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Rare Bird Alert weekly round-up: 06 - 12 Feb 2013

Artiklen er tilføjet af MBH torsdag 14. februar 2013 kl. 08.19. Læst 1607 gange
Af Rare Rird Alert
The week's highlights:
Drake Baikal Teal graces County Wexford
With the Northern Harrier still there too and another is reported on Orkney
Shetland’s Pine Grosbeak continues to draw southern admirers
Cork’s baby American Herring Gull remains to the weekend
And Kerry’s gull questions resolved
While the American Coot sticks in Galway for another week
Cornwall’s Pacific Diver pops up again too

It stayed cool and breezy this week - a chilly, raw, rather cutting easterly breeze ensuring that it never really felt properly warm as the week drew to a close. Prior to that, there’d been more snow, along with heavy rain to make it a rather miserable affair for many in terms of the weather. There’d been sunny spells, but they were few and far between as a grey shroud of cloud covered many areas and it didn’t seem very nice out there.

However, in terms of the birds, there was more than enough to keep the chills at bay and a new arrival in Ireland kept February’s tempo nice and high.

Headline birds
After all the fun and games last week, things calmed down a little (but only a little) for much of the new week but the discovery of another belter helped to keep the blues at bay.

What could be Ireland’s second, Wexford’s second and Tacumshin’s second drake Baikal Teal was discovered in the Forgotten Corner on the afternoon of 8th and although still present there the following day doesn’t seem to have been seen since.

It was only three years ago, that a drake Baikal Teal was present at the same site, at an almost identical time of year (the 2010 bird was present from February 19th-23rd and followed on from a Baikal Teal-like hybrid there earlier in the same year) and duly became the first record for Ireland - there’s no sign yet of acceptance for the drake that spent January 29th – February 8th 2006 at Belfast Lough RSPB.

The likelihood of the 2013 Tacumshin bird being the same individual as in 2010 isn’t necessarily that high, but it is possible of course, so we’ll go down the route of this being a new bird and an outstanding find at this extraordinary site.

Birders visiting this weekend had the chance of seeing not only a mega Eastern duck but also the still-present juvenile female Northern Harrier, an American Wigeon, five Common Cranes with, nearby, the adult Long-billed Dowitcher on Lady’s Island Lake.

Admittance to the British List has been something of an on-of affair where Baikal Teal is concerned. For many years a presumed juvenile or first-winter female seen on Fair Isle in September and October 1954 was on the list as Britain’s first-ever record of the species and was followed by a drake in Essex in late November 1970 and a goose-poo eater at Caerlaverock in February 1979. By the middle of the 1990’s all three birds had been removed from the Category A column and the species was back in limbo.

Interest in this most beautiful of far-off ducks spiked dramatically when a first-winter drake appeared at Minsmere RSPB in November 2001 - the bird stayed until almost the end of the year, allowing all interested parties the chance to take out another one for their assorted insurance lists. This was followed in 2002 by a three day drake in Oxfordshire (another December record) and then things got interesting.

Analysis of stable-hydrogen isotopes was carried out on a Danish corpse and the results published in 2007 suggested that the bird in northern Europe was a likely contender for vagrancy and was accepted as a “Category A” equivalent by the Danish Records Committee. On the back of this news, the BOURC instigated the same research work on the feathers of a first-winter drake Baikal Teal shot in Essex in 1906. Here too the results were similar to those of the Danish bird, indicating the strong likelihood of natural vagrancy and with further research in to the status of captive birds at the turn of the 20th Century and the Essex bird’s age and moult cycle, the green light was given for admittance to the British List.

Minsmere’s drake became Britain’s second, the Oxfordshire bird became the third and, since then, we’ve had a fourth - again in Essex - when a superb juvenile male was seen for a few hours at Chigborough on October 2nd 2010.

As with other gorgeous mega-ducks (Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead, Marbled Duck, Falcated Duck, Wood Duck to name a few) we know that there are rogue escapes at large but the real deals are surely reaching us - the case for the last three still seems hard to prove at national committee level but regular readers of this review will remember that the green light has already (perhaps rashly?) been shown for the recent one-day only drake Wood Duck at Tacumshin, seen on December 2nd last year. It really is some place.

On Shetland’s north Mainland, the first-winter male Pine Grosbeak continued to perform for visitors, although he wasn’t always that easy to find as he continued to move around the Collafirth area. Seen daily to 10th at least, there seemed to be no suggestion that he was in a hurry to depart the islands anytime soon - but then came negative news from 11th. Was it just a case of proving really tough to track down with only a few people looking or has the bird surprised us all by departing weeks before we expected? It would appear to have been the former, he was back in situ, at Collafirth, on the afternoon of 12th.

…and there’s no doubting that he proved as photogenic as he did throughout last week.

Staying in the Northern Isles, news emerged late on 12th of a presumed juvenile Northern Harrier on Mainland Orkney, seen on “several days” around Deerness during the month and on 11th, it was at Tankerness. The bird has been photographed and is purported to show a solidly dark brown hood, plain orange body and wing linings. So far, so good for what could be a first for Orkney (a bird photographed on North Ronaldsay a few autumns ago remains on observer-limboland).

Back over to Ireland, where the juvenile/first-winter American Herring Gull was still present around the fish factory at Baltimore (Co. Cork) on the morning of 9th while in County Kerry, at Cromane, the bird widely touted by assorted American birders as being an outstanding candidate for a first-winter Glaucous-winged Gull (some even saying it was a nailed-on, perfect one) was seen again on 7th-8th and again on 12th, and opinion (unsurprisingly) swayed away from the mega option towards the bird just being a Kumlien’s Gull. The original photos did suggest a potential Kumlien’s influence (the notion of a possible Kumlien’s X American Herring Gull was touted here) but new images seem to suggest that it may well be have been a Kumlien’s with no other elements involved.

No debate could possible surround the first-winter American Coot, present for another week at Murlach, near Ballyconnelly to 12th while the same date also saw the reappearance of the Pacific Diver off the seafront at Penzance, in Mount’s Bay (Cornwall), the first confirmed sighting since the middle of December, although it may have been seen in the middle of January.

>>> Read the rest of the round-up here <<<
(illustrated with photos, videos and maps)


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