Sunday, 31 December 2006

My bird records

This is a chronological record of a selection of my own bird sightings which I find of interest due to some unusual aspect of the record - including things like plumage variants and behaviour. In most they are of no particular significance but might just be of interest to people who've birded the same places, or recorded the same individuals.

I prefer to find my own birds, rather than chase after others' rarities, and most of the birds listed here were my own finds (those which I didn't find myself or discover independent of any specific information are marked with an asterisk*).

Most of the locations are in the UK the exceptions being a small number of sightings from the Faeroe Islands, Russia, Japan, Finland, the US and Nigeria. Banchory and Loch of Strathbeg are located in NE Scotland, North Ronaldsay is one of the Orkney Islands, and Bardsey Island is off the Llyn peninsula in North Wales.


22 April - pair of Osprey, Loch of Lowes
(bred here from 1969, the year I was born!)


8 May - 2 pairs Raven, Beinn Dearg, Skye


14 July - visited Common Gull colony in Correen Hills near Rhynie

25 August - Hen Harrier, on moor near Rhynie (the sort of thing that can inspire a lifetime love of wildlife, but unlikely to be seen now due to the huge intensification of grouse moor management, with endemic and systematic persecution of native wildlife, proof here at the very same place: Gamekeeper shooting Hen Harrier on Cabrach and all so an ultra rich elite can enjoy killing things, robbing ordinary people of our heritage, an utter disgrace in modern Scotland; hopefully as a new generation grow up in this country, an enlightenment in the appreciation of our native wildlife for what it is, rather than killing it, will finally put an end to an out-dated industry built on criminality)


July - Golden Eagle, Toe Head, Harris

July - Corncrake, Harris


20 July - 2 Peregrines caught young crow, near Inchnadamph, Ross and Cromarty


23 April - late Waxwing, Raemoir Road, Banchory

8 June - Osprey carrying fish mobbed by 4 Oystercatchers, Gicht, Aberdeenshire


31 May - 13 Dotterel, Glas Maol, Cairngorms

8 July - 2 Black-throated Divers with 2 chicks, near Ben Stack, Sutherland

11 July - female Hen Harrier attacked male Merlin with prey, hillside near Gordonbush, Loch Brora

27 September - Glossy Ibis, single briefly at Starnakeppie, Loch of Strathbeg, flew off SE - 8th for NE Scotland, following records in 1844, 1880, 1902, 1907, 1920 and 1938; presumably same refound by the warden on 30 October and last seen on 23 November; sadly, the remains of a dead bird were found in January of the following year

31 December - dead Black-headed Gull, ringed as healthy adult, Vaasan Uääni, Finland, 25 June, 1981, and controlled at c. Southport Pier, 25 February 1986 (distance 1832km, direction WSW, duration 5 years, 6 months, 6 days)


21 February - 3 Puffins on sea, Bullers of Buchan (at the time, said to be earliest Scottish record for return to breeding site)

26 May - Wryneck glimpsed, Dinnet, upper Deeside

6 June - Fulmar flying west, Loch of Leys, Banchory (c. 15 miles from coast)

1 August - Osprey carrying small fish W, Kirkton of Culsalmond, Inverurie

8 August - c.8 Storm Petrel flying round rocks close inshore, Dundonnie, Boddam, Peterhead

17 October - Swift sp., Snettisham, Norfolk

31 December - 2nd-win Ring-billed Gull*, ad. Mediterranean Gull, Seaforth, Merseyside


26 July - 2 Storm Petrels S, Loch Linnhe, Fort William, after strong SW wind

27 July - 13+ Storm Petrels flying around inside the harbour, flat calm conditions, Mallaig

4 August - Least Sandpiper*, Cove, Aberdeenshire (3rd for Scotland, 16th for Britain)


24 June - Little Stint, Rosehearty, Aberdeenshire

14 July - Gannet high over Kinellar, Blackburn, Aberdeenshire (c. 6 miles inland)

16 August - Albino Swallow, Woolhillock, Westhill, Aberdeenshire

3-11 September - up to 4 Scarlet Rosefinch, North Ronaldsay

7 September - male Scarlet Rosefinch* caught and photographed by warden, North Ronaldsay

7-14 September - male Mandarin, North Ronaldsay (7th for Orkney)

