RARE BIRDS & SCARCE MIGRANTS IN BRITAIN & IRELAND IN 2015: A Review of the Year
2015 turned out to be the warmest since records began in 1890, while the El Nino effect that had influenced so much of the autumn resulted in the wettest November and December in many parts of the country, bringing unprecedented flooding to parts of Lancashire, Cumbria, Dumfries & Galloway and Aberdeenshire. In terms of bird diversity, at just 434 species for combined Britain & Ireland, 2015 was one of the poorest years this Millenium....
As in 2014, there was just a single new species for the list in 2015 – an Acadian Flycatcher at Dungeness in September. There were many other outstanding occurrencies though, favourites among many being the Citril Finch, Wilson’s Warbler, Cretszchmar’s Bunting, Hudsonian Godwit, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Great Blue Heron, Crag Martin, Rufous Turtle Dove or Greater Yellowlegs. Leading UK lister Steve Gantlett was just six species shy of the Big 600 as we entered the New Year – will 2016 see him make the magic milestone? Only time will tell.
The Systematic List that follows highlights the major ornithological rarity events that headlined during the year – a somewhat sumptuous array of lost waifs.........
The regular adult in Mount’s Bay, Penzance (Cornwall) back for its 7th consecutive winter was seen intermittently until 8th March, while that off Pendower Beach (Cornwall) was with Black-throated Divers on at least 17th-22nd February. The Mount’s Bay adult reappeared on 30th April, in full breeding splendour, gracing the bay until 4th May, before returning for its 8th winter on 26th November.
Another good year. Wintering records included singles in Bluemull Sound (Shetland) until 15th March, off Kirkabister (Shetland) until 5th March and at St Margaret’s Hope, South Ronaldsay (Orkney) until 20th March. Up to 12 were then recorded in the cold waters between Portsoy and Burghead Between 13th March and 10th May, while elsewhere in spring, at least 3 were offshore of Port Nis, Lewis (Outer Hebrides) from 16th-20th April and singles in Gruinard Bay (Highland) on 15th April, Water Sound (Orkney) again from 17th April to 9th May, Eshaness (Shetland) on 1st May and Quendale (Shetland) on 2nd May. The regular Bluemull Sound adult reappeared in Shetland on 28th October.
A tired transatlantic migrant spent the day resting on the River Severn off Berkeley Power Station (Gloucs) on 24th April before moving north overnight to Leighton Moss RSPB (Lancs), where it delighted large numbers of admirers from 25th April to 4th May.
FEA’S SOFT-PLUMAGED PETREL
A spate of sightings off SW Ireland in early August perhaps involving 4 or 5 individuals followed by one photographed 16 km SSE of St Mary’s (Scilly) on 16th August and others flying past Kilcummin Head (Co. Mayo) on 23rd August, both Flamborough Head & Scarborough (Yorkshire) on 8th September
NORTH ATLANTIC LITTLE SHEARWATER
Dave Flumm watched one for 5 minutes from 0817-0822 off Pendeen Watchpoint (Cornwall) on 29th July and then had the audacity to see another at the same site on 31st August, this one lingering less shortly.
WILSON’S STORM PETREL
Rather unusually, the first of the year was sighted 110 miles WNW of Slyne Head (Co. Galway) on 21st April. This was then followed by rather a lean autumn with singles off Mizen Head (Co. Cork) on 8th & 12th August, The Stags (Co. Cork) on 9th August, Toe Head (Co. Cork) on 9th August, Baltimore Pelagic Trips (Co.Cork) on 15th, 16th & 29th August and Bridges of Ross (Co. Clare) on 25th August. Bob Flood’s Scilly pelagic failed to reap results until as late as 14th August, recording just 1-2 birds from then until 15th September.
Undisputed record of the year involved an adult Black-browed Albatross that joined a small group of Mute Swans behind West Hide, Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk) for just a few minutes during a heavy rainstorm on 12th July. One of the most incredulous records ever! It was the same bird that has spent two summers on Helgoland in Germany.
About a dozen lucky observers watched a sub-adult pass Gwennap Head, Porthgwarra (Cornwall) from 0805-0810 hours on 28th August.
The first of the spring was unfortunately found dead at St Buryan (Cornwall) on 12th May. This was then followed by a rather confiding male on Porthloo Duckpond, St Mary’s (Scilly) from 13th May to 9th June before a barking male was located at Lakenheath Fen RSPB (Suffolk) from 16th May until 26th June. Further birds were then located in Cornwall, with a long-stayer at Tresemple Pool/St Clement from 17th-28th May and at Helston Loe Pool on 17th May. At the regular breeding site in Somerset at Shapwick Heath NNR, no less than 4 barking males were present between mid May and early July, while further records involved a male at Kirkby-on-Bain GP (Lincs) on 28th June and barking males at Old Moor RSPB (South Yorks) from 30th June to 18th August, Swillington Ings (West Yorks) on 11th-12th July and Willington GP (Derbyshire) on 2nd August.
A first-winter afforded some very fine views as it frequented the reedy edge of Castlefreke Lake (Co. Cork) from 25th November until 6th December, constituting the first-ever twitchable individual in Ireland.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON
A juvenile roosted in Nickoll’s Quarry, Hythe (Kent) from 14th-23rd January, possibly that seen at Steyning (West Sussex) on 25th January. This was then followed by an influx in early April involving at least 9 different individuals on Scilly, some of which sadly did not survive: 3-6 in the Lower Moors/Porthellick area of St Mary’s from 2nd April to at least 7th May, one on St Agnes from 3rd-9th April and 3 on Tresco on 5th April. Further arrivals then took place later in April at Marazion Marsh (Cornwall), Kingsbridge & Black Hole Marsh, Seaton (Devon), Bournemouth (Dorset), Burgh-le-Marsh (Lincs) and Attenborough (Notts), with 2 together at Kinsley (Yorks). Two remained in Cornwall into May, with up to 3 reported on the Somerset Levels throughout June. An adult was present in the Swillington Ings area (West Yorks) from 18th August to 3rd September.
In Ireland, a juvenile remained in Youghal (Co. Cork) until at least 4th February
Two remained from December 2014 at Dungeness RSPB until at least 26th April , with presumably the third from that area in December at Hamstreet (Kent) from 11th February until April and at Warehorne (Kent) on 5th-19th May, at Cooling Marshes (Kent) on 31st May and at Hersden (Kent) on 13th June. One then returned to Somerset, being seen near Trull on 25th, while further singles were noted at Rutland Water (Leics) on 16th June, both Trimley & Shotley Marshes in Suffolk on 28th June and at St Andrews (Fife) on 29th July. There then followed an almost unprecedented influx at the end of August, with a single flock of 25 birds at Brighstone (Isle of Wight) on 30th, leaving 23 at Coward’s Marsh, Christchurch (Dorset) later in the day with the additional two at nearby Stanpit Marsh. The flock then dispersed and continued inland and west, with several reaching South Wales and others appearing in Devon and Somerset. At least eight remained until the turn of the year, with at least 3 in Devon and 2 in Somerset.
The West Country saw two arrive in early May, with singles present at Polgigga (Cornwall) from 5th-12th and Prawle Point (Devon) on 9th-16th, with further arrivals from mid-month involving singles at South Milton Ley (Devon) on 13th, Beesands Ley, Slapton (Devon) on 16th-17th, Land’s End (Cornwall) on 15th-17th, Nanjizal on 15th, Goonhilly Downs on the Lizard (Cornwall) on 16th and at Marazion Marsh RSPB (Cornwall) from 6th-10th June. A long-stayer was also present on Scilly from 14th May to 3rd June, favouring Porthellick Pool, St Mary’s, with one in Ireland at Ballycotton Marsh (Co. Cork) on 22nd May and further singles at Saltholme Pools (Cleveland) on 18th & 26th June, Kirkby-on-Bain GP (Lincs) on 27th June, Cemlyn Bay (Anglesey) on 30th June and at Southease (East Sussex) on 3rd July. In October, one was seen at Nanjizal on 24th, then at nearby Skewjack on 26th.
