UK Bird News October 2016

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MEGA Eyebrowed thrush - rare sighting sparks twitcher stampede to Northumberland

MEGA Eyebrowed thrush - rare sighting sparks twitcher stampede to Northumberland

Student Ross Moore took a walk around Northumberland beauty spot Bolam Lake Country Park and sparked a birding stampede.
Ross, who has just taken up wildlife photography, was walking around Bolam Lake Country Park on Friday afternoon with his parents when he photographed a bird perched in a nearby hawthorn tree.
His father Andrew trained his binoculars on the tree and concluded that it was a bird he had never seen before.
When they returned to the family home in Prudhoe, they identified it as an eyebrowed thrush, which breeds in Siberia and migrates for the winter to south East Asia.
Once Ross posted his pictures online, it sparked an internet surge from birders across the country.
“Everything went into meltdown, and it started to sink in about what I had stumbled across,,” said Ross.
It turned out to be the first eyebrowed thrush to be seen in Northumberland and only the 24th to be recorded in the UK, with the last bird accessible to spotters being back in 1995.
Ross said: “I returned to Bolam Lake at first light on Saturday and there were between 70 and 100 birders there.
“Some had come from places like Hampshire, Sussex and Glasgow and had driven through the night to get there to see a bird with mega-rare status.
“I got a lot of handshakes and congratulations. I was told it was a ‘lifer’, which is a bird you may see once in a lifetime and that I had been very lucky.”
Tim Dean, county recorder for the Northumberland and Tyneside Bird Club, said: “It is an extraordinary and genuine record. It is amazing and nobody believed it at first.
“But it is all credit to Ross and I shook his hand."
The bird has now vanished. Tim said: “If it had stayed it would have attracted literally hundreds and hundreds of people.”
He said that the bird had probably arrived on easterly winds which had also delivered other species rare to Britain.
These included several Siberian accentors on the east cost, including one bird at Easington in County Durham which had a long queue of birders snaking around the site to catch a glimpse. Sightings were also made at Holy Island and Newbiggin by the Sea.
Other eastern European species such as the Isabelline wheatear and shrike have also turned up on Holy Island.
“It has been an extraordinary autumn with the winds bringing birds from Siberia to the North East,” said Tim.
Story Newcastle Evening Chronicle

MEGA Twitchers flock to village car park to catch glimpse of rare Siberian bird never seen in the UK before

From The Telegraph

Hundreds of twitchers descended on a small village on Friday after a rare bird never seen in mainland Britain before landed - in a car park.
The massive crowd of birdwatchers travelled to Easington in Yorkshire to catch sight of the Siberian accentor.
It is thought it has been brought to the UK on relentless easterly winds which saw exceptional numbers of Siberian birds touching down on British soil.
The bird had made one appearance in the Shetlands last week - but has now been spotted in a car park behind Easington's gas terminal.
By 8.30am on Friday around 900 bird fans had queued up and were waiting to be led to a fence overlooking the site to get a better look.
RSPB investigator Tim Jones, 25, is a volunteer and Spurn Bird Observatory and he and his fellow volunteers having being helping to manage the throngs of people turning up in the village.


He said: "This is a mega rare bird and it's only the second time its been Britain and the first time on the British mainland.
"The first time it was spotted was a week ago in the Shetlands."They are not meant to be here but the recent weather has been exceptional and blown them off course.
"It was first seen about 3pm yesterday in a little car park in Easington, just behind the Easington gas terminal.







"It has been crazy here, 400 people were here this morning, even before they could see the bird and the crowd just grew.

"We have had people from all over, North Wales, London Somerset, and we are expecting more to turn up as the news travels.

"Only around 150 people can look through the fence and see the bird at one time and we have been organising a queue system, people can see the bird for ten minutes, then got he back of the queue and wait their turn again.

The accentor is distant relative of the common British dunnock but is distinguished by its black and creamy facial markings.

Majestic Welsh common crane takes flight after a four century wait

Majestic Welsh common crane takes flight after a four century wait

A Welsh-born common crane has taken to the skies of Wales, for the first time in around 400 years.
A pair of these spectacular wetland birds nested on the Gwent Levels this year, successfully rearing a single chick which flew for the first time in August.
The adult birds originate from the Great Crane Project1 reintroduction scheme which released ninety-three hand-reared cranes between 2010 and 2014 on the Somerset Levels and Moors area on the RSPB4 West Sedgemoor Reserve in Somerset2.
Standing at a height of 4ft, this graceful grey bird with a long, elegant neck and a drooping, curved tail-like bustle and whose deep sonorous call can be heard at a distance of over three miles, is a stunning sight.
Damon Bridge, RSPB manager of the Great Crane Project, said: “These wonderful birds died out across the UK sometime in the 1600s, having been a favourite of the medieval dinner table. Seeing them spread back into their former haunts highlights the importance of protecting our wetlands.
Cranes need very quiet, secluded, wet areas to breed, and an area of the Gwent Levels7 provided just the right mix of a secluded nest site and undisturbed, food-rich rearing habitat for this pair, which will almost certainly return again to breed next year.
Richard Archer, RSPB conservation officer for the Somerset Levels and the Severn Estuary, said: “Although most of the released birds have now reached breeding age, this Welsh pair is one of only three that have successfully reared young this year, so they are really crucial to the project’s long term success. Cranes could do well on parts of the Gwent Levels if the habitat can be restored to its former glory”.
The parent birds are known as Lofty and Gibble and the newly fledged chick has been given the name, Garan, the Welsh word for crane. All three have now returned to Somerset where they are likely to spend the winter with the growing flock of around 60 birds.
Nevertheless, having successfully raised a chick at the Gwent Levels, there’s a very good chance that they’ll return there to breed once again next year.
One pair successfully bred in Somerset and another in Wiltshire this year. The UK’s wild crane population now stands at about 160 birds, roughly half from the reintroduction project and half from a natural re-colonisation that has been occurring in the east of the country since the late 1970s.
The Great Crane Project was funded by Viridor Credits Environmental Company6 and drew on the expertise of the RSPB, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust3 and the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust5.

