Sunday, 8 September 2019

Eight Yanks

With autumn migration swinging into full flow, the tail end of hurricane Dorian and an intense hope of imminent transatlantic vagrancy I thought I'd like to share with you both my complete UK list of American warblers!

A trifle self-indulgent I suppose... but that's what blogs are all about... isn't it? I've been fortunate to have seen eight American 'warblers' in the UK over the years and in chronological order they are:


A 1st winter Black and white Warbler - Mniotilta varia in East Prawle Woods, Prawle Point, S. Devon on October 10th 1987.

Black and white Warbler | Martyn Hayes

An adult male Golden-winged Warbler - Vermivora chrysoptera at Lunsford Park Estate, Larkfield, Kent on April 9th 1989.

Golden-winged Warbler | Martyn Hayes

A 1st winter Yellow-rumped Warbler - Setophaga coronata at East Coast, Ramsey Island, Pembrokeshire on November 4th 1994.

Yellow-rumped Warbler | Martyn Hayes

A 1st winter Blackpoll Warbler - Setophaga striata at Bewl Water, Royal Tunbridge Wells, E. Sussex on December 18th 1994.

Blackpoll Warbler

A 1st winter Northern Waterthrush - Parkesia noveboracensis in the Observatory Gardens, Portland Bill, Dorset on October 15th 1996.

Northern Waterthrush

A 1st winter male Common Yellowthroat - Geothlypis trichas on Harry's Wall's from Porthloo Lane, St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly on October 17th 1997.

Common Yellowthroat | Martyn Hayes

A 1st winter male Wilson's Warbler - Cardellina pusilla at Port Nis, Lewis, Western Isles on October 16th 2015.

Wilson's Warbler | Martyn Hayes

A 1st winter male Yellow Warbler - Setophaga aestiva at Culverwell, Portland, Dorset on August 21st 2017.

Yellow Warbler | Martyn Hayes

... and hopefully something as spectacular this autumn!

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Boobs and Breasts!

Brown Booby and Buff-breasted Sandpiper in Cornwall in September 2019

After what appeared to be a second Brown Booby spotted in Cornwall I was keen to see the 1st summer bird lingering around Kynance Cove on the Lizard!

The second summer had disappeared from S. Ives on September 1st and what was thought to be the same bird was found at Kynance Cove on September 2nd! Clearly different birds I was keen to take a look at the Kynance Cove individual so made the effort to get down there on September 6th.

On arrival it was perched on rocks viewable from the coastal footpath around a kilometre west of the car park where it showed well.

Brown Booby in Kynance Cove, Cornwall in September 2019 | Martyn Hayes

It spent around forty-five minutes roosting before lifting to cruise around the adjacent coves to fish. Whilst in the coves it showed really well giving some excellent and prolonged flight views.



Brown Booby in Kynance Cove, Cornwall in September 2019 | Martyn Hayes

On the way back I diverted to Davidstow Airfield near Camelford to try to catch up with an adult Buff-breasted Sandpiper that had been reported there. As it happened the bird was still present, was very obliging and gave some superbly close, intimate views.


Buff-breasted Sandpiper on Davidstow Airfield, Cornwall in September 2019 | Martyn Hayes

Thursday, 5 September 2019

UK Twitching - Part Two!

The five most recent additions to my UK forms list!

Eastern Black Redstart - Phoenicurus ochruros phoenicuroides/ rufiventris on Lindisfarne, Northumberland in November 2011 | Martyn Hayes

Masked Wagtail - Motacilla alba personata at Camrose, Pembrokeshire in December 2016 | Martyn Hayes

American Horned Lark - Eremophila alpestris hoyti at Staines Reservoir, Surrey in November 2017 | Martyn Hayes

Thayer's Gull - Larus glaucoides thayeri on Ibsley Water, Hampshire in February 2018

Ashy-headed Wagtail - Motacilla flava cinereocapilla on Northwick Warth, S. Gloucestershire in April 2018

UK Twitching - Part One!

Recent additions to my UK life list!

For those among you who are in the slightest bit interested here are the last ten additions to my UK life list Including the anticipated acceptance of Brown Booby!