GREAT BLUE HERON
Only the third-ever for Britain – a first-winter – remained on the Isles of Scilly from 14th April until 6th May. Initially commuting between Lower Moors and Old Town Bay, St Mary’s, on 14th-15th April, it then relocated to Bryher’s Hell Bay, where it invariably showed well from 16th-25th April. It then became even more confiding, visiting the hide pools on Lower Moors from 27th April until 6th May.
GREAT WHITE EGRET
Further breeding took place in Somerset this year with at least 6 young fledging, while wintering numbers in the first winter period averaged 52 birds and 61 birds in the second, Dungeness once again attracting up to 12 individuals and Shapwick Heath NNR at least 19.
Another below average year with just eight in spring involving singles at Drift Reservoir (Cornwall) from 20th April until 29th May, Broad Lough (Co. Wicklow) on 29th April, Bryher & St Mary’s (Scilly) on 3rd-4th May, Lodmoor (Dorset) on 12th-29th May, Rye Harbour NR (East Sussex) on 13th May, Dungeness RSPB (Kent) on 13th May, St Martin’s (Scilly) on 15th-16th & 26th-28th May (and subsequently St Mary’s & St Agnes on 14th-25th June), Kenfig Pool NR (Gower) on 19th-23rd June and Ham Wall again on 24th June & 4th July. As autumn approached, a first-summer took up residence at King’s Fleet, Felixstowe Ferry (Suffolk) from 14th July to 10th August, with one briefly at Cley (Norfolk) on 22nd July. The last of the year was at Steart WWT (Somerset) on 14th October.
One drifted slowly SW into the Wash from Scolt Head Island, Old Hunstanton and Snettisham RSPB (Norfolk) on 21st-22nd May, being reseen over Frampton Marsh RSPB, Boston and Kirkby-on-Bain GP (Lincs) on 22nd, then Midhope Moor (South Yorks) on 23rd May. One was then seen over Marloes Mere & Skomer Island (Pembs) on 25th May, making its way further east to Nantyffyllon (East Glamorgan) on 25th, Coed Morgan (Gwent) on 26th, Skomer again on 2nd June, Newton Abbot (Devon) on 5th June, both Marazion Marsh and Constantine (Cornwall) on 7th June, over Penzance, Nanjizal & Polgigga on 8th June before later flying out to Scilly, drifting west over St Mary’s and then St Agnes. It moved back to St Martin’s on 9th then Cornwall later that day, drifting once more back up country at Three Barrows. A different bird, first noted at Tuddenham St Mary (Suffolk) on 9th June, was seen at both Narborough and South Raynham (Norfolk) on 12th, while a juvenile first seen at Wenhaston Marsh (Suffolk) on 28th July was found to be one of four fledged from a nest in France, all colour-ringed. Another sibling ranged widely in the Northeast, moving from Greatham Creek (Cleveland) on 1st August to Haggerston (Northumberland) next day, with ‘F 05R’ eventually settling at Spurn Point from 3rd-10th August before relocating to Sunk Island and Stone Creek until 15th September. A separate family member kept to the south side of the Humber, visiting Blacktoft Sands RSPB (East Yorks) on 3rd August, then various localities south to Gibraltar Point (Lincs) until 1st September, perhaps even making it to Cley NWT on 5th. One was then seen at Hoveringham GP (Notts) on 4th August, before being seen over Mickleby and Wykeham Forest (North Yorks) next day while F 05P made it to Loch of Strathbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire), where it lingered from 6th-23rd August. Another (unringed juvenile) made it to the South Coast, drifting over Hythe & Dungeness (Kent) on 7th August before stalling in East Sussex, where it took up territory in Bexhill-on-Sea for several weeks, last being noted flying high out to sea on 5th September. One was also in Dorset, visiting various sites in Poole Harbour on 8th-9th August before moving west to Portland, Weymouth and various sites on The Fleet until 12th and then on to Cornwall and Wadebridge on 17th August with another in off the sea at Landguard NR (Suffolk) on 28th August being later seen at Clacton-on-Sea (Essex) that day and over Staines Moor (Middlesex) on 18th September. Sadly, F 05R was shot near Madrid on 20th September.
In the first winter period, few birds were around, with long-staying birds just in Cambs, South Devon and County Waterford. March saw a minor arrival but with just 3 individuals surviving into May. By early autumn, birds were back, with singles at Brough Airfield Marsh (South Yorks) on 1st-2nd August and at Marloes Mere (Pembs) on 1st August preceding another minor influx, including 5 birds perhaps of Nearctic rather than Iberian origin on Fair Isle for over a week or more. At least 8 birds remained into January 2016, with Ireland experiencing a major irruption in the last week of the year, with 25 or more in County Cork and Waterford..
LESSER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
A party of 4 birds originating from a 2014 Swedish reintroduction project commuted between Minsmere RSPB Levels, North Warren & Sudbourne Levels (Suffolk) from 30th December 2014 to 3rd January, before being satellite-tracked back to Belgium as harsh weather conditions on the near continent receded. A further family party from the same scheme appeared in Shetland in September, remaining for at least a month.
CACKLING CANADA GOOSE
On Islay (Argyll), 1-2 were with Barnacle Geese at Loch Gruinart RSPB and environs until 13th March, while in North Uist, one remained with Barnacle Geese on Berneray Machair until at least 9th February. At least two reappeared in mid-October, remaining into 2016.
In Ireland, a regular returning adult was with Barnacle Geese at Lissadell (Co. Sligo) until at least 20th February, returning as usual in October.
ROSS’S SNOW GOOSE
One was with Pink-footed Geese in the East Chevington/Druridge Bay area (Northumberland) from 24th January until 20th February, relocating to Stobswood until 8th March. It then returned to Scotland where it lingered in the Tullibody area (Fife) from 11th-24th March. What was presumably the same adult returned to central Scotland in November, moving with Pinkfeet to Carstairs from at least 1st-12th December.
The Orkney adult was with Greylag Geese on Stronsay on 25th January, while in autumn, an adult arrived with Dark-bellied Brent Geese and flew SW past Landguard NR (Suffolk) on 30th September.
AMERICAN BLACK DUCK
A drake visited Samson (Scilly) on 19th January, before relocating to the Abbey Pool on Tresco from 27th January to 17th April, while the long-staying Strontian (Highland Region) drake was sighted again on 19th April.
In the first winter period, at least 8 were present (including one in Ireland and 2 females together on the Gannel Estuary in Cornwall), with 5 migrant males in spring, including two drakes in Aberdeenshire. Six had returned by October
A drake, presumed to be a returning bird, was at The Shunan (Orkney) from 17th January to 12th April, while in spring, a drake remained at Donna Nook (Lincs) from 12th-28th April.
The almost resident drake of unknown origin was present at Kingfisher Lake, Blashford (Hants) until 6th March and then again from 10th November into 2015, while a female remained at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs) until 2nd March. A female was then sighted at Lakenheath Fen RSPB (Suffolk) on 21st-22nd March. In the second winter period, a ‘new’ drake appeared at Washington WWT (Co. Durham) in October, actually joining 10 or so captive Ferruginous Ducks in their pen; it remained into 2016, while a drake bearing a metal ring resided at Dinton Pastures Country Park (Berks) from 6th December into 2016.
In the first winter period, regular drakes were in Cardiff Bay at the Wetlands NR and Cosmeston Lakes (East Glamorgan) until 4th March and Dozmary Pool, Bodmin Moor (Cornwall) until 9th March, Llangorse Lake (Powys) until 28th February, with a putative at Martnaham Loch (Ayrshire) from 1st January into April. In spring, a drake visited Trimley Marshes SWT (Suffolk) on 7th April, with a female on South Uist (Outer Hebrides) from 11th-15th April, while further records involved a drake at Wintersett Reservoir (South Yorks) from 4th-17th May (interestingly the same nasal-saddled bird that had overwintered at Llangorse Lake) and a returning drake at Blagdon Lake (Avon) from 5th July. In addition to three regular drakes, first-year drakes appeared on Scilly and on Shetland in November, most remaining into the New Year.