8 September - total 829 Sooty Shearwater N in two main flocks (313, and 383 individuals), off North Ronaldsay

11 September - flock of 8 Grey Heron in off sea, joined by juv from Gretchen Loch, continuing south, North Ronaldsay

13 September - Barred Warbler*, Red-breasted Flycatcher*, Holland House, North Ronaldsay, Yellow-browed Warbler*, Lum, North Ronaldsay (for the latter, earliest Scottish record at the time)

29 September - imm. Golden Eagle chasing deer down steep slope on Meall Tionail, Bynack Lodge, Cairngorms (published as Short Note in Scottish Bird News, 17, 7, March, 1990)


10 January - 2nd-win Iceland Gull, roost by Dee at Crathes, Banchory (c. 15 miles inland)

26 March - Kumlien's Gull*; Banff

15 June - Red-backed Shrike*, 3 Woodlark; Thetford Forest at Santon Downham

6 August - Ivory-phase Fulmar, off Mousa, Shetland, several Common Crossbill, Lerwick, Shetland

10-11,22 August - Chiffchaff, 7 Goldcrest, Vidalundin Park, Torshavn, Faroe Islands

11-23 August - 13+ Common Crossbill, various locations (Torshavn, Gjogv, Oyndafjordur, Klaaksvik, Kunoy), Faroe islands

24 August - Willow Warbler, pair, Kunoy plantation, Faroe Islands

27 August - 7 Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, a second individual with yellow feet, light brown legs, but weak Chiffchaff song/call, Vidalundin Park, Torshavn, Faroe Islands

1 September - juv Pectoral Sandpiper, Anachie Lagoon, St Fergus (14th for NE Scotland)

10 September - Red-necked Grebe, Donmouth; Baird's Sandpiper*, Anachie Lagoon, St Fergus (2nd for NE Scotland)

18 September - Grey Phalarope, Starnafin, Loch of Strathbeg (9th for NE Scotland since 1950; 27th record overall)


31 May - 1500 Lesser Blackback (of adults, 29 out of 64 adjudged L.f.intermedius with 2 coal-black, apparently as dark as L.f.fuscus), Hurst End, Cranfield, Bedfordshire

8 September - 3 young Goldfinch fledged from nest at Lanchester Hall, Cranfield Institute, Bedfordshire

21 September - Kittiwake with light brown legs, Macduff

12 October - Goshawk over Cranfield Institute, Bedfordshire (a genuine one, not a mis-ID)


10 September - c. 11,000 Lesser Blackback, 4,300 Blackheaded Gull; Stewartby Lake, Bedfordshire

11 September - c. 40 Black Tern circling lake at dusk, Brogborough reservoir, Bedfordshire

29 November - c. 28,000 gulls (mainly Black-headed Gulls), Stewartby Lake, Bedfordshire


1 January - albino Rook, Paythorpe, Lancashire

24 January - c. 20,000 Black-headed Gulls, Stewartby Lake, Bedfordshire

19 April - male Ring-necked Duck*, Killington reservoir, M6


28 November - albino Oystercatcher, Morecambe


6-13 September - imm./female Red-backed Shrike, Cape Clear Island, County Cork

11 September - c. 50 Storm Petrels seen on pelagic trip S of Cape Clear Island, County Cork

25 October - several Killer Whales, Girdleness, Aberdeen


14 August - Corncrake walking amongst tourists in park in central Moscow

13 October - juv Barred Warbler, Cristin, Bardsey Island

17 October - 4 Mediterranean Shearwater, 2 (+4 probable) Pomarine Skua, off South End, Bardsey Island


16 April - Red-breasted Goose*, Starnafin, Loch of Strathbeg

26 October - American Wigeon*, Hayle estuary, Cornwall

28 October - 74 Storm Petrel W, Porthgwarra, Cornwall, Firecrest, Penberth, Cornwall

30 October - juv Surf Scoter*, Helston Loe, Cornwall, male Ring-necked Duck*, male Black Duck*, Stithians Reservoir, Cornwall


