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Birdwatch

Breakaway
warblers
Why more Blackcaps
are wintering in the UK
From Brnnichs
to Baikal Teal
Exclusive fnders
account and photos
The home of birding www.birdwatch.co.uk Issue 259 January 2014 4.10
DISPLAY UNTIL 22 JANUARY
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www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 3
THIS ISSUE JANUARY 2014
Contents
This publication is
printed by Warners
01778 395111
ADVISORY PANEL
Tim Appleton MBE
Mike Fraser
Chris Harbard
Erik Hirschfeld
Stephen Moss
Killian Mullarney
Bill Oddie OBE
Hadoram Shirihai
Keith Vinicombe
Martin Woodcock
Steve Young
REGULARS
6 The big picture
The stunning spectacle of a Starling roost.
8 The big stories
Baikal Teal, an exclusive finders account of
the swim-by Brnnichs Guillemot and the
low-down on orphean warbler and harriers.
14 Analysis: rarities
A Dusky Thrush was the rarest bird of the
month, while the crossbill invasion
continued apace.
18 Analysis: scarcities
There were plenty of Great Egrets, Glossy
Ibises and Surf Scoters among the
expected geese and ducks.
22 Western Palearctic
A showy Hawk Owl in the The Netherlands
enticed British birders to cross the
Channel.
35 Mark Avery
What effect do the millions of Pheasants
released every year have on native wildlife?
92 Your letters and photos
Find out what an ex-reader thought about
Bill Oddies attack on the government.
94 Murmurations
Thoughts on Scilly from our newest
columnist, Lucy McRobert.
Is there a more keenly
awaited date in the birding
calendar than 1 January?
Mid-winter might lack the
species diversity of spring and
autumn migration, and also
fail epically with the weather
compared to summer, but theres nothing like
the new year to get birding going again in
earnest its the perfect antidote to Christmas
excess and seasonal doldrums.
To prove the point, weve got lots of
practical advice this month on how to make
2014 your ultimate birding year. If youve
never tried year listing before, our guide to
getting the high score of 300 species in Britain
and Ireland over the next 12 months (pages
37-40) is essential reading start planning
your strategy with tips from someone who
hit that target 10 years on the trot. And while
premier-league listing can be great fun, it can
also provide insights into increases and declines
in our birds my own local year-listing
experiences in London over the last decade
bear this out, but for a fascinating 50-year
review turn to pages 55-58.
If its short-term birding gains youre after,
a better option might be a January big day
have you ever done the ton on 1st? If not,
nows your chance: this months where-to-
watch section is geared to areas with a proven
track record (or at least a very good chance)
of producing a century of species even in the
shortened daylight hours of mid-winter. If you
decide to follow one of these itineraries and hit
that magic gure, please tell us all about your
day (email editorial@birdwatch.co.uk).
Birding is much more than a numbers
game, of course, and elsewhere in this
issue youll nd everything from goose
identication to garden bird feeding, as well
as the chance to win a tour of Shetland and
plenty of holiday ideas in our exclusive free
World of Birds supplement. Happy New Year!
Birdwatch
EDITORIAL OFFICE
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Twitter: @BirdwatchNews
Managing Editor: Dominic Mitchell
Sub-Editor: Rebecca Armstrong
Staff Writer: David Callahan
Head of Design: Lynn Wright
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Identification Consultant:
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Publisher: Rob McDonnell
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ISSN 0967-1870
No part of this magazine may be reproduced,
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not necessarily those of Warners Group
Publications or its staff. No liability can be
accepted for any loss or damage to material
submitted, however caused.
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1401 contents v3.indd 3 12/13/2013 3:31:57 PM
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www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 5
THIS ISSUE JANUARY 2014
FEATURES
37 300 or bust!
Richard Bonser, who has himself hit that
magic 300 species total many times, offers
his best advice on how to do a year list.
42 Your big year
Why do a big year? David Callahan takes a
look at those past and present for
inspiration.
45 Pink-footed, Tundra Bean and Taiga
Bean Geese ID photo guide
Learn how to separate these rather
similar grey geese.
55 Make your year list count
Keith Vinicombe looks back at 50 years
of listing and discovers some interesting
trends in the species he has seen.
60 Breakaway Blackcaps
More than ever Blackcaps are wintering in
our gardens, but why, and where are they
coming from? Mike Alibone investigates.
66 Your big garden year
The RSPBs Gemma Butlin provides a
step-by-step guide to what to do in your
garden to attract birds throughout the year.
READER SERVICES
59 Subscriptions
Sign up to receive a free pair of
Bridgedale socks.
41 Competition
Your chance to win a fantastic spring trip
to Shetland worth 1,295, courtesy of
Shetland Nature.
77 Birdwatch Bookshop
Owls, a photographic tome by two of
Europes top photographers, is this
months star book.
78 Reader holidays
A fantastic trip to Estonia is this months
featured break see Stellers Eider,
Three-toed Woodpecker, owls and a host
of mammals.
60
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and get a FREE pair of
Bridgedale socks
See page 59 for more details or call 01778 392027
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55
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are put through their
paces by Mike Alibone. Also
on test, a new camera and
digiscoping adapter from
Nikon, American field guide
apps and the BTOs new
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Learn how to identify
Black-throated Diver,
save money by making your
own bird food and go year
listing to improve your field
skills. Plus news and the
latest taxonomic changes.
Kick off
your
years birding
by getting 100
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hopefully! on your
list with these great
itineraries in north Norfolk,
Dorset, Kent, Suffolk,
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January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


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ne of winters most spectacular
sights is provided by that most
ubiquitous of species: Starling.
After spending the day feeding, birds can
form ocks of hundreds of thousands of
individuals before ying of to roost.
These swirling masses are hypnotic
to watch, as the birds constantly change
place, without ever crashing into one
another. Known as murmurations, it is
thought that the birds gather together
like this to both keep warm and for
protection from predators.
Our new column, by Lucy McRobert, is
also called Murmurations. See page 96.
BIRD NEWS THE BIG PICTURE
Flight control
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January 2014 7
BIRD NEWS THE BIG PICTURE
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BIRD NEWS THE BIG STORIES
Baikal Teals face ts
FOR working birders, Saturday 30
November proved a fortuitously
convenient date when a Baikal
Teal was found at the very
accessible location of Marshside
This rst-winter Baikal Teal at Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk, in November 2001
was the rst with good credentials as a wild bird in modern times, and birders
breathed a sigh of relief when it was belatedly accepted in 2009.
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Baikal Teal is now frmly on the British list and on birders radars, but when a bird
appeared in Lancashire a perceived plumage anomaly caused some debate at frst.
For a brief initial period,
the birds identity came under
scrutiny. While the correct size
and build, and showing virtually
all the plumage features expected
of the species, the absence of
the black line descending from
the small eye-patch and curving
under the chin raised a few
eyebrows, particularly on the
birding forums. However, research
online and correspondence with
Far Eastern birders soon showed
that a pale line instead of black
is quite frequent in Asia in adult
males. The black line may also be
moulting in, so birders await any
changes in the birds face pattern
if it remains, as it seems to be
doing in early December.
Baikal Teal was only recently
admitted to Category A of the
British Ornithologists Unions
British list in October 2009,
though many others (including
Birdwatch) accepted that wild
RSPB; the bird in question
remained fairly loyal to the
site thereafter, fitting between
Crossens Outer and Crossens
Inner Marshes.
individuals were reaching Western
Europe from their east Asian
homelands, where the species
is very common. A bird shot in
Tillingham, Essex, on 1 January
1906 became a retrospective
British frst, as a result of the
then unavailable technique
of stable isotope analysis
suggesting that the bird had not
been hatched in western Europe.
The committee then accepted
a widely twitched (and frequently
privately ticked) bird from
Minsmere, Suffolk, in November
to December 2001 onto the list,
to the approval of many. Since
then birds have been accepted
from Oxfordshire in 2002 and
Essex in 2010, with another in Co
Wexford, Ireland, also in 2010.
An individual seen by many at
Flamborough Head, East Yorks,
on 16 April this year (see http://
bit.ly/baikalteal) seems likely to
be accepted too.
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January 2014 9
BIRD NEWS THE BIG STORIES
The drake Baikal Teal looks completely at home among its
likely carrier species Eurasian Teal and Eurasian Wigeon.
Larger than Eurasian Teal, Baikal Teal has a vertical ank stripe like Green-
winged and a rear end recalling Gadwall. Doubts about the absence of a dark
cheek stripe were allayed after many images emerged of wild birds like this.
Mega Brnnichs
oats into view
Mark James Pearsons promenade
stroll delivered a frst for Yorkshire in
the last of the evening light.
WITH a wonderfully productive
year coming to an end in Filey,
North Yorkshire, activity had
predictably slowed up somewhat
by early December. After
classic east coast falls, quality
seawatching, a record-breaking
infux of Yellow-browed Warblers
and a satisfying haul of rarities,
autumn was undeniably over and
Id fnally resolved to take my foot
off the pedal and address the
mundanities of life once again.
But when the fruits hang low,
temptation often prevails; a
situation which came to pass
once again on 3rd, when despite
a deadline looming and dusk
approaching, a late, brief amble
along the seafront beckoned. With
the light fading fast, a camera
seemed excessive at best, but for
some reason I turned around and
grabbed it on the way out of the
door. The frst two links in a chain
of fortuitous decisions.
Initial scans produced little
more than a few Great Crested
Grebes, Common Scoters and
Red-throated Divers, so I opted
to head for the end of the
promenade and then home.
Before long, however, I stopped
and scanned directly behind me
again where, out of the blue,
a lone auk had materialised
relatively close inshore, swimming
away from me.
First impressions immediately
increased the heart rate: dark
upperparts, clean fanks, and a
head and bill seemingly at odds
with the obvious choices. But
surely I was getting carried away
and there had to be a more likely
explanation. Thankfully my feet
thought otherwise, and by running
along the promenade (scattering
evening strollers in the process) I
overtook the bird and had it pretty
much side on for the frst time as
it swam strongly north.
Despite best efforts to talk
myself out of it, I instinctively
knew that this was no
masquerading commoner, but the
real thing: a Brnnichs Guillemot
practically on my doorstep.
After a few precious minutes of
excellent views and unforgettable
exhilaration, I put the news out;
from there, another minutes
speed walk to the house to grab
the scope. Back down in the bay,
however, and despite searching in
the last of the remaining light, the
bird had gone as quietly as it had
originally appeared.
But by then Id begun to fully
appreciate the rapid-fre shots
of serendipity that seem almost
unimaginable in hindsight.
Id come within a whisker of
staying at home, and then of
leaving the camera there; Id
inexplicably looked back where
Id usually keep walking; Id felt
compelled to double-check where
Id otherwise have dismissed
it; and Id somehow timed my
walk to connect with a lone bird
passing by close inshore, which
just so happened to be an almost
off-the-radar rarity. If theres a
lesson there, then maybe its to
switch from auto-pilot to manual
whenever possible. But in truth, it
was just my very lucky day.
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In association with
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RARITIES: Brnnichs
Guillemot, Filey, North
Yorkshire, 3 December 2013
FINDERS REPORT
The solid dusky cheeks of winter-
plumaged Brnnichs Guillemot
make identication fairly easy
even at some distance.
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January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


of which they are regular users,
and received an understandable
request for a photo of the bird,
to check that it wasnt one of the
eastern forms that can turn up in
Britain in winter.
The following Thursday, images
were fnally captured and sent
to the blog, where they were
examined that evening by Mike
Young-Powell, who immediately
began to suspect that the bird
was an orphean warbler, a
Mediterranean complex now
split into two species: Western
and Eastern. The pictures were
anxiously circulated to Rich
Brown, warden at Skokholm,
who agreed with the ID. Mike
announced the new identifcation
on the blog, fnding that Ian
Bennell had also called the bird
on BirdForum independently
shortly afterwards.
With permission granted to
BirdGuides to put out the news
as access was granted, and
The reidentifcation of a Lesser Whitethroat as an orphean warbler caused a mass
twitch, but some remained circumspect until its specifc identity was fnally nailed.
before dawn the following Friday,
the Royles were greeted by the
frst hordes of visiting birders,
keen to add it to their list and get
close images on their cameras.
The news that it hadnt been
assigned to species in the frst
couple of days after its presence
was known publicly also enticed
the more esoteric listers as an
undeniably confrmed Eastern
Orphean Warbler has never been
sighted in Britain, and many would
be keen to have seen the bird in
case it proved to be that species.
Certainly the two species are
hard to separate, and for the frst
two days of public knowledge, it
was largely put out as orphean
warbler sp and other non-
committal permutations, but after
the outer tail feathers had been
seen, its identity was established
as a Western Orphean Warbler,
enabling many that had seen the
Hartlepool bird in May 2012 to
keep their horses stabled.
Warbler way
out west
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In association with
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The unmarked grey-buff undertail coverts typical of Western Orphean
Warbler are visible in this shot, along with the pale iris of an adult this
photo was the rst released to the public before the bird was reidentied.
The Royles overripe apples proved
manna to the Western Orphean
Warbler which remained loyal to
them throughout its stay.
SATURDAY 10 November had
seen the arrival of a rather
late Lesser Whitethroat in
Peter and Rosemary Royles
coastal Pembrokeshire back
garden in St Brides as they ate
breakfast; they noted it had an
exceptionally prominent white
eyering. They later placed a post
on the Pembrokeshre bird blog,
BIRD NEWS THE BIG STORIES
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January 2014 11
ID TIPS: ORPHEAN WARBLERS

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THE eld separation of Eastern and Western Orphean Warblers remains problematic. Nailing it as
an orphean sp is relatively easy, the bird being the size of a Barred Warbler, but resembling Lesser
Whitethroat with a prominent pale iris.
The tail pattern is key, particularly the amount of white on the outermost tail feather, which in
Western has an almost totally white outer web which ares onto the tip of the inner web the rest
of the inner web remains dark. In Eastern there is much more white on the inner web, resulting in a
longer white tip in all ages. Eastern also tends to have more white on the adjacent feather tip, too.
Secondary (sometimes less reliable) characters of the Welsh bird included an overall more
dusky appearance created by the unmarked grey-buff undertail coverts, with a dull buffy tinge to
the anks as well these are usually more white in the eastern species. The bird was generally
thought to be an adult owing to the white iris and unworn tertials.
Left and below: the Royles kindy opened their garden to visiting birders for
a window of a few days, understanding how popular the bird would be, but
then asked for their privacy to be respected afterwards.
However, the bird showed so
well as to remain tempting for
numerous others, and rightly
so while last years remained
skulking after it had been ringed,
and disappeared quickly the
same day, the St Brides bird was
not so shy, and returned regularly
and photogenically to feed in
the Royles apple trees. The bird
remained into early December.
For the Royles, their visiting
warbler would be memorable for
another reason: despite having
travelled extensively and seen
Eastern Orphean Warbler several
times, as well as thousands of
other species worldwide, Western
was a lifer their 4,377th species
in their own back garden!
The other good memory of
the period the warbler took up
residence was also close to
home: having both worked as
volunteers on Skokholm, the
householders had hurriedly put
out a bucket labelled Skokholm
Island Restoration Fund on the
frst morning of the twitch over
the frst four days they raised
1,185.
BIRD NEWS THE BIG STORIES
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In association with
www.birdguides.com
Despite supercially resembling
its smaller Sylvia cousins, Western
Orphean Warbler is roughly the size
of a Barred Warbler, while its head
shape perhaps betrays the genuss
close relationship to babblers.
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Juvenile Eastern Adult Western Adult Eastern
1401 p8-12 bigStories FIN.indd 11 12/12/2013 19:33
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BIRD NEWS THE BIG STORIES
After an almost blank historical slate,
Northern Harrier has become annual
in the last fve years in Britain and
Ireland but what is the cause of this
unprecedented change in status?
A question
of harriers
AMONG the prizes of this years
excellent autumn for American
vagrants were two possibly
three Northern Harriers Circus
hudsonius, a recently split
species (formerly a subspecies
of Hen Harrier) that is becoming
expected as a vagrant by birders
each year.
Of particular note was a
cracking second-winter bird
photographed by Bob Sharples
at Men-an-Tol, Cornwall, on 23
November, identifed from those
images by BirdGuides news
operator David Campbell the
following day.
He said: While trawling the
internet for news early in the
morning, I thought I'd take a
look at what seemed, from the
thumbnail, to be a good image of a
already been accepted for Britain,
and three all at Tacumshin, Co
Wexford for Ireland.
The recurrence of the species
at Tacumshin, where fve different
individuals have been seen
in four consecutive autumns,
strongly underlines the amazing
sudden change in status of this
widespread North American
bird, which is partly migratory
in its home continent. These
multiple appearances also raise
interesting questions about the
nature of the arrivals, and have
created much private and public
speculation among birders and
ornithologists. For instance, are
we underestimating the variability
of Hen Harrier in juvenile plumage
and mis-identifying extreme birds
as Northern? The current long-
stayer on the Ouse Washes in
Cambridgeshire has raised this
possibility, as it appears to show
several intermediate or grey
area features.
The presence of so many
juveniles indicates fresh birds
every year, but have there been
so many over here that a pair
or two has been surreptitiously
breeding somewhere in Atlantic
western Europe? Perhaps worse,
could these be interbreeding with
Hen Harrier to produce a few
confusing birds or even some
that are indistinguishable from
the real thing?
It seems most likely that
these are genuine vagrants, and
perhaps the most important
question is why has its status
changed? Have we been
missing Northern Harrier in
the past before its ID criteria
were recognised and frmed up
in birders heads, and it was
classed as a full species or
is there a genuine change in
migratory strategy at home that
is refected in these
contemporary records? Hopefully
a pattern will emerge from both
sides of the Atlantic over the next
few years.
The bird at Men-an-Tol, Cornwall photographed on 23rd in the belief that it was a Hen Harrier, being in company
with that species coming to roost is somewhat easier to identify in retrospect, showing the brownish-marked
anks, dark hood and ve black-tipped primaries of an adult or near-adult Northern Harrier.
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male Hen Harrier on the Cornwall
Bird Watching and Preservation
Society website. When the
full-sized version appeared, I
was immediately struck by the
markings on the underparts and
Northern Harrier sprang to mind.
The next thing I looked at was the
wing pattern, which showed fve
dark-tipped primaries with only the
black on P10 extending towards
the primary coverts. It was looking
very exciting, so I sought further
opinions and the consensus was
that the bird ftted the criteria for
Northern Harrier excellently and
a rather gripping individual at that!
Astoundingly, considering the
recent frequency of sightings,
before 2009 there was only one
record for Britain and Ireland,
a long-staying juvenile on Scilly
from October 1982 to June 1983.
Further records of hudsonius
might be expected but it is likely
to remain an extremely rare
vagrant, wrote John P Martin
in the August 2008 issue of
British Birds, as he published the
Rarities Committees rationale
for accepting the 1982-83 bird as
a frst for Britain.
Clearly the species is extremely
rare in Britain and Ireland, but
since September 2009, there
have been 11 well-documented
examples, two of which have
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The orange tones are also
visible on the front upperparts
of the Cambridgeshire bird as it
patrols the marshes.
This autumns County
Wexford Northern
Harrier demonstrates
six bars on the two
penultimate outer
primaries, crucial in
identifying the species.