In Ireland, the usual drake was on Lough Gill (Co. Kerry) until March (with an additional bird there from 12th-24th January) & from 22nd October, with the female at Rahasane Turlough (Co. Galway) until at least 3rd January and then further singles at Lough Pharisee (Co. Cavan) on 19th February to 30th March, Lough Gara (Co. Sligo) on 8th March to 4th May and at Castleplunket (Co. Roscommon) on 30th March. Two reappeared at Lough Gill in November, remaining into 2016.
The Ruddon’s Point Largo Bay (Fife) female was present until at least 7th April, while single drakes off Yell in Bluemull Sound (Shetland) and Burghead (Moray) were seen intermittently from January to April. The regular Aberdeenshire adult drake appeared at St Combs from 28th-31st January, with an immature drake off Maenporth (Cornwall) from 27th January until 17th March. On 5th April, the usual drake returned to the Ythan Estuary to moult/, being last reported on 20th June, with a drake at Buness, Unst (Shetland) on 7th-9th June. During the second half of the year, the usual drake had returned to Nairn by early July, with a drake off Annagh Head (Co. Mayo) on 20th September.
A very popular first-winter drake was on the River Don in north Aberdeen from 3rd January until 21st May with a female at Brora (Sutherland) from 17th February until 30th April.
NORTH AMERICAN BLACK SCOTER
An adult drake was with Common Scoters off Rossbeigh (County Kerry) from 8th January until at least 3rd April, while another was at Cheswick Sands (Northumberland) from 21st January until 26th March. The Kerry drake reappeared on 10th October, remaining into 2016.
No less than 18 regular wintering birds in the first winter period (including up to 9 individuals off of Old Colwyn, North Wales) with a widespread influx in the second winter period, perhaps involving up to 30 birds.
A first-winter drake bearing a metal ring and of unknown origin arrived with Tufted Ducks at Priory Country Park, Bedford (Beds) on 29th October but was never seen again. Three further birds, all bearing coloured plastic rings, were considered to be escapes from captivity.
A pair, assumed to be of Nearctic origin, remained on Tory Island (Co. Donegal) from 19th-23rd May.
WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLE
Away from Scotland where the centenary chick was fledged in July, vagrants included a wide-ranging 2nd-winter in Essex on 13th-15th March, relocating to Suffolk and Norfolk from 15th-23rd March. It then reappeared in Norfolk Broadland from 18th-25th April and was last seen flying north over Gibraltar Point NNR (Lincs) on 25th April.
The escaped adult bearing a white ring survived in Suffolk until at least early September while incoming migrants in spring included singles at Eastry & Bough Beech Reservoir (Kent) on 23rd March, Hayle (Cornwall) on 8th April, Kingsdon (Somerset) on 10th April, Grove (Kent) on 11th April, Minsmere (Suffolk) on 24th April, Exnaboe (Shetland) on 26th April, Kingsdon (Somerset) on 10th April, Grove (Kent) on 11th April, Minsmere (Suffolk) on 24th April, Exnaboe (Shetland) on 26th April, Kingsdon (Somerset) on 10th April, Grove (Kent) on 11th April, Littondale (North Yorks) on 23rd April, Minsmere (Suffolk) on 24th April, Exnaboe (Shetland) on 26th April, Grove Ferry (Kent) on 9th & 17th May, Ash near Sandwich (Kent) on 16th May, Titchfield Haven (Hants) on 17th May, Chelmer Park (Essex) on 25th, Rye Harbour NR (East Sussex) on 25th May, Hayle (Cornwall) on 28th May and New Holkham (Norfolk) on 1st June.
A male remained on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) from 25th September into 2016, while a juvenile lingered at Newcastle (Co. Wicklow) from 19th November to 5th December..
Following another very successful breeding season in Scandinavia/Western Russia, at least 5 made it to Shetland from 23rd August to 2nd October, with further juveniles on Fair Isle on 13th-21st September, St David’s Head then Ramsey Island (Pembs) on 22nd September, Worth Marshes, Sandwich (Kent) on 23rd September, Spurn Point on 29th September, The Burgh, Burpham (West Sussex) from 29th September to 11th October, Tarbat Ness (Highland) on 4th October, Loch of Stenness (Orkney) on 9th-11th October, Isle of May (Fife) on 10th & 12th October, Holy Island (Northumberland) on 12th October, Annagh Marsh (Co. Mayo) from 19th-30th October, Easington/Spurn on 25th October, Donna Nook (Lincs) on 27th-28th October and at Gibraltar Point NNR from 28th October until 7th November. This latter juvenile male then relocated to North Norfolk, where it roosted at Warham Greens from 15th-17th November before taking up residence at the south end of Snettisham Pits from 17th November to 7th December. It then moved inland to Abbey Farm, Flitcham, surviving into January 2016.
A widespread influx took place in Britain in autumn involving up to 22 juveniles, with 12 or more remaining into the New Year. One individual, at Holland Haven Country Park in Essex, regularly showed down to a few feet delighting large numbers of admirers.
A return to form with at least 9 reported in spring between 15th May and 24th June, with a rather confiding first-summer male at Chatterley Colliery (Staffs) from 9th July to 18th August. This latter individual then relocated to Lincolnshire, before moving north to Northumberland, before being finally shot in Cambridgeshire on its return south in September, while a flourish of juveniles appeared, including singles at Girdleness (Aberdeenshire), Flamborough Head, Gibraltar Point and Breydon Water (Norfolk), as well as two at Spurn Point.
As usual, a handful of white morph Greenland Gyrs were seen briefly in NW Ireland and Highland Region in January, with one lingering in the Lough Gill area (Co. Kerry) from 19th February to 6th March and another seen well on Inishbofin (Co. Galway) from late February until 7th April. Towards the end of the year, a juvenile white morph took up territory in the Balranald RSPB machair, showing very well on occasions.
LADY AMHERST’S PHEASANT
In Bedfordshire, 3 males were still surviving along the Greensand Ridge in 2015; the last female recorded was in 2001!
They say lightning doesn’t strike twice but James Lees hit the jackpot again when he discovered his SECOND Little Crake at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs) on 8th October. Sadly this one performed for just two hours, disappearing into an overgrown ditch after being chased by Moorhens!
The first-winter remained on Lough Gill (Co. Kerry) from 5th November 2014 until at least 2nd March with that at Loch nam Feithean, Balranald RSPB, North Uist (Outer Hebrides) from 16th November 2014 until 3rd April.
The highlight of the year for many was the first-winter female that survived until New Year’s Day in the cereal crop at Fraisthorpe (East Yorkshire). This may have been the same bird found dead on the minor road between Blofield and Strumpshaw (Norfolk) on 22nd January.
Another bumper year which saw at least 3 pairs attempt to breed in Britain (only one successfully). The first to appear was a male at Abbotsbury Swannery (Dorset) from 3rd-10th April, followed by an influx of at least 8 birds in North Kent from 14th April. A single bird lingered in West Sussex at Sidlesham Ferry Pool from 13th-17th April, while a pair visited Bowers Marsh RSPB (Essex) intermittently during 14th April until 26th May and a trio at the Nene Washes RSPB (Cambs) on 16th April. While several pairs then decided to settle on the North Kent marshes, others went on a tour of the country with one pair visiting Middleton Lakes RSPB (Staffs) on 18th April, Neumann’s Flash, Northwich (Cheshire) next day, Mickle Mere, Ixworth (Suffolk) on 13th May, Frampton Marsh (Lincs) on 27th-28th May and at Potteric Carr YWT (East Yorks) on 29th May with another lone straggler at Grainthorpe (Lincs) from 3rd-9th May. Elsewhere, singles were noted at Grove Ferry NR (Kent) on 11th-12th May and Sidlesham Ferry Pool again from 29th May to 7th June, with a pair at Sandwich Bay (Kent) on 30th May and at Fingringhoe Wick NR (Essex) on 30th June. With all four nests failing due to predation by early July, just one adult remained at Cliffe Pools (Kent) until 15th July
A bird showed distantly at Lakenheath Fen (Suffolk) from 7th-11th June.