You can find out more about the project and where to see the cranes in the wild at:
www.thegreatcraneproject.org.uk

One of Scotlandís rarest birds thriving in Dumfries and Galloway

One of Scotland’s rarest birds thriving in Dumfries and Galloway

The nightjar, one of Scotland’s rarest and most unusual birds, appears to be thriving in Dumfries and Galloway, after good numbers were reported from surveys this summer.

Due to their largely nocturnal habits, nightjar populations are estimated by counting the number of males heard singing, or ‘churring’, after sunset. In 2016 a record number of 40 churring males were counted in Dumfries and Galloway, the highest number since survey work commenced there in the 1980s, and double that recorded in 2015.

Nightjars are on the northerly edge of their range in Scotland, where they prefer to breed in re-stocked forestry plantations or clear-felled sites. Their success has come about following dedicated work by Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES) to create and maintain suitable habitat in traditional nightjar areas.

RSPB Scotland’s Chris Rollie, said: “Nightjars are really fascinating birds, yet most people have never seen one, and know very little about them. The UK population suffered historical declines due to habitat loss, and nightjars are now amber-listed birds of medium conservation concern.

“However, FES has worked for many years to support the local population in Galloway, and it looks like it’s really paying off with these great records coming in from our loyal band of volunteers in the local Nightjar Study Group. There are also signs that some modern forestry practices might benefit the species. Hopefully the upwards trend will continue into the future.”

Nightjars are crepuscular birds, which means they’re most active at dusk and dawn. They hunt moths, which they catch in their huge mouths, and have large eyes to help them see in poor light. Their cryptic, intricate plumage helps them stay hidden when they incubate or roost on the ground during the day, and their churring calls, which are very distinctive, can sound more like frogs or insects rather than birds.

Nightjars only stay in the UK during the summer months, spending their winters in central and southeastern Africa, and will already now be on their way to warmer climes.

Andrew Jarrott from Forest Enterprise Scotland, Galloway Forest District said: “A lot of careful thought goes into the design and management of our forests to create a wide range of habitats suitable for many species across Scotland. It is marvellous that nightjars appear to be responding, as it is a very special experience to hear them churring in the dusk of a late spring night. We hope their numbers continue to increase.”

RSPB Scotland launches urgent appeal for critical Solway Firth site

RSPB Scotland launches urgent appeal for critical Solway Firth site

3 October 2016

RSPB Scotland has today launched an urgent appeal to help secure one of the most important places for migrating geese in the country. Over 40,000 Svalbald barnacle geese migrate to the Solway Firth every year, with a quarter of these settling at RSPB Scotland Mersehead. The reserve will soon be filled with the sights and sounds of these geese as they arrive once again from the Arctic circle.

Now RSPB Scotland has the opportunity to expand this reserve by 112 hectares and provide an even bigger home for these majestic birds over the winter months. The conservation organisation needs to raise £285,000 by 31st October in order to secure this land neighbouring the reserve, including an area which will allow two separate parts of the reserve to be linked up.

It’s not just the migrating geese that will benefit from this land becoming part of RSPB Scotland Mersehead. The reserve is home to the only Scottish population of the country’s rarest amphibian, natterjack toads, and every spring their croaks can be listened out for as they emerge from hibernation. In summer the reserve comes alive with yellowhammers, linnets and lapwings, while pintails, teals and widgeons flock there in the autumn and waders such as oystercatchers, golden plovers and increasingly rare curlews join the geese over winter.

Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland said: “RSPB Scotland Mersehead is an outstanding place for wildlife and now we have the opportunity to make it even bigger and better for some of Scotland’s rarest species, and the many others that make their home there. Throughout the year visitors to the reserve can experience the wonders of nature from the calls of skylarks in spring, and the tumbling display of breeding lapwings, to the iconic sight of the Svalbald barnacle geese arriving in huge numbers at this time of year.

“Since becoming an RSPB Scotland reserve in 1994 Mersehead has been transformed from intensive agricultural land to wetlands, reedbeds and salt marshes teeming with life, whilst also introducing wildlife friendly farming to ensure that the birds, mammals, amphibians and insects found there can thrive in harmony with these sympathetic farming systems. We’re immensely proud of what we have achieved here so far and any donations made to this appeal will help allow us to continue this transformational journey that began a generation ago. Please do help us realise our vision of giving nature a far bigger, better home at Mersehead.”

As well as providing more interconnected habitats for wildlife the incorporation of the land into the reserve will also offer opportunities for more access trails across the site allowing visitors to further immerse themselves in the spectacular scenery and provide more opportunities to experience the special wildlife of the Solway Firth. Joining up the land in the reserve will also see benefits for the management of the site from revitalising burns and ditches to creating greater stretches of salt marsh. It will mean that this work is more cost effective, ensuring that the conservation organisation’s charitable funds can work harder and deliver even more for nature, and any additional funds raised through the appeal will go towards the investment required to manage this new part of the reserve, enhancing the wildlife habitats and make RSPB Scotland’s plans for visitors a reality. Click here to help the appeal

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