Left: the same condition
appears to be shown
by the Ouse Washes,
Cambridgeshire, bird,
along with the orangey
tones and almost
Montagus Harrier-like
head pattern.
1401 p8-12 bigStories FIN.indd 12 12/12/2013 19:35
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14 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


BIRD NEWS ANALYSIS: RARITIES
Migrant megas
carry on into
the winter lull
This American Robin at South Locheynort on South Uist, Outer Hebrides,
on 17th was one of three in Britain this autumn, and remained there until
3 December at least, though few other than locals made the journey.
This rst-winter male Caspian Stonechat a potential future split from Siberian
arrived on St Agnes, Scilly, on 21 November, and was twitched by many for
insurance; it remained well into December.
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ate October had proved
bountiful beyond all belief
but, surely with migration
gradually ebbing away and the
days closing in, November would
be a somewhat quieter affair?
Wrong star birds kept on
arriving, even late in the month
when it felt like winter was truly
upon us.
Though news was released
belatedly mid-month, one of
Novembers rarest birds had
actually moved on by 2nd.
Present since 26 October, a
frst-winter Dusky Thrush was
a magnifcent discovery in a
private garden in Brixham, Devon,
although access was sadly
not possible. Looking at the
photographs and video footage
available, it appears quite a dull
bird one imagines this individual
wouldnt look too dissimilar
to this Mays much-discussed
Margate bird come next spring.
Mid-month actually proved the
most productive period for new
birds, in particular Sunday 17th.
First up was a Siberian Stonechat
on St Agnes, Scilly. Though
reported as a nominate maurus
for four days, the identifcation
was correctly clinched on 21st,
when the bird and, crucially,
its tail were seen well. The
wheatear-like white bases to the
outer tail feathers were a clear
indication that this bird ftted the
criteria for the form hemprichii
(formerly variegatus), known as
Caspian Stonechat.
Although not yet a split, it
seems a distinct possibility that
Caspian Stonechat may achieve
full species status
in future.
Despite
Rarities: November 2013
In association with
www.birdguides.com
Josh Jones reports on the
penultimate month of an
astounding year for mega
vagrants, with no sign of let up.
this and its extended stay until
the months end, it drew precious
few admirers from the mainland.
That said, the form is likely to be
under-recorded on our shores:
though only the fourth for Britain,
records from Brittany, France
and The Netherlands within the
past year indicate the taxon is
regularly making it to north-west
Europe, though feld identifcation
of females is complicated by the
fact that they rarely show the
distinctive tail pattern; in some
cases it may be impossible.
Also discovered on 17th
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1401_p14-16 rarities FIN.indd 14 12/12/2013 19:38
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January 2014 15
BIRD NEWS ANALYSIS: RARITIES
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Rarities: November 2013

In association with
www.birdguides.com
the fnd and the identifcation
process for BirdGuides at
bit.ly/shortdow; the bird lingered
on the island until 23rd.
Prodigal return?
A possibly familiar face also
returned to the South-West
mid-month. An adult Pacifc Diver
was found off Pendower Beach in
Gerrans Bay, Cornwall, on 16th,
and lingered there until 28th.
Though not always present, it
proved surprisingly straightforward
to see for much of the time, unlike
other winters, when it has been
unpredictable to say the least,
assuming it is the same, wide-
ranging bird. First seen in Mounts
Bay in mid-February 2007, it
has appeared off the Cornwall
coast each winter since. Arrival
dates are 23 November 2007,
17 November 2008, 3 November
2009, 3 December 2010, 26
December 2011 and 5 December
2012. Most reports come from
Mounts Bay, but several are from
St Austell Bay and, in November
2009, it was on the Hayle Estuary
for several days.
Also causing great excitement
during the middle of the month was
the Western Orphean Warbler near
St Brides, Pembs (see pages 10-
11 and bit.ly/WestWOW), which,
after being identifed on 14th,
was subject to perfectly organised
large-scale twitches from 15-17th
and again on 24th. Homeowners
Peter and Rosemary Royle and
several local birders are to be
highly commended for their sterling
efforts in ensuring everything ran
smoothly over those dates.
The fnal day of the month
saw the arrival of a Baikal Teal
to Marshside, Lancs (see pages
8-9). This is the third to be seen
in Britain and Ireland in 2013
following drakes at Tacumshin on
was a smart American Robin
at South Locheynort, South
Uist, Outer Hebrides. Like the
stonechat, news emerged on
21st and this the third seen in
Britain in autumn 2013 also
lingered until the months end,
but again entertained few visitors.
Though there have now been 34
accepted British and Irish records
of American Robin, this is only the
second for the islands, following
a bird on St Kilda in early 1975.
Being one of the commonest
migratory American passerines, it
seems surprising that we do not
get the species more regularly.
The third major bird of the day
was a frst-winter Short-billed
Dowitcher on North Ronaldsay,
Orkney. Though the fourth British
record and following two in
September 2012 this is actually
the frst be found and identifed
in a non-juvenile plumage (though
frst-summer birds were identifed
in Ireland in 2000 and 2004).
Winter-plumaged dowitchers are
tricky at the best of times, so
North Ronaldsay warden Mark
Warren did particularly well to
clinch this one, summarising both
8-9 February and Flamborough
Head on 15 April. Though there
was initial concern about the head
pattern of this latest individual,
it seems that the lack of an
obvious vertical black bar on the
face is regular among drakes in
early winter. Its arrival date with
returning Eurasian Wigeon and
Eurasian Teal means that plenty
of comparisons can be drawn with
the frst accepted British record
at Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk, in
November-December 2001.
The Baikal headlined a
good month for wildfowl, and
Richardsons Cackling Geese (of
the nominate subspecies) were
to be found on Islay, Argyll, and in
Co Sligo. November registered no
fewer than half a dozen Lesser
Scaup. Some were returning birds:
the drake at Cardiff Bay, Glam,
was back for its sixth winter, and
the drake at Lough Gill, Co Kerry,
for its second, while a drake in
Co Westmeath favoured an area
that has recorded the species
annually since at least 2008. All
the females, however, were new,
being discovered in counties Kerry
and Galway, and on the Outer
Hebrides. In addition to this, two
Blue-winged Teal included a new
bird in Herefordshire on 10th, four
King Eider included new birds in
Shetland, Outer Hebrides and Co
Mayo, and the Pied-billed Grebe
was seen again in the last county
mid-month.
Returning to Galway Bay was
the adult Forsters Tern. First seen
back at Claddagh Beach on 4th,
it was recorded sporadically there
until the end of the month. This
is now the 11th year this bird has
returned to the area. Incidentally,
it was already an adult when it
frst appeared at nearby Nimmos
Pier on 26 November 2003.
Once again, there was no overlap
Right: the popular
Lesser Grey Shrike at
Low Newton-by-the-
Sea, Northumberland,
remained to 18th.
Left: male Parrot
Crossbill (far left bird),
male Two-barred (third
from left) and Common
Crossbills at Hemsted
Forest, Kent, on 16th.
Though rufed, the bird
second from the left
also looks like it might
be a male Two-barred,
despite only one bird
being reported at any
one time.
This rst-winter Ivory Gull on
North Uist, Outer Hebrides, on
4 December was one of four found
in Britain after strong northerly
winds early in the month.
The rst Lesser Scaups of the year
were widely distributed but mostly
concentrated in Ireland, as shown
by reports on BirdGuides.com.
This Dusky Thrush was present in a private garden
in Brixham, Devon, from 26 October-2 November,
but unfortunately the news could not be released
until after the bird had gone.
1401_p14-16 rarities FIN.indd 15 12/12/2013 19:38
16 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


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with records from the Irish
east coast and it seems a
reasonable assumption that it is
the same bird.
As anticipated, the rare
crossbill infux continued
unabated and, with more birders
spending time searching, plenty
more Two-barred and Parrot
Crossbills were discovered. A
dozen Parrots were found at
Holt CP, Norfolk, on 11th, and
lingered there until the months
end. On 23rd, 10 were found in
Tunstall Forest, Suffolk, with this
rising to an impressive 16 by
25th. At least two continued to
be seen sporadically in Hemsted
Forest, Kent, throughout, while
a single was reported from
Slufters Inclosure in the New
Forest, Hants.
After two male Two-barred
Crossbills were seen at
Woorgreens Lake in the Forest
of Dean, Glos, on 9th, a
memorable day on 16th saw up
to 17 found nearby at Kensley
Ridge. Though they were often
diffcult to track down, up to a
dozen were still there toward the
months end. Meanwhile, seven
were again at Broomhead Res,
South Yorks, late on and fve were
found in the Wyre Forest, Shrops,
on 30th. Further singles were
reported from Devon, Hampshire,
East Sussex, Surrey and Kent,
though a problematic two-barred
crossbill (Common, Two-barred or
hybrid) was largely responsible for
reports from Lynford Arboretum,
Norfolk.

Inland rare wheatear
One of the most impressive
fnds of the month was a
Pied Wheatear well inland at
Collingham GP, Notts, on 9th.
With identifcation clinched late
in the day, local birders were
very thankful that the bird stayed
overnight. It went on to perform
well throughout Sunday 10th and
was the most popular bird on
show in Britain that weekend (see
bit.ly/piedwheatear).
Another passerine highlight
was the Lesser Grey Shrike at
Long Nanny, Northumbs, for
a fortnight from 13th. Initially
touted as a Great Grey Shrike,
its true identity was only realised
on 15th, but fortunately the bird
hung around long enough to be
widely appreciated. Remarkably,
this is the fourth Lesser Grey
seen in Britain this year, and
the second for Northumberland
following one on Holy Island
back in May.
Further passerine records
included an Isabelline Shrike at
Ladys Island Lake, Co Wexford,
on 24-25th, a Black-throated
Thrush at Gulberwick, Shetland,
for three days from 9th and, late
on, Penduline Tits in Gwent (a
county frst) and Dorset, and a
Humes Warbler in Norfolk. Five
Northern Long-tailed Tits were
at Halligarth, Unst, Shetland,
on 3rd, with two still there the
following day these are the
frst for Shetland.
For full details of all
Novembers sightings, go to
www.birdguides.com. To
receive free illustrated weekly
sightings summaries and
other news, sign up at bit.ly/
Above: Red-breasted Geese began arriving in their expected single
gures in September, and nine or 10 were present in the country, with
seemingly strong credentials. This striking bird was at Sturt Pond,
Hampshire, from 14 October-16 November.
Left: the popular Hermit Thrush at Porthgwarra, Cornwall, enthralled
admirers until 2nd, having rst arrived on 29 October (see last issue),
providing many with their rst chance to tick the species.
This Pacic Diver (second from left, with three Black-throated Divers) was off Pendower Beach, Cornwall, on 16th, remaining until 28th, and was
thought to be probably the regular returning bird, though it could be somewhat elusive at times.
BIRD NEWS ANALYSIS: RARITIES
This map from BirdGuides plots the
whereabouts of Parrot Crossbills
around the country after the early
autumn inux. Some Two-barred
Crossbills also remained.
1401_p14-16 rarities FIN.indd 16 12/12/2013 19:38
For details of your nearest stockist please call Hama (UK) Ltd on 0845 230 4262
View the full range at www.hama.co.uk/products/celestron
Granite_Birdwatch.indd 4 10/10/2013 11:14:53
p17.indd 1 11/12/2013 16:29
18 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


The now expected autummn inux of Glossy Ibises provided birders in the
Midlands and beyond ample opportunity to get the species on their lists.
This bird lingered in a cattleeld at Lowdham, Nottinghamshire.
Richards Pipit is often a eeting overhead presence when not seen on
the ground, and it is rare to see its progress frozen in a photograph. This
bird was at Sidestrand, Norfolk, on 1st.
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sites in north-west Co Kerry.
Scarce geese otherwise
showed somewhat predictable
distributions, with most Black
Brants found along the south
coast and in East Anglia (see
map opposite).
Seven American Wigeon
included new drakes in Counties
Armagh and Donegal, while a
dozen Ring-necked Duck, three
Ferruginous Duck and at least 15
Green-winged Teal were reported
from around Britain and Ireland.
It was an excellent month for
Scarcities: November 2013
In association with
www.birdguides.com
I
t was a good month for Snow
Goose records in Scotland,
with at least four birds seen
in Aberdeenshire: two single
blue morphs were still roosting
at Loch of Strathbeg and Loch of
Skene mid-month, and were both
replaced by two white morphs
late on. Two also remained near
Rhunahaorine, Argyll, while a
white morph was in Highland
early in the month and a further
blue morph was in Angus towards
the end. Meanwhile, the Irish
white morph continued to tour
Great Egret now winters in small
numbers in Britain. This bird at
Ditchford GP, Northants, on 2nd
gave amazing views.
BIRD NEWS ANALYSIS: SCARCITIES
Josh Jones reports on a month
where there was a surplus of Great
Egrets, Glossy Ibises and Surf Scoters.
A glut of
former
rarities
attracted birds, with up to three
at the latter site.
It now seems a long time since
the big Cattle Egret infuxes of
the mid-2000s, though a handful
were noted in the South-East.
Kent claimed up to three birds,
though it appears one of these
may have been incorrectly
labelled since it frst turned
up in October: photographs
of the Sheppey bird, reported
throughout November, depict a
bird intermediate in appearance
between Cattle and Little Egret. In
Surf Scoter records. There has
clearly been an infux following
late Octobers storms, and at
least 17 were reported across
Britain and Ireland, with many
of these referring to immature
birds away from traditional sites.
One of the most popular was in
Brands Bay, Dorset, from 7th
onwards, though other crowd-
pleasers included one, then two,
off Black Rock Sands, Gwynedd.
Traditional locations such as
Largo Bay, Fife, Brandon Bay, Co
Kerry, and Conwy Bay, Conwy, all
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January 2014 19
Carnaby, East Yorkshire, held this rst-winter Common Rosench for
three days. It was photographed on 7th atypically feeding with more
common species on rowan berries.
The only reliable European Serin on the mainland this autumn was this
bird at Flamborough, East Yorkshire, from 13-26th which remained fairly
loyal to fallow ground and the adjacent hedge at Millennium Field.
Its not often that Sabines Gull is found inland, even less so actually on
the land, but this juvenile bucked the trend on a ploughed eld at Cogden
Beach, Dorset, on 4th, staying until the next day.
There were 78 reports of Black
Brant to BirdGuides in November,
with the number of individuals
possibly reaching double gures.
The landlocked gulling season got well and truly underway in November
with several Caspian Gulls, including this gorgeous classic rst-winter at
a private site in Essex on 30th.
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Co Armagh, from 23rd could
it be about to repeat the feat of
last years wintering individual in
Ayrshire? Of the fve American
Golden Plovers seen, one lingered
around Sennen, Cornwall, until
the end of the month.
Ring-billed Gulls numbered in
to the low twenties, with Ireland,
as always, claiming the majority.
First-winter birds were seen in
Counties Down, Kerry and Galway,
with the latter one of three seen
at the traditional location of
Nimmos Pier. Two were in Tralee,
Co Kerry. In Britain, Hampshires
old favourite returned to Gosport
for its 11th winter.
Perhaps the most remarkable
in a series of late migrant records
concerned a female or frst-winter
Golden Oriole by the Comber
Estuary, Co Down, on 15th.
Though not present the following
morning, photos confrmed that it
was indeed an oriole and not the
tanager that some had predicted.
A handful of Hoopoes included
reports from Kent and Cumbria
on 24th, while the latest Wryneck
was at Sennen Cove, Cornwall, on
Lincolnshire bird of 2006 turned
up in early November and went
on to winter in East Anglia, and it
seems possible that this bird may
follow suit. Though there was a
mini-infux early in the month, it
doesnt seem like its going to be
a vintage Rough-legged Buzzard
winter, with just one lingering bird
at Orford Ness, Suffolk.
Wader fall-out
No doubt fall-out from the storms
of late October and a persistent
westerly airfow, November began
with a mini-infux of White-rumped
Sandpipers. Up to three were
on the Hayle Estuary, Cornwall,
until mid-month, with at least
three seen in the Outer Hebrides.
Frampton Marsh, Lincs, boasted
two different birds a week apart,
and other records came from
Devon, East Yorkshire and Co
Cork.
A very late
Pectoral
Sandpiper was found
at Lough Neagh,
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Northern Ireland, the long-staying
Cattle Egret returned to its winter
roost at Hillsborough Lake, Co
Down, from 26th; coincidentally, it
was frst found roosting there on
26 November 2011.
In contrast, it was another
fruitful month for Great Egrets
and Glossy Ibises. Up to six
of the former remained in the
Dungeness area of Kent, with
up to three at Pitsford Res,
Northants, and a number of
twos as far north as Lancashire
and East Yorkshire. No fewer
than 214 reports of Glossy Ibis
were reported by BirdGuides
throughout the month. A good
spread of records saw birds as
far west as Co Waterford and
north to the Outer Hebrides, with
several long-staying individuals
accessible around England.
Meanwhile, a remarkably late
juvenile Purple Heron was tracked
along the Norfolk coast towards
the months end, at Cley and
Holkham on 27th, and Titchwell
and Holme on 28th.
A Black Kite that frst
appeared at Dungeness was
seen sporadically at various
sites between Rye Harbour,
East Sussex, and New Romney,
Kent, until the end of the month.
Information on the records
seems scant at best, given the
late date and the possibility of
the eastern subspecies lineatus
(known as Black-eared Kite). The
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1401 18-20 scarcities FIN.indd 19 12/12/2013 19:29
20 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