What was presumably last year’s bird returning visited Bothal Pond (Northumberland) from 28th May to 1st June then Loch of Skene (Aberdeenshire) on 3rd June.
Another very poor year with singles at Cley NWT (Norfolk) on 25th April, Pegwell Bay (Kent) on 26th April, Steart Point (Somerset) on 2nd-3rd May, unusually north in Scotland at Dornoch (Sutherland) on 7th-10th May and at Balcomie (Fife) on 30th-31st May and at Ynyslas (Ceredegion) on 5th June. Come early autumn then a female is found at Ferrybridge (Dorset) on 3rd August, with another there on 24th September as well as one in Poole Harbour on Brownsea Island on 1st September.
PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER
A winter-plumaged bird was identified at Alkborough Flats (North Lincs) on 29th January, while an adult in partial breeding plumage graced Breydon Water (Norfolk) from 27th-30th June. A further adult was confirmed at Myroe Levels (Co. Derry) from 23rd August to 6th September.
AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER
A first-summer visited Exminster Marshes RSPB (Devon) on 23rd-24th May, with another on Tresco (Scilly) on 3rd July. The autumn period then saw no fewer than 13 reach Ireland, with others being located in Cumbria, Outer Hebrides, Orkney, Shetland and Scilly in September and in Norfolk and Leicestershire in October.
One was with Ringed Plover and Dunlin on Tinker’s Marsh, Walberswick (Suffolk) on 22nd-23rd May, with another much further north at Findhorn Bay (Moray) on 29th May. What may have been the Suffolk bird then relocated to Frampton Marsh RSPB on 9th-12th June, before returning to Snettisham RSPB (Norfolk) from 18th-26th July. A further bird was reported from Banks Lane Lake, Scorton GP (North Yorks) on 26th August.
An adult in summer plumage fed in tidal channels at Pagham Harbour (West Sussex) on 21st-22nd June, followed by singles at Burnham Deepdale (Norfolk) on 25th-29th June & 5th-7th July and Low Newton-by-the-Sea (Northumberland) on 4th July.
An adult spent just the day at Black Hole Marsh, Seaton (Devon) on 15th August, with a juvenile on Tiree (Argyll) from 29th September to 2nd October.
The first of the year arrived on Papa Westray (Orkney) on 25th-28th April, most likely relocating to North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 1st-3rd May. An adult then made it to Cley NWT (Norfolk) on 25th-26th May, most likely relocating to Frampton Marsh RSPB (Lincs) from 29th May to 12th June before returning once more to Cley from 13th-21st June. An adult was then at Kilnsea Wetlands NR (East Yorks) from 4th July to 7th August, with others at Hatfield Moors (South Yorks) on 15th July, North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 21st-24th July, South Gare (Cleveland) on 4th August, Swim Coots, Hickling Broad (Norfolk) on 9th August and a spate of fresh arrivals in autumn proper, perhaps involving at least eight individuals. The last of the year was a juvenile at Musselburgh Lagoons (Lothian) from 12th-14th November, until killed by a Sparrowhawk.
In Ireland, one visited County Derry in spring (Lough Beg on 28th-29th May), followed by singles at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) on 19th-21st July, Belfast Harbour Pools (Co. Antrim) on 27th-29th July
The first identified of the autumn was at Inny Strand, Waterville (Co. Kerry) on 19th August, witrh either that or another one there from 28th September to 1st October. Here in the UK, we mustered just one record – a long-staying but very distant bird with Dunlin on the River Severn at Slimbridge WWT (Gloucs) from 28th September to 6th November.
An adult frequented the Big Pool, St Agnes (Scilly) from 16th-24th July.
A slight improvement in fortunes but not great with perhaps 16 recorded in autumn, including a well-twitched juvenile in clifftop fields at White Nothe, Ringstead Bay (Dorset) in September. Although West Cornwall managed to muster 3 records, Scilly almost blanked out yet again with just one brief appearance!
Wintering birds included singles at Pett Level (East Sussex) until 27th February and at North Berwick (Lothian) from 1st-4th January, the former moving to neighbouring Rye Harbour LNR (East Sussex) from 2nd-11th March. Spring saw the arrival of two more, with singles at Wheldrake Ings (North Yorks) on 15th April and Low Newton-by-the-Sea (Northumberland) on 11th-14th May. During the autumn, an adult moved from Brockholes Quarry (Lancs) on 20th August to the Conder Estuary at Glasson (Lancs) from 23rd-26th August, while others were found on Tiree (Argyll) on 21st-24th October and Breydon Water (Norfolk) from 29th October into January 2016.
In Ireland, one was on the Rogerstown Estuary (Co. Dublin) until at least 14th April, with another at Skibbereen (Co. Cork) on 4th February, while in autumn, singles were at Clogheen Marsh (Co. Cork) on 30th September to 15th October, White’s Marsh, Clonakilty (Co. Cork) on 1st-6th October
One was discovered with wintering Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits at Titchfield Haven NNR (Hants) on 11th January. It vanished without trace shortly afterwards but then pitched up again on the Posbrook Floods nearby on 11th April. It reappeared at the Haven on 17th April, where it was then more reliably seen until 9th May, eventually inhabiting Posbrook daily until at least 29th July. It was relocated once more, across the Solent on the isle of Wight on 23rd September, frequenting the tidal River Medina until at least 16th December.
A wintering juvenile remained in Inverallochy Bay (Aberdeenshire) from 19th October until 19th January 2015 while in spring, singles visited Arran (Argyll) on 19th-21st May and Wellington GP (Herefordshire) on 25th May. An adult in full breeding plumage loitered with intent at Coate Water, Swindon (Wilts) from 16th-27th August, with further records coming from the River Teign (Devon) on 17th August and Bryher (Scilly) on 21st September. Later in autumn, further birds were recorded on Tresco Great Pool (Scilly) on 21st October, Chard Junction GP (Somerset) from 25th October until at least 25th November and at Pilmore Strand, Youghal (Co. Cork) from 22nd November into January 2016.
An adult in breeding plumage graced the drained basin at Meare Heath (Somerset) on 24th-25th April and again from 29th April to 3rd May constituting one of the largest twitches of the year. With the last in Britain being well over 20 years ago, this handsome wader was particularly well received. A totally different individual – a male – was then discovered in Ireland, visiting Inishdawros, Ballyconneelly (Co. Galway) briefly on 22nd July. Fortunately for Irish twitchers, this same bird was relocated much later in the autumn on the Aran Islands at Kilmurry, performing daily from 15th-19th September.
In Ireland, records came from The Cull (Co. Wexford) on 12th & 28th June and Tacumshin Lake (Co. Wexford) on 14th June, then from Tacumshin/Rosslare (Co. Wexford) on 22nd-26th September, The Gearagh (Co. Cork) on 29th September and on the Rogerstown Estuary (Co. Dublin) on 8th-10th November. The last of the year was at Killorglin (Co. Kerry) on 11th November.
In Britain, a very confiding juvenile reached Yell (Shetland) from 8th-13th September, with further transatlantic arrivals at Skokholm (Pembs) on 20th-24th September and at Pennington/Keyhaven Marshes (Hants) from 23rd September into 2016. A further first-winter was discovered at Cresswell Pond (Northumberland) on 9th November, this bird also remaining into 2016.
One remained in Pagham Harbour off Church Norton from 9th June until 27th July, while in autumn, one remained on Tresco (Scilly) from 15th-18th October before relocating to Cornwall, where it remained from 30th October into January 2016.
A juvenile made landfall on Par Beach (Cornwall) on 16th August followed by a first-winter at Pannel Valley NR, Pett (East Sussex) on 19th September that relocated to Vange Marsh RSPB (Essex) from 20th September to 3rd October.
