Birds in England 9781472597632, 9780713665307, 9781408128237

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Birds in England
 9781472597632, 9780713665307, 9781408128237

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6. Birds in England, i January 2001-31 August 2004

The aim of this section is to provide information on birds in England subsequent to the end of 2000, i.e. beyond the period covered by the species accounts. It provides a brief summary of the occurrence of species new to England and of the rarest of vagrants, of the more interesting records of rare breeding birds and scarce migrants, and the preliminary results of some recent surveys. In short, it identifies any particularly notable events between the end of 2000 and when we went to press. Three species have been recorded for the first time in England since the end of 2000. There have now been three records of Red-billed Tropicbird Phaethon aethereus, a vagrant from the tropical oceans: in Sea Area Sole, about 32km south-southeast of Scilly on 7 June 2001; about 6.5km east of Scilly on 29 March 2002 and about 1.5km off The Lizard, Cornwall on 21 April 2002. The second new species, a Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus, was on Bryher, Scilly from 24-28 September 2001. This species breeds in the eastern Palearctic from the River Ob to the Pacific coast and winters in the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The third species new to England was Audouin's Gull Larus audouinii. A second-summer individual was at Dungeness, Kent on 5-7 May 2003. The species breeds in the Mediterranean and is a partial migrant, wintering along the Atlantic coast from Morocco to Senegal. Potential first records of a Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla at Flamborough, Yorkshire from 26-29 April 2003 and of a Brown Skua Stercorarius antarctica on Scilly on 7 October 2001 remain under consideration by BBRC and BOU. There were many further records of rare birds in England but the following are outstanding as they relate to the rarest species to have graced our shores, those with ten or fewer records by the end of 2000:

Allen's Gallinule: Weston, Pordand, Dorset 10 February 2002 (with the species now moving from Category B to A). Red-necked Stint: Somersham Gravel Pits, Cambridgeshire 21—22 September 2001. Lesser Sandplover: Rimac, Lincolnshire 11-15 May 2002 and Keyhaven, Hampshire 22—26 July 2003. Chimney Swift: St. Mary's, Scilly 28 October 2001. Little Swift: Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire 25 June 2002; St. Mary's, Scilly 17 May 2002 and 28 April 2003 and Netherfield Lagoon, Nottinghamshire 26-29 May 2001. Cliff Swallow: St. Agnes, St. Martin's and St. Mary's, Scilly 26-30 Oct 2001. Blyth's Pipit: Gringley Carr, Nottinghamshire 28 December 2002 to 5 January 2003. Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler: Blakeney Point, Norfolk 22—24 September 2001 and Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland 29 September 2001. Lanceolated Warbler: Annet, Scilly 22-23 September 2002.

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler: Portland, Dorset 31 August 2003.

Sykes's Warbler: Sheringham, Norfolk 23 August 2002 and Beachy Head, Sussex 31 August 2002. Marmora's Warbler: Scolt Head, Norfolk 12 and 18 May 2001 and Sizewell, Suffolk 29 May 2001. Iberian Chiffchaff: Kingswear, Devon 19 May-17 June 2003.

Collared Flycatcher: Church Norton, Sussex 20 June 2002. White-throated Sparrow: Flamborough, Yorkshire 22-29 October 2002 and Caldy, Cheshire 21-23 May 2003. Black-faced Bunting: Lundy, Devon 12 October 2001. Ovenbird: near Much Marcle, Herefordshire 20 December 2001 to 16 February 2002. Some rarities and scarce migrants appeared in unusual numbers in the period. For example, an influx of 14 Glossy Ibises in September 2002 was the largest since 1986. There were eight birds at Budleigh Salterton, Devon on 4—5 September. A modest influx of Cranes in early spring 2003 saw 10 birds over Coventry, Warwickshire on 26 February. Autumn 2003 saw the largest-ever influx of Pectoral Sandpipers, with perhaps 150 birds in the country. Parties of three were widespread from Topsham, Devon in the south (on 11-12 September) to Ripon, Yorkshire in the north (from 19 September to 5 October), and a party of four was at Denge Marsh, Kent on 25 September. About 10 Pallas's Warblers were recorded in England in autumn 2001, the lowest number recorded since 1973. In contrast, large numbers of both Pallas's and Yellow-browed Warblers

Green Heron: Messingham Quarry, Lincolnshire 24 September-2 October 2001. Canvasback: Pennington Flash, Greater Manchester n—30 July 2002. Bufflehead: Great Livermere, Suffolk n June intermittently to 9 October 2002. Pallid Harrier: Elmley, Kent 3-20 August 2002; Stiffkey and Warham Greens, Norfolk 24 December 2002—30 March 2003; Sennen, Cornwall 29-30 March 2003; Spurn, Yorkshire 1-3 April 2003 and Blakeney Point, Norfolk 16-17 May 2003. Lesser Kestrel: St. Mary's, Scilly 13—21 May 2002. Eleonora's Falcon: Reydon, Suffolk 3 October 2003. 6ip

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arrived in autumn 2003, with at least 150 of the former and 350 of the latter in the country in October. Following the influx of autumn 2000, large numbers of Waxwings remained in the country in early 2001, with flocks of 240 in South Shields, Co. Durham on 13 January, 200 in Broadstairs, Kent on 23 March and with an individual as far southwest as Weymouth, Dorset on 27 and 28 January. Another irruption commenced in earnest in the second week of January 2003 with some 2,000—3,000 birds widespread across the country by February. The greater numbers remained in the northern counties, with large flocks in some midland and northern cities including a flock of 280 birds in Bradford, Yorkshire on 1 March. More arrived in autumn 2003, with large numbers especially in northeastern England where there were 300 birds in Jarrow, Co. Durham on 22 and 23 November and 200 in Beeston, Leeds on 27 December. Some reached much further south and southeastwards with 70 in Shottisham, Suffolk by 2 December and 15 in Sandwich, Kent on 27 December. An unprecedentedly large number of Rose-coloured Starlings arrived in spring 2002, part of a huge westwards irruption across Europe at the time. The first bird appeared at Porthgwarra, Cornwall on 31 May, and about 75 were reported in England in June. The visible passage of seabirds in the period was generally unremarkable but a record 2,674 Sooty Shearwaters passed Flamborough, Yorkshire on 22 September 2002. Rather fewer were recorded further south in the country, but compensation at nearby Spurn came as a Black-browed Albatross passed close inshore on the same day. Large numbers of Little Gulls were reported from the North Sea in both autumn 2002 and 2003, culminating in a count of 10,000 past Spurn, Yorkshire on 12 September 2003. Exceptional movements of Little Auks were associated with strong northerly winds in November 2001, when 5,000 passed Flamborough, Yorkshire and 8,186 passed the Fame Islands, Northumberland on 9 November, and in January 2003, when 9,700 passed Flamborough, Yorkshire and 5,150 passed Hauxley, Northumberland on 31 January. A good movement of Leach's Petrels saw 310 in the Mersey mouth during northwesterly storms on 15 September 2001. Those on pelagic trips from Scilly continued to find Wilson's Petrels in the waters around the islands. With records of 29,18 and 40 birds in 2000, 2001 and 2002, respectively, it is now clear that the species regularly occurs in some numbers in these waters. The species was also recorded from the North Sea for the first time on 1 September 2002, about 20km east of Cambois, Northumberland. Some scarce migrants were recorded in unusually large parties. Two Broad-billed Sandpipers were at Cley, Norfolk from 3-6 August 2002, the first recorded multiple occurrence of the species in England (and in Britain as a whole) and three Great White Egrets were at Stone Point, Essex on n May 2002, the first time three have been found together in the country. Five Green-winged Teal were on Maer Lake, Cornwall on 26 December 2002.

Six Temminck's Stints were at Cley, Norfolk on 1 August 2002, six were at Stiffkey Fen, Norfolk on 23 May 2003 and 10 were on the Nene Washes, Cambridgeshire on 4 June 2001, and 15 Spoonbills were at Holkham, Norfolk on 26 July 2002. A roost of 5,736 Ring-necked Parakeets at Esher Rugby Club, London on 22 June 2003 must have been an impressive if noisy and, to many, unfortunate spectacle, but for sheer biomass, pride of place must go to the 112,830 Pink-footed Geese which roosted in Norfolk on 29 December 2003, the largest total yet in the county and about a third of the total population which breeds in Iceland and east Greenland. Nearly all of these birds were at just three north west Norfolk roosts: 27,000 at Snettisham, 33,000 at Scolt Head and 40,000 off Wells. Amongst the more unusual breeding records, Bee-eaters bred in a quarry at Bishop Middleham, Co. Durham, fledging two chicks from a brood of five in 2002, the first breeding record since 1955. A pair of Hen Harriers bred in Cornwall in 2002, fledging three young. This is almost certainly the first time the birds have bred in the county and is well away from their recent northern breeding strongholds. Three Chough occupied sea cliffs in the same county in spring 2001, following an influx of birds into the country between late January and early May, details of which were clouded by the limited access available to the countryside during the foot and mouth epidemic. A single pair bred in Cornwall in both 2002 and 2003, fledging three young in each year; this pair fledged four young in 2004. These are the first instances of successful breeding since 1947 and the county now boasts a population of some 10—12 birds. The number of Little Egrets breeding in the country continued to increase, with breeding activity as far north as Frodsham, Cheshire in 2001 and both Norfolk and Lancashire in 2002. The number of large roosts in eastern England, such as that at Holkham, Norfolk, with 115 birds on 17 November 2003 and St.Osyth, Essex, with 118 birds on 10 December 2001 continued to increase and several now rival the huge Thorney Deeps and Thorney Island roosts in Sussex. The fortunes of most farmland birds changed but little and neither the recendy lost Red-backed Shrike nor the Wryneck bred again to give hope that they might return. A brood of Corncrakes was found on the Nene Washes, Cambridgeshire in August 2004, an unexpectedly early result of the RSPB/English Nature reintroduction programme which commenced in 2003 and which, hopefully, hints at the scheme's future success. The numbers of Cirl Buntings approached 700 in 2003. Also in 2003, 43 booming Bitterns were recorded, and Stone Curlew numbers peaked at 261 pairs (in each case more than in any year since systematic counting began to underpin conservation efforts). The preliminary results of the 2003 Peregrine survey indicated that the number of breeding pairs had increased by about 10% since 1991. There are now about 1,405 pairs breeding in the UK and Isle of Man. Some of the larger increases have been in England: numbers have at least doubled since 1991 in southeast England, now with an

Birds in England 2001-2004 21 estimated 39 occupied territories, in inland southwest England, now with an estimated 71 occupied territories, the west midlands and the Lancashire lowlands, with 49 occupied territories, and central, eastern and northeast England with 19 territories. Many new territories are on coastal cliffs, in quarries or on pylons and buildings. Interestingly, the use of man-made structures has allowed birds to breed in areas with no known recent history of occupancy. The

preliminary results of the 2002 Bearded Tit survey suggest an English population of 500-550 pairs, a considerable increase on numbers a decade previously. Finally, an unsuccessful breeding attempt by Cranes in northern England was well beyond the species' recent Broadland stronghold. Together, these successes give us hope that the ceaseless efforts of the conservation community can be effective in conserving our most threatened birdlife.