14 June - 2 Quail calling, Brancaster, Norfolk

16 June - Laughing Gull* at the Three Swallows pub, Cley-next the sea, for less than one minute

26 September - 10 Black-crowned Night Heron, 5 Fork-tailed Swift, 2 Red-necked Stint, Lake Kasumigama, Tsuchiuria, Japan

2 October - Arctic Warbler, Sooty Flycatcher, 2 Japanese White-eye, 2 Grey-tailed Tattler, c. 60 Black Kite, 2 Blue Rock Thrush, Enoshima Island, Shonan, Japan


8 January - Waxwing, West Riding, Bricket Wood, Herts.

5 September - Long-tailed Skua, 2 juv W off Great Orme, Great White Egret, Alaw estuary


1 February - 1st-win Laughing Gull*, Stewartby Lake, Bedfordshire (1st for Beds); while we were watching it 4 Waxwings landed in the tree above us!

31 May - male Thrush Nightingale in vigorous song, shore on lake at Espoo, Helsinki

23 June - male Black Redstart in song on roof of Moss Bros, Watford Town Centre

2-5 July - Corncrake: 3+ calling, near cemetry at Bhatarsaigh; 6 calling, Eolaigearraidh, Barra; 3 calling, Acairseid Mhor/Na Pairceanan, Eriskay

3 July - 3rd-sum Iceland Gull at cockleshell dump in backyard of Barratlantic fish factory - Aird Mhidhinis/Bagh Shiarabagh, Barra

8 July - Water Rail, Common Crossbill at Horgabost, Harris

11 July - pair of Black-throated Diver with two young, northern Skye

12 July - Storm Petrel - 5-10 individuals feeding about 2 miles SE of Sgeir Fhiaclach Beag, off east coast of Barra (from Lochboisdale to Castlebay ferry)

26 August - Serin - single over our garden in Garston, Watford; the high-pitched buzzing call betrayed its presence, and the distinctive erratic bouncing flight confirmed its ID, probably the same was seen later in the week in central Watford

27 October - Mediterranean Shearwater S off Strumble Head, Pembrokeshire

28 October - Willow Warbler (late!), Black Redstart, 6 Blackcap, 15000 Starlings S at Whitesands, Pembrokeshire, and another Black Redstart on the roof of St David's Cathedral

10 December - Dartford Warbler, Hatch End Pond, New Forest


5 March - Belted Kingfisher and Swamp Sparrow - pond at Holiday Inn, Gaithersburg, Maryland

June/July - Barn Owls (possibly breeding) found not far from my home in Watford

11 July - Colour-ringed Canada Goose at the Moor Mill near St Albans which had been ringed as an adult exactly 8 years previously on the River Thames at Hampton

23 October - Lesser Yellowlegs*, Amwell gravel pit, Herts

10 November - Brown Sunbird at Whispering Palms, Badagry

11 November - Fire-bellied Woodpecker - Nigeria Conservation Foundation reserve at Lekki

14 November - Long-crested Eagle high over Lagos expressway S of Ibadan

15 November - c. 20 Wood Sandpiper, c. 20 Common Sandpiper, pair of Long-legged Pipits (latter apparently 1st for Nigeria!)

17 November - Slender-billed Weavers in garden in Festac Town

24 December - 8 pale-bellied Brent Goose, Donmouth, Aberdeen


15 March - male Firecrest at my workplace, BRE, Watford

9 August - Least Sandpiper*, Tring, Herts (1st for Herts, 28th for Britain)

12 August - stunning view of Red Kite over airfield near our house in Watford

19 September - group of Sandwich Terns over our house calling late evening, our first child having been born that morning!


18 March - Avocet on dam at Hilfield Resr, Herts, went onto the water at dusk (17:15hrs) and drifted out onto reservoir; by 18:40hrs had approached within a few metres of the gull roost flock in the middle of the reservoir; at 18:46hrs (40 mins after sunset) stretched wings upwards once, then a couple of seconds later suddenly took off direct from the water, moving initially W in the direction it was facing but glimpsed flashing back to the right, perhaps circling to gain height; did not call; not present following day so this was probably its departure

26 April - flock of 26 Little Gulls giving marvellous views over Marsworth Resr, Tring, part of a record movement of 40+ birds through

30 April - mixed flock of waders including 14 Bar-tailed Godwits and 10 Grey Plovers NE over Hilfield Resr, Herts

21 May - male Great Spotted Woodpecker scaling the brick wall of the office building at Hilfield Resr, Herts - took c. 60s to climb from 2m to top, mainly with one foot on corner but also grasping wall and flapping to maintain height; once on top climbed horizontally pecking under top slab