Two regular adults appeared in January at Dawlish Warren NNR (Devon) and at Lochgilphead in Argyll, with that in Cardiff Bay showing up regularly during February and March. The Devon bird was last reported on 22nd March, while the Argyll bird stayed until 27th March, while in Cardiff Bay, two adults lingered from 24th March to 9th April.
Elsewhere, a first-winter visited Ferrybridge (Dorset) on 7th March (relocating to Radipole Lake RSPB, Weymouth, from 26th March to 7th April, Milford-on-Sea, Hants, on 15th April then in Riverside Park, Southampton, from 3rd-24th May), an adult was at Ballycotton (Co. Cork) on 1st-8th April, one was at Tramore Back Strand (Co. Waterford) from 15th March to 7th April, at Bowling Green Marsh, Topsham (Devon) on 9th-10th May, Llanrhidian Marsh (Gower) on 12th May, Dungeness (Kent) on 16th May, Kingsmill Lake (Cornwall) on 26th May, on Unst on 11th June and on St Kilda (Outer Hebrides) on 12th & 21st June. The regular reappearing 3rd-summer was once more at Oare Marshes NR (Kent) from 20th June until 23rd August, as was the Teignmouth (Devon) adult from 23rd August, while a ‘new’ bird was at Lossiemouth (Moray & Nairn) from 4th-16th October. November saw an adult visit the Farne Islands (Northumberland) on 23rd & 29th November.
NORTH AMERICAN HERRING GULL
A first-winter was identified in Black Ball Harbour (Co. Cork) on 15th March remaining until at least 19th April while in West Cornwall, a 3rd-calendar year bird returned to Drift Reservoir and fields around Jericho Farm, St Just, from 16th March to at least 3rd May. This latter bird reappeared on 17th October, remaining in the area into January 2016.
An adult visited the River Corrib, Waterside, in Galway City (Co. Galway) on 17th-18th January, constituting the second record for Ireland.
One was reported from Brora (Sutherland) on 12th September.
A juvenile was photographed at Rufforth Airfield (South Yorks) on 2nd-3rd March
The very confiding juvenile at Uig Pier (Skye) remained present until 4th January
The 2nd-winter survived at Ballycotton Pier and surroundings (Co. Cork) until at least 30th April, while a first-winter afforded excellent views at New Brighton (Cheshire & Wirral) from 3rd February until 9th April, crossing the Mersey to Seaforth NR (North Merseyside) on 5th-17th April. Later in the year, an adult summer visited Kilnsea Wetlands NR (East Yorks) on 13th-14th June and Salthouse Duckpond (Norfolk) on 14th June, last being seen flying west at Cley & Blakeney Point. Much later in autumn, one was identified on St Martin’s (Scilly) on 17th-18th November.
What may have been the same bird was seen at Rusheen Bay (Co. Galway) on 13th June and Lough Beg (Co. Derry) from 22nd June to 4th July
An adult was seen eating earthworms in a recently ploughed field south of the A30 at Four Burrows (Cornwall) on 14th April, this individual relocating to Walmsley Sanctuary (Cornwall) on 19th April and then Bowling Green Marsh (Devon) on 23rd May. Another was then seen on the Swords Estuary (Co. Dublin) on 6th May, with a further at Bothal Pond (Northumberland) on 29th-30th May, Neatholme Fen, Lound GP (Notts) on 11th June, Old Moor Wetlands RSPB (West Yorks) on 16th June and Birsay (Orkney) on 20th-22nd June. One or other then reappeared at Hayle (Cornwall) on 1st July, Ynys-hir RSPB (Ceredigion) on 2nd July, Burton Mere Wetlands (Cheshire) on 3rd July before settling on the Teign Estuary at Kingsteignton (Devon) from 12th-17th July, with further reports from Cley NWT (Norfolk) on 12th July and Chapel St Leonards (Lincs) on 16th July. At the end of the year, one began the longest-ever stay in Ireland, surviving at Blennerville Marsh (Co. Kerry) from 17th October until 29th November.
Another very lean year for this Scandinavian vagrant with one seen briefly at Gibraltar Point NNR (Lincs) on 30th May and one resting for an hour at Holland Haven scrape (Essex) on 1st August.
The usual returning wintering adult was in County Galway at Nimmo’s Pier and environs erratically during January to April and was last reported at Fiddaun Island on 5th June. What was presumably the same wide-ranging adult was then seen at Soldier’s Point (Co. Louth) on 22nd-26th August and the Rogerstown Estuary (Co. Dublin) on 6th-27th September, before returning once more to Nimmo’s Pier, Mutton Island Causeway and Doorus from 24th October, also visiting New Quay (Co. Clare) on 29th November & 6th December.
WHITE-WINGED BLACK TERN
An adult in breeding plumage spent the day at Gypsy Lane East, Broom GP (Beds) on 24th April followed by a marked arrival of birds in May including 2 at Dungeness RSPB Burrowes Pit (Kent) on 14th-15th and singles at Martin Mere WWT (Lancs) on 24th, Lunt Meadows (Lancs) on 25th, Paxton Pits NR (Cambs) on 26th, Pugney’s CP (West Yorks) on 28th and at Swineham GP (Dorset) on 2nd-4th June. Midsummer saw another spate of occurrences with singles at Blithfield Reservoir (Staffs) on 15th June, past Whitburn (Tyne & Wear) on 28th June, Saltholme Pools RSPB (Cleveland) on 29th June, Middleton Lakes RSPB (Staffs) on 3rd July, Leighton Moss RSPB (Lancs) on 4th-5th July, Frampton Marsh on 5th-7th July, Dungeness (Kent) on 18th July, Stanwick GP (Northants) on 19th July, Rutland Water (Leics) on 19th July, Westport Lake (Staffs) on 8th August and Kilnsea Wetlands NR on 9th August.
The first juvenile appeared at Dungeness (Kent) on 17th August, with another at Hornsea Mere (East Yorks) from 24th-27th; another then arrived at the ARC Pit at Dungeness on 27th, increasing to 2 from 30th until 6th September. Further birds were then discovered at Abberton Reservoir (Essex) on 30th August, Willington GP (Derbyshire) on 31st August and Cliffe Pools (Kent) on 31st August with another at Ormesby/Filby Broad (Norfolk) on 5th-13th September before the last two of the year appeared at Heysham Outfalls (Lancs) from 26th September to 1st October and at Cantley Beet lagoons (Norfolk) on 7th-8th October.
One flew west at Dungeness Beach (Kent) on 6th August.
Tom Lowe inadvertently photographed one off South Gare (Cleveland) on 8th December but despite spending the next four hours searching, the bird never resurfaced after being attacked by a Great Black-backed Gull.
RUFOUS TURTLE DOVE
A first-winter meena was present in a Scalloway garden (Shetland) from 25th November to 17th December.
NORTH AMERICAN MOURNING DOVE
A very confiding first-winter inhabited a Lerwick garden at 3 Murrayston from Boxing Day until 14th January 2016 constituting the first record for Shetland.
GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO
The only record of the year involved a first-summer at Cwm Cadlan (East Glamorgan) from 15th-17th April.
EURASIAN EAGLE OWL
Despite constant persecution, the small breeding population in the UK remained constant at about 10-12 pairs.
The County Donegal Kincasslagh bird was seen regularly until 5th January, with others in Ireland at Gleninagh Mountain (Co. Clare) on 6th-20th April, Tarmon Hill (Co. Mayo) on 26th April, Cuilcagh Mountain (Co. Fermanagh) on 7th May and at Ballinarobe (Co. Mayo) on 12th June. A male summered as usual on Arranmore Island (Co. Donegal)
EURASIAN SCOPS OWL
One arrived on Great Saltee Island (Co. Wexford) on 11th April with another found dead on St Kilda (Outer Hebrides) on 1st May.
