 22nd-29th April and at Beamish’s Pool, Clonakilty (Co. Cork) on 27th May. The Orkney drake then flew south to spend most of June (14th-28th at least) at the RSPB’s Loch of Strathbeg reserve in Aberdeenshire.
An adult drake of unknown origin was at Fen Drayton Lakes RSPB (Cambs) from 15th March to 4th April before moving NE to the Ouse Washes where it was last reported on 3rd May.
The almost resident drake of unknown origin was reported from Kingfisher Lake, Blashford (Hants) until 6th March and then again from 10th November into 2015. Another regular bird, a female, returned to Minsmere RSPB’s Island Mere (Suffolk) from 26th March to 1st April, with a drake at Dagenham Chase (London) on 30th March & 2nd April. The Minsmere female then reappeared again from 20th August to 7th September, with a first-winter female at Brogborough Lake (Beds) from 11th-20th November and a female at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs) from 29th December into 2015..
In the first winter period, regular drakes in Cardiff Bay at the Wetlands NR and Cosmeston Lakes (East Glamorgan) until 4th March, Loch Watten/St John’s Loch (Caithness) until 5th March and on Dozmary Pool, Bodmin Moor (Cornwall) until 9th April, with females on South Uist (Outer Hebrides) until 9th February and at Alturlie Point, east of Inverness (Moray) until at least 30th March; additional birds included a drake at Tittesworth Reservoir (Staffs) from 14th January to 27th April, Holme Pierrpont (Notts) on 23rd-24th April, Ingbirchworth Reservoir (South Yorks) on 8th May and at Frodsham Marsh (Cheshire) from 26th May to 19th June. Summering drakes then included singles at Sandbach Flashes (Cheshire) on 16-17th June and Blagdon Lake (Somerset) from 28th June to 6th July, with singles noted just briefly at Loch Leven (Perth & Kinross) on 8th July, Tittesworth Reservoir again on 10th July and at Musselburgh (Lothian) on 17th July. By the second winter period, regular drakes were being seen at Blagdon Lake and Chew Valley (Avon) from 7th August and Cardiff Bay from 4th September, with a nasal-saddled drake from Portugal at Llangorse Lake (Powys) from 7th October into 2015, a female on Tiree (Argyll) from at least 11th-30th October, a drake at Wraysbury GP (Berks) from 29th October to 6th November
In Ireland, the usual drake was on Lough Gill (Co. Kerry) until March & from 22nd October, with that or another at Lough Gara (Co. Sligo) on 29th March and a female at Rahasane Turlough (Co. Galway) on 12th October.
Apart from 1 or 2 regularly wintering birds on Shetland and those in Aberdeenshire and Moray, two different females were present off Lothian, frequenting the coastline between Fidra and Gullane Bay into March; the usual Ythan Estuary drake reappeared on 25th April, with another lingering off Burghead almost into May. In Ireland, one remained at Blacksod (Co. Mayo) until 4th April, with another at Cahermore (Co. Cork) to 9th March, with a further record from Narin Strand and Portnoo (Co. Donegal) from 17th-26th March. The second winter period saw very much the same returning birds, including the female to Ruddon’s Point, Largo Bay (Fife), from 30th November.
NORTH AMERICAN BLACK SCOTER
An adult drake was with Common Scoters off Redcar (Cleveland) on 16th-18th June, with it or another off Lunan Bay (Angus & Dundee) from 20th-31st October.
No less than 22 regular wintering birds in the first winter period (including up to 8 drakes off of Old Colwyn, North Wales) with a widespread influx in the second winter period, perhaps involving up to 30 birds.
An adult drake visited a small quarry pool at Holm (Orkney) from 31st October to 2nd November.
SHORT-TOED SNAKE EAGLE
Most probably the highlight of the twitching year: a first-summer was located at Morden Bog, Dorset, on 31st May and roosted overnight, delighting well over a thousand observers the following day; it then relocated to the New Forest where it was seen at Bishop’s Dyke, Beaulieu Road Station (Hants) on 8th June before moving on to pastures equal in reptilian prey within Ashdown Forest (East Sussex), intermittently throughout June and early July. At this latter location, upwards of 3,500 birdwatchers visited to savour the delights of this majestic raptor – the first-ever to have been twitchable on the UK mainland. It was belatedly photographed at Thursley Common (Surrey) on 12th July, after having returned to the New Forest for 3 days in the interim, before relocating to Norfolk Breckland, where it was to spend just under a month in the Grime’s Graves area from 19th July to 17th August.
A pale morph drifted south over Sandwich Bay Golf Course (Kent) on 25th May.
Virtually none was twitchable in 2014 other than an adult bearing a white ring in Suffolk in June to November, presumably an escape from captivity. Perhaps 7 arrived typically in March to May, flirting briefly with the South Coast in most cases.
A female-type was photographed flying north over Portland Bill (Dorset) on 21st April.
Another highly productive autumn with juveniles noted on Foula (Shetland) on 31st August, 17th & 19th September, Fair Isle on 8th-17th September, Easington (East Yorks) on 15th September, Hillwell/Spiggie areas of south Shetland mainland from 17th-21st September, Tingwall Airport (Shetland) on 1st & 4th-5th October, Blakeney Point (Norfolk) on 18th-19th September, South Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 19th & 29th September, Minsmere RSPB & Thorpeness (Suffolk) on 21st September, Fetlar (Shetland) on 7th October, Loch of Strathbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire) on 8th October and at Steart WWT (Somerset) from 22nd October until 7th November, the latter being particularly popular and reliable.
A widespread influx took place in Britain in autumn involving up to 44 juveniles, with 25 or more remaining into the New Year.
A poor spring with just 2 in May (first-years at Portland Bill, Dorset, on 3rd and at Summerleaze GP, Berks, on 6th) and just one twitchable bird in summer – a first-summer at Porthgwarra (Cornwall) from 27th June to 1st July). Late summer saw the appearance of two more – both equally brief – at Hickling Broad (Norfolk) on 12th July and Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk) on 31st July.