Western Swamphen - Porphyrio porphyrio at Minsmere, Suffolk in August 2016 | Martyn Hayes

Black-browed Albatross - Thalassarche melanophris from Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire in October 2016

Siberian Accentor - Prunella montanella from Vicar's Lane, Easington, Yorkshire in October 2016

Great Snipe - Gallinago media on Borth Bog, Ynyslas, Ceredigion in May 2017

Amur Falcon - Falco amurensis near Polgigga, Cornwall in July 2017 | Martyn Hayes

Yellow Warbler - Setophaga aestiva at Culverwell, Portland, Dorset in August 2017 | Martyn Hayes

Rock Thrush - Monticola saxatilis at Pwll Du Quarry, Blorenge, Gwent in October 2017

Eastern Orphean Warbler - Sylvia crassirostris at Lower Town, St. Agnes Isles of Scilly in October 2017

Grey Catbird - Dumetella carolinensis at Trevescan, Cornwall in October 2018 | Martyn Hayes

Brown Booby - Sula leucogaster in St. Ives Bay, Cornwall in August 2019 | Martyn Hayes

The ten birds mentioned above takes my UK species life list to 504. Add to that seventy-six forms also seen my total UK life list currently stands at 580.

Brown Booby - Sula leucogaster

St. Ives Bay, St. Ives, Cornwall on August 29th 2019

2nd calendar year Brown Booby in St. Ives Bay, Cornwall in August 2019

This first for Britain 2nd calendar year Brown Booby had been found in St. Ives bay a couple of days previously and appeared to be lingering in the area!

Deciding to twitch it I made my way down to Cornwall connecting with an 'introduced' White Stork as I drove by Ryan's Fields on the Hayle and was 'eventually' installed at the watch point on St. Ives Island. There were still some folks looking at plenty of Gannet along with some 'look alike' immature birds, thousands of Manx and several Balearic Shearwater, Guillemots, good numbers of Mediterranean Gull, both Arctic and Great Skua but NO Brown Booby!

Deciding that early morning would be the best chance I stayed down overnight and was back in St. Ives and parking up at 08:12. Placing the car park ticket in the car a message was received stating that the Booby was on show in St. Ives bay at... 08:12! Unbelievable!

Dashing the 50 metres to the aforementioned watch point on St. Ives Island I was quickly put on to the bird across the bay.

Although distant the bird was showing quite well and the main characteristics were suitably noted. I continued to watch it for another half an hour cruising the shoreline, diving and feeding on the sea before it powered east and was lost to view past Godrevy Island.

It was reported several time during the day but was last noted 12 kilometres west past Pendeen late in the day?
Large Tortoiseshell - Nymphalis polychloros

Tout Quarry, Portland, Dorset on February 27th 2019

Large Tortoiseshell in Tout Quarry, Portland in February 2019 | Martyn Hayes

In February 2019 several Large Tortoiseshell butterflies were reported along the south coast of the UK, two of which were lingering in Tout Quarry on Portland!

They were both seen late in the day on February 26th so plans were made to visit the site the following day.

Arriving on site late morning the day was bright and sunny if a little windy so 'pinning' them down would be a tad tricky. However after about an hour or so one was located in a sunny ravine where I managed to get very brief, unsatisfactory views of one pitched before it darted off!

Another painful wait until a second individual (determined from the first by obvious wing damage) was located in another sheltered ravine nearby where it was out in the open and in full sun.

Once located it was well watched both pitched and on the wing and showing what appeared to be territorial aggression towards other species, especially Peacock.


Grey Catbird - Dumetella carolinensis

Treeve Moor House Farm, Trevescan, Cornwall on October 20th 2018

1st winter Grey Catbird at Trevescan, Cornwall in October 2018 | Martyn Hayes

After a week on St. Anges, Isles of Scilly and this Grey Catbird lingering near Lands End, I was champing at the bit to get off Island and twitch it!

I'd had a look for the previous occurrence (one at South Stack, Anglesey in 2001) but had next to zero views of a fleeting, skulking 'thing' that might have been it!

So with bated breath I eventually arrived at Trevescan near Lands End and after a tedious thirty minute wait the catbird eventually put on a rather rewarding performance. It showed well in late afternoon sunshine c.150 metres north-north-west of Treeve Moor House and was heard both calling and in sub-song.

It was present from October 15th - 29th 2018 and was probably the second British record.