A handful of sightings in late October, including singles at Flamborough Head, Newbiggin (Northumberland), Marsden Quarry and Whitburn Steel (Tyne & Wear) on 31st October, Boulby Cliffs (Cleveland) on 1st November, Glynneath (Gower) on 5th-6th November, Chapel St Leonards (Lincs) on 6th November, Sizewell (Suffolk) on 7th November and Margate (Kent) on 9th November.
During a spell of cold, wet, inclement weather, one remained around the Virgin Atlantic headquarters on the Manor Way Trading Estate in Crawley (West Sussex) from 28th-30th March, roosting for much of the time on the wall of the tall building. In spring proper, at least 6 others were seen, with singles at Flamborough Head (East Yorks) on 11th April, Verwood (Dorset) on 12th April, Rutland Water (Leics) on 14th April, Meols (Cheshire) on 22nd April, Spurn Point on 7th May, Ilkley (West Yorks) on 8th May then at Pugney’s CP & Calder Park (West Yorks) on 9th May, The Mullet (Co. Mayo) on 12th May, Lyme Regis (Dorset) on 14th May, Loddiswell (Devon) on 16th May and another at Spurn on 7th June. Early autumn saw another spate of sightings with singles over Garnock Floods (Ayrshire) on 24th June, Beachy Head (East Sussex) on 1st July and Spurn Point on 8th July, as well as one photographed over Horsey Dunes (Norfolk) on 5th August. Much later in the autumn, one lingered at Little Orme (Caernarfonshire) on 5th-6th October, with others at Land’s End, St Levan and Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 10th-11th October and from a boat 8km south of Plymouth (Devon) on 10th October.
One was seen briefly at Mizen Head (Co. Cork) on 26th October.
The only record of the year concerned a bird seen on New Years Eve flying back & forth over the beach between Thorntonloch and Torness Power Station (Lothian).
An influx took place in early April, involving at least 33 birds, including 4 at Mizen Head (Co. Cork) on 9th, 4 on St Mary’s (Scilly) and 2 on Skomer Island (Pembs), at Kilmurrin (Co. Waterford) and Carnsore Point (Co. Wexford). More and more then continued arriving, with perhaps as many as 65 in Ireland by 25th April. None were reported breeding this year, with only a light autumn passage and just one made it through December surviving into the New Year at Kingswinford (Staffs).
After the first, in Cleveland on 11th April, a widespread influx took place across Britain throughout the spring, culminating in a group of 5 that toured various South Coast localities in April and groups of up to 12 that went from Scilly east along the south and east coasts north to Yorkshire throughout May and July. A flock of 10 that roosted nightly at Theberton Grange near Leiston (Suffolk) in June were particularly popular as were the two breeding pairs in a Cumbrian quarry at Lower Gelt, once news was released and an observation watchpoint put in place.
The first for Britain and only the second for the Western Palearctic made landfall at Dungeness Point (Kent) on 22nd September, presumably having disembarked from a passing vessel. Its arrival had been associated with a succession of tropical hurricanes leaving the eastern seaboard of North America with just shy of 600 observers connecting before it made a dash for freedom in the half hour of decent weather as darkness approached.
EURASIAN CRAG MARTIN
For the second year running, the UK was blessed with a twitchable sighting of this alpine dweller from Central Europe. Although a bird was seen briefly in spring at East Dene, Bonchurch (Isle of Wight) at 1415 on 7th April, attention went to a late autumn first-winter that lingered in the vicinity of a crooked church spire in Chesterfield Town Centre (Derbyshire) from 8th-19th November. This bird even made it onto Jeremy Vine’s lunchtime chat show on Radio 2, as well as adorning the pages of several national newspapers!
GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK
A particularly poor year with none noted in spring. One arrived on St Mary’s Airfield (Scilly) on 27th September, lingering until at least 27th October
A fairly widespread influx in spring involved at least 24 individuals following the first at Mizen Head (Co.Cork) on 9th April, while midsummer saw the appearance of singles at Burnham Overy Staithe (Norfolk) on 17th June and in Lerwick (Shetland) on 2nd-14th July. In autumn, singles were noted at Dungeness (Kent) on 30th August, Porthcurno (Cornwall) on 27th September and then ridiculously late in North Norfolk at Cley on 17th December, moving west to Blakeney, Morston, Wells-next-the-Sea, Holkham Park and eventually Brancaster. The sight of a Red-rumped Swallow flying around a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve was pretty unique and somewhat bizarre!
Singles were noted on Fair Isle (Shetland) on 4th-19th May and Portland Bill (Dorset) on 9th-10th May in spring, with an odd midsummer record at Seaford Head (East Sussex) on 21st June, while the only occurrence in autumn was at Gunner Point, Hayling Island (Hants) on 5th September.
The hugely popular overwintering Pugney’s CP (West Yorks) individual remained until 6th January, while in autumn, singles were identified at Stiffkey Saltmarsh (Norfolk) on 2nd October, on St Mary’s (Scilly) from 13th-25th October, Nanjizal (Cornwall) on 31st October and in flight over Spurn Point on 5th November.
Unusually, one appeared on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 5th June. It was a relatively productive autumn, with singles on Fair Isle on 28th September & 5th October, in Lerwick (Shetland) from 2nd-5th October, at Spurn Point (East Yorks) on 3rd October, Gibraltar Point (Lincs) on 4th October, Scatness (Shetland) on 5th October and a further 26 between 6th October and 5th November, including 7 on Shetland, 5 on Fair Isle, 3 in Yorkshire & Norfolk and others in Cleveland, Cornwall, Dorset, County Durham, Fife, Orkney, the Outer Hebrides and Scilly. A very late bird was then seen at Sandy Point, Hayling Island (Hants) on 12th November.
A flyover at Hengistbury Head (Dorset) on 24th April was followed by two very popular summer-plumaged males in May, with singles at Ludworth Moor, on the Derbyshire/Greater Manchester border, on 3rd-4th May and at Seaton Common (Cleveland) on 10th-12th May. A better autumn than usual with singles on Tory Island (Co. Donegal) on 30th September, Pilning Wetlands, Northwick Warth (Gloucs) on 3rd-4th October, St Mary’s Airfield (Scilly) on 4th-5th October, Isle of May (Fife) on 6th October, Carrahane Strand (Co. Kerry) on 8th-9th October, St Abb’s Head (Borders) on 11th October, St Mary’s (Scilly) on 13th-17th October and Tresco (Scilly) on 18th October.
A long-staying bird remained in the Loch of Norby area at Melby (Shetland) from 22nd September until 13th October with one trapped & ringed at Porthellick Pool, St Mary’s, on 24th September, while in October, singles reached Foula (Shetland) on 10th October and North Ronaldsay on 13th October.
At least 9 appeared at the end of September including a very confiding first-winter at Spurn Point Canal Zone from 3rd-5th October.
Singles were on the Kirk Beck, Harpham (North Yorks) from 10th February to 25th March and on Unst (Shetland) from 24th February to 4th March in the first winter period, with possibly another at Voe (Shetland) on 2nd-13th March.
Very small numbers were recorded in Britain in the first winter period with even less in the second – the second successive year of such paucity.
A spate of sightings following a constant succession of deep Atlantic lows, with singles at Kilkee (Co. Clare) on 3rd-4th June, Tiree (Argyll) on 10th June, Hugh Town, St Mary’s (Scilly) on 19th June and found dead in Treginnis (Pembs) on 27th June.
Three were recorded in 2015 with singles on Brownsman Island, Farnes (Northumberland) on 15th-16th August, Fair Isle on 19th August and trapped & ringed on Thorne Moor (East Yorks) on 24th August.
A first-winter reached Fair Isle on 20th October.