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In association with
www.birdguides.com
Among the expected run of inland Great Northern Divers was this
juvenile at Papercourt GP, Surrey, on 19th, present and conding all
month after rst being discovered in October.
White-billed Diver is a treasured scarcity for any birder proud of their
self-found list. Though most reliable in spring off the Outer Hebrides, this
moulting adult was one of two birds at Bluemull Sound, Shetland, on 14th.
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These two juvenile White-rumped
Sandpipers lingered on the Hayle
Estuary, Cornwall, for a few days
at the beginning of the month,
here photographed on 2nd.
All-England shrikes
A reasonable showing of Great
Grey Shrikes throughout the month
saw all but one of the 50 or so
birds reported from England and
Wales. Indeed, the single Scottish
record came from Nisbet, Borders,
only a stones throw from England
itself. Typically, a glut of records
came from traditional wintering
areas: the New Forest, Forest of
Dean and the Welsh moorlands.
Surely this species must be under-
recorded in the vast remoteness
of the Scottish Highlands?
In contrast to the quite
impressive crossbill infux
occurring around Britain at
present, hope of a similarly good
year for redpolls has, for the
time being, fzzled out. After a
number of records in October,
just two Couess Arctic Redpolls
were noted early on both
were trapped and ringed, one at
Dungeness on 7th and the other
at the altogether more surprising
location of Whixall Moss, Shrops,
two days later. Of the three
European Serin records, two were
brief birds on Scilly, but the third
was altogether more obliging
a smart frst-winter male that
lingered at Flamborough, East
Yorks, for a fortnight from 13th.
A late Rustic Bunting seen
at Cove Bay, Aberdeens, on 1st
and 3rd was, remarkably, the
frst county record since 1993.
A number of Little Buntings
included a one-day bird at Oare
Marshes, Kent, and another
staying put at Halligarth, Unst,
Shetland, from 23rd until the
months end.
For full details of all
Novembers sightings, go to
www.birdguides.com. To
receive free illustrated weekly
sightings summaries and
other news, sign up at bit.ly/
BGWeeklyNews.
17th and the Subalpine Warbler
was still on Scilly early on. At
least four Red-backed Shrikes
were seen in November, with
lingering birds still at Pagham
Harbour, West Sussex, on 9th
and St Agnes, Scilly, on 15th.
Dusky Warbler is to be
expected in November, and eight
were logged during the month.
Of these, the most signifcant
was a bird at Marsh Lane, West
Midlands, from 1-4th inland
records are less than annual. A
number of late Barred Warblers
included a bird re-growing its
tail at Spurn, East Yorks, last
seen on 17th, and a late bird
at Dunbar, Lothian, on 23rd. Co
Wexford logged two, with one at
Churchtown on 4th and another
at Fethard-on-Sea from 12-16th.
Much more signifcant from an
Irish perspective, though, was
the Cettis Warbler at East Coast
NR, Co Wicklow, on 3rd.
The 199 reports of Great Grey
Shrike numbered around 50 birds,
all concentrated in England bar
one just over the borders.
1401 18-20 scarcities FIN.indd 20 12/12/2013 19:29
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p21.indd 1 11/12/2013 16:32
22 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


BIRD NEWS WESTERN PALEARCTIC
The rst Siberian Rubythroat for Slovenia was trapped at Ormo on 24
October, though the news took until November to leak out to western
European birders through gripping images like this.
A rst-winter Two-barred Greenish Warbler in a tit ock at Kamperhoek,
The Netherlands, was trapped on 23rd and released but remained elusive
as the ock roved its chosen birchwood.
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ovembers highlight
was arguably the frst-
winter American Purple
Gallinule found at Parque
Florestal de Monsanto, a
green area in the middle of
Lisbon, Portugal, on 7th.
First thought to be an Allens
Gallinule, identifcation was
confrmed early the following
day as the bird gave stunning
views on a small pond within
the reserve section of the park.
Despite apparently feeding well
on frogs and seeds, the birds
condition deteriorated rapidly,
and on 11th it was picked up
moribund and taken into care.
Unfortunately, it worsened and
died on 13th.
Azorean records throughout
November included the
archipelagos fourth Yellow-
crowned Night Heron continuing
to show well alongside a Black-
crowned Night Heron on Santa
Maria throughout, an American
Coot on Lagoa Azul, So Miguel,
from 6th and the Short-billed
Dowitcher still on Terceira all
Western Palearctic: November 2013
In association with
www.birdguides.com
Waifs and
strays to all
four points
Josh Jones surveys a month that saw frsts and
megas reported across the whole region.
month. Following hot on the
heels of the frst last month, the
Azores second White-throated
Sparrow was found on Flores on
1st, but was upstaged by the
islands frst subalpine warbler,
found on nearby Corvo the same
day unfortunately it was a frst-
winter female and will probably
remain unidentifed to species
1401 western palearctic v4.indd 22 12/12/2013 18:44
www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 23
BIRD NEWS WESTERN PALEARCTIC
This Pied Crow, photographed at Tarifa, Spain, on 24th, was considered by
some to be ship assisted, but its chosen new residence is also close to
Africa and a vagrant hot-spot, so the debate may yet continue.
Norways rst Black-throated Accentor was found on 9 December, at
Hauge i Dalane, Rogaland, after two others were discovered in Sweden in
November; it was still present as we went to press.
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Crow frst at Levante, Cdiz,
on 21st and later at Tarifa on
24th. A Black Scoter Spains
fourth was also reported from
Tarifa on 13th. The countrys frst
Asian Desert Warbler was found
in an undistinguished patch of
weedy scrub some way inland
at Bareyo, Cantabria, on 16th.
The Czech Republics frst Asian
Desert Warbler was also
discovered on 16th, lingering
at a reservoir east of Prostejov
to 19th.
An exciting month for
Dutch twitchers saw The
Netherlands fourth Two-
barred Greenish Warbler
trapped and ringed at
Kamperhoek, Flevoland, on
23rd. Fortunately, the bird
was relocated on 29th and,
although elusive, lingered
into December. Arguably
more popular, though, was a
twitchable Hawk Owl at Zwolle:
frst seen on 12th, the bird
was widely twitched from 24th
onwards and represents the
fourth national record.
Sweden experienced a
purple patch earlier in the
month with the nations
second Black-faced Bunting
on Utlngan from 9-13th, and
Black-throated Accentors on
land on 9-10th and inland
in Vrmland on 11-12th. The
former was backed up by both
Desert Wheatear and Humes
Warbler nearby. A Siberian
Rubythroat was at Vndburg,
Gotland, on 10th.
Another Black-throated
Accentor Norways frst
was at Kvasss, Rogaland,
from 28th into December,
while other regional highlights
included Hungarys frst
Caspian Plover at Kardoskt,
Bks, on 15th, a frst-winter
female Wood Duck picked
up exhausted on Heimaey,
Iceland, on 29th (the
countrys seventh) and a male
Eversmanns Redstart at Al-
Abraq, Kuwait, from 20-22nd,
with an Oriental Honey Buzzard
there on 23rd.
level. Finally, a late Yellow-billed
Cuckoo was on Santa Maria on
18th.
Another late cuckoo proved a
French highlight in November: a
frst-winter Black-billed Cuckoo
was discovered inland in
remarkable circumstances at
Brls, Brittany, on 15th when
it few in front of the observers
car. It was soon relocated and
continued to show well until dusk
but, as always seems the case
with this species, there was no
sign the following day. Also in the
west of the country, an impressive
nine American Wigeon were found
on le d'Yeu, Vende, on 12th.
Spanish highlights included a
presumably ship-assisted Pied
The showy Hawk Owl at Zwolle,
The Netherlands the countrys
fourth appeared on 24th, but
was possibly there from 12th; it
even tempted British birders to
make the cross-Channel journey.
Western Palearctic: November 2013
In association with
www.birdguides.com
Right: this point-blank Black-
billed Cuckoo ew in front
of the observers car as he
drove in Brittany, France, on
25th; surprisingly, the bird
was relocated, enabling this
breathtaking image to be taken.
Below: this adult Laughing
Gull was present for two days
at Pointe de lAiguillon, on the
northern part of the Atlantic
coast of France, where it was
photographed on 14th.
1401 western palearctic v4.indd 23 12/12/2013 18:44
Tel: 01485 534411
Email: reception@lestrangearms.co.uk
Golf Course Road, Old Hunstanton, Norfolk PE36 6JJ
For full brochure go to
abacushotels.co.uk
G
17th to 20th Jan 2014
G
14th to 17th Feb 2014
Le Strange Arms Hotel
Close to RSPB Titchwell
& Snettisham West Norfolk
WI NTER 2014
3 Day Bird Watching Breaks
in North Norfolk in partnership
with Limosa Holidays
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p24.indd 1 12/12/2013 10:30
WHERE TO WATCH BIRDS JANUARY
www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 25
T
his is Britains premier birding
county, perpetually heaving with
rarities so exquisite that as a kid
I nearly self-combusted just thinking
about the birds: Common Cranes,
Hawnches, winter swans, legions of
geese, seaduck, raptors, waders and
buntings. This full-on mid-winter clean-
up will give you that giddy feeling that
only comes with too little sleep, too
much cofee and so many birds that
your BirdTrack app will crash and burn.
Up for a challenge? This is how to net
100 species in one day in January.
Start painfully early with eight hours
of daylight, you will need every minute:
no slipping into a pub for lunch when
there are birds to see! This is the great
circle route of Norfolk: Thetford Forest,
the north coast and a Broads nale.
In the frst of six sites this month where you
could get 100 species in a day for your year list,
Rob Martin hits north Norfolk to score winter
visitors and good numbers of national scarcities.

The north Norfolk coast


can be very productive for
wintering Snow Buntings and
other scarce passerines.
North Norfolk
Pages 25-27
Dorset
Page 28
North Kent
Page 29
Suffolk
Page 30
Lancashire
Page 31
East Lothian coast
Page 32
Begin at Lynford Arboretum . Before
7 am drive slowly and erratically along
the small road to West Tofts (TL 804933)
to give yourself a chance of Woodcock.
Tawny Owl calls will be everywhere.
Park at TL 818 934, drink some cofee and
watch the dawn glow ood the paddocks.
Firecrest winters in the area and
Common Crossbill is frequent, along
with all the regular woodland species. In
the hornbeams opposite there should be a
stash of gorgeous Hawnch.
A brilliant start, but its time to get
moving. Head north past Swafham and
Harpley (eyes open: in two recent winters
a White-tailed Eagle spent the winter
around here) to stop at Flitcham Abbey
reserve (TF 736266) for Little Owl
and Tree Sparrow. Spend a few minutes
at the hide there but dont dawdle.
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MORE JANUARY SITES
Caerlaverock: bit.ly/bw187Caerlaverock
Chilterns: bit.ly/bw187TheChilterns
Co Wicklow: bit.ly/bw200CoWicklow
Exe Estuary, Devon: bit.ly/bw200ExeEstuary
Holkham, Norfolk: bit.ly/bw200Holkham
Farmoor Reservoir, Oxon: bit.ly/bw200Farmoor
Lauwersmeer, The Netherlands:
bit.ly/bw187Lauwersmeer
North Nottinghamshire: bit.ly/bw224northNotts
South Mainland, Shetland: bit.ly/bw212Shetland
Shannon Callows, central Ireland:
bit.ly/bw212Shannon
Suffolk coast:
bit.ly/bw224Suffolk
Sutherland coast:
bit.ly/bw224Sutherland
Wigan Flashes:
bit.ly/bw187WiganFlash
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BONUS
ONLINE
CONTENT
1
Travel information
and timetables
Traveline: 0871 200 2233 or
www.traveline.info.
Traveline Scotland: 0871 200 2233
or www.travelinescotland.com.
Traveline Cymru: 0871 200 2233
or www.traveline-cymru.info
Stagecoach Bus:
www.stagecoachbus.com.
Arriva Bus: 0844 800 4411 or
www.arrivabus.co.uk.
National Rail: 0845 748 4950 or
www.nationalrail.com.
National bird news
BirdGuides: for all bird news and to
report your own sightings, please call
0333 577 2473, email sightings@
birdguides.com or visit
www.birdguides.com.
Mapping
You can access fully interactive and
annotated Google maps for all these
itineraries at bit.ly/BWMaps.
Further information
County bird recorders:
www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/
birdtrack/bird-recording/county-
bird-recorders.
Birdwatch Bookshop:
for discounted birding books see
www.birdwatch.co.uk/store.
USEFUL CONTACTS
SITE OF THE MONTH
NORFOLK
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1401 p23-25_WTWB north Norfolk v3.indd 25 12/13/2013 4:06:55 PM
26 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


WHERE TO WATCH BIRDS JANUARY
Exotic game
Drive through the Sandringham Estate
for a spin around the Wolferton Scissor
Roads (TF 668279) on the of-
chance of Golden Pheasant creeping
out from under the rhododendrons.
Continue north along the A149 to
Hunstanton lighthouse (about 20
minutes) , where you can park on
Lighthouse Lane/B1151 (TF 675419)
during the winter. Two minutes at
the edge should lead to the days only
Northern Fulmar. This has been
a good spot for Shag in recent years,
while Red-
throated Diver,
Red-breasted
Merganser and
Common Eider
are frequent and
Greater Scaup
regular, as are
scarce grebes.
Now youre at
the seaside, and its
about 10 am. Drink
more cofee while
Thornham Harbour will be
your best chance to add
Twite to your day list but
you'll have to be quick!
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scanning, then begin the journey east.
Ten minutes along the A149 is the
turning for Thornham Harbour .
You have six minutes to smash Twite!
If you know the call it isnt a tall order,
provided they are around. There may
be a Hen Harrier on the marsh,
although the reappearance of the
Northern Harrier of winter 2010-11
may be a bit much to ask. Park at the
old coalhouse (TF 727442) and run
around like an idiot until you spot a
ock of nches. Only six minutes mind,
because Titchwell is ve minutes further
east (TF 749436). For a day list this
superstar RSPB reserve is manna. From
wet willow and alder woodland through
grazing marsh, reedbed, freshwater,
saltmarsh, sand dunes, open shore to
the North Sea in under a mile. Do it
4
6
3
5
Stubb Mill is home to a
resident colony of Common
Cranes, making it the only
truly reliable site to see the
species in Britain.
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1401 p23-25_WTWB north Norfolk v3.indd 26 12/13/2013 4:07:24 PM

www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 27
WHERE TO WATCH BIRDS JANUARY
hard and do it fast! There are easily
80 species here to get in less than two
hours. Dont miss the beach as Snow
Bunting, seaduck and rare grebes are
staple fare. Titchwell has seen some
great mid-winter rarities, with Couess
Arctic Redpoll twice in the last few
years, and King Eider in 2004-05.
Geese in their thousands
Grab a pasty and keep going east. A
very brief stop at Lady Annes Drive at
Holkham (20 minutes along the A149
at TF 891440) should add White-
fronted Goose among astonishing
hordes of Pink-footed Geese. Next,
stop at Cley NWT (TG 054440, 20
minutes further along the A149) , and
buy some cake. Avocet often hang on at
Cley throughout winter. A memorable
ending to push the nal total up can be
had at the Stubb Mill roost at Hickling
Broad . Its an hours drive from Cley
so make sure you leave enough time.
Aim to arrive at the car park at Hickling
Broad NWT (TG 427221) about an
hour before sunset. Walk east along
Stubb Road to the watchpoint at TG
437220. Dozens of Marsh Harriers
come in to roost and are joined by a
few Hen Harriers. Merlin and Short-
eared Owl are regular, and often
multiple Barn Owls are out hunting.
Groups of Bewicks and Whooper
Swans are relatively frequent, but the
real stars are the Common Cranes.
More than 30 individuals y in around
sunset, their bugling calls matching the
wild landscape of marsh. Hold tight until
dark. The nal act is sudden whirring
doodlebugs piling past: Woodcock
heading out to feed.
Breathless and tiring? Yes, but
astonishingly diverse.
VISITOR INFORMATION
i
READS
Where to Watch
Birds in East
Anglia by Peter and
Rosemary Clarke
(fourth edition,
Christopher Helm,
16.99) order for
14.99 on page 77.
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Sites and access
Lynford Arboretum is free to access, as is Flitcham Abbey. Titchwell
RSPB has a pay and display car park (free for members), but there is
no entry charge. Lady Annes Drive at Holkham is a pay and display
car park. Cley NWT has a free car park but access to the reserve is
by permit. There is no charge for parking at Hickling NWT. There are
bus services to Mundford (about a mile from Lynford Arboretum), from
Thetford which has national rail links (www.coachservicesltd.com).
The Coasthopper bus operates between Kings Lynn and Cromer (www.
norfolkgreen.co.uk). There are bus stops in Hickling village, 20 mins
walk from Hickling NWT. However, the full itinerary cannot be undertaken
on public transport.
Maps
OS Landrangers 132, 133, 134 and 144.
Web resources
www.norfolkbirds.com for details of further birding sites.
See bit.ly/BWMaps for links to fully annotated Google maps
Norfolk's huge ocks of
Pink-footed Geese are rightly
world famous.
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1401 p23-25_WTWB north Norfolk v3.indd 27 12/13/2013 4:08:03 PM
28 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