A couple of white morph first-winters were seen in January (at Gairloch, Highland, on 1st and at Stromness, Orkney, on 2nd) with another at Wick (Caithness) on 5th February and further birds at Quarff (Shetland) on 27th February and on North Uist (Outer Hebrides) on 28th March.
LADY AMHERST’S PHEASANT
In Bedfordshire, 5 males were still surviving along the Greensand Ridge in 2014; the last female recorded was in 2001!
One reappeared on St Mary’s (Scilly) in Lower Moors on 2nd-3rd February and again on 4th-10th April.
An adult female visited Black Hole Marsh, Seaton (Devon) on 4th-5th September, with a popular juvenile male at Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk) from 4th-13th October.
A calling male was at Oare Marshes (Kent) on 22nd-23rd May.
AMERICAN PURPLE GALLINULE
In Ireland, a first-summer male was found freshly dead on the Mullet peninsula at Carne (Co. Mayo) on 2nd February.
A first-winter attracted large numbers of visitors at Loch Flemington (Moray) from 5th January, remaining until 14th April when seemingly paired with a local Moorhen! AQt the latter end of the year, two more were discovered: a first-winter on Lough Gill (Co. Kerry) from 5th November into 2015 and another at Loch nam Feithean, Balranald RSPB, North Uist (Outer Hebrides) from 16th November into 2015.
Single first-winters were noted at West Bexington (Dorset) on 18th November, on the East Guldeford Levels, Rye (East Sussex) on 29th November and at Fraisthorpe, SSW of Bridlington (East Yorks) on 31st December to 1st January 2015. Despite the purposeful release of up to 750 birds in NW France since 2005, popular belief is that these 3 (unringed) stragglers were more likely related to the small influx experienced in Bulgaria following harsh conditions further east.
A bumper year which saw at least 5 pairs attempt to breed in Britain (several successfully) and a single flock of 10 individuals on the Isle of Wight and in Kent. The first to appear were the aforementioned party of 10 at Brading Marsh on 12th April, followed by a pair at Bowers Marsh & Old Hall Marshes in Essex on 12th-17th April, the 10 at Dungeness (Kent) on 24th April (at least 2 remaining into mid May), a pair at Medmerry RSPB (West Sussex) from 29th April and singles at Sandwich Bay (Kent) on 2nd May, Chard Junction (Dorset) on 4th May, Lodmoor RSPB (Dorset) on 5th May and Titchfield Haven NNR (Hants) on 6th May. Well publicised breeding took place in West Sussex and North Kent, but was less trumpeted for pairs in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and elsewhere – at least 9 juveniles fledged. Subsequent family parties included 5 in Bracklesham Bay, Sidlesham Ferry & Pulborough Brooks RSPB (West Sussex) from 29th July to 15th August and 6 at Cavenham Pits (Suffolk) from 19th July to 9th August.
In Ireland, singles were also recorded at Finnemore Lakes (Co. Offaly) on 28th May and Clogheen & White’s Marshes (Co. Cork) on 30th-31st May, with a bird in autumn at Doonbeg (Co. Clare) on 23rd August.
A confiding first-summer was present on the golf course at Northam Burrows (North Devon) from 21st-30th April while in late summer, a moulting adult-type loafed on Minsmere RSPB’s East Scrape (Suffolk) from 15th-27th July before flying north to Ashington Pond (Northumberland) next day.
A bird in non-breeding plumage arrived with post-breeding Lapwings to Hauxley (Northumberland) on 12th June, relocating south to Saltholme Pools RSPB (Cleveland) on 13th June and Hurworth Burn Reservoir (Co. Durham) on 5th-7th July. It then continued south, where it appeared at Gibraltar Point NNR (Lincs) briefly on 14th July, Cley NWT Reserve (Norfolk) on 15th July, Stiffkey Fen (Norfolk) on 16th-17th July and finally the Ouse Washes RSPB Reserve (Cambs) from 19th July to 9th August. A different individual was photographed in Cuckmere Haven (East Sussex) on 30th July, shortly later flying south out to sea.
Another very poor year with singles in April at Dawlish Warren NNR (Devon) on 18th & 2nd-3rd May, Gibraltar Point (Lincs) on 19th, Rye Harbour NR (East Sussex) on 26th, Dawlish Warren again on 15th May and on the island of Skye (Highland) at Dunvegan on 23rd May. The only occurrence in the autumn was of a juvenile at Crymlyn Burrows on the Gower Peninsula on 18th-20th October.
PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER
Adults in breeding plumage appeared on North Ronaldsay from 23rd July to 16th August and Middleton Lakes RSPB (Staffs/Warks) from 26th July to 2nd August.
AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER
One was seen at Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 1st March, with another at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) on 1st June. In autumn, one visited Tarmon Hill on the Mullet (Co. Mayo) on 1st July before a succession of deep Atlantic lows saw the arrival of 15 or more in Britain & Ireland from mid September onwards, including a particularly confiding juvenile on Davidstow Airfield in October.
An adult in near full breeding plumage was present on Breydon Water (Norfolk) from 13th-15th July, the first to be recorded in the county.
One was photographed at the Alkborough Flats NR (North Lincs) on 16th May, followed by singles at Nosterfield GP (North Yorks) on 25th-26th May, Holy Island (Northumberland) on 30th May, Cowpen Marsh (Cleveland) on 2nd June. On return passage, perhaps the same bird was on Jackson’s Marsh/Tennyson’s Sands, Gibraltar Point NNR (Lincs) briefly over high tide on 29th July.
A bird was in Cornwall at two different locations on 15th-16th May before a ridiculously confiding adult in breeding plumage graced Covenham Reservoir’s concrete bank (Lincs) from 19th-21st May. In late summer, one roosted over high tide at Kilnsea (East Yorks) on 7th August, before continuing south to Far Ings NR (Lincs) on 12th and Swalecliffe Beach (Kent) on 16th August.
In the first case of over-wintering in the UK, one was present on North Uist (Outer Hebrides) from 30th December 2013 to 11th March. In spring, singles appeared at Burton Pidsea (East Yorks) on 29th April, while in autumn, an adult graced Aust Wharf, Frampton-on-Severn (Gloucs) from 28th-30th August.