In line with recent years, another bumper crop of occurrencies with some 19 individuals recorded including singles on Whalsay (Shetland) on 22nd September, Westray (Orkney) on 5th October, Fair Isle on 7th October, Denmark House, Weybourne (Norfolk) on 11th October, Covean, St Agnes (Scilly) from 11th-20th October, Fair Isle on 11th October, Kilnsea (East Yorks) on 12th-13th October, Holkham Meals (Norfolk) on 12th-19th October, Sandside Bay, Deerness (Orkney) on 12th October, Flamborough Head on 12th-16th October, Kergord Plantation (Shetland) on 16th-17th October, Wells Woods (Norfolk) on 16th-20th October, Low Newton-by-the-Sea (Northumberland) on 16th October, Kings Loke, Hemsby (Norfolk) on 18th October, Sandwich bay (Kent) on 20th October to 7th November, Gibraltar Point (Lincs) on 20th October, Mizen Head (Co. Cork) on 20th October and Bardsey island (Pembs) on 25th October.
EASTERN BLACK REDSTART
The first-winter male remained on Scilly at Shark’s Pit, Porthmellon, St Mary’s, until at least 12th January.
One was seen late afternoon on St Mary’s Airfield (Scilly) on 8th October.
A male lingered on Port Askin, St Agnes (Scilly), from 21st-26th March – only the second to have ever been recorded on the archipelago in spring. Just one occurred in autumn – a first-winter male at Eskmeals (Cumbria) from 16th-19th November. A very poor year by recent standards.
EASTERN BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR
A superb male delighted a succession of admirers as it performed admirably at Acres Down (Hampshire) throughout the day on 13th June.
Four recorded this autumn with a first-winter male at Spurn Point on 3rd October, a first-winter male at Skaw, Unst (Shetland) on 14th October, a male at Botallack (Cornwall) on 21st October and a cracking adult male at Landguard NR (Suffolk) on 2nd-3rd November.
Just five recorded this year with first-winters at Orfordness (Suffolk) on 10th October, Quendale (Shetland) on 12th-14th October, Flamborough Head on 14th-20th October and Hook-with-Warsash (Hants) on 24th October, with an adult male in Caister Dunes (Norfolk) on 21st-25th October.
One remained on Skokholm (Pembs) from 2nd-10th June, with another on Fetlar (Shetland) on 16th Jun, with two more in autumn recorded, at Sanday (Orkney) on 28th September and on Unst (Shetland) on 4th October..
Exceptionally, one was identified on The Mullet (Co. Mayo) on 25th May. A succession of autumn storms associated with a highly active El Nino jetstream resulted in a wave of records later in the year with singles at Covean, St Agnes (Scilly) on 23rd-24th September, Ollaberry (Shetland) on 28th September
One remained on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) from 30th May until 9th June.
Singles typically recorded in Shetland at Baltasound, Unst, on 20th October and at Gulberwick on 23rd-24th October.
A first-winter male was seen briefly on Fair Isle on 5th October.
One made landfall on Whalsay at Symbister on 20th June.
A singing male remained at Land’s End (Cornwall) from 14th-26th May.
WESTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER
The first to appear was a male at Brownstown Head (Co. Wexford) from 11th-17th April, followed by further birds at Kynance Cove, Lizard (Cornwall), on 13th-16th April (two males), Kenidjack Valley (Cornwall) on 25th April, Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) on 9th May, South Uist (Outer Hebrides) on 14th May, Portland Bill (Dorset) on 23rd May, Unst (Shetland) from 25th-28th May, Balranald RSPB, North Uist (Outer Hebrides) on 4th June, North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 20th-21st June and on Fair Isle from 30th June to 3rd July. Several more were discovered in autumn, with singles on St Mary’s (Scilly) on 23rd August & 26th September, Europie, Lewis (Outer Hebrides) on 4th-5th September and at Kelling Water Meadows (Norfolk) on 8th September.
MOLTONI’S SUBALPINE WARBLER
A pair was present on Blakeney Point (Norfolk) on 11th May: a rather confiding male in the Plantation and a far more skulking female in neighbouring tamarisks. Both represented the first records for Norfolk and had arrived on a rather unique weather system that also spawned a Citril Finch in the same county at the same time. Literally just a few days later, a male was trapped & ringed on Fair Isle on 15th, remaining on the archipelago until 26th May and spawning the most expensive twitch ever in the UK at £1,752!
EASTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER
A male was at Nanjizal (Cornwall) on 19th-20th April before relocating to Land’s End on 22nd, while in autumn, single males were at Old fall, Flamborough Head from 18th September to 1st October and at Mossbank (Shetland) from 25th September until 13th October.
One was trapped & ringed on Orfordness (Suffolk) on 9th August, with further records from Wheldrake Ings (West Yorks) on 12th August and Fair Isle on 15th-16th August.
Singles noted in Shetland at Dale of Walls on 26th September, Fair Isle on 27th September & 12th October and on the Out Skerries on 5th October.
PALLAS’S GRASSHOPPER WARBLER
A skulking first-winter remained at Isbister (Shetland) on 11th-12th September, with another on Fair Isle on 19th October..
A reeling male was present in Northeast Kent for three weeks in May.
BLYTH’S REED WARBLER
One was trapped & ringed on Fair Isle on 8th June, while further migrants included a skulking bird on Blakeney Point (Norfolk) on 13th-14th June and a singing male at Inverurie (Aberdeenshire) from 18th-27th June. These were then followed by an influx in autumn involving at least 7 birds in Shetland and others in County Cork, Cornwall, County Durham, Fair Isle, Orkney, Norfolk and East Yorkshire.
One was on Blakeney Point (Norfolk) from 11th-14th June, while another made an exceptionally long stay on Noss (Shetland) from 22nd July to 16th August. In autumn, singles were identified at Collieston Churchyard (Aberdeenshire) on 28th-29th August, St Agnes (Scilly) on 7th September and on Fair Isle on 8th October.
GREAT REED WARBLER
A singing male bellowed out from Phragmites at Swan Pool, Sandwell Valley RSPB, on 17th-18th May, with another identified at Baltasound, Unst (Shetland), from 3rd-22nd June.
The 7th for Britain was in Quendale Burn (Shetland) on 24th September.
EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER
One remained on Whalsay (Shetland) from 12th-16th September.
In spring, singles noted at Portland Bill (Dorset) on 15th May & 16th June, Skokholm (Pembs) on 15th May, Peninnis Head, St Mary’s (Scilly) on 20th May, Ponsongath (Cornwall) on 27th May and Sennybridge (Pembs) on 21st June, with a singing male near Hampton-in-Arden (West Midlands) from 11th June until 11th July. Not many more were recorded in autumn, with an odd midsummer record on Blakeney Point (Norfolk) on 31st July and eight more in September and October and 3 late birds in October.
Singles were noted in early autumn on Fair Isle on 19th-22nd August, North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 21st-22nd August, Gramborough Hill, Salthouse (Norfolk) on 22nd-23rd August and at Sumburgh Head (Shetland) on 22nd August and 9th-14th September.
WESTERN BONELLI’S WARBLER
A singing male was present along the Weaver’s Way at Hickling Broad (Norfolk) briefly on 26th May and this was followed by an exceptional run of autumn occurrencies, perhaps involving ten birds: Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 17th August, St Agnes (Scilly) on 21st August, Bass Point, Lizard (Cornwall) on 22nd August, Portland Bill (Dorset) on 22nd & 26th August, Longstone, St mary’s (Scilly) on 24th-27th August & 19th September, Salcombe (Devon) on 27th August, Billinge (Lancs) on 31st August, Galley Head (Co. Cork) on 8th & 17th September, Sumburgh Head (Shetland) on 14th-18th September and on Unst from 15th-18th September.
A wintering bird was at Ivy Lake, Chichester GP (West Sussex) from 5th-19th January, whilst another was photographed at Marton Mere, Blackpool (Lancs) on 16th January. At the other end of the year in autumn, some 20 or so appeared in autumn following the first at Grutness (Shetland) on 5th October. The last to appear were at Dungeness (Kent) on 16th-20th November, Atherington Pools, Climping (West Sussex) on 9th-10th December, Holkham (Norfolk) on Christmas Day and at Ham Wall RSPB (Somerset) from 26th December into 2016.