WHERE TO WATCH BIRDS JANUARY
Where and why
January in Dorset offers some
excellent birding opportunities.
With some planning, a bit of luck
and decent weather, its not too
diffcult to see 100 species in a
day. Here is an itinerary that will
hopefully help you achieve that
aim.
Route planner
Begin at Arne RSPB car park (SY
974879) . Scan the trees from
the car park, and dont forget
to keep an eye on the feeders
for species such as Nuthatch
and Marsh Tit. In the south-east
corner, there is a feld that may
hold Mistle Thrush, as well as
Redwing and Fieldfare, or even
Green Woodpecker.
The next stop is Middlebere .
Park at SY 964854 and before
heading up the track to the
hide, check the nearby gorse
bushes for Dartford Warbler
and scan Hartland Moor for
Hen Harrier, Merlin or perhaps
Great Grey Shrike. On the way
to the Middlebere hide, check
Chaffnch focks as they may hold
a Brambling.
When youre close to the hide
situated behind some holiday
cottages scan the open area to
your left for both Hen and Marsh
Harriers, or possibly Merlin.
Green Sandpiper winters in the
creeks. From the hide, Spoonbill,
Avocet, Yellow-legged Gull,
Greenshank, Grey Plover, Black-
tailed Godwit and Brent Goose
are all likely. It is worth scanning
the heaths opposite for Great
Grey Shrike and raptors.
Now head to Weymouth,
and Lodmoor RSPB . Park
at SY 690816, and take the
circular route south-east along
Beachdown Way. Cettis Warblers
will be next to the paths, while
Bearded Tit and perhaps Bittern
will be in the reeds. Also, theres
a chance of Marsh Harrier.
The open water areas within
the reedbed hold wintering
Common Pochard worth looking
through for the odd Greater
Scaup. Out on the brackish
marsh, Water Pipit is a distinct
possibility, particularly the area
near the hump at the seaward
end of Beachdown Way.
Radipole Lake RSPB is
almost within walking distance. A
quick look from the nature centre
at SY 676796 there should get
you Water Rail and Common
Snipe if the water level is low
enough, along with Bearded Tit
and maybe Cettis Warbler. The
reedbed could secure you Bittern
in fight or Marsh Harrier. Make
sure you check the gulls, as they
can sometimes include Iceland
or Ring-billed, and Mediterranean
Gull should be easy.
Portland Harbour should
be next. Park at SY 674773, and
scan the harbour for grebes and
divers. Black-necked, Slavonian
and occasionally Red-necked
Grebes should be viewable, as
should Great Northern Diver.
Black-throated Diver takes a bit
more effort to fnd.
Seaduck will include good
numbers of Red-breasted
Merganser, but the likes of
Common and Velvet Scoters,
Common Eider and Long-tailed
Duck are, when present, in
very small numbers and require
much more effort to locate. Auks
will include both Razorbill and
Common Guillemot.
The shoreline to the north of
Sandsfoot Castle is well worth
checking, but please keep an
eye on the tide. The surrounding
scrub often holds Common
Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Firecrest
and Bullnch. The rocky seaweed-
covered shoreline is also worth
scanning for Black Redstart,
Grey Wagtail and Rock Pipit.
Ferrybridge (SY 668756)
again relies on the tide being
low. Here any Brent Geese are
worth looking through for Pale-
bellied Brents and Black Brant.
Mediterranean Gulls are common
and waders should include
Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Bar-
tailed Godwit and occasionally
Knot and Sanderling. The
saltmarsh areas hold Skylark and
Meadow Pipit and occasionally
Rock Pipit.
Finish the day at Portland
Bill , searching the rocks
around the tip of the Bill for
Purple Sandpiper and looking
out to sea for the likes of Red-
throated Diver, Northern Gannet,
Kittiwake or Northern Fulmar
fying by. Finally, spend dusk
checking the felds for Short-
eared and Barn Owls, taking the
track that leads north of the bird
observatory at SY 682691.
DORSET
By Brett Spencer
Portland Harbour is a good
place to scan for Great
Northern Diver.
VISITOR INFORMATION
i
READS
Where to Watch Birds
in Dorset, Hampshire &
the Isle of Wight by G
Green & M Cade (fourth
edition, Christopher
Helm, 18.99) order
for 16.99 on page 77.
Best Birdwatching
Sites: Dorset by
Neil Gartshore
(Buckingham Press,
17.95) order from
16.95 on page 77.
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Sites and access
This itinerary should be done by car to be sure of seeing all
the species possible in one day, though most of the sites
have good public transport links, with the Weymouth sites in
particular being close to the railway station. Paths at most of the
reserves can be prone to fooding, but are generally accessible
to wheelchair users. There are several regular bus routes that
serve the sites, but none that reaches them all.
Maps
Landranger 194 and Explorer OL15.
Web resources
www.dorsetbirds.org.uk for the Dorset Bird club and local site
information.
dorsetbirds.blogspot.co.uk for regularly updated local
sightings.
www.portlandbirdobs.org.uk/aa_latestnews.htm for latest
sightings from Portland Bird Observatory.
See bit.ly/BWMaps for links to fully annotated Google maps
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www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 29
WHERE TO WATCH BIRDS JANUARY
Where and why
Stodmarsh NNR is situated fve
miles to the east of Canterbury
between Grove Ferry and Westbere.
Access to the reserve is through
the small village of Stodmarsh
between the Red Lion Pub and the
church. Habitats include reedbeds,
fens, ditches, wet grassland and
open areas of water. The reserve
has a four-mile circular walk which
can be started at either Grove Ferry
or Stodmarsh.
A short drive to the north
brings you to Reculver, situated
three miles to the east of Herne
Bay on the north coast. Habitats
include arable felds dissected by
numerous dykes, small reedbeds,
areas of woodland and bushes, and
the shoreline and sea. Winter larks
and buntings can be seen along
the shoreline, with a good variety of
duck, waders and hunting raptors.
Route planner
Starting from the Stodmarsh NNR
car park at dawn, Tawny and
Little Owls are often heard within
these wooded areas. A look at the
notice board for recent sightings.
Head towards the reedbed hide,
where patience will get you Marsh
Harriers leaving their roost. This is
also a good place to observe Hen
Harrier, Bittern and Kingsher,
while a Glossy Ibis spent some
time here in a recent early winter.
Barn Owl may be seen hunting over
the reedbeds.
Leaving the hide, walk through to
the alder wood, where you can see
Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Brambling
and Firecrest. Be sure to listen out
for Cettis Warbler and Water Rail.
Woodcock can also be seen.
On leaving the wood, check the
reed mace heads for Penduline
Tit, a Stour Valley speciality and
annual in the past couple of years.
A walk along the the Lampen
Wall scanning the main lake may
reveal Bittern, as well as a chance
of Goosander, Smew, Common
Goldeneye, Black-necked Grebe.
Continue along the Lampen Wall,
stopping at the Tower Hide to scan
the lake and reedbeds. As you walk
around the reserve, listen out for
the pinging sound of Bearded
Tit, which can be found in in good
numbers here. En route along the
river to Grove Ferry, check out the
fooded water meadows for Water
Pipits creeping through the short
wet grass.
You will eventually reach Grove
Ferry where, on the raised
platform known as the ramp, you
may see Bewicks Swan, Bittern
and Marsh and Hen Harriers, while
the berry-laden bushes may host
Waxwing. A short walk to the
David, Feast and Harrison Hides
and you may catch sight of more
Bitterns, as well as Penduline Tits
four were seen together from the
Feast Hide in a recent winter.
As you continue back towards
Stodmarsh be sure to stop in the
Marsh Hide, where you should
see Water Pipit in good numbers,
as well as Cettis Warbler (more
likely to be heard only!) and Water
Rail. Continue back to Stodmarsh
car park listening out for Bearded
Tits and checking all reed mace
for Penduline Tit. If time allows, its
well worth coming back at dusk
and standing on the Lampen Wall,
to watch incoming Marsh and Hen
Harrier, with a good chance of fying
Bitterns and numbers of winter
thrushes. In early January around
85 species is well within reach at
this site.
A short 10-minute drive to the
north is Reculver , where after
parking in the pay and display car
park by Reculver Towers, you can
walk east to the towers (checking
the rocks for wintering Black
Redstart). The suggested route
stays mostly on
the seawall,
but given time there are many
footpaths leading inland to other
habitats.
Continue east along the northern
seawall, where on the two-mile trek
to Coldharbour Lagoon you may
see Marsh and even Hen Harriers,
while continually looking out to sea
may reveal divers. Also possible
are auks and good numbers of
Dark-bellied Brent Geese fying to
the felds to feed (Pale-bellied and
Black Brant are also possible).
Keep checking the shingle ridges
on the beach for Snow Bunting and
Shore Lark. Merlin may be seen
hunting the Linnets and pipits over
the felds inland, while scanning
the oyster farm to the south of the
seawall may deliver Short-eared
Owl and Spotted Redshank. The
last few winters have produced
Bewicks Swans in the felds.
The shoreline should host the
commoner waders if the tide
is falling and check the area
around Coldharbour Lagoon for
Snow and Lapland Buntings and
Shorelark. A path leads inland to
the railway crossing and the River
Wantsum, where the bushes and
wet grassland may have Waxwing,
Firecrest and Jack Snipe, as well
as Bittern, if it's very cold.
Retrace your steps back to the
seawall and walk west towards the
towers, checking bushes for Tree
Sparrow. Should you decide to stay
till dusk in the area, Barn and Long-
eared Owls may be seen quartering
the felds, and Woodcock may
appear.
A carefully planned day in this
area could see you hit the magic
total of 100.
STOUR VALLEY AND RECULVER
By Marc Heath
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Sites and access
There are pay and display car parks at both Grove Ferry and
Reculver, while parking is free at Stodmarsh NNR. There is a
regular number 8 bus service to Grove Ferry from Canterbury
and the nearest train station is at Sturry. Reculver has a
regular bus service (numbers 7 and 7A) while the nearest
train station is Herne Bay. Only parts of each site can be
guaranteed to be wheelchair accessible.
Maps
OS Landranger 179.
Web resources
www.marcheath.blogspot.com for sightings and photos of
birds and wildlife in the Stour Valley and Reculver area.
www.kentos.org.uk/recentsigntings/ReculverFrontPage.
htm for daily sightings at Reculver.
www.kentos.org.uk/Stodmarsh/Stodmarsh.htm for
regular sightings in the Stour Valley.
VISITOR INFORMATION
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See bit.ly/BWMaps for links to fully annotated Google maps


Where to Watch birds in
Kent, Surrey and Sussex
by Don Taylor, Jeffrey
Wheatley and Paul James
(third edition, Chritsopher
Helm, 18.99) order for
16.99 on page 77.
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30 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