One visited Foula (Shetland) from 24th-27th September while another was trapped & ringed during a lamplit ringing session near Llandindrod Wells (Powys) on 9th October.
Although none reliably occurred in Britain, Ireland saw two arrive in September with singles at Cross Lough (Co. Mayo) on 26th-27th and at Lenadoon Point (Co. Sligo) on 27th.
The first adult appeared at Tacumshin Pools (Co. Wexford) on 9th-10th July, to be followed by further adults at Cresswell Pond (Northumberland) on 26th July, Gibraltar Point NNR (Lincs) on 28th July to 8th August, Pool of Virkie (Shetland) on 29th-30th July, Snettisham Pits (Norfolk) on 31st July to 1st August, Rush Hills Scrape, Hickling NR (Norfolk), on 1st-9th August, Frampton Marsh (Lincs) on 2nd-3rd August, Pilmore Strand (Co. Cork) on 17th August, Tiree (Argyll) on 31st August, Lough Neagh (Co. Antrim) on 16th-21st September, Blanket Nook (Co. Donegal) on 21st September, South Uist (Outer Hebrides) on 5th October
A spring adult was on South Uist (Outer Hebrides) on 24th May, while a juvenile was photographed at Keyhaven Marshes (Hants) on 19th-20th September.
Singles were on Westray (Orkney) on 16th-18th May, Cowpen Marsh (Cleveland) on 2nd-6th June and in autumn at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) in October – the worst showing of this North American wader in Britain & Ireland in over 50 years.
A first-winter overwintered in Hampshire at Lepe Country Park and was last reported on 15th April whilst exceptional for the Home Counties, an adult in breeding plumage graced College Lake BBOWT reserve (Bucks) all day on 5th May. There then followed a spate of spring migrants with singles at Beadnell Flash (Northumberland) on 8th-10th May, The Lizard (Cornwall) on 10th-14th May and on Benbecula (Outer Hebrides) on 11th May moving to South Uist on 17th May. The autumn period saw another good showing, with singles at Frampton Marsh (Lincs) from 11th-26th July, Loch of Strathbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire) on 29th July, Croft Pascoe Pool (Cornwall) from 29th August to 4th September, Normandy Marsh (Hants) on 5th-9th September (relocating to nearby Titchfield Haven NNR from 11th-29th September), Blanket Nook (Co. Donegal) on 6th-19th September, Skomer (Pembs) on 11th-12th September (then at Marloes Mere on 15th-17th), Rogerstown Estuary (Co. Dublin) from 1st October into 2015, The Gearagh (Co. Cork) on 2nd-5th October, Copperhouse Creek, Hayle Estuary (Cornwall) from 21st October to 2nd December, Moyasta Creek, Poulnasherry (Co. Clare) from 27th October into 2015, Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour (Dorset) on 8th December and at Pett Level (East Sussex) from 25th December into 2015.
One remained in the Duncormick area of County Wexford from 7th-14th October.
A long-staying bird remained at Sruhill Lough on Achill Island (Co. Mayo) from mid January until 23rd April, with spring migrants in breeding plumage in Britain on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 2nd May, Farmoor Reservoir (Oxfordshire) on 7th & 10th-12th May, Draycote Water (Warks) on 7th May, Unst (Shetland) on 15th-16th May and at Potteric Carr (South Yorks) on 18th May. Mid-summer, a spotted adult made a surprise visit to Baron’s Haugh RSPB (Clyde) on 6th July, remaining in the area for a week, while in autumn, a juvenile remained in Inverallochy Bay (Aberdeenshire) from 19th October into 2015.
An adult moulting out of summer plumage (and presumably the same adult visiting the UK for over 10 years) appeared at Swim Coots/Rush Hills Scrape, Hickling Broad (Norfolk) on 11th-12th July before relocating to Cresswell Pond and Druridge Pools (Northumberland) from 29th July to 13th August. Whether or not it was the adult then present at Tacumshin Pools (Co. Wexford) on 2nd-3rd September is open to conjecture, this individual then ranging east to Lady’s Island lake on 10th and Rosslare Back Strand on 12th-13th before moving north to the Swords Estuary (Co. Dublin) on 4th-7th September.
A regular bird reappeared at Pennington Marshes (Hampshire) from 20th January to 15th April with a migrant at Dungeness RSPB (Kent) briefly on 1st May. In autumn, an adult visited Lough Boora Parklands (Co. Offaly) from 18th-25th August.
The bird first seen on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) earlier in the autumn of 2013 reappeared there briefly on 7th-10th January.
An adult in breeding plumage was photographed from the Parrinder Hide on the Titchwell RSPB scrape (Norfolk) on 26th May, the bird remaining on view for just less than an hour.
Two regular adults appeared in January at Dawlish Warren NNR (Devon) and at Lochgilphead in Argyll, with that in Cardfiff Bay showing up regularly during February and March. Elsewhere, an adult was in Thurso Harbour (Caithness) on 25th-27th February and in neighbouring Scrabster Harbour on 11th March with migrants in spring at Dingle Harbour (Co. Kerry) on 23rd April, Marsh Lane NR (West Midlands) on 1st May, Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs) on 5th May, Tacumshin Lake (Co. Wexford) on 8th-11th May (with 2 on 5th) and at Bowling Green Marsh, Topsham (Devon), from late April until 21st June; one also visited Tresco Great Pool (Scilly) on 19th June. In late summer, an adult reappeared at Oare Marshes (Kent) from 17th July to 7th September, with that on the NE coast back at Cleadon (Co. Durham) on 21st August, moving back to Whitburn on 11th-13th September. The Dawlish Warren adult returned on 19th October, with singles noted on the Farne Islands on 23rd November, the Rising Sun Country Park (Northumberland) on 29th November and back at Loch Gilp (Argyll) from 1st December.
NORTH AMERICAN HERRING GULL
A first-winter was identified at Burry Holms on the Gower on 5th-6th January with another in Cobh Harbour (Co. Cork) on 2nd February, while further singles appeared at Campbeltown Harbour (Argyll) from 15th February to 15th March, on the Mullet (Co. Mayo) from 17th February to 23rd March, Cruisetown Strand (Co. Louth) on 2nd March and Portmagee (Co. Kerry) on 9th-25th March.