Up to 9 appeared in October, with singles at Inishbofin on 6th, Holy Island (Northumberland) on 8th, Holkham Pines (Norfolk) on 11th-12th, Great Yarmouth Cemetery (Norfolk) on 12th-13th,Kilnsea on 12th and Fair Isle on 14th.
An excellent autumn with singles noted at Sands of Forvie NNR (Aberdeenshire) on 19th-20th August, Dale of Walls (Shetland) on 25th August, Scousburgh (Shetland) on 28th August, on Fair Isle from 8th-11th September, Skateraw Harbour (Lothian) on 11th-15th September, Inishbofin (Co. Galway) on 13th-14th September, Uyeasound, Unst (Shetland) on 23rd-27th September, Kilnsea (East Yorks) on 27th-29th September, Weisdale Voe, Kergord (Shetland) on 30th September to 4th October, Kew Villa, Kilnsea on 4th October, Inishmore (Co. Galway) on 11th October, Garrison Pines, St Mary’s (Scilly) on 11th-12th October, Erris Head (Co. Mayo) on 22nd-28th October and a very late bird at Marsden Quarry (Tyne & Wear) on 2nd-7th November.
For the second spring in succession, an excellent spring with no less than ten found during 2nd-4th June, with singles on Out Skerries (Shetland) on 2nd & 6th, Unst on 2nd, Sanday (Orkney) on 3rd, 1-2 on Fair Isle on 3rd-5th, St Martin’s (Scilly) on 4th-11th, Swining (Shetland) on 5th, Sandwick (Shetland) on 5th-6th and on Whalsay (Shetland) on 8th. Blakeney Point (Norfolk) on 11th and Skomer (Pembs) on 12th. A late bird was on Skokholm (Pembs) on 23rd July. An influx of at least 13 individuals occurred in August, including 2 in County Durham, East Yorkshire, Aberdeenshire, Northumberland & Orkney and singles on Fair Isle, in Fife and in Shetland.
A hugely successful breeding season led to a phenomenal autumn influx involving over 2,000 birds between mid September and mid October, with Shetland daily counts exceeding 130 during 22nd-30th.
PALLAS’S LEAF WARBLER
A relatively poor autumn with less than 35 recorded, although a dozen or so reached North Norfolk.
HUME’S LEAF WARBLER
Singles were noted at Wells Woods (Norfolk) on 15th-20th October, Kingsdown Leas (Kent) on 18th October, Flamborough Head on 27th-28th October and Durlston Head (Dorset) on 31st October.
A rather lean autumn with very few recorded outside of Shetland – a mere 15 individuals shared between the east and south coasts!
A superb adult male was at Sumburgh (Shetland) on 21st September.
The party of 3 remained at Darts Farm & Bowling Green Marsh, Topsham (Devon) until early March, with just 2 surviving there until 4th April. They then migrated back east, pausing briefly at Black Hole Marsh, Seaton (South Devon) next day. In the second winter period, 1-2 were at Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk) from 18th-29th October, 2 remained at G & M Growers Pit, Broom (Beds) from 31st October to 2nd November, with singles at Southwold (Suffolk) on 3rd November and St Olaves (Norfolk) on 8th November. Two were then seen in Lytchett Bay (Dorset) on 22nd November, relocating to Longham Lakes, Bournemouth (Dorset) from 22nd-24th, with an additional party of 3 at Titchfield Haven (Hants) from 7th December into January 2016.
One was recorded at Dungeness (Kent) on 10th October, with another at Beachy Head (East Sussex) on 27th October.
ASIATIC BROWN SHRIKE
A first-winter visited Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 20th October before relocating to Ouessant in France next day.
DAURIAN ISABELLINE SHRIKE
An adult male visited St Martin’s (Scilly) on the highly unusual date of 2nd July while in autumn, first-winters were identified at Beeston Common (Norfolk) on 11th-19th October, Holkham Meals (Norfolk) on 14th-19th October, Mundesley (Norfolk) on 15th October and at South Huish Marshes (Devon) on 14th-19th October.
The first of the spring made landfall at Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 31st March, with 3 more in Cornwall in April & May and 3 further birds in Pembrokeshire and others in Devon, Cork and Wexford. The only records in autumn involved single juveniles on St Mary’s (Scilly) on 19th August, Blakehill Farm (Wilts) on 28th-29th August, The Lizard (Cornwall) on 30th August and Nosterfield (North Yorks) on 13th-19th September.
BALEARIC WOODCHAT SHRIKE
A male of the form badius was at Wykeham Forest (North Yorks) on 13th May.
LESSER GREY SHRIKE
Just two records this year – at Lunna Ness (Shetland) on 25th August and at Cromer (Norfolk) on 28th August.
One was discovered wintering in Prudhoe village (Northumberland) on 11th January, remaining in gardens there until at least 9th February. It may have been the bird found dead in Ryton (County Durham) on 3rd May. In spring, one appeared on South Uist (Outer Hebrides) on 19th-21st May, followed by further singles on Lundy Island (Devon) on 14th June, Fowlsheugh (Aberdeenshire) on 16th June, at various sites on Lewis & Harris (Outer Hebrides) on 19th June to 29th July, Hoy (Orkney) on 24th June and on Fair Isle on 2nd July. Midsummer birds included singles at Aberavon (Gwent) from 31st July to 5th August and on Fair Isle from 1st-4th August, while a further 15 or so juveniles occurred in autumn. The last of the year was at Tewkesbury (Gloucs) from 22nd October to 11th November, while the only wintering individual was on the Lizard (Cornwall), surviving until at least 28th January 2016.
One of the rarest finds of the year was that of a male in Burnham Overy Dunes just west of Holkham Pines on 10th-11th May. Just shy of a thousand observers connected on the Sunday but disappearing west shortly after dawn the following day left almost as many disappointed!
A single male was in song at Yew Tree Brake, Cinderford, in the Forest of Dean (Gloucs) on 15th February and was seen again on 21st & 25th March. On 15th October, Dave Suddaby discovered a male at Termon in County Mayo.
One remained on St Agnes from 25th September to 2nd October.
One was seen in St Warna’s Cove on St Agnes on 23rd September.
Another contender for bird of the year – a strikingly beautiful male at Port Nis, Lewis (Outer Hebrides) from 13th-17th October.
A first-summer male afforded views down to a few feet in a Toab garden (Shetland) on 11th May, with another on Dursey Island (Co. Cork) on 9th June.
An overwintering bird was present at Forest Farm Country Park (East Glamorgan) from 5th February until 7th May, with further singles at Gulval, near Penzance (Cornwall) from 12th February to 22nd April and in Ashdown Forest (West Sussex) on 10th-27th February. Migrants in spring included singles at Flamborough Head on 15th & 27th April, while in autumn, above average numbers occurred, with perhaps 65 in total.
A male was on Fair Isle on 19th May, with further singles on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 20th-25th May, Baltasound, Unst, on 27th-29th May, Sanday (Orkney) on 29th May and at Sumburgh Head (Shetland) on 21st June. At the opposite end of the year, singles appeared on Shetland on Foula on 20th-23rd September, Bressay on 24th September and on Unst on 5th October, with singles elsewhere on Lundy Island on 27th September, Cape Clear Island (Co. Cork) on 5th October, Sandside Bay (Orkney) on 10th October, Gibraltar Point on 11th October and Yell (Shetland) on 13th October.
Another poor year with few recorded in spring and just a dozen or so in autumn. The writing’s clearly on the wall regards the survival of this species.
Perhaps contender for ‘bird of the year’ was this superb male that spent 11 days on Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) from 10th-20th June.
A first-winter afforded views down to a few feet on Papa Westray (Orkney) on 19th-29th October.
BLACK-HEADED BUNTINGAs usual, a male reached Wales in spring, visiting Skomer Island (Pembs) on 7th June and Saundersfoot (Pembs) on 10th, while in early autumn, Kester Wilson reported one in Nanjizal Valley (Cornwall) on 8th August and another immature was seen at Dale of Walls (Shetland) on 24th August.