Rare Bird Alert weekly round-up: 13 - 19 Feb 2013
Artiklen er tilføjet af MBH mandag 25. februar 2013 kl. 09.06. Læst 727 gange
The week's highlights:
Stunning drake Harlequin Duck on the Western Isles
Pied-billed Grebe found in Somerset
Pine Grosbeak increasingly lonely on Shetland
Pacific Diver again in Cornwall
Two Black Ducks still in Cork
American Coot still in Galway
Snowy Owl graces Fermanagh
Northern Harrier hangs on in Wexford
The winter’s chill hold finally broke this week, although a band of snow affected central parts on 13th. Behind it came suddenly mild conditions and temperatures of up to around twelve degrees for some. It was not to last, however. By 19th a Scandinavian high pressure was fully in charge and a strengthening easterly flow and increasing cloud cover ensured that temperatures were soon heading all the way back down again. Common birds responded well to the rapidly lengthening days and the suddenly mild conditions but these are early days indeed for spring rarities. Thoughts of Great Spotted Cuckoos and Red-rumped Swallows will have to wait a while yet!
The outstanding discovery of the week was a true winter bird - a beautiful drake Harlequin Duck on the sea off Balranald, North Uist, Western Isles on the afternoon of 18th and still present in the early evening of 19th. This is of course an outstanding rarity with only 17 records to the end of 2011, only 11 of which have been since 1950. As might be expected, many of these have been drakes but, sadly, most recent birds and almost all twitchable ones have been brown. The first of these was on Islay, Argyll in October 1987, with others at Wick, Highland from February to May 1991, 2 at Girvan, Ayrshire in April 1996 and on Lewis, Western Isles from January to May 2004. The only twitchable drake was a first-winter at Sullom Voe, Shetland in January and February 1987, the other recent drakes both being brief sightings - an ‘age uncertain’ bird off Fair Isle, Shetland on 15th October 1999 and an adult drake off St. Kilda, Western Isles on 18th June 2007. If this North Uist bird lingers, it will be deservedly popular.
Until news of the Harlequin Duck, the best bird of the week had been a smart-looking black-throated, white-spectacled and black bill-banded Pied-billed Grebe at Ham Wall, Somerset. First found on 15th, it was confirmed next day and remained until 19th. Following the county boundary reorganisation, this becomes the first for Somerset. The nearby bird (Britain’s first) which frequented both Chew Valley and Blagdon Lakes between 1963 and 1968 is now attributed to Avon. Though not a real ‘top-drawer’ rarity, Pied-billed Grebe is still a rare bird with only 39 British and 10 Irish records to the end of 2011. Records are increasing, however, and many have been long-stayers, ensuring that this is not a hard species to catch up with.
Otherwise, this week’s list of star birds was an increasingly familiar one. Top of the pile was the Pine Grosbeak still in its remote pine clumps around North Collafirth, Shetland. Although mobile and now little looked-for, it was still present to at least 18th and presumably has the potential to linger a while longer. Signs of spring in Shetland must be few and far between at the moment.
Ireland again dominated the remaining list of major rarities, with the latest Northern Harrier still at Tacumshin, Wexford, a Snowy Owl at Pettigo Plateau, Fermanagh on 15th, the two Black Ducks still in their flooded field at Mizen Head, Cork and the American Coot still at Murloch, Galway.
Apart from the Pied-billed Grebe, the only headline-grabbing bird actually on the British mainland was the reappearing adult Pacific Diver in Mount’s Bay, Cornwall.
‘Euronews’ was sparse this week but a White-billed Diver caused waves (literally) in the Grevelingenmeer off Buinisse, Zuid-Holland from 13th to at least 18th, and a Black-throated Thrush was at Värmland, Sweden on 13th.
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