An adult visited Nimmo’s Pier, Galway Harbour (Co. Galway) on 8th February
An immature was photographed at Dungeness Beach (Kent) on 12th October.
One was seen at Salthill (Co. Galway) on 4th January with another at North Bull Island (Co. Dublin) from 15th-28th January and further singles at Kinsale Marsh (Co. Cork) from late February to 9th March, Ringsend (Co. Dublin) on 7th-27th February and Lady’s Island Lake (Co. Wexford) on 20th February. In Britain, first-winters were seen at Leighton Moss RSPB (Lancs) on 9th February and at Aberavon (South Glamorgan) on 9th-16th February. What was perhaps the latter individual was relocated at Bowling Green Marsh RSPB, Topsham (South Devon) in May, the bird surviving on the freshwater pools until most likely dying of a virus on 2nd August.
A juvenile was photographed in Mirfield (West Yorks) on 27th-28th December, roosting nearby on Pugney’s Country Park Lake, Wakefield, on 28th.
Following the marked influx during December 2013, a juvenile attracted large numbers of admirers at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) from 8th-24th January with another at Cromane (Co. Kerry) on 30th-31st January. At the year’s end, a juvenile appeared on Benbecula (Outer Hebrides) on 13th December, showing well in the vicinity until 18th. A second juvenile then appeared in Uig Harbour, Skye, on 23rd December, affording views down to a few feet there at the end of the pier until 31st.
A first-winter was at Ballycotton Pier and surroundings (Co. Cork) from 18th January, remaining all year, while further records involved an adult on Fair Isle on 19th June and at Kilcoole (Co. Wicklow) on 22nd June.
A first-winter was on Canna (Highland Region) from 18th January until 12th April, with further singles at Crofty (Glamorgan) on 18th April, Saltburn (Cleveland) on 21st April and Llanelli WWT (South Wales) on 23rd-28th April. In late summer, an adult roosted with Black-headed Gulls on Breydon Water (Norfolk) on 1st August, relocating to Cley NWT Reserve, where it pre-roosted on 6th, 13th & 15th-16th August. What was possibly the same adult was then seen roosting each evening at Ibsley Water, Blashford Lakes HWT (Hants) from 19th October until 25th November.
The only record of the year concerned an adult at Ynys-las Point (Ceredigion) on 12th May.
An adult visited Loch of Hillwell (Shetland) on 4th-5th June, with another over high tide at Exmouth Seafront (Devon) on 5th August.
The first for Fair Isle was present from 16th-19th June before relocating back to Inner Farne (Northumberland) from 20th June to 8th July, where it had spent the previous summer. After departing the famous seabird breeding islets, the bird was then seen flying north past Port Seton (Lothian) on 9th July and North Berwick (Lothian) on 10th July before moving south past Whitburn (Co. Durham) and Seaton Carew (Cleveland) on 13th July. An adult flew west past Pendeen Watchpoint (Cornwall) on 21st October.
The usual returning wintering adult was in County Galway at Nimmo’s Pier and environs erratically during January to April with perhaps the same off the Mullet at Elly Strand (Co. Mayo) from 16th January to 23rd March. In midsummer, what was presumably the same bird was off Inishroo, in County Galway, on 9th June, with it or another off Dundalk Docks (Co. Louth) from 14th-28th September. Two months later in November, an adult was at the Rogerstown Estuary (Co. Dublin) from 15th October to 4th November, with the regular bird off Kinvarra Pier on 23rd November and back at Nimmo’s Pier from 28th November onwards.
WHITE-WINGED BLACK TERN
An influx occurred in April and May involving perhaps 13 individuals, including 3 long-staying birds at Balranald RSPB on North Uist, while in summer, single adults visited Cemlyn Bay (Anglesey) on 16th-18th June before moving east to Seaforth NR (Merseyside) later in the afternoon on 18th. In late summer, moulting adults appeared at Abberton Reservoir (Essex) on 11th-14th July and Saltholme Pools RSPB (Cleveland) on 12th & 26th-28th July before 5 or 6 juveniles appeared in September. A very late adult was discovered at Rye Harbour NR (East Sussex) in October, showing daily until 30th.
A small influx occurred in late April with singles being noted at Rockland Broad (Norfolk) on 24th, Otmoor RSPB (Oxfordshire) on 25th and at Minsmere RSPB & Walberswick (Suffolk) on 26th, whilst in Ireland, an adult at Aghills Lake, Skibbereen on 1st-2nd May relocated to Lough Aderra and Ballybutler Lake on 4th-7th May and Ballyhonock Lake (all Co. Cork) on 11th-13th May. In June, one visited Loch Brusda, Berneray, North Uist on 3rd-4th.
GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO
2014 was an excellent year for this spectacular species with a first-summer at Giltar Point (Pembs) from 11th-23rd March, another at Branscombe (Devon) on 4th April and a long-stayer on The Lizard (Cornwall) from 24th April to 9th May. In Ireland, one was at Barna (Co. Galway) on 9th May.
A mobile first-winter was present at Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 23rd-24th October.
The first in over 30 years was seen briefly on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 23rd October.
EURASIAN EAGLE OWL
Despite constant persecution, the small breeding population in the UK remained constant at about 13-15 pairs.
One appeared at Exnaboe (Shetland) on 14th February with the usual male from St Kilda on North Uist at Grenitote on 10th-11th May and on Benbecula until 23rd May. As summer progressed and the snow melted on the Cairngorm Plateau, the regular male reappeared on Ben Macdui in early June, being regularly reported by hillwalkers and birdwatchers alike until at least 29th September, while much further north in Caithness, an immature performed well at a windfarm site from 15th October until 6th November.
EURASIAN SCOPS OWL
In the Northern Isles, this Iberian vagrant made landfall on North Ronaldsay’s Holland House garden on 15th-16th June then on Yell (Shetland) on 24th June (presumably the same bird involved in both sightings).