12 September - ad Long-tailed Skua E past Craigielaw, Lothian

7 October - ad Mediterranean Gull, red colour ring 7P8 (ringed as an adult on 14 May 2004 by the Vistula at Zwirownia, Skoki Duze, west of Warsaw, Poland (52 36N 19 24E), distance 1505km, direction WNW; first seen in the area on 7 August 2004), Ferny Ness, Lothian

6 December - flock of 175 Waxwings feeding on Swedish Whitebeam berries at Craigmillar in Edinburgh (part of large influx)

18 December - ad Mediterranean Gull, light green colour ring, Seton Sands, Lothian (presumed 3CT6)


15 January - albino Yellowhammer, Balgone, East Lothian

2 February - 2 Little Auks W past Ferny Ness, Lothian, occasionally dropping onto water (part of large influx)

24 March - flock of 111 Waxwings feeding mainly on rosehip berries at Tranent A1 junction, Lothian

18 May - f/imm Marsh Harrier SE over A1 near Blindwells, Lothian

19 June - Common Quail in song on Whitekirk golf course during BBS

27 June - 3rd-sum California Gull - St Luis Reservoir, San Jouquin Valley, California; Anna's Hummingbird, Nuttall's Woodpecker and Loggerhead Shrike all seen in San Jose urban area

3 July - male Common Nighthawk hunting over Edinburgh USA golf course, Brooklyn, Minneapolis

14 August - Long-tailed Skua SE past Barns Ness, Lothian

21 August - albino House Martin, Balgone, East Lothian

19 September - Chinese Little Bittern, Chinese Pond Heron, 70+ Azure-winged Magpie, imm Black-headed Gull - Summer Palace lake, Beijing, China

25 September - juv Pectoral Sandpiper at a flood in East Lothian (18th for Lothian)

5 November - 1-2 ad Mediterranean Gull regular in Seton Sands roost from this date until year end, including Polish-ringed bird 7P8 (7/10/04 above)


4 January - Black-necked Grebe, Ferny Ness, Lothian (and several dates thereafter until 18 February)

29 January - 24 Common Crossbill, Longniddry c/p 2, Lothian

12 March - a colour-ringed female Snow Bunting seen at Drem Pools. East Lothian, was one of a number caught in a project at Caister-on-sea, Norfolk, during winter 05/06; the ringer reported that the bulk of the flock had remained in the ringing area until a couple of weeks prior to this sighting

20 May - as part of winning SOC team logged 127 species in Lothian in a 24-hr bird race (total seen by at least 3 of team was 125); highlight of the day was a male Goshawk with prey; full account here

3 June - added Grasshopper Warbler to current garden list, bird reeling 450m NW of house by coast road (species 69, or 90 for all gardens)

13 June - 2 Spoonbill, Boo, Cantabria, Spain

13 June - 13 Sanderling, Playa de Liencres, Cantabria

17 June - 3rd-sum Great Blackback, 6 Common Scoter, 3 Spoonbill, Purple Heron - Laredo-Santona; 7 Grey Plover (6 1st-sum), Somo, Cantabria; Great Blackback, Astillero

19 June - birding in Pico de Europas, Cantabria - lifers including Crag Martin (20+), Griffon Vulture (20+), Egyptian Vulture (2), Alpine Chough

19 June - Audouin's Gull in evening roost at San Vicente de Barqueta, Cantabria, Spain (2nd for Cantabria, after first at Somo on 5/5/02)

23 June - 1st-sum Great Blackback, Somo, Cantabria

13 August - adult Roseate Tern ENE past Gullane Point, Aberlady

17 August - adult Mediterranean Gull red-7P8, as above, back in Seton Sands roost, Lothian

24 August - Common Terns calling over Longniddry during the night as they departed S on migration, presumably overland to the Solway

14 November - 5 (2 ad, 2nd-win, 2 1st-win) Mediterranean Gull in Seton Sands roost near our house (probably the highest indivdual total yet recorded in Scotland); a good autumn for them here, a total of 41 bird-days, with at least 9 different birds present, probably more

28 December - flock of redpolls appeared visible from our house in Longniddry, including 12+ Mealy Redpolls