Rare Bird Alert weekly round-up: 05 - 11 September 2012
Artiklen er tilføjet af MBH torsdag 13. september 2012 kl. 10.31. Læst 619 gange
The week's highlights:
Britain’s third Semipalmated Plover discovered on the Outer Hebrides
Last week’s juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher lingers in Dorset…
…while a new juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher arrives on Scilly
London’s first Baillon’s Crake makes an appearance at Rainham
Suffolk’s Spanish Sparrow continues to play cat & mouse with his admirers
Cork’s fifth and sixth Azorean (Yellow-legged) Gull of the autumn found over the weekend
It seems hard to imagine how on earth you can top last week’s crop of high, high quality birds. The legend of the Black Skimmer will be talked about for years to come and although there was nothing touching the chutzpah of such a bird over the past few days, there were three super new arrivals to make sure there was still plenty to think about, talk about and go and see…..
As expected, the tail end of last week’s shorebird arrivals rolled on in to a new week but as the weather settled down and the temperatures rose one last time (the southeast of England climbing to 27 or 28 degrees as the weekend ended) it seemed that perhaps that was that. Not so! Waders continued to appear, along with some high quality passerines too and the week concluded with a pulse of autumnal weather that caused a little bit of a seabird commotion….
After all the Nearctic shorebird arrivals towards the end of last week, there seemed every reason for more this week - and the best bird of the past seven days was indeed exactly that - another Nearctic shorebird of the highest order, and it became yet another outstanding find for long-term rarity magnet John Kemp.
The initials JBK have peppered county bird reports and rarity reports for well over three decades now - to the Nu Skool of birders and listers it may be an unfamiliar name, but to the members of the old school, those three initials will be instantly familiar.
This week, that trio of little letters unearthed yet another brilliant find - Britain’s third Semipalmated Plover on the beach near South Glendale on South Uist (Outer Hebrides) from 6th.
Here, John takes up the story of this supreme discovery....
While having a walk with my wife near my home at South Glendale, South Uist during the late afternoon of 6th September I heard a distant brief, unfamiliar bird-call about 3-400 yards away in the locality of some small rocky islets interspersed with sand and muddy areas. As I had no scope or wellington boots with me and it was getting late I decided to investigate the following day.
I arrived at the locality around 1.45pm on the 7th having spent part of the morning searching for, and eventually locating an elusive Spotted Sandpiper on the west coast. Within a few minutes I heard a distinctive ‘Chu—weee’ call coming from a nearby ‘Ringed’ Plover only 50 yards away on the sand. I had barely settled down to ‘scope what I realised had to be a Semipalmated Plover when it took off calling and disappeared eastward around a headland, fortunately returning within a minute or so and starting to feed.
A certain amount of panic set in as I realised I would need decent views and some reasonable images to have any hope of substantiating this find. The waders here are generally not too wild as they get used to people cockle picking and today was no exception. As I slowly inched forward the plover walked towards me and fed in an unconcerned manner down to just 10 yards range. After a spell of digiscoping and satisfying myself on a number of important identification criteria I headed up a nearby hill to get a phone signal and spread the news to local birders. Much to my relief an hour later six of us, including Steve Duffield and Andrew Stevenson were grilling the bird at point blank range.
The Semipalmated Plover was a juvenile and the identification was based on a number of features:
Firstly the distinctive call, rather like a Spotted Redshank, is a good starting point and quite different from Ringed Plover.
The webbing between all toes was clearly seen, this in itself a clinching feature but it requires very good views.
It was slightly smaller and slimmer than Ringed Plover.
The supercilium was duller, narrower and shorter than that of most Ringed Plover. This was a useful pointer in narrowing down the search.
The white throat extended very slightly up the sides of the bill to above the gape producing a narrow white wedge. This was easily seen when the bird was close but not possible to see with any conviction at longer ranges.
The breast-band was complete, noticeably narrow and of even width when the bird was in normal feeding mode. It was blacker than on any juvenile Ringed Plover. These features are well depicted in a number of images and were the BEST FEATURE BY FAR for picking out this individual at any range from juvenile Ringed Plover.
The bill was short, stubby and slightly blob-tipped, all black under most viewing conditions, but at very close range showed a very small, slightly paler area at the base of the lower mandible.
The brown feathering of upperparts and crown had very narrow pale fringes, on this individual no bolder than that found on Ringed Plover. The upperparts were marginally darker than most Ringed Plovers though not as dark as the small Arctic race tundrae. A small, very dark juvenile of the latter race was also on the beach.
Legs very dull and difficult to determine the colour in the poor light. Probably a drab greenish yellow, though a brighter diffuse line of yellowish running all the way down the back of legs. I’m sure in sunny conditions they would look brighter.
A narrow eye-ring was not visible in the field, possibly because of the dull conditions, though it shows on some images. The fact that Ringed Plovers can also show eye-rings renders this feature pretty useless for identification purposes anyway.
I have tended to neglect this little bay near my home in favour of the more reliable wader sites on the west coast. I think that will change.