One flew through Spurn Point (East Yorks) on 31st May, with another reported at Portland Bill briefly on 7th June. There then followed a very poor autumn for this species with just two records – at Kilnsea on 16th October and Flamborough Head on 20th October.
Most probably the worst spring on record with not a single bird seen in the general peak period of mid March to mid April. Much later in May, what was most likely the same individual appeared on Unst on 24th May, Marwick Head (Orkney) on 26th-27th May and Birsay (Orkney) on 26th-29th May.
One remained close to the Butt of Lewis at Europie, Lewis (Outer Hebrides) from 23rd-25th October.
Following a sprinkling of sightings in April and May, a widespread influx continued into June, with numerous records from Argyll, Cambs, Cheshire & Wirral, Cleveland, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hants, Kent, County Kerry, Norfolk, Pembs, Scilly, Sussex & Yorkshire. As a result of one roaming party of 5, successful breeding took place on the Isle of Wight in July, with at least 9 juveniles fledging from two nests on the Wydcombe Estate in August. A total of 12 birds lingered at Brading Marsh until 16th September.
One was seen briefly at Sandwich Bay (Kent) on 12th May with one briefly in Ireland at Drinagh (Co. Cork) on 16th November.
One made landfall on Fair Isle on 22nd May.
GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK
In spring, noted at Burniston (North Yorks) on 20th April, Fair Isle on 27th April (3 birds, two to 2nd May & 1 to 11th), North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 5th-6th May and on St Mary’s (Scilly) on 6th-11th May . Just over a dozen appeared in autumn, with most appearing on Shetland and Scilly.
One showing characteristics of the North American form was present on South Uist (Outer Hebrides) on *****
EURASIAN CRAG MARTIN
The highlight of the spring for many was the first twitchable bird this millennium at Flamborough Head (East Yorks) on 11th-13th April
A fairly widespread influx in spring involved at least 45 individuals from County Durham to County Cork. Just one was recorded in autumn – on wires at Dungeness Bird Observatory (Kent) on 6th November.
AMERICAN BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT
One remained at the edge of the saltmarsh at Burton Marsh (Cheshire) until 15th February, while another (in full breeding plumage) was photographed at Cockersand Abbey (Lancs) on 4th May
Singles were noted at Flamborough Head (East Yorks) on 11th-19th April, Scarborough (North Yorks) on 24th April, Northam Burrows (Devon) on 18th May, Howden’s Pullover (Lincs) on 8th June, St Margaret’s-at-Cliffe (Kent) on 30th-31st August, Portland Bill (Dorset) on 17th September and on St Agnes (Scilly) on 8th October. A late but showy individual was at Newhaven Tide Mills (East Sussex) from 7th-11th October.
Although no more than 35 appeared between late September and early November, an unprecedented 12 or more stayed to overwinter, including at least 3 near Hinckley Point in Somerset and 2 in Wykeham (North Yorks).
A first-winter was identified on St Mary’s Airfield (St Mary’s) on 5th-6th October, with further singles at St David’s Head (Pembs) on 18th November and at Calder Park, near Pugney’s CP (West Yorks) from 8th December into 2015.
A wintering bird was discovered in gardens in Leiston (Suffolk) on 15th February and was seen very erratically over the next 5 weeks. Equally unusual was a spring migrant on Unst (Shetland) on 2nd May. Autumn came early for this species with singles being noted at Gibraltar Point NNR (Lincs) on 17th-20th September, North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 18th-20th September, Wells Woods (Norfolk) on 19th-22nd September, Kilnsea (East Yorks) on 20th-21st September, Fair Isle on 21st-22nd September, Deerness (Orkney) on 1st October, Sullom Plantation (Shetland) on 3rd October, 27 in Shetland, Fair Isle & Orkney during 6th-15th October, Wells Woods again in late October, Deerness again on 10th November, Toab (Shetland) on 17th November and on Fair Isle from 19th November to 2nd December.
One visited Bryher (Scilly) on 25th April, with further adults in spring on the Farne Islands (Northumberland) on 20th May and on Unst (Shetland) on 1st June. Calling flyovers in autumn included singles at St David’s (Pembs) on 18th September, Gibraltar Point NNR on 20th September, St Mary’s (Scilly) on 30th September and over Spurn Point on 4th October, Foula on 13th October, Norby (Shetland) on 16th October, St Mary’s (Scilly) on 26th-29th October & 5th November, St Agnes (Scilly) on 29th-31st October, Sennen (Cornwall) on 9th November, while a first-winter performed well on Fair Isle from 20th-24th September and 13th-20th October.
This year, the only records were that of singles on Unst on 22nd-25th September, North Ronaldsay on 30th September & 8th October and at Kergord Plantation (Shetland) on 11th October.
A male was discovered on Fetlar (Shetland) on 25th May.
In spring, singles were noted at Wallasea Island (Essex) on 29th April, Virkie (Shetland) on 1st May, Portland Bill (Dorset) on 11th May, Unst (Shetland) on 23rd May and on Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) on 25th-26th May. Most unusual was a male at Balnakeil Craft Centre (Sutherland) on 18th-19th June. A further 10 appeared in late August/September, mostly in Scotland and Wales, with a very late first-winter in Bridlington (East Yorks) on 5th-9th November.
A bird was photographed at Holme (Norfolk) on 26th April but its visit was extremely brief.
Very small numbers were recorded in Britain in the first winter period with even less in the second.
The only ‘Sprosser’ of 2014 was that heard only at Portland Bill (Dorset) on 13th June.
A stunning male delighted allcomers at Levenwick (Shetland) from 3rd-8th October.
In the first case of its kind, a first-year male successfully overwintered in a South Gloucestershire valley at Shire from 3rd February to mid March. Come the autumn, another typical showing, with singles at Sumburgh Head (Shetland) on 19th September, Dale of Walls (Shetland) on 12th October, Fair Isle on 13th-16th October, Warham Greens (Norfolk) on 13th October, Stiffkey Meals (Norfolk) on 14th October, Geosetter (Shetland) on 3rd-17th November and Voe (Shetland) on 8th-9th November. An eighth individual was discovered in Ireland – in Tarmon, The Mullet (Co. Mayo).
EASTERN BLACK REDSTART
First-winter males were discovered in Scalby (North Yorks) from 29th November to 3rd December and on Scilly at Shark’s Pit, Porthmellon, St Mary’s, from 30th November into January 2015.
A confiding first-winter remained at Seaton Snook from 23rd-27th November constituting the first record for Cleveland and County Durham.
A very good showing with eight recorded, with singles on Skomer (Pembs) on 28th October, Reculver Beach (Kent) on 6th-9th November, Lowestoft North Links (Suffolk) on 6th-9th November, Gorleston-on-Sea (Norfolk) on 7th-14th November, Montrose (Angus) on 16th-19th November, Porthgwarra (Cornwall) from 26th November to 9th December, Winterton Dunes (Norfolk) on 5th-7th December and on The Lizard (Cornwall) on 7th December.
Just one record: a first-winter male at Haroldswick, Unst, from 1st-9th November.
A first-winter was on Holy Island (Northumberland) from 19th-22nd September, followed by singles at Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 27th October, Titchfield Haven (Hants) from 16th-24th October, Seaview (Isle of Wight) on 6th-10th November, Torness (Lothian) on 16th-20th October, Spital Point (Northumberland) on 8th-11th November, Whalsay, Fetlar & Hoswick in late October and at Cleadon (Co. Durham) from 12th-22nd November.
A presumed first-winter stejnegeri was on Fair Isle from at least 1st-6th October.
A beautiful male made a prolonged stay on Fair Isle from 27th April to 31st May.
One was at Norwick, Unst (Shetland) on 28th September, with another in Ireland at Loop Head (Co. Cork) on 4th-5th October.
An influx of five with singles on Barra (Outer Hebrides) on 23rd October, North Ronaldsay on 23rd October, Fair Isle on 24th-25th October, Fetlar on 29th October and at Rerwick (Shetland) on 8th-10th November.
One visited Fair Isle from 13th-16th May with another on North Uist near Balranald at Ard an Runair on 22nd-23rd October.
Shetland once again attracted this stunning Asiatic vagrant, with singles at Durrigarth from 29th September to 1st October and on Fair Isle on 4th October.
A first-winter female was trapped at Scousburgh (Shetland) on 15th October and found to be the same bird ringed in Norway earlier in the autumn on 24th September.
Following hard on the heels of its last record, North Ronaldsay played host to this stunning Asiatic thrush on 30th September.
An exceptional year with perhaps 120 recorded including several inland records (Blows Downs, Dunstable, as an example) and the latest-ever on record – a first-winter in Portland Bird Observatory Garden (Dorset) until 26th December.
In Ireland, one was present on Dursey Island (Co. Cork) from 20th April to 14th May.
A very showy (and very popular) singing male remained on territory in sueda at Burnham Overy Dunes (Norfolk) from 2nd-18th June.
WESTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER
The first to appear was a male at Pagham Harbour (West Sussex) on 21st April, quickly followed by further singles at Exnaboe (Shetland) on 24th-27th April, Fair Isle from 27th April to 2nd May, 3rd-11th May & on 8th May, St Abb’s Head (Borders) on 28th-29th April, Portland Bill (Dorset) on 1st & 3rd May, Out Skerries (Shetland) on 2nd May, Holme (Norfolk) on 5th-6th May, Unst (Shetland) on 7th May, Spurn Point (East Yorks) on 28th May, Fair Isle on 13th June and North Ronaldsay on 17th-18th June. In autumn, further singles appeared on Lundy Island (Devon) on 18th August, Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 10th-17th October, Foula on 13th-15th October and on St Mary’s (Scilly) from 1st-4th November.
EASTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER
Single males were at Spurn Point (East Yorks) on 20th May and Blakeney Point (Norfolk) on 28th May, whilst in autumn, first-years were identified at Landguard NR (Suffolk) on 29th August to 4th September, on Unst (Shetland) from 22nd September to 3rd October (two individuals) and at Carne/Churchtown (Co. Wexford) on 11th November.
An appalling year and further proof of the stark predicament this Polish/Estonian breeding species is in. Just two reports: Lytchett Bay in Poole Harbour (Dorset) on 25th July and at Nanjizal on 9th September.
Just two this autumn, the poorest showing in many a year: Fair Isle on 22nd September and Quendale Burn on 7th-8th October.
PALLAS’S GRASSHOPPER WARBLER
One was trapped & ringed at Titchfield Haven NNR (Hants) on 6th September.
Reeling males were heard at Radipole lake RSPB (Dorset) on 17th April & 22nd May, Newport Wetlands NR, Uskmouth (Gwent) from 24th May to 8th June, Loch of Strathbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire) from 29th May to 17th June, Wicken Fen (Cambs) on 4th June and at Walberswick NNR (Suffolk) on 5th-15th June.
BLYTH’S REED WARBLER
Unprecedented numbers, perhaps indicating a westward expansion in range; in spring, singing males at Quendale Burn (Shetland) on 19th May, Foula (Shetland) on 24th May, Burniston Long Nab (North Yorks) on 25th May, Skomer Island (Pembs) on 26th May, Fair Isle on 27th May, Sollas Plantation, North Uist, on 27th May, Whalsay (Shetland) on 28th-29th May, Out Skerries (Shetland) on 28th May, Dungeness Trapping Area (Kent) on 28th May, Wanstead Park (London) on 29th May, Girdleness (Aberdeenshire) from 31st May to 1st June, Cemlyn Bay (Anglesey) on 31st May, Whitburn (Co. Durham) on 1st June, Cley Village (Norfolk) on 3rd June, Spurn Point (East Yorks) on 6th June, Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) on 7th June, Scatness (Shetland) on 13th-14th June, Virkie Willows (Shetland) on 13th-14th & 22nd June and on Fair Isle on 13th and from 25th-28th June, the latter the same as the second Virkie bird.