WHERE TO WATCH BIRDS JANUARY
Where and why
Birding in Suffolk during January
can be as good as anywhere in the
British Isles the diverse range of
habitat on offer will get your new
year off to a fying start, and with
good luck and the right weather
conditions you can see well over
100 species in a day.
Route planner
Start in the very north of the county
in Lowestoft at frst light you
will be at Ness Point for Purple
Sandpiper, which are often on the
sea defences (TM 555936) or
in Hamilton Dock (TM 554931).
While there, check the seabirds for
Glaucous or Iceland Gull around the
fsh yards.
Head south along the A12 to
Kessingland (TM 537858) for
Snow Buntings on the beach and
if youre lucky Shore Lark. The
sewage works (TM 532857) is a
reliable site for wintering Common
Chiffchaff; you may also see
Firecrest and Mediterranean Gull
here. Next stop will be Benacre .
Park by the church at Covehithe (TM
523818) and follow the coastal
footpath north towards Benacre
Broad (TM 529827), checking
the sea for Red-throated Diver,
Common Guillemot, Common and
possibly Velvet Scoters.
The broad itself will offer a range
of wildfowl, with both Eurasian
Teal and Eurasian Wigeon being
the most obvious. Also look out
for Greater Scaup, Smew and with
luck one of the scarcer grebes
(Black-necked or Slavonian). Keep
a look out for raptors Marsh and
Hen Harriers, Common Buzzard
and Sparrowhawk can all be seen
from here.
Southwold next check the
marshes (TM 500756) north of the
harbour for Eurasian White-fronted,
Pink-footed and Barnacle Geese,
while you may also fnd wintering
Ruff here, along with Water Pipit.
On leaving, head towards the A12
at Blythburgh and view the Blyth
Estuary (TM 451757) from the
lay-by, where you should fnd a good
waders including Avocet and Bar-
tailed Godwit.
From Blythburgh take the
B1125 towards Dunwich Heath
(TM 476678) which is clearly
sign-posted. Once at the heath, look
for Dartford Warbler and European
Stonechat. You could also have
another look offshore, as Sole Bay
is very good for Red-throated Diver.
Next stop is the RSPB fagship
reserve of Minsmere (TM
464672). As time if of the essence,
you dont really need to go around
the reserve. I suggest you view
from Whin Hill and Island Mere,
where you are likely connect with
Bittern, Water Rail, Bearded Tit
and Cettis Warbler. The feeders at
the workshop are certainly worth a
couple of minutes of your time, with
Marsh and Coal Tits regular, and if
youre lucky Nuthatch, as well.
Move on to North Warren RSPB
(TM 468583) . From here view
from the sluice cottage looking over
the marsh, which will hold good
numbers of White-fronted Geese,
plus small numbers of Pink-footed
and Tundra Bean Geese. Merlin
and Peregrine Falcon are often
seen hunting the marsh. By now
it should
be around
lunchtime and you should be well
on your way to reaching your target.
From North Warren, head towards
Snape along the B1069 and make
a quick pit-stop on the bridge by
the maltings (TM 391576) for
Kingsher.
Continue on the B1069 towards
Melton looking for winter thrushes
along the way. Once at Melton,
check the River Deben from
Wilford bridge (TM 291501) .
Greenshank, Spotted Redshank
and Kingfsher may all be seen
from here. Nearby Dock Lane (TM
283501) has a good wader roost
at high tide, and has produced
wintering Little Stint and Curlew
Sandpiper.
Ipswich should be next, in
particular the Orwell Estuary
(TM 171406) . The strand
at Wherstead will give you a
panoramic view of the river, where
Red-breasted Merganser, Knot,
Peregrine Falcon and possibly Great
Northern Diver will be seen. If time
permits, scan Alton Water (TM
136375) from Lemons Hill Bridge
for Smew, Goosander and Slavonian
Grebe.
The last hour of daylight will be
well spent at Holbrook Bay on
the Stour Estuary. Park at Lower
Holbrook (TM 176350) and
walk towards the bay. At the
river wall, scan for Brent Goose,
Slavonian Grebe and Red-breasted
Merganser. Retrace your steps and
stand on the footpath between the
car park and river wall. Here fnches
and buntings gather prior to roosting
and you may glimpse a Woodcock
or Barn Owl to round off a tiring but
satisfactory and enjoyable day.
SUFFOLK
By Lee Woods
Several sites in
Suffolk regularly
hold Great Grey
Shrike, and you
could get this
species on our
special itinerary.
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Sites and access
This extensive route and itinerary is
only possible with use of a car. The
visitor centre and facilities at Minsmere
are ideal for a welcome break and
include a caf; the centre is also
accessible for wheelchair users.
Maps
OS Landrangers 134, 156 and 169.
Web resources
www.freewebs.com/suffolkbirding
for all the latest bird information
around the county
www.sogonline.co.uk for more
detailed information on places to visit
in Suffolk, including many of those
mentioned within the report.
VISITOR INFORMATION
i
READS
Where to watch birds
in East Anglia by Peter
and Margaret Clarke
(Christopher Helm,
16.99) order from
14.99 on page 77.
The Birds of Suffolk
by Steve Piotrowski
(Christopher Helm,
40) order from 38
on page 77.
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See bit.ly/BWMaps for links to fully annotated
Google maps
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WHERE TO WATCH BIRDS JANUARY
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www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 31
Where and why
A wide range of species can
be encountered in the varied
habitats of Lancashire in January,
particularly near the coast, and
visitors should be able to get close
to a day count of 100 species with
a lot of luck and road miles. The
Ribble Estuary and Morecambe Bay
offer great birding opportunities.
Route planner
Marshside and Hesketh Outmarsh
RSPB , and Banks Marsh NNR
(watch from the seawall at Old
Hollow Farm at SD 391228) have
tens of thousands of waders
including Dunlin, Knot, Northern
Lapwing and European Golden
Plover, with similarly huge focks of
duck including Eurasian Wigeon,
Eurasian Teal and Northern Pintail
using the marshes and mudfats.
Nels Hide at Marshside (SD
348200) is a good spot to watch
from. Great Egrets have recently
taken to roosting on the scrubby
islands at nearby Southport Marine
Lake (SD 336182).
Thousands of wintering Pink-
footed Geese can be encountered
widely across south-west
Lancashire, and Tundra Bean,
European and Greenland White-
fronted, Brent, Barnacle and even
occasional Red-breasted, Snow
and Rosss Geese can sometimes
be found within these focks. Martin
Mere WWT near Burscough
and Pilling Lane Ends Car Park (SD
415495) on the Fylde are two good
spots to watch them coming in to
roost. Whooper Swan frequents
the same areas, but Bewicks
are more usual further north
in the Thurnham area (south of
Lancaster) and Lytham Moss (west
of Preston), as well as felds either
side of Jeremy Lane at Glasson (SD
450545) and Lodge Lane east of
Lytham (SD 393288) respectively.
Peregrine Falcon and Merlin
are present throughout the
winter and the occasional Hen or
Marsh Harrier and Short-eared
Owl can also be found over the
saltmarshes. Engine Lane (SD
323060) inland of Formby is a good
area to add Barn Owl.
Farmland birds and are
widespread throughout the west
Lancashire plain. Farmland inland
of Pilling on the Fylde is good for
Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer, Tree
Sparrow, Linnet, Grey Partridge
and Barn Owl. Hedges and cereal
stubble at Bradshaw Lane (SD
418455) and around Eagland
Hill (SD 431452) can provide large
focks of Pink-footed Geese.
As you enter Blackpool at the
end of the M55, Marton Mere (SD
westerlies,
focks of
Common Scoter that winter off
Blackpool can often be seen from
shore.
Storms can bring Shags and
auks into Heysham Harbour
(SD 400602) with Kittiwake
and Little Gull also possible.
Mediterranean Gulls also feed
over the power station outfalls
on the falling tide. Heysham has
produced Glaucous and Iceland
Gull in recent winters. Good views
of Twite can be had here on rough
ground beside the sandworks
compound on the north harbour
wall. As the tide drops, checking
the Turnstone focks may produce
Purple Sandpiper.
Other waders worth looking
for are Ruff among the Whooper
Swans at Marton Mere. Jack
Snipe is obliging on the marshes
below Ocean Edge caravan park at
Heysham, Grannys Bay at Fairhaven
on the Fylde (SD 344273) and the
green beach south of the Weld
Road Car Park at Ainsdale (SD
321163). Creeks in front of the
Stork Pub at Conder Green (SD
458668) hold wintering Spotted
Redshank and Greenshank.
Snow Bunting can sometimes
be found on the beaches between
Formby and Southport or on the
Fylde coast, while dune slacks
are usually good for European
Stonechat. Further inland, birch
copses between Chorley and
Southport have the odd Willow
Tit and scarcer still limestone
woodland around Silverdale offers a
slim chance of Hawnch. Woodwell
(SD 465744) has historically been
the most reliable site in the county
for these.
LANCASHIRE
By Gavin Thomas
Heysham shold get
you Jack Snipe for
your list, but there
are other sites on
the itinerary too.
Sites and access
This itinerary can only be attempted using a car, but most of the
sites can be scanned from your vehicle. Some of the stops on
the itinerary involve walking on uneven and wet paths to scan and
are not advisable for wheelchair users. Most of the reseves are
reachable by bus, and some of the more urban by train, but this
method is best for individual visits to work one or two locations. All
the reserves mentioned have parking on site.
Maps
OS Landrangers 97, 102, 103 and 108, and Explorers 285, 286,
287, 296, OL41 and OL7.
Web resources
www.fyldebirdclub.org for Fylde Bird Club
www.eastlancsornithologists.org.uk for East Lancashire
Ornithologists Club
www.lancasterbirdwatching.org.uk/siteguide/index.php for
Lancaster District Birdwatching Society
VISITOR INFORMATION
i
READS
Where to Watch
Birds in North
West England and
the Isle of Man by
Allan Conlin, Dr
J P Cullen, Pete
Marsh, Tristan
Reid, Chris Sharpe,
Judith Smith and
Stephen Williams
(Christopher Helm)
is out of print
but can be found
secondhand.
5
345352) holds a few winter
specialities like Long-eared Owl,
Bittern, Water Rail and Cettis
Warbler. Leighton Moss RSPB has
the added draw of Bearded and
Marsh Tits.
Nearby Pine Lake (SD 514724)
and Borwick Waters (SD 521722)
are good sites to look for diving
duck. The occasional Scaup, Smew
or Long-tailed Duck can be found
there and Ring-necked Duck and
Lesser Scaup have occurred.
Red-breasted Merganser are
better looked for at Morecambe
Bay coast, Teal Bay (SD 462660)
or Morecambe Stone Jetty (SD
426646) . They can also often
be found on Fleetwood Marine
Lakes (SD324482) and off Pilling
Lane Ends car park to the south.
Red-throated Diver is most often
seen off Blackpool seafront or
between Formby Point and Ainsdale
on the Sefton Coast. With strong
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1401 WTWB sites v3.indd 31 13/12/2013 17:05
Purple Sandpiper should be
on the rocks at a few sites
on the itinerary.
WHERE TO WATCH BIRDS JANUARY
Where and why
East Lothian has dramatic, varied
habitats from estuaries and
beaches to saltmarsh and man-
made lagoons along 40 miles of
coastline (with estates, farmland,
moorland and hills inland) which
are excellent for wintering wildfowl
and waders. It won't be easy to
reach 100 species but could be
possible over a weekend.
Route planner
Start early at the mouth of the
River Esk at Musselburgh park
at the end of Goosegreen Place
(NT 346734) . Scan for Knot,
Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone,
Purple Sandpiper, Common
Goldeneye, Grey Plover and
perhaps Mediterranean Gull. Walk
east along the seawall looking for
Long-tailed Duck, Velvet Scoter
and Slavonian Grebe. Red-
throated Diver is possible, as is
Great Northern if you are lucky.
Linnets are likely on the margins
and possibly Snow Bunting.
Return to the car and take the
B1348 to North Berwick. The next
stop is at the Seton burn that
enters the sea at Seton Sands
(NT 416 759) . Park carefully
on roadside or in the small car
park behind the toilet block at NT
408759, and walk east. Eurasian
Wigeon and European Golden
Plover should be present on the
rocks. Mediterranean Gulls are
also possible here.
Carry on east. There are three
car parks where you can scan
Gosford Bay for seaduck and
divers. The third at Ferny Ness
(NT 440777) can be particularly
productive for Long-tailed Duck,
Velvet Scoter, Red-breasted
Merganser and Slavonian Grebe.
Common Scoter may be seen
often well offshore.
Follow the A198 coast road
to Aberlady Bay , passing
Waterston House (Scottish
Ornithological Club headquarters).
Walk along to Kilspindie.
There should be a low to rising
tide with Shelduck, Northern
Lapwing, Common Redshank and
possibly Greenshank present.
At Kilspindie Golf Club look out
for Tree Sparrow. To visit the
reserve, cross the footbridge,
though it takes two hours to walk
out to Gullane Point and back, so
possibly leave it for another day.
However, a 20-minute walk out to
the Marl Loch could be productive
for Short-eared Owl, Kestrel and
Reed Bunting. Redwing and
Fieldfare could turn up anywhere.
A possible detour for Whooper
Swan via the B1345 to Drem
could produce a regular large
fock in the felds around the
village or east to Congalton.
Return to the A198 to North
Berwick and the Seabird Centre
(open all the year round except
Christmas Day). The rocks can
hold Common Eider, Purple
Sandpiper and Rock Pipit.
Once there you have three main
options depending very much on
time and light.
1. Take the A198 to Dunbar ,
and at East Linton check under
the bridge over the River Tyne for
Dipper. On the way in to Dunbar,
Seafeld Pond at Belhaven may
be worth a look for Common
Pochard and Little Grebe (NT
659786); a Water Rail was here
one December. The car park at
the sports centre (NT 677793)
is a vantage point to seawatch
for possible Little Auk and
Red-throated Diver. Continue
to Whitesands and Barns Ness
for Sanderling, Stonechat and
another seawatch. On the way
back check the quarry: Greater
Scaup is possible among the
Tufted Duck and Coot, and Great
Northern Diver has been seen
here. In the late afternoon it
would make a splendid end to
the day to see a Short-eared Owl
hunting around the quarry.
If time permits and you havent
seen one, Peregrine Falcon can
be seen on Torness Power Station
from time to time, just a few miles
south.
2. Go back to Musselburgh
Lagoons (NT 358735), as at high
tide waders congregate there
in large numbers, though try to
avoid going into Musselburgh as
there can be race meetings.
3. Go back to Aberlady Bay at
dusk. Park at the bridge and wait
for skeins of Pink-footed Geese to
fy in to roost another wonderful
way to end the day!
You will be hard pushed to see
100 species in one day, but 85
should be realistically achievable.
To really go for that target head
inland and into the Lammermuir
Hills the next day to add more
species.
THE EAST LOTHIAN COAST
By Doreen and James Main
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Sites and access
There is free access to all sites. Parking charges may apply in North
Berwick. There is a train service from Edinburgh to North Berwick and a
bus route follows the coast (phone Traveline Scotland on 0871 200 2233
or visit www.travelinescotland.com). Note that there are no bus or train
services on 1 January. The John Muir Way makes the area accessible to
walkers. Most sites are accessible by wheelchair but not Aberlady Bay LNR.
Maps
OS Explorer 351 and Landrangers 66 and 67.
Web resources
www.the-soc.org.uk for news, photos and site guides. Visit the
website for much more information the recently produced Guide to
the East Lothian Coast is available from the SOC.
www.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/lothianbirdnews/info to sign
up to the Lothian Yahoo email group for local reports and sightings.
www.seabird.org is an award-winning resource centre which has
video links to the Bass Rock as well as a welcoming visitor centre.
VISITOR INFORMATION
i
READS
Collins
Scottish Birds
by Valerie Thom
(HarperCollins,
9.99) buy
from 8.49 on
page 77.
6
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to w
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See bit.ly/BWMaps for links to fully annotated Google maps
32 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


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1401 WTWB sites v3.indd 32 13/12/2013 17:05
A
lthough it has only been
on the British list for six
years, this species, formerly
included in the Herring Gull
complex, is now much sought
after by gull-watchers. Scarce,
with up to 100 birds estimated
annually, it is best looked for in
winter, wherever gulls gather in
large numbers. Only featured
in the most recent feld guides,
it represents something of an
identifcation challenge for most
birders.
Caspian Gull breeds on the
northern shores of the Black
Sea, around the Caspian and
Azov Seas, eastwards across
Kazakhstan and also to the north;
in recent yeras it has spread west
and colonised Poland. It winters
in the eastern Mediterranean,
south Caspian Sea and Middle
Eastern coasts, and increasingly in
western Europe, as far as Britain.
It is a true vagrant in Ireland, with
just 11 records.
The species taxonomic
position has changed over the
last 50 years. It was frst split
from Herring Gull as a
subspecies of Yellow-legged Gull
by British Birds in 1993, and then
elevated to a species in its own
right by the British Ornithological
Unions Records Committee
(BOURC) in 2007.
How to see
The best places to watch gulls
are where they feed or roost.
Rubbish tips, especially large
landfll sites, sometimes attract
large numbers of gulls, and those
that can be accessed or watched
from close by are worth regular
visits. Roosting areas such as
large lakes and reservoirs are
also good bets to fnd the more
unusual species such as Caspian
and the very similar Yellow-
legged Gull.
Identifcation is complex and
involves assessing a range of
characters from jizz to wing-tip
patterns see the comprehensive
ID photo guide in Birdwatch 233:
41-47.
Where to see
Caspian Gull is most likely to
found in southern and eastern
England, not necessarily near
the coast, and the Midlands. It is
a rarity in Wales and Scotland,
where there are no sites which
regularly attract birds. Birds
start to be seen from about
October, continuing through
until February and March, with
occasional sightings in other
months.
JANUARYS TARGET BIRD
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FIND YOUR OWN
The sites listed below are among those that attract birds
annually; there are many others which only pull in the occasional
individual.
England
Warwickshire: Draycote Water (SP 461691); one or two from
Nov-Jan.
Staffordshire: Belvide Reservoir (SJ 870099); one or two from
Oct-Feb.
Bedfordshire: Stewartby Lake (TL 004417); sometimes several
from Oct-Mar.
Buckinghamshire: Calvert Lakes (SP 681251); one or two from
Nov-Feb.
Cambridgeshire: Milton tip (TL 467625); sometimes several
from Nov-Mar.
Oxfordshire: Farmoor Reservoir (SP 451060); one or two from
Aug-Feb.
Essex: Pitsea (TQ 737870) and Hole Haven (TQ 749840);
sometimes several from Nov-Mar.
Greater London: Rainham Marshes RSPB (TQ 551791);
sometimes several from Nov-Mar.
Kent: Dungeness NNR (TR 088169); one or two from Oct-Mar.
VISIT WWW.BIRDWATCH.CO.UK FOR TIPS ON FINDING MANY MORE TARGET BIRDS

i
www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 33
Gulls are best looked for at
landll sites; this second-winter
Caspian Gull was at a private
site in Pitsea, Essex.
1401 p33 WTWB target bird v3.indd 33 12/13/2013 3:47:03 PM
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www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 35
COMMENT THE POLITICAL BIRDER
suitable habitat, provision of food which feeds
other species too and the beauty of Pheasants
in our lives. The debit side includes illegal
persecution of raptors, road traf c accidents,
predation by Pheasants on insects, amphibians
and reptiles, introduced diseases, higher
densities of crows and Foxes, and competition
with native species for food.
Each list is quite long, and many of their
components are unmeasured. I suggest that
if we didnt already have Pheasants in the
countryside we probably wouldnt be thinking
of releasing them in their tens of millions any
time soon without a much better understanding
of their impacts on native wildlife.
Just because some people disapprove of
shooting doesnt make Pheasant releases
ecologically damaging, and just because we
are rather accustomed to seeing them doesnt
mean that they dont cause damage. Theres
a lot we dont know about the impact of the
species, but we do know that at release time
they are the most abundant bird in Britain.
Maybe the government should do some
research on the subject?
Read more at www.markavery.info.
G
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Just
because we
are rather
accustomed
to seeing
Pheasants
doesnt mean
that they
dont cause
damage

J
anus was the Roman god who
looked forwards and backwards, and
we tend to do that in January too.
Looking back at 2013, a group
of wildlife organisations published
a report conrming what we all
already knew: wildlife is sufering in the British
countryside. As if to emphasise this point, no
Hen Harriers bred successfully in England.
Not necessarily in response to this, the RSPB
changed the name of its magazine to Natures
Home, while the government approved the killing
of lots of Badgers. Thats enough of last year.
The bird that is arguably most Janus-
like is Little Owl, named Athene noctua after
the Greek goddess Athena. Have you ever
noticed that the back of a Little Owls head
looks a little like its face? Ive been caught out
by this: thinking I am looking a Little Owl
front on when I am looking at the back of its
head. I think of them as Janus owls.
I dont see Little Owls often, so Ive made
a New Years resolution to track some down
this coming spring. The species appears to
t in well in Britains countryside despite
being non-native thats hardly surprising
as it lives naturally just across the English
Channel. However, its British numbers are
falling. Its decline contrasts with the increase
of Pheasant, another introduced species, from
the distant Caucasus and points east.
Around 45 million Pheasants are released
into our countryside every year for people to
shoot, but only around 18 million of them are
shot. So 27 million must be feeding predators
such as Foxes and crows, getting run over on
the roads or dying of cold or hunger each year
otherwise wed be knee deep in the things.
We think of Pheasants as being a natural
part of our avifauna, but that rasping
cough of a call is only a peculiarly British
sound because we release more Pheasants
for shooting than does any other European
country. And, in the course of my lifetime,
the number of Pheasants released annually in
Britain has increased 10-fold.
For and against
It is quite fun to draw up a list of pros and cons
of Pheasant shooting. The credit side includes
income for rural communities, protection of
MARK AVERY
Look both ways
In a year of ups and downs for British wildlife, Mark Avery looks back at the status
of Pheasant in Britain and the impact it might have on our native wildlife.
Introduced to the British countryside in their
millions every year, we still arent fully aware of
the effect Pheasants have on our native wildlife.
Do this in January
Write to your MP (email is easiest) and ask what
evidence exists to demonstrate that Pheasants
are an ecologically benef cial or neutral addition
to Britains wildlife.

1401 p35 Mark Avery v3.indd 35 12/13/2013 3:50:52 PM


p36.indd 1 11/12/2013 15:05
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January 2014 37
YEAR LISTING
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300 or bust!
Want a record-breaking, bird-flled year in 2014? Heres how to reach the
magical target of 300 species, says Richard Bonser, who practised what
he preaches by hitting that total in 10 consecutive years.

Some of the hardest


species to catch up with in any
year are the 50 or so scarce
migrants you wont see them
all, so make the most of them
when they do turn up

Spring migration can be good for


scarcities such as Bluethroat
use a trip to see one to also pick
up any local specialities to make
the most of your time.
D
uring the Nineties and the early millennium,
year listing was a serious afair. There was heated
competition, it often grabbed the limelight and the
puerile arguments between competitors have now become
part of birding folklore. Since then, though, with increased
fuel costs and harder economic times, the competitive
pursuit of seeing as many birds as you can in a year has
fallen by the wayside. Its now a much more relaxed, friendly
afair, spurred on by personal challenge and the opportunity
to visit beautiful far-ung places.
The news of whats around is out there for anybody who
wants it, and the customary target of 300 species in one year
isnt just for those with time to spare and money to burn.
With a little bit of planning, foresight and efort, its an
achievable goal for all. Just remember to pace yourself.
There are 230 regularly occurring species, including
several localised breeding and wintering birds. Its likely
that at some point in the year rarities will turn up near to
them, so take in such species on these trips and resist the
urge to see them on their own early in the year; for example,
just look at all those Choughs within a
stones throw of the recent Western
Orphean Warbler in Pembrokeshire (see pages 10-11).
Some of the hardest species to catch up with in any year
are the 50 or so scarce migrants. You wont see them all,
as some years there can be a total dearth of, say, Wrynecks
or Red-backed Shrikes due to unsuitable weather. The two
large shearwaters Great and Corys are also notorious
for occurring in annual peaks and troughs. Make the most
of these scarcities when they turn up, but only travel short
distances for them. Stockpiling vagrants and venturing
further aeld for a target rarity and a few scarce birds
say a fall day at Spurn or north Norfolk can also help
enormously with saving money and efort.
You can help keep costs down by encouraging friends
to accompany you, or better still doing a year list with
somebody else. Planning will also help, especially with those
trips you know youre going to be doing. Book your Shetland
ights six months before you travel, or get the ferry from
Aberdeen to economise further. Enjoying a successful year
list involves a considerable amount of logistical thought,
as well as several spontaneous trips, so plotting out a loose
itinerary at the beginning of the year may help consolidate
your ideas. In the following pages are a few suggestions.