John’s super-showy juvenile, still present on 10th, was the first to reach British shores since the returning bird at Dawlish Warren in April to September of 1997 and the spring of 1998 (from the end of March to mid May).
The Dawlish bird, a first-summer when it appeared, was a puzzle that took some time to unravel, but eventually stayed long enough for local perseverance to win out and secure a top class bit of ID work.
Then you come to those moments of near disbelief….this year’s big bird, the Western Orphean Warbler, didn’t warrant shock and awe ~ it was a huge bird yes, 30 years of waiting unblocked in a May day, but it was always on the horizon, however distantly.
Britain’s first record of Semipalmated Plover, was found and identified by another rare-finding legend, Paul Dukes, on the beach at Periglis on St. Agnes (Scilly) during October 1978, the bird staying for just over a month, being last recorded in the second week of November.
Ireland has one accepted record of this tough-to-nail little wader - a two day bird in County Donegal, on Arranmore Island in October 2003, with another is waiting in the wings from last autumn - the well-documented (and well-twitched) bird around Ventry Harbour, in County Kerry, from 24th September to 15th October.
There have been several other rumours, reports and claims of Semipalmated Plover in the last decade or so, a two-week bird in Cornwall last year for instance, a bird in Argyll in 2007 and also one on the very same island as this one, back in 2001 - and last week came a decent sounding potential Semipalmated Plover in Highland - but none have come to any sort of acceptable fruition.
The Nu Skool listers who didn’t cross the Irish Sea last autumn should doff their collective listing caps to the sharp-eyes of John Kemp - he’s chalked up another outstanding find, one that nestles nicely alongside a couple more in JBK’s top drawer - there’s Britain’s first Yellow-browed Bunting, at Holkham, in the legendary “Sibe autumn” of 1975 and also Britain’s second Two-barred Greenish Warbler, in Wells Woods, in October 1996. That’s some going for anyone, and they are just for starters….
In Dorset, one of last week’s, indeed one of 2012’s, most significant finds, the juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher continued to oblige at Lodmoor RSPB throughout the week (albeit a little haphazardly, the bird going missing on site a few times during its stay).
The All of the bird’s finer points could be admired, discussed and inwardly digested, and with decent views, there really wasn’t too much of a problem in putting a name to this lovely looking wader. Any lingering doubts at the start of the round-up period were swiftly put to bed as more images came to light and it was a case of “chillax” and enjoy this second for Britain.
Hot on the heels of the Dorset bird, admittedly a significant distance to the north, but certainly of note, came Sweden’s first Short-billed Dowitcher, another delightful youngster found at Utlängan on 6th and then, incredibly, like the proverbial bus, came Britain’s third Short-billed Dowitcher - found on Tresco during the morning of 9th…..
Initially seen from a wildlife cruise, the bird was (like the Dorset indivdiual) first though to perhaps be a Long-billed Dowitcher, but before too long (and after a few photographs were checked) it became another juvenile Short-billed, a first record for Scilly and the second in Britain within seven days. Captured beautifully by local lenses, the bird remained around the southeast end of the island to 11th.
This extraordinary early push of Nearctic waders has already produced three megas in the past week or so, as well as (for early September) a varied array of more familiar species….next up Western Sandpiper maybe. Or something better of course….
Leaping from RSPB reserve to another and its off to Rainham Marshes where the discovery of a juvenile Baillon’s Crake on 7th caused a bit of a commotion for those with a London list (a first live record for the capital’s recording area) and for those who didn’t score the elusive singing male on Anglesey earlier this year.
This elusive species remains tricky to connect with and the Rainham bird proved to be tough to catch up with, showing only during the early morning of 8th and again briefly the following morning, before performing better in the heat of the day and again, off and on, through the rest of the week.
Earlier this summer there was considerable consternation at the revelation that up to nine birds were found at five sites around Britain and Ireland during a nationwide Spotted Crake survey, including seven singing males at just three sites. How far had this particular juvenile Baillon’s Crake travelled? With the warm air and agreeable winds from the southeast, it may well have been a continental drifter, but there remains the tantalising prospect that this may actually be a British raised youngster….how cool is that?
At Landguard Point, the male Spanish Sparrow continued to play games with his potential admirers for several days this week - showing in the late afternoon/early evening of 6th, the early morning and late afternoon/early evening of 7th and then again around the same time on the early evening of 8th, 9th and 10th.
In County Cork, the ever-increasing haul of presumed Azorean (Yellow-legged) Gull grew by two over the weekend - a near-adult seen at Clonakilty, heading towards Clogheen during the late afternoon of 9th with another, also a near-adult, on the same day, at Owenahincha. In London the possible atlantis (or hybrid) was still around Rainham during the early part of the week.
Meanwhile, much more of last week's news in the full round-up online including;
Semipalmated Plover stats and facts
Baillon's Crake, Short-billed Dowitcher and Citrine Wagtail videos
Stunning photos of Spotted Crake and Cory's Shearwater
>>> Read the rest of the round-up here <<<
(illustrated with photos, videos and maps)
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