In the autumn, a further showing with singles identified on Fair Isle on 14th & 16th August, Unst on 21st August, Foula on 25th August, near the Ythan Estuary (Aberdeenshire) on 30th August, trapped & ringed on Orfordness (Suffolk) on 30th August, Bryher (Scilly) on 2nd September and on Fetlar (Shetland) on 22nd September.
Just four autumn records: Nanjizal Valley (Cornwall) on 31st August, Whalsay on 1st September, North Ronaldsay from 4th-10th September and on Fair Isle on 5th September.
GREAT REED WARBLER
A reasonable spring with deafening singing males at Lackford Lakes (Suffolk) on 5th May, Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs) on 13th-14th May, Walberswick (Suffolk) on 16th May, Green Park, Reading (Berks) on 22nd May, Gibraltar Point NNR (Lincs) on 23rd May, Chew Valley Lake (Avon) on 24th-25th May, Saltfleetby (North Lincs) on 25th May, Swining (Shetland) on 3rd-7th June, Cresswell Pond (Northumberland) on 4th June and Sandwick (Shetland) on 8th June. In September, one reached Bressay (Shetland) on 20th.
A further decline in numbers with Portland Bill Bird Observatory recording its first of 3 on 2nd August, while elsewhere, singles were on St Mary’s (Scilly) on 2nd-4th August and 12 more between 16th August and 26th September. Late records involved singles on Out Skerries (Shetland) on 6th October and on Skomer (Pembs) on 10th October.
Singles noted on Whalsay (Shetland) on 10th-15th August, Burray (Orkney) on 30th August, St Agnes (Scilly) on 11th September, Peninnis Head, St Mary’s (Scilly) on 20th September and at Torness Power Station (Lothian) from 11th-23rd October.
WESTERN BONELLI’S WARBLER
One was trapped and ringed at Portland Bill Bird Observatory (Dorset) on 16th August, with others following at Content, St Mary’s (Scilly) on 29th-30th August, Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) on 31st August, Kelling School (Norfolk) on 7th-9th September and at Nanjizal (Cornwall) on 15th September. Bonelli’s Warblers that failed to call and perhaps are best treated unidentified included singles in Aberdeen on 4th September, on Cape Clear Island (Co. Cork) on 10th September and in Kenidjack Valley (Cornwall) on 19th-20th September.
EASTERN BONELLI’S WARBLER
A calling bird showed well at Newbiggin-on-Sea (Northumberland) on 3rd May, with another at Scalloway (Shetland) from 10th-13th October.
A singing bird was at Grimston (East Yorks) on 13th April, with another on Rousay (Orkney) from at least 22nd June to 27th July.
An elusive individual was at Great Barr (West Midlands) from 25th February to 17th March, with a slightly easier bird near Oulton Broad at Carlton Marshes (Suffolk) from 19th March to 17th April. Towards the end of the year, singles were noted at Reculver (Kent) on 15th October, East Hills, Wells (Norfolk) on 15th October, on the Farne Islands (Northumberland) on 30th October to 1st November, Voe (Shetland) on 9th November, Holkham Pines (Norfolk) on 9th November, Portland Bill (Dorset) on 12th-16th & 19th-20th November, Hollesley Marshes (Suffolk) on 15th-18th November, Landguard NR (Suffolk) on 16th-20th November, Boyton Marshes (Suffolk) on 20th November , Kelynack (Cornwall) from 16th November to 9th December, StMary’s (Scilly) on 19th November and on Tresco (Scilly) on 23rd-24th November.
The first of the autumn was one that was exhausted on Sumburgh Head (Shetland) on 6th October, followed by a further 15 of which 11 were discovered between 11th-17th October.
A fair showing with singles in autumn on Fair Isle on 22nd August & 22nd September, on Foula on 29th August & 3rd-5th September, on Whalsay on 1st-3rd September, at Hoswick (Shetland) on 20th September, at Sandness (Shetland) on 21st-22nd September, at Mizen Head (Co. Cork) on 21st-22nd September and in Church Cove, The Lizard (Cornwall) on 30th September. The last to be found was at Donna Nook (Lincs) on 11th-14th October.
EASTERN CROWNED WARBLER
The third for Britain was near Brotton (Cleveland) from 30th October to 1st November.
An excellent spring with no less than 11 found between 27th May and 7th June, including singles in Dorset, Durham, Fair Isle, Lincs, Lothian, Norfolk, Northumberland, the Outer Hebrides, Pembrokeshire, Somerset & Suffolk. The singing male in Lothian (at Tyninghame Bay) remained on site for several weeks, being last heard on 22nd June. Early autumn saw one arrive on Fair Isle on 6th August to be followed by a further 26 between 26th August and 19th September, scattered widely across the country but including 9 in Norfolk, 5 in Shetland, 2 apiece in the Outer Hebrides, County Durham, Suffolk and Yorkshire and singles in Gwynedd, Cork, Northumberland and Scilly.
PALLAS’S LEAF WARBLER
One overwintered in pines in east Kent at Folkestone, being seen from 24th January to 22nd February. Small numbers followed in October, with perhaps 15 in total, mostly in Norfolk. This was in stark contrast to a major arrival of Yellow-browed Warblers.
HUME’S LEAF WARBLER
Singles overwintered at Dungeness Trapping Area and Ramsgate Churchyard (both Kent) until 21st April & 29th March respectively, with another on a trading estate at Coleshill (Warks) from 25th January to 10th March. In autumn, just four, with singles at Voe (Shetland) on 19th-23rd October, Bawdsey (Suffolk) on 15th-17th November, Loch of Strathbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire) on 16th November and at Whitley Bay (Northumberland) on 22nd-24th November.
A widespread influx took place in September involving at least 89 individuals, including 15 or more in Norfolk and 13 on Shetland.
A cracking male showed well at St Abb’s Head (Borders) from 28th-30th April, with further singles on Tiree (Argyll) on 27th May and Fair Isle on 28th-29th May.
One was seen briefly at Stodmarsh (Kent) on 2nd January to be followed by 2 there from 15th February to 3rd March. Another was then seen at Shapwick Heath NNR (Somerset) on 16th February. At the end of the year, autumn passage was noticeable, with singles at Strumpshaw Fen (Norfolk) on 11th-12th October & 18th-19th November, St Mary’s (Scilly) on 14th October, Titchwell (Norfolk) on 18th-19th November, Snape (Suffolk) on 25th October, 2 at Minsmere (Suffolk) on 25th November, Ouse Fen (Cambs) on 4th December, Cotswold WP (Gloucs) on 6th December and 100 Acre Pit, Bedford (Beds) on 28th-29th December. A party of 3 remained at Darts Farm & Bowling Green Marsh, Topsham (Devon) from 5th December into 2015.
DAURIAN ISABELLINE SHRIKE
An adult female lingered on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) from 15th-20th September, with first-winters at warham Greens (Norfolk) on 14th-17th October, Kilnsea (East Yorks) on 15th-17th October, Worth Marsh, Sandwich (Kent) on 16th October and at Pendeen (Cornwall) from 9th-12th November.
Following a spring/summer that saw less than 6 birds arrive, the autumn proved no better with just two more – a first-summer female at Prestwick Carr (Northumberland) on 1st September and a juvenile at Dawlish Warren NNR (Devon) on 8th September.
A juvenile remained at Kilnsea (East Yorks) from 20th September to 2nd October.
SAXAUL GREY SHRIKE
A particularly confiding and entertaining first-winter delighted thousands of visitors to Burnham Norton during 5th-16th October; it represented the first record for Norfolk.
LESSER GREY SHRIKE
In the far northeast of Shetland, a first-year summered at Baltasound, Unst, from 16th June to 6th July, while in autumn, an adult female was at Hollesley Marshes (Suffolk) on 6th-7th September and another was on Biggleswade Common (Beds) on 10th October.
The overwintering first-year was on St Mary’s (Scilly) until 4th February while 13 birds appeared in late May/early June, predominantly in the southwest. In the autumn, 26 arrived during September and October, predominantly juveniles, widely scattered from Shetland to Scilly.
SCANDINAVIAN ARCTIC REDPOLL
One was present at a Macclesfield garden feeder (Cheshire & Wirral) from 8th-30th March, with another photographed at Water’s Edge CP (Lincs) on 6th-7th April.
HORNEMANN’S ARCTIC REDPOLL
A first-winter was at Veensgarth (Shetland) from 26th September to 5th October.
Following the unprecedented invasion in 2013, large numbers continued to remain into 2014, with at least 35 birds in the Forest of Dean (Gloucs), up to 4 at Lynford Arboretum (Norfolk), a male in Hemsted Forest (Kent), 3 in the Wyre Forest (Salop) and up to 10 at Broomhead Reservoir in South Yorkshire. Many continued into April, with several males in the Forest of Dean in full song, speculating that breeding could have taken place. In June, up to 7 were discovered in the woodlands of Tyninghame Bay (Lothian), showing daily up until 11th.
CONTINENTAL PARROT CROSSBILL
As with the previous species, a bonanza of sightings late in 2013 saw large numbers overwintyer, with 13 or more at Holt Lowes (Norfolk), 14 at Budby Common (Notts), up to 13 at Mayday Farm (Suffolk Breckland), 10 in Tunstall Forest (Suffolk) and 9 in Ashdown Forest (West Sussex)
One made landfall on Mizen Head (Co. Cork) on 27th September.
Following a deep Atlantic depression, singles were discovered at Sumburgh Head (Shetland) on 25th September, Loop Head (Co. Clare) on 27th September, Firkeel (Co. Cork) on 28th-29th September, Achill Island (Co. Mayo) on 3rd October, Low Newton-by-the-Sea (Northumberland) on 7th October and at Walney Island Bird Observatory Garden (Cumbria) on 4th November.
One was seen for just under an hour at Easington (East Yorks) on 2nd November.
Most unexpected was a wintering bird discovered on the High Shincliffe housing estate (County Durham) on 27th January, with enterprising local birders keeping it there with a constant supply of coconut until 16th February when it perhaps succumbed to either a Sparrowhawk or the cold. Equally out of the blue came a female on North Ronaldsay on 6th May, relocating to Unst (Shetland) on 7th-8th May. The third for the year (and Shetland) was a first-winter at Virkie Willows & Grutness from 29th September to 1st October.
A male visited Landguard NR (Suffolk) on 19th June (where it was trapped & ringed), incredibly the same day as one inhabited a garden feeder by the Otter Ferry in Argyll.
An elusive first-year was trapped & ringed on Barra (Outer Hebrides) on 6th-7th October.
An overwintering bird was present at Lea Marsh (Lincs) from 28th February to 9th March, followed by spring migrants at Holme (Norfolk) on 27th April, Hilbre Island (Wirral) on 28th April, Fair Isle on 29th April & 9th May, North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 3rd May, Loch of Hillwell (Shetland) on 12th May and on Fair Isle on 16th May. Unprecedented numbers (for Shetland) appeared in September, perhaps involving 25 individuals.
A male was on Fetlar (Shetland) on 9th May, followed by further singles at North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 21st, Skaw, Unst, on 21st, Iona (Argyll) on 27th, Out Skerries (Shetland) on 30th, Happisburgh (Norfolk) on 30th, on Tiree on 2nd June and on St Mary’s (Scilly) on 14th June. A male oversummered on Shetland, surviving post-moult on Unst from 5th August until at least 2nd October, while further singles appeared in autumn, including first-winters on Brownsman, Farnes (Northumberland) on 15th-19th September, Filey Carr Naze (North Yorks) on 17th-18th September and the last on St Agnes (Scilly) on 9th October.
Another poor showing with just 5 records in spring and 11 in autumn.
A corking male was present on Fair Isle from 27th April to 2nd May, incidentally found within an hour and a stone’s throw of a Caspian Stonechat.
Following a male on Skomer Island (Pembs) on 21st-24th May, a male was seen in Cromer (Norfolk) on 26th May and a female at West Runton (Norfolk) from 28th May to 1st June. Autumn saw a further two, with first-winters at Sumburgh Head (Shetland) on 4th September and on Out Skerries (Shetland) on 29th September.