1401 p37-40 yearListResolutions FIN.indd 37 12/12/2013 14:08


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38 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


January and February
This is obviously the easiest time of year to add to your
list. Every species will be new, but focus on seeing any
overwintering vagrants, planning in winter specialities around
these. Stay local too, especially if there is a cold-weather
movement of birds, and comb your local area for hard-to-see
species such as Jack Snipe, Water Pipit and the like.
Plan a trip to Norfolk for specialities such as Shore Lark
and Taiga Bean Goose. Despite a few quiet winters recently,
Cornwall and Devon can provide a haven for overwintering
gulls, wildfowl and vagrant warblers making the most of
the milder climate. Western Ireland can provide a fantastic
weekend away in late February, focusing on counties Cork,
Galway, Kerry and Sligo for gulls and wildfowl, usually with
an Arctic or American twist.
Suggestions: Norfolk, south-west England and
western Ireland.
March
What you do in March is often dictated by the weather its
either the start of spring or the end of winter, dependent on the
year. Southerly airow may produce early Iberian overshoots
in the South-West, while north winds are likely to increase the
number of gulls present in northern harbours. Late in the month
is a good time for a trip to Scotland for the Scottish specialities
such as Capercaillie, Ptarmigan and Scottish Crossbill.
Suggestion: Scotland.
April
Migrants are plentiful and youll rack up a whole host of
returning species. It is an excellent time of year to bird
YEAR LISTING

Early winter is the


easiest time of year to add
to your list every species
you record will be new

Late March is a good time to head to the Highlands for


Scottish breeding birds such as Ptarmigan (pictured),
Capercaillie and Scottish Crossbill.
August is
the time for
seawatching and
pelagics, with
Wilsons Storm-
petrel a major
target.
A week on Scilly
in late April could
produce a variety
of scarcities such
as Hoopoe.
O
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1401 p37-40 yearListResolutions FIN.indd 38 12/12/2013 14:08

www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 39

Try to head to the Hebrides, too. Skua passage of the


archipelago in May can be extremely impressive, alongside
lingering White-billed Divers and returning Corncrakes in
near 24-hour daylight.
Suggestions: Hebrides and Shetland.
July
The midsummer period is often very quiet, as spring
migration has all but ceased. Supplement a bit of relaxation
with a trip for Golden Orioles, Montagus Harrier and Honey
Buzzards or any other breeders youve yet to see. Late in the
month sees the rst returning waders, and this can sometimes
produce a surprise such as last years Lesser Sand Plover
which was seen in both Moray and Co Cork.
Suggestion: Norfolk.
August
This month is synonymous with seawatching. A strong
westerly blow with a low-pressure system tracking west across
the Atlantic is best for witnessing major seabird movements,
highlights of which may be large numbers of Corys and
Great Shearwaters, Grey Phalarope and Sabines Gull, while
Feas-type Petrels seem to be there for the taking more and
more these days.
Cornish sites such as Porthgwarra (during a south-westerly)
and Pendeen (on a north-westerly) are your best bets, while
Bridges of Ross in Co Clare is the best Irish site. Wilsons
Storm-petrel still remains a major target, and though the
last couple of years have seen poor numbers, shark boats of
Scilly are the best option; pelagic trips from Newquay and
other Cornish locations have recorded them too, but with less
frequency.
If the wind turns east or north-east late in the month, be
prepared to head to the east coast for some nice falls of drift
migrants, which could include Greenish Warbler and the odd
Booted Warbler if youre lucky.
Suggestions: Scilly, Cornwall and Co Clare (seabirds),
Norfolk and Yorkshire (drift migrants).
September
This is an exciting time of the year. Easterlies will result in
a ow of migrants, increasingly producing rarer species as
the month progresses, alongside scarcities such as Wryneck
and Red-breasted Flycatcher. Fair Isle and Shetland are
undoubtedly the best bases, and with more and more birders
heading there year on year, specialities such as Citrine Wagtail
and Lanceolated Warbler are being supplemented by even
rarer nds too.
Fast-moving low-pressure systems will predictably
produce American waders such as Bairds, Buf-breasted
and Semipalmated Sandpipers. This type of weather can
Take in regularly occurring species on rarity twitches, and resist
the urge to go and see them on their own.
Make the most of scarcities when they turn up, but only travel
short distances for them, venturing further afeld for a target
rarity and a few scarce birds.
Share the cost by encouraging friends to accompany you, or
better still doing a year list with somebody else.
Plan ahead and book your Shetland fights six months before you
TOP MONEY-SAVING TIPS
If you want to hit that magic 300 this year but youre worried about the cost, try these top tips:
i
travel, or get the ferry from Aberdeen to economise further.
In January every species you record will be new, but focus on
seeing any overwintering vagrants, planning in winter specialities
around these.
Stay local early in the year, especially if there is a cold-weather
movement of birds.
With birds returning from their wintering grounds, April is an
excellent time of year to bird your local area.
your local area, though seeing southern overshoots such as
Red-rumped Swallow, Woodchat Shrike and Hoopoe should
always be at the back of your mind. A week on Scilly late in
the month could yield rewards.
A lot of birds that have wintered further south will also be
making their way through, so be prepared to travel for the
odd surprise too.
Suggestions: Local birding and spring overshoots on
Scilly.
May and June
These are the peak months for spring migration, and though
birds may seem to be turning up everywhere, they rarely
linger long. A week on Shetland, particularly Fair Isle, in
late May or early June should be excellent for scarcities such
as Bluethroat, Red-backed Shrike and Icterine and Marsh
Warblers providing there is some east in the wind. Theres
also the chance of turning up something really special.
An autumn trip to Shetland is almost a
requirement if youre to hit that magic 300.
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1401 p37-40 yearListResolutions FIN.indd 39 12/12/2013 14:09
40 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


also produce outlandish vagrants too look at this years
September haul of Eastern Kingbird, Cedar Waxwing and
Wilsons Warbler.
Suggestions: Shetland, the east coast, south-west
England and western Ireland.
October
October is the busiest month of the year. The last decade
has seen an increasing number of birders head to Shetland,
especially early in the month, and the rewards can be high
like last years Thick-billed Warbler. Ignore Scilly at your peril,
though, and despite the dissenting voices, memories are short,
as it was only a couple of years ago the islands hosted Scarlet
Tanager, Northern Waterthrush and Black-and-white Warbler
in one autumn alone.
Mainland birding, too, can be special, with hot-spots such
as Portland, west Cornwall and the east coast consistently
producing good birds among predictable scarcities such as
Pallass and Dusky Warblers. Throughout the month, the
weather will inevitably dictate the state of play.
Suggestions: Scilly, Shetland, Portland and the
east coast.
November
Dependent on the year, this is either autumns nale or the
harbinger of a long and cold winter. Migration starts to tail of,
especially by mid-month, although there can often be extreme
surprises if the wind continues to blow from the east including
this years Western Orphean Warbler and Caspian Stonechat
among the more usual Desert Wheatears and Humes Warblers.
November also ofers a second chance for you to locate
those winter visitors that may have evaded you in the rst part
of the year, as well as to scan through returning geese and
ducks, with the potential reward of anything from Green-
winged Teal to Cackling Goose.
Suggestions: Kent, Norfolk and Yorkshire.
December
As the year draws to a close, its time to recuperate and ll
in any gaping omissions that you didnt connect with during
the rst winter period. Getting back to local birding is always
rewarding, although punctuate this with a day trip to Norfolk
or, better still, travel to Islay, where you can enjoy the tens
of thousands of geese alongside numerous Choughs and
raptors. December can still produce major surprises, including
Western Sandpiper, Buf-bellied Pipit and Rose-breasted
Grosbeak in the last couple of years.
Suggestions: Norfolk and Islay.
Challenging yourself to a year list should be a fun adventure,
where you see a lot of birds and sharpen your eld skills in
some spectacular places. Enjoy.
YEAR LISTING
If you can brave the snow, Islay in December will
produce the spectacle of thousands of geese, as
well as raptors and Chough.
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Shetland versus scilly these two hot-spots are well known for
producing the goods in autumn, with the former hosting this Thick-
billed Warbler in October last year (above) and the latter having a
Black-and-white Warbler in September 2011 (left).
1401 p37-40 yearListResolutions FIN.indd 40 12/12/2013 14:09
For more information call
Shetland Nature on
01957 710000 or visit
www.shetlandnature.net
W
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T
H

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ENTER NOW
Birdwatch has teamed up with
Shetland Nature this month to
offer readers the chance to win
a place on a Shetland spring
birding break this May.
S
hetland in spring and summer is a
very special place, marked by a heady
cocktail of breathtaking scenery,
isolation, tranquillity and a rich diversity
of wildlife. This seven-night trip, taking place
from 23 to 30 May, is led by Martin Garner of
Birding Frontiers and Tim Appleton OBE, co-
founder of the Birdfair, and showcases the full
spectrum of Shetlands wildlife in late spring.
Timed to span what is traditionally one of
the best and most productive weeks of spring
migration, you can share the excitement of bird-
nding, while also enjoying Shetlands all-star
breeding birds and wildlife attractions such as
Puf n, Red-throated Diver, Eurasian Whimbrel,
Red-necked Pharalope, European Storm-petrel
and Great and Arctic Skuas, as well as other island
specialities such as Otter and Killer Whale. Rarities
are always a possibility, and those enjoyed on the
trip in spring 2013 included Blyths Reed Warbler,
Thrush Nightingale and Short-toed Lark.
The lucky winner will stay for three nights on
Shetland Mainland and four nights on Unst, and
also enjoy a late-night excursion for European
Storm-petrels, plus a boat trip to a world-
renowned seabird colony.
To be in with a chance of winning this place on
Shetland Natures tour go to www.birdwatch.co.uk
and tell us what this mystery bird is.
Competition closes 31 January 2014. Prize is for one place on Shetland Natures Shetland spring
birding holiday. Holiday commences pre-dinner at 6 pm on Friday 23 May and ends after breakfast
on Friday 30 May 2014. All meals, transport within Shetland, guiding fees and excursions included.
Not included: travel to and from Shetland, insurance, beverages and items of a personal nature. All
other usual terms and conditions apply a full list can be found online at www.birdwatch.co.uk.
www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 41
COMPETITION
Win a Shetland birding
break this spring
BirdwatchIn association with
bird jan14 comp FP v2.indd 41 12/12/2013 16:31
42 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


YEAR LISTING
National year lists always seem to
excite the interest of birders, not just
in Britain and Ireland where there
have been several well-publicised and
acrimonious competitions but in other
countries, too, with recent accounts of
notable big years and national bird
races from Australia and North America.
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B
irding can be a simple pleasure
or highly competitive, depending
on the nature of the birder.
Many contemplate undertaking a year
list, an attempt to see as many birds as
possible from 1 January to 31 December
in any given year.
This can be done for your local patch,
county, region, nation or for the entire
globe. It can be for your own interest
or a serious, all-consuming, expensive
endeavour, again depending on your
personal approach and the scale of the
hoped-for achievement. If competitive, the
bar for all these strands of annual listing
has been set very high, and can either be
seen as a challenge to match or a level at
which to compare your own eforts.
While it isnt necessary to commit
your whole life to such a quixotic
project, it is interesting to see the
extremes to which birders have gone in
getting the biggest year list in the past.
For perspective, it is worth bearing in
mind that in sport it is still possible to
enjoy watching a match and playing for
a local side without feeling the need to
be a striker for your national team; so it
is in birding, too.
Your big year
Year listing is popular with birders everywhere, with friendly and not-so-
friendly competitions taking place all over the world. But why do it? David
Callahan looks at lists past and present and fnds some interesting stories.
Abide by the rules
Key to taking part competitively are
the rules, and serious year listing will
gauge itself against a standard list
of a countrys bird species such as
the Birdwatch checklist (which can be
downloaded as a spreadsheet: bit.
ly/bw259Checklist), the British
1401 p42-43 Your big year v2.indd 42 12/13/2013 3:59:27 PM
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January 2014 43
YEAR LISTING
A wetland like Rutland Water (main photo)
could be a good place to start your year list,
with wintering wildfowl and waders, as well
as resident species, to bump up the numbers.
A trip to Caerlaverock could deliver Whooper
Swan (below left), a scarce species that will
soon be leaving for its breeding grounds.


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Ornithologists Unions British list or the
American Birding Associations checklist
for North America. Birds have to be
seen within the set boundaries of the
site or region concerned, be alive at the
time of observation, be genuinely wild
and unrestrained, be ethically observed
and identied correctly; when the
competition gets erce, this last criterion
in particular can come under intense
scrutiny. Once these terms are met, the
fun can begin.
Not all year lists are do or die. Indeed,
in these times of climate change, the
restrictions such as those ofered by non-
motorised year lists and birding on foot
can be more of a challenge than whizzing
around the country eating up fossil fuels
like they were going out of fashion (which
they eventually probably will).
By the book
Year listing can be so stressful that
many record holders immediately feel
the need to put nger to keyboard and
write a book about their Homeric task.
The record for year listing in Britain
and Ireland is currently held by Adrian
Webb, who achieved 373 in 2000 (367 if
you just count Britain).
Some might consider that a challenge,
but it wasnt achieved without
considerable sacrice and acrimony
among his rivals, and a later failed bid
by Adrian Riley was detailed in his
self-published title Arrivals and Rivals: a
Birding Oddity. Australian birdo Sean
Dooley wrote one of the best of this
genre in The Big Twitch, after he took
the Australian record in 2002 with 720
species. Ten years later, this was beaten
by Steve Weigel with 745 species.
Perhaps the most well-known attempt
to break a national birding year record
was documented by Mark Obmascik in
his book The Big Year, later made into a
less satisfactory Hollywood lm. A real
tortoise-and-hare tale of an increasingly
desperate neck-and-neck race between
three American birders attempting to
see the most bird species in one year
(1998) in the United States and Canada,
the trio covered 275,000 road miles and
spent many tens of thousands of dollars
until Sandy Komito took the as-yet
unbeaten record by seeing 748 in total.
This year a British birder, Neil
Hayward, is coming close to beating
Komitos record. At the time of writing,
he had seen 740 species (with two more
pending acceptance) in 28 states. He has
covered 221,982 miles by air and road,
taking 161 ights, and spent 182 nights
away from home. He was heading of to
the western Aleutians in early December,
and you can follow his journey on his
blog at www.accidentalbigyear2013.
blogspot.co.uk.
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Be warned competitive
year listing can lead to
compulsive twitching, as
often the only way to see
all the rare species youll
need is to travel to one
found by someone else, like
these birders looking for a
reported rarity on Scilly.
Hollywood ctionalised one of the most notorious
big year bird races in The Big Year (2011).
1401 p42-43 Your big year v2.indd 43 12/13/2013 4:00:04 PM
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Enjoy extra special ofers
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Contact your local Kowa dealer
for more information.
tis the
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p44.indd 1 11/12/2013 15:05
www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 45
1 Greylag, Taiga Bean and Pink-footed Geese (Pyhajoki, Finland, 20 April 2008). This instructive shot shows six Taiga Bean Geese alongside
two Greylag Geese (top centre and right) and a single Pink-footed Goose (lower right). Though large, approaching the Greylags in size, the bean
geese lack the heavy body, broad wings and heavy head and bill of the Greylags and also lack that species pale plumage hues, particularly its
striking pale grey forewings. Instead they appear more elegantly proportioned, darker and have a relatively dark forewing. Note the short neck,
small head and short pink bill of the Pink-footed Goose.
Winter is the season to take in Britains spectacular goose
movements and flocks, and they are worth the trip to one of their
regular haunts. However, prolonged observation of these gatherings
particularly flocks of Pink-footed Geese may reveal the odd bird
that is similar but subtly different. These could well be one of the
scarce but annual bean geese, both species of which winter in
Britain in small numbers. With Andy Stoddarts guide to their
diagnostic details, you should be able to decide exactly which one
youre looking at while still enjoying the breathtaking spectacle.
PHOTO GUIDE
Pink-footed, Tundra Bean
and Taiga Bean Geese
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IDENTIFICATION In association with www.kowaproducts.com


ANDY STODDART is a
former member of the
Rarities Committee and
author of several books
and ID papers, with
many years birding
experience.
PROFILE
1
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IDENTIFICATION
BASIC PRINCIPLES
In association with www.kowaproducts.com
N
o birds are more
emblematic of grey
winter days than three
of our grey geese Pink-
footed, Taiga Bean and
Tundra Bean Geese. Once
all regarded as forms of the
same species, Pink-footed
Goose has long been split;
Birdwatch follows the IOC in
splitting the two bean geese,
though some authorities still
lump them.
The three taxa are quite
distinct, however, not just
in their size, structure and
plumage but also in their
distribution. Like all geeese,
they are highly traditional in
their breeding and wintering
grounds and migration routes,
and have predictable vagrancy
patterns, so the key to nding
them is informed expectation.
Ageing grey geese is not
always easy, but on adults the
whitish tips to the upperparts
feathers are quite straight,
typically aligned in neat
rows. On juveniles these
same feather tips are more
rounded, forming a more
jumbled, disrupted pattern.
Pink-footed Goose
This species breeds mainly in
Iceland and east Greenland
and winters in traditional
areas in Scotland, north-west
England and Norfolk. The
rst birds arrive early, in the
rst week of September, with
peak numbers reached by
December, but birds start to
drift north from their Norfolk
wintering areas in late January.
Another, smaller, population
breeds on Svalbard and
winters in continental north-
west Europe.
Though migrant ocks
may be seen ying overhead
anywhere in northern
England, the best chance
to see this species well on
the ground is to visit a main
wintering site. Here the
experience can be almost
overwhelming, a truly
spectacular show which must
Tundra Bean Goose
This is the northern tundra-
breeding counterpart of
Taiga Bean Goose. It breeds
in Siberia and winters in
Continental north-west
Europe. There are no long-
standing, traditional wintering
sites in Britain and birds
reach us only as wanderers
from the Continental
wintering population, either
as lone individuals, family
parties or small ocks. At
such times they may be found
on their own or, perhaps
more likely, among Pink-
footed Geese, where nding
them can be a challenge.
As might be expected,
this species is only regularly
recorded in East Anglia and
the South-East. Elsewhere it
is a rare bird. Numbers vary
dramatically, however. In some
years very few are recorded
while other years see mini-
inuxes, usually the result of
hard weather on the Continent.
The largest numbers are often
recorded in mid or late winter.
This species is smaller than
Taiga Bean Goose and only a
little larger than Pink-footed,
so will not always stand out on
size alone. Structural clues are
much more important: long
legs, a large, heavy, wedge-
shaped head and a heavy,
deep-based and wedge-shaped
(though not especially long)
bill with, on close views, a
pronounced grinning patch.
The plumage resembles
Taiga Bean dark brown with
(on adults) white frosting
above and no grey glaze to
the upperparts. The legs and
feet are orange and the bill
is predominantly dark with a
somewhat variable band of
orange towards the tip.
In ight Tundra Bean
Geese look dark with, as in
Taiga Bean, a rather uniform,
darkish upperwing and a
narrow white tail tip. The calls
are similar to those of Taiga
Bean and therefore deeper
than Pink-footed Goose.

The three taxa are quite


distinct, not just in their size,
structure and plumage but also in
their distribution

southern Scotland (where it


arrives in September) and on
the Yare Marshes in Norfolk
(where November arrivals are
the norm). Though reliably
found at both these sites, this
is a rare bird elsewhere, not
prone to turning up in ocks
of other geese. Away from its
twin wintering sites this is a
signicant nd and doubtless
a description species in most
counties.
Particularly in comparison
with Pink-footed Goose,
this is a large goose indeed,
verging on Greylag in size
but much more elegant and
swan-like. It is structurally
striking: large bodied, with
a long slim neck, long small
head and noticeably long bill.
On the ground it appears
darker than Pink-footed
Goose, more brown than
grey with (on adults)
frosty white fringes to the
upperpart feathers. The legs
and feet are orange, though
the precise colour can be
surprisingly dif cult to make
out at range on a grey winter
day. The bill is variably
marked dark and orange,
many having extensive
orange but others having a
more restricted orange band
near the tip.
In ight this is a large,
powerful goose, long-necked
and lacking the striking pale
grey forewing of Pink-footed
Goose. Instead, the whole
upperwing is rather dark and
uniform though the changing
hues on a ying bird can be
dif cult to interpret. The
white tip to the tail is narrow.
The calls are deeper than
those of Pink-footed Goose
a low ung ung.
rank among this countrys
greatest wildlife spectacles.
Here, as well as the thrill of
seeing birds in numbers, it
is also possible to study this
delightful species at close
range.
This is by far the smallest
and daintiest of our grey
geese. It is dumpy, short
necked, round headed and
short billed. Pink-foot is pale
brown in colour, but with
an often strong pale grey
glaze to the upperparts and
a darker brown head and
neck which contrast with a
paler breast. It is, however,
something of a chameleon,
changing its hues according
to the light, sometimes more
brown, sometimes greyer.
Its legs and feet are, of
course, pink (though very
exceptionally they may be
orange), while its bill is dark
with a variable pink band
towards the tip.
In ight it looks short
necked, with a contrasting
dark head and neck and a
strong pale grey forewing
(though not as ashingly pale
as that on a Greylag). The
tail is broadly tipped with
white. The calls are highly
distinctive: a high-pitched
wink wink interspersed with
deeper notes. Lone birds can
be particularly noisy, but the
sound of thousands of birds
rising together is not one to
be forgotten.
Taiga Bean Goose
This species breeds in the
forest bog zone of northern
Scandinavia and Russia.
In Britain it has only two
wintering areas: between
Cumbernauld and Falkirk in
1401 p45-52 ID photoGuide FIN.indd 46 12/12/2013 18:41
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January 2014 47
IDENTIFICATION

In association with www.kowaproducts.com In association with www.kowaproducts.com


2 Adult Pink-footed Goose
(Schleswig-Holstein, Germany,
17 February 2012). This is a
classic portrait of an adult Pink-
footed Goose. Although a grey
goose, it appears small, compact
and rather dumpy. Its neck is
short and thick, its head is small
and neatly rounded and its bill is
short and relatively weak. Just a
tiny hint of a pink leg can be
seen here, but the bill shows
extensive obvious pink.
3 Adult Tundra Bean Goose
(Priorslee Flash, Shropshire, 5
December 2011). This swimming
Tundra Bean Goose lacks the
somewhat demure appearance of
Pink-footed Goose. This is a
much more solid and heavy bird.
Its body looks bulky but it is the
heavy, rather angular head which
really catches the eye, an effect
heightened by a heavy, deep-
based and rather triangular bill,
with a pronounced grinning
patch. The upperparts lack the
subtle grey hues found on Pink-
foot, being a colder, darker brown
with more clearly defined crisp
white feather fringes. The bill is
mainly dark, but has a well-
marked bright orange patch.
4 Adult Taiga Bean Goose
(Kuusamo, Finland, 2 May
2005). Taiga Bean Goose is a
rather more elegantly
proprtioned bird than Tundra
Bean. Its larger size, longer,
slimmer bill, smaller head and
longer neck all contribute to a
somewhat swan-like profile.
Though this bird is particularly
slim billed, others can appear
more similar to some long- or
slim-billed Tundra Beans. The
plumage resembles that of
Tundra Bean Goose, but the bill
is typically more extensively
orange, as here.
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48 Birdwatch

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IDENTIFICATION
6 Adult Tundra Bean Geese
(Whitemoor Haye, Staffordshire,
18 December 2004). This species
is large, less compact than Pink-
footed Goose and its head looks
rather large and angular. Adding to
its distinctive profile is a heavy,
triangular bill. The plumage is,
typically for bean geese, rather
uniform and brown with crisp white
fringes above. Most tellingly,
however, the standing bird shows
bright orange legs and extensive
bright orange on the bill. Note that
the sitting bird is longer billed (and
also shows limited white
feathering around the bill base).
7 Adult Taiga Bean Goose
(Siikajoki, Finland, 25 April
2004). The very large, heavy
body, long, thin neck and
relatively small-looking head
should identify this bird as a
Taiga Bean Goose. Unlike the
bird in image 4, however, this is
a particularly short-billed
individual, in this respect
resembling Tundra Bean Goose.
Though bill size and shape can
be a useful indicator in the
separation of Tundra and Taiga
Bean Geese, the variation in
both forms is large (as also
illustrated in image 6).
Identification should always be
based on an assessment of the
whole bird.
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In association with www.kowaproducts.com
5 Adult Pink-footed Goose
(Holkham, Norfolk, 23 January
2012). This classic side-on
portrait shows the structure of
Pink-footed Goose well: dumpy
and short necked, even when
alert, with a small head and a
short, small bill. Its legs are also
a little on the short side. Shown
clearly here is the typical
contrast between the rather dark
brown head and neck and the
paler brown of the rest of the
plumage, slightly greyer on the
upperparts. The white tips to the
upperpart feathers, neatly
aligned in rows, age this bird as
an adult.
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January 2014 49
IDENTIFICATION

8 Pink-footed Geese (Crosby,


Lancashire, 26 January 2013).
In Britain, Pink-footed Goose is
the only one of our trio which is
likely to be seen in numbers.
This flock portrait is typical a
closely ranked mass of birds in
which the dominant impression
is one of dark heads and necks
contrasting with paler brown
bodies. Clearly visible on many
of the birds here are the subtle
pale grey hues in the upperparts
shown by this species. This
impression is never given by
either of the bean geese.
9 Tundra Bean Goose (Ospeldijk,
The Netherlands, 2 January
2004). Structure is often the
best way to pick out a Tundra
Bean Goose among Pink-feet.
These birds are striking:
characteristically heavy bodied,
with heavy, angular heads and
deep, triangular bills. In terms of
plumage, they lack the
contrasting pale upperside of
Pink-footed Goose, being instead
a more uniform, drab brown,
while the bills are typical of
Tundra Bean largely dark with a
prominent orange patch. This is
a family party, the right-hand bird
and the third from the left being
adults. The four young in the
foreground can be identified by
the more irregular and less neat
arrangement of the pale feather
tips in the upperparts.
10 Taiga Bean Goose (Siikajoki,
Finland, 25 April 2004). These
very large-bodied geese with
long, thin necks, small heads
and long, slim bills are classic
Taiga Bean Geese. Though the
largest of our trio, they retain an
undoubted swan-like elegance.
The rather uniform plumage,
entirely brown and white and
lacking grey hues, is
characteristic of both bean
geese, but the extensive orange
in the bill is much more typical of
Taiga Bean.
8
9
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In association with www.kowaproducts.com In association with www.kowaproducts.com
1401 p45-52 ID photoGuide FIN.indd 49 12/12/2013 18:42
50 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


IDENTIFICATION
J
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In association with www.kowaproducts.com
12 Tundra Bean Geese
(Brandenburg, Germany, 30
October 2005). These flying
Tundra Bean Geese lack strong
contrasts between the head and
neck and body, being much more
uniformly toned. Easily visible
here too is the heavy, slightly
too-large-looking head and the
deep triangular bill. Though bare
part colours can be difficult to
assess on birds in flight, the bill
patch and legs on these birds
are unequivocally bright orange.
13 Taiga Bean Geese (Liminka,
Finland, 25 April 2003).
Typically, these flying Taiga Bean
Geese combine large size with
elegant structure. They are large
bodied, but the neck is long and
thin, the head is small and the
bill is slender. Typically on flying
bean geese, there are no strong
plumage contrasts. Perhaps the
most obvious feature of these
birds is the extensive orange on
the bill.
11 Pink-footed Geese (Lumijoki,
Finland, 14 April 2007). With
their compact, dumpy flight
silhouette, short, rather thick
necks and short, stubby bills,
these grey geese can be quickly
identified as Pink-footed Geese.
Also typical is the very strong
contrast between the dark head
and neck and the paler body,
while just visible on the two right-
hand birds is a characteristic
flash of pale grey forewing.
Though never as striking as that
shown by Greylag Goose, it is
nevertheless an eye-catching
feature of this species.
11
12
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1401 p45-52 ID photoGuide FIN.indd 50 12/12/2013 18:42
www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 51
IDENTIFICATION

O
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In association with www.kowaproducts.com In association with www.kowaproducts.com
15 Tundra Bean and Pink-footed
Geese (Plex Moss, Lancashire,
11 March 2010). The two Tundra
Bean Geese here (circled) are
not immediately obvious, but a
closer look reveals their slightly
larger size, longer necks and
heavier bills. In contrast to the
accompanying Pink-footed
Geese, their plumage looks more
brown, lacking grey hues, while
the forewing is dull, not
contrastingly pale, and the white
tip to the tail is narrow.
16 Taiga Bean Geese (Liminka,
Finland, 25 April 2006). These
Taiga Bean Geese manage to
look, as always, both powerful
and elegant. Their bodies are
big, but the necks are long, the
heads small and the bills quite
long. The plain brown plumage
hues are obvious, as are the
subtly paler forewings and the
relatively narrow white tips to the
tails. Note here the variation in
bill patterning, with two birds
having the typical extensive
orange colour of this form, while
the other two show more
restricted orange patches
reminiscent of Tundra Bean
Goose.
14 Pink-footed Geese (Holkham,
Norfolk, 26 January 2006). This
is a typical view of Pink-footed
Geese on the wing. Note again
the dumpy, compact structure,
dark head and neck contrasting
with the paler body, and
relatively pronounced pale grey
forewing. Also visible on these
birds is a broad white tip to the
tail. What sadly cannot be
communicated here is the
wonderful sound of these birds
as their flocks fill the sky.
14
15
16
1401 p45-52 ID photoGuide FIN.indd 51 12/12/2013 18:43
52 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


IDENTIFICATION In association with www.kowaproducts.com
READS
Wild Geese by M A Ogilvie
Covering the geese of North
America, Europe and Asia, this
detailed work on distribution,
status and migration features
maps. Further chapters are
devoted to classifcation, ecology,
breeding, identifcation, and
exploitation and conservation.
The text is supported by 16 colour
plates by Carol Ogilvie, showing
head and bill detail, as well as all
species in fight and on the ground,
and their young. Buy for just
41.99, or 40.99 for subscribers;
SRP 50.
To order, see page 77, call 020 8881 0550 or visit the
Birdwatch Bookshop at www.birdwatch.co.uk/store.
Looking for birding books
at discount prices? Visit
www.birdwatch.co.uk
Birdwatch
bookshop
Finding your own
BY far the commonest of these three tricky goose species is Pink-footed Goose,
and Britain holds huge gatherings each winter. Try the grazing marshes of north
Norfolk, Martin Mere WWT, Lancashire (SD 4214), or the east Scottish coast.
Englands sole flock of wintering Taiga Bean Geese can be found on the marshes
of the Yare Valley at Buckenham and Cantley (TG 3605). The other site that attracts
a regular flock is the Slamannan Plateau, Forth and Clyde (NS 8373), though they
may take some finding.
Tundra Bean Geese are less predictable but, paradoxically, a little more
widespread, though limited in number. This species is at best a scarce visitor, if not a
genuine rarity in most counties; it occurs most frequently in East Anglia and the
South-East. It is most regular on grazing marshes at sites such as Pilling Lane Ends
(SD 3749), Cockerham Moss (SD 4448) and Plex Moss (SD 3410), Lancashire,
Minsmere RSPB (TM 4766), North Warren RSPB (TM 4657) and Kesslingland Level
(TM 5285), all Suffolk, Breydon Water (TG 4907) and the Wells/Holkham area (TF
8544), Norfolk, The Wash (TF 5144), Ouse Washes RSPB (TL 4685), Cambridgeshire,
and nearby Welney WWT, and Harty Marshes (TR 0268) on Sheppey, Kent. Occasional
birds can turn up almost anywhere there is suitable grazing or roosting habitat and a
goose flock of almost any species or combination of species perhaps try Baltasound
(HP 6208), Unst, Shetland, Slimbridge WWT (SO 7204), Gloucestershire, or Wexford
Wildfowl Reserve (T 0724), Co Wexford, on the off-chance, too.
Quiz bird
ITS January, and its cold very cold. Youre
in East Anglia, getting your year list off to a
good start, when the day suddenly gets a lot
more interesting. A small flock of grey geese
emerges over the horizon and eventually
pitches down among other wildfowl in a flood
not far from the road. You quickly rule out
White-fronted and Greylag Geese, a good
start, but Taiga Bean Goose regularly winters
in the area, there has been a hard-weather
influx of Tundra Beans locally and Pink-footed
Goose is, of course, the default grey goose
in Norfolk. These mystery geese on the
roadside flood are showy, fortunately, so
using the knowledge assimilated from this
months article, you should be able to
confidently nail the ID and select the right
one from three. Which species is this?
How to enter
Once youve digested Andy Stoddarts expert
advice in this ID Photo Guide to Pink-footed,
Tundra Bean and Taiga Bean Geese and have
worked out the answer, let us know the
identity of the mystery bird in this photo. Go
to bit.ly/bw259IDQuiz. Be quick, though, as
the competition closes on 3 January.
The answer will be available online at
www.birdwatch.co.uk/win from 4 January,
and the first randomly chosen reader with
the correct answer will win a
copy of the Advanced Bird ID
Handbook by Nils van Duivendijk
(New Holland).
Many congratulations to last
months winner, Karen Hartnell!
?
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ENTER
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1401 p45-52 ID photoGuide FIN.indd 52 12/12/2013 18:43
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www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 55
YEAR LISTING
comprehensive. I recently put them onto
a spreadsheet, which revealed some
interesting patterns.
Before examining these, I should
perhaps explain my birding activities.
Paradoxically, I do not actually make
much of an efort to year list: I simply
carry out my normal birding and add
up the totals at the end of the year. My
birding is based mainly on my local
patch Chew Valley Lake in Somerset
European Turtle Dove has become
much harder to catch up with,
a trend conrmed by national
statistics.

D
ecember is generally one of the
quietest months for birding, but
when the new year begins, we
once again see a urry of activity as
birders shake of their hangovers and
venture back into the eld: its time to
start a new year list!
Lots of birders keep a year list but,
for some, doing a big year sometimes
takes over their entire lives, as recently
documented in the Hollywood lm of
the same name. But with the time and
commitment involved, the distances
travelled and, more importantly, the
current cost of fuel, is there any point in
year listing, beyond personal gratication
and self indulgence? I believe there is.
I have year lists dating back to
1962 and, from 1965, when I got into
heavy-duty birding, they are pretty
Make your list count
Its fun, but can
year listing be
more than that?
The answer might
surprise you, says Keith
Vinicombe.
with odd excursions to other local sites,
such as the Somerset Levels and the
Forest of Dean. I have a regular spring
weekend at Portland, a week on Scilly
in October, the odd trip to Norfolk and
the occasional twitch. As a consequence
of this rather parochial approach, it
is possible to detect some interesting
trends in my annual totals, as illustrated
by the following examples.
Breeding birds: the losers
We are all aware of the declines
afecting many of our common
farmland birds, and these are clearly
reected in my annual totals. For
no species is this more obvious than
European Turtle Dove. I recorded
this species in every year but one
between 1964 and 1997, but since then
R
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1401 p55-58 usefulYearListing FIN.indd 55 12/12/2013 14:04
56 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


its frequency has decreased signicantly,
being recorded in only 10 of the last
15 years. Grey Partridge and Tree
Sparrow show a similar pattern (see
the charts opposite).
Changes in farming practices are
clearly responsible for these trends,
but the reasons for the decline
of other species may be far less
apparent. Although Lesser Spotted
Woodpecker has always been scarce,
in the 17 years between 1967 and 1983,
I missed them in only three of those
years. But in the 30 years since I have
seen them in only 13 (although annually
from 2008 to 2012). Grasshopper
Warbler shows a similarly bleak trend:
in the 21 years from 1965 to 1986 I
missed it only twice, but in the 26 years
since then Ive missed it in 14, although
a decline in my higher frequency
hearing may be a contributory factor.
Breeding birds: the winners
But lets not forget the more positive
trends. One species that has gone from
zero to common in less than 40 years
is Cettis Warbler. This species rst
appeared on my list in 1971, when
I travelled all the way to Thatcham
Marsh, Berkshire, to twitch what at the
time was a mega rarity. After a hesitant
start, it has been recorded annually
since 1978, although hard weather
during the last couple of winters has put
a severe dent in its population.
The other star coloniser is, of course,
Little Egret, which bred for the rst
time in Britain in 1996. I saw my rst two
on 3 May 1970, when some friends and
I undertook a long journey in a clapped-
out car to Lodmoor, Dorset, fortuitously
bumping into a Purple Heron and
Britains fourth Olive-backed Pipit on the
same day. I didnt see another Little Egret
until 1982, but this now common bird
has been on my list annually since 1989.
A less obvious species that quietly
The spectacular Goshawk
is one of the winners,
increasing in frequency
since 1973.
YEAR LISTING
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Slavonian Grebe has become much less frequent, a downward trend that
is reected in a decline on its breeding grounds in Sweden and Finland.
Tawny Pipit is among a number of scarcities that have all declined over
the decades, with the species not having been recorded since 2010.

I saw my frst Little Egrets
on 3 May 1970, fortuitously
bumping into a Purple Heron
and Britains fourth Olive-
backed Pipit on the same
day

1401 p55-58 usefulYearListing FIN.indd 56 12/12/2013 14:28


YEAR LISTING
www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 57

Data from the authors year lists (from 1980 for space reasons) show the declines and increases in frequency of different species. A coloured square
means a species was recorded in that year; so, for example, Tree Sparrow has become much less frequent in recent years in than in the early Eighties.
MIXED FORTUNES: SCARCITIES AND RARITIES
SPECIES 1
9
8
0
1
9
8
1
1
9
8
2
1
9
8
3
1
9
8
4
1
9
8
5
1
9
8
6
1
9
8
7
1
9
8
8
1
9
8
9
1
9
9
0
1
9
9
1
1
9
9
2
1
9
9
3
1
9
9
4
1
9
9
5
1
9
9
6
1
9
9
7
1
9
9
8
1
9
9
9
2
0
0
0
2
0
0
1
2
0
0
2
2
0
0
3
2
0
0
4
2
0
0
5
2
0
0
6
2
0
0
7
2
0
0
8
2
0
0
9
2
0
1
0
2
0
1
1
2
0
1
2
Kentish Plover
First recorded: 1968
Last recorded: 1998
Yellow-browed Warbler
First recorded: 1978
Last recorded: 2012
Lesser White-fronted Goose
First recorded: 1969
Last recorded: 2003
Red-rumped Swallow
First recorded: 1987
Last recorded: 2008
followed in the egrets footsteps is
Yellow-legged Gull. I found my
rst at Chew in 1978 and have seen
it annually since, its appearances
here being facilitated by a better
understanding of its identication
features. Another bird that has also
shown a spectacular increase is
Goshawk. I saw my rst in 1973 and,
after some irregular sightings in the
1980s and early 1990s, this magnicent
raptor has become virtually annual since
1998 as it became rmly established in
the Forest of Dean.
Winter birds
Several wintering species stand out as
having become less frequently recorded.
Slavonian Grebe has decreased in
southern areas, associated with a decline
in breeding populations in Sweden and
Finland, from where they are thought to
originate. Again, this is reected in my
year lists, the species having become much
less frequent on our local reservoirs in
recent decades. I saw it in every year but
two between 1965 and 2003, but in the
nine years since Ive missed it in three.
On the positive side, one conspicuous
bird that has become much more regular
is Waxwing. It was something of a
bogey bird in my younger days, seeing
my rst in 1982 in the salubrious setting
of the central reservation of a busy
dual carriageway in Wolverhampton.
It was as recently as 1996 that I saw my
rst Waxwings in the Bristol area, but
since 2005 there have been a number
of large inuxes. Are these related to
climatic factors or is the upturn simply
due to a huge increase in ornamental
trees planted around modern housing
estates and supermarket car parks?
Whatever the answer, in the last eight
years Waxwing has become much more
regular on my year list.
Scarce migrants
Because they occur in small numbers
it is much more difcult to draw rm
conclusions about the trends of scarce
migrants, but some stand out. According
to my lists, numbers of Kentish
Plover, Tawny Pipit, Melodious
and Icterine Warblers and Ortolan
Bunting have all declined in recent
years, and this is something conrmed
by national statistics (see Fraser 2013).
My year lists also detect the less
frequent occurrence of Raddes
Warbler. This species increased
considerably from the 1970s onwards. I
saw my rst in 1979 and then recorded
it on Scilly in seven of the 16 years
from 1985 to 2000 but I havent seen
one since. Is this bad luck on my part,
or is there an underlying downturn?
Trends outlined by Fraser would seem
to suggest the latter.
Yellow-browed Warbler, on the
NOTABLE DECLINES
SPECIES 1
9
8
0
1
9
8
1
1
9
8
2
1
9
8
3
1
9
8
4
1
9
8
5
1
9
8
6
1
9
8
7
1
9
8
8
1
9
8
9
1
9
9
0
1
9
9
1
1
9
9
2
1
9
9
3
1
9
9
4
1
9
9
5
1
9
9
6
1
9
9
7
1
9
9
8
1
9
9
9
2
0
0
0
2
0
0
1
2
0
0
2
2
0
0
3
2
0
0
4
2
0
0
5
2
0
0
6
2
0
0
7
2
0
0
8
2
0
0
9
2
0
1
0
2
0
1
1
2
0
1
2
Grey Partridge
First recorded: 1965
Last recorded: 2012
European Turtle Dove
First recorded: 1964
Last recorded: 2012
Grasshopper Warbler
First recorded: 1965
Last recorded: 2011
Nightingale
First recorded: 1965
Last recorded: 2011
Tree Sparrow
First recorded: 1964
Last recorded: 2010
SPECIES ON THE UP
SPECIES 1
9
8
0
1
9
8
1
1
9
8
2
1
9
8
3
1
9
8
4
1
9
8
5
1
9
8
6
1
9
8
7
1
9
8
8
1
9
8
9
1
9
9
0
1
9
9
1
1
9
9
2
1
9
9
3
1
9
9
4
1
9
9
5
1
9
9
6
1
9
9
7
1
9
9
8
1
9
9
9
2
0
0
0
2
0
0
1
2
0
0
2
2
0
0
3
2
0
0
4
2
0
0
5
2
0
0
6
2
0
0
7
2
0
0
8
2
0
0
9
2
0
1
0
2
0
1
1
2
0
1
2
Little Egret
First recorded: 1970
Last recorded: 2012
Spoonbill
First recorded: 1972
Last recorded: 2012
Red Kite
First recorded: 1970
Last recorded: 2012
Goshawk
First recorded: 1973
Last recorded: 2012
Waxwing
First recorded: 1982
Last recorded: 2012
1401 p55-58 usefulYearListing FIN.indd 57 12/12/2013 14:05
YEAR LISTING
other hand, has gone from strength to
strength. I was birding 16 years before
I saw my rst, on Scilly in 1978. Since
then I have failed to record it only twice.
In that period, it has gone from a very
scarce vagrant to a relatively numerous
migrant, racking up a remarkable 1,469
in 2005. Numbers this autumn may
even surpass that total. This is clearly a
species that has set up a new wintering
range in the Western Palearctic and/or
West Africa, where wintering birds have
been detected in recent years.
Vagrants
By their very nature, vagrants only
occur in very small numbers, so
signicant trends are much more
dif cult to detect. Despite this, some
are clearly apparent. For example,
Lesser White-fronted Goose used
to be a fairly frequent winter visitor to
Slimbridge WWT, Gloucestershire. I
saw it in nine years between 1969 and
1995, but apart from a rst-winter there
in 2003 I havent seen once since. It is
now a mega rarity in Britain, related
to a serious and worrying decline in its
world population.
An odd trend is shown by Wilsons
Phalarope. Between 1967 and 1995,
I saw 10 in Somerset, seven of which
were at Chew, but there hasnt been
one since. Again, this downturn is
reected in the national statistics, but
what is the cause? White-winged
Black Tern was also fairly regular at
Chew: I saw 14 there between 1966
and 1987, but Ive not seen one since.
In fact I havent seen one anywhere in
Britain since 2005. Is this just chance
or are there underlying causes? Other
vagrants, on the other hand, have
increased, as illustrated by the chart
for Red-rumped Swallow. Rosss
Goose and Bonapartes Gull show a
similar trend.
Another loser, White-winged
Black Tern was fairly regular
at Chew Valley Lake between
1966 and 1987, but hasnt
been recorded since.
Ones to watch
What of the future? Some regularly
occurring birds showing a downward
trend locally include White-fronted
Goose, Smew, Little Owl and Water Pipit,
and common species such as Whinchat
and Spotted Flycatcher, both of which
I have missed in recent years. Common
Cuckoo used to be easy to nd at Chew,
but I now have to travel to the Somerset
Levels to see one. This year I saw only a
single Black Tern, a situation that would
have been unimaginable 50 years ago I
saw more than 300 at Chew in 1965. Is
this due to weather patterns or local
ecological conditions, or is this
species also in trouble?
Whatever the answer, year
listing can alert us to some interesting
and undetected trends, often before
more rigorous scientic researchers
have conrmed their ndings and put
them into print. As well as providing
motivation to ordinary birders, it allows
us to keep our ngers on the pulse
of the ever-changing and endlessly
fascinating world of occurrence patterns
and population trends.
58 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


REFERENCE
Fraser, P A. 2013. Report on scarce migrant
birds in Britain in 2004-2007. British Birds 106:
368-404 and 448-476.
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Wilsons Phalarope hasnt been seen at Chew Valley Lake since 1995. But according to BirdLife its
global population is increasing, so what could be the cause of its decline as a British vagrant?
1401 p55-58 usefulYearListing FIN.indd 58 12/12/2013 14:06
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60 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


POPULATIONS
widely held belief that the popularity
and widespread use of garden bird
feeders has helped to encourage
Blackcaps to increasingly overwinter in
Britain.
There is some debate, however, as to
whether this is entirely the case, as many
Blackcaps are an
increasingly common
sight in gardens
during the winter, like
this female bird (top)
seen in a Liverpool
garden in December
2010. However, it is
thought that climate
change, rather than
the provision of food,
is the main factor in
these higher numbers,
with most individuals
sticking to natural
foods (left and right).
Females can be
identied by their
chestnut-brown caps,
rather than the males
eponymous one.
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lackcaps are not an uncommon
sight in Britain during the winter
months nowadays. Numbers
appear to have increased considerably
since the 1960s and Britain supports
a wintering population of 3,000
individuals, according to the British
Trust for Ornithologys (BTO) 1981-84
Atlas. No newer estimate is available,
but gures from the Bird Atlas 2007-11
show a 77 per cent increase in range.
This may be attributed to national
survey initiatives such as the BTOs
Birdtrack and Garden BirdWatch with,
last winter, a bolt-on Garden Blackcap
Survey. These schemes encourage
and facilitate the online submission of
records of this and many other species.
The majority of winter Blackcap
records come from gardens, with
numbers peaking in February the
point in the year when, for many
species, levels of natural food sources
are at their lowest. Wintering birds
arrive chiey in October and feed on
natural foods in woodland and scrub
before moving into gardens from late
December. This has given rise to a
Breakaway
Blackcaps
Are our gardens harbouring a new species in waiting, or are the differences
simply an adaptation to food source and climate change? Mike Alibone
reveals there is more to the humble Blackcap than meets the eye.
observations of wintering Blackcaps
point to their feeding primarily on
natural food sources, such as berries and
insect larvae when these are available,
while shunning garden feeders. It is more
likely that favourable climatic conditions
are the prerequisite for overwintering.
1401 p60-63 breakawayBlackcaps FIN.indd 60 12/12/2013 13:56
www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 61
POPULATIONS
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Food provided in gardens instead plays


a signicant role in sustaining individuals
throughout the winter, supplementing
their diets during the harshest part of the
year when natural food becomes more
difcult to nd.
Blackcaps rather catholic diet,
coupled with its aggressive nature
towards other species competing for the
same food, has undoubtedly contributed
to its success in surviving as a winter
visitor to Britain. These traits will no
doubt continue to support the future
growth of our wintering population.
Records collected through the
Garden BirdWatch scheme suggest the
highest density of Blackcaps occurs in
the South-West, where temperatures
average higher and winters are generally
milder. There also appears to be a
preference for urban habitats over rural
ones. This preference, however, is surely
a reection of observer coverage, with
a bias towards garden bird recording.
Flying in
So where do our wintering Blackcaps
come from? It is easy to conclude they
are British breeders which have chosen to
remain here rather than migrate to their
traditional wintering grounds further
south. For the last two decades, however,
we have known this is not the case.
Ringing data and, more recently,
stable-hydrogen isotope analysis of
claw tip tissue have established that
British winterers are from a breeding
Winter distribution 2007/08-2010/11
The blue circles indicate 10-km
squares, or tetrads, where Blackcap
was present.
The blue triangles indicate gains,
meaning the species was newly
recorded in 2007-11; grey triangles
indicate losses, meaning the
species was last recorded in 1981-
84; blue squares indicate that
the species was present in both
periods.
Winter distribution change since 1981-84
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1401 p60-63 breakawayBlackcaps FIN.indd 61 12/12/2013 13:57
62 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


population in central Europe, more
specically southern Germany and
Austria. While 90 per cent of the
Blackcaps from this area head south-
west in autumn to Iberia and north-west
Africa, the residual 10 per cent head
north-west to Britain, giving rise to a
migratory divide in the population.
The initial driver for this is not clear.
It has been suggested they may have
at some time been inuenced by other
populations migrating north-west, and
the fact that autumn migrants trapped
further east in the Czech Republic
and Slovenia have been recovered or
retrapped in Britain in winter goes some
way to support this possibility.
Another theory suggests many are rst-
winters arriving as a result of random
post-breeding dispersal which remain
because they have found conditions
favourable. If this hypothesis is correct,
however, then we should expect
individuals from other populations to
appear in Britain in winter, but there is
little or no evidence to support this.
What is clear is that these central
European Blackcaps are very diferent
from those that breed here in summer.
The migratory strategy which this
population has developed has given rise
to allochrony a situation where two
forms or species occur in the same area
and are therefore sympatric but are
never or rarely active simultaneously.
Blackcaps wintering in Britain have
a shorter distance to return to their
Austro-German breeding grounds in
spring, meaning they arrive back before
the majority of the south-west European
POPULATIONS
birds from this population are expected
to continue to take the north-west route
to Britain in autumn as migratory
orientation and distance are not learned
they have a strong genetic component.
Birth of a new species?
The genetic divergence of these
individuals is associated with diverse
phenotypic diference. This population,
in the space of little more than 50 years,
has undergone a rapid micro-evolution,
producing birds with a diferent set
of physical characteristics. They have
developed rounder wings as a result of
undertaking a shorter migration a
shorter route is known to be associated
with a decrease in wing-pointedness.
Beak morphology has changed,
becoming longer and narrower with
a smaller gape, which is attributed to
a more generalistic diet comprising a
higher proportion of fat and
seeds at feeders in comparison
to the shorter, broader bills of
south-western birds, which are more
frugivorous in winter. There is also
a diference in mantle, head
and bill colour, these being
browner in north-western
migrants compared to
the greyer tones of those
which migrate south-west.
While divergence in
wing and bill shapes are
adaptive and evolved,
feather wear may
explain the diferences in
head and mantle colour,
as the birds wintering in the
north-west renew fewer feathers
during their prenuptial moult than those
wintering further south. It has been
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Ringing data
has shown that
Blackcaps wintering
in Britain come
from populations in
southern Germany
and Austria.
While Blackcaps are thought to prefer
natural food, putting out fruit will help
sustain birds during the harshest of
winter weather.
wintering population, leading to
assortative mating. In short, it has been
suggested they are 2.5 times more likely
to mate with each other than with those
Blackcaps returning from the south-
west, almost becoming reproductively
isolated. A more recent study has put
this likelihood signicantly lower, at the
same time concluding that their choice
of microhabitat is as important a factor
in assortative mating as the diference in
arrival times of the two populations.
Other studies have concluded that
individuals arriving early from the
north-west stake out and occupy
territories in the most favourable
breeding habitats, allowing them to
produce larger clutch sizes and edge
more young. Each years rst-winter
1401 p60-63 breakawayBlackcaps FIN.indd 62 12/12/2013 13:57

Balmer, D, Gillings, S, Caffrey, B, Swann, B,
Downie, I, and Fuller, R. 2013. Bird Atlas 2007-
11. BTO Books, Thetford.
Bearhop, S, Fiedler, W, Furness, R W, Votier, S C,
Waldron, S, Newton, J, Bowen, G J, Berthold, P,
and Farnsworth, K. 2005. Assortative mating as
a mechanism for rapid evolution of a migratory
divide. Science 310: 502-504.
Cramp, S, and Brooks, D J (eds). 1992. The Birds
of the Western Palearctic. Volume VI: Warblers.
Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Helbig, A J. 1996. Genetic basis, mode of
inheritance and evolutionary changes of migratory
directions in Palearctic warblers (Aves: Sylviidae).
The Journal of Experimental Biology 199: 49-55.
Musgrove, A, Aebischer, N, Eaton, M, Hearn, R,
Newson, S, Noble, D, Parsons, M, Risely, K, and
Stroud, D. 2013. Population estimates of birds
in Great Britain and the United Kingdom. British
Birds 106: 64-100.
Rolshausen, G, Hobson, K A, and Schaefer, H M.
2010. Spring arrival along a migratory divide of
sympatric Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla). Oecologia
162: 175-183.
Rolshausen, G, Segelbacher, G, Hobson, K A, and
Schaefer, H M. 2009. Contemporary Evolution
of Reproductive Isolation and Phenotypic
Divergence in Sympatry along a Migratory Divide.
Current Biology 19: 2,097-2,101.
Rolshausen, G, Segelbacher, G, Hermes, C,
Hobson, K A, and Schaefer, H M. 2013. Individual
differences in migratory behavior shape population
genetic structure and microhabitat choice in
sympatric blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla). Ecology and
Evolution 12: 4,278-4,289.
www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 63
there have been recent British winter
(November to February) recoveries of
Blackcaps ringed in summer in Britain.
This suggests that at least a few may
have lost the migratory urge, having
decided to become resident. The
proportion of the summer population
involved is unknown and more work
needs to be done to determine if this is
occurring with any regularity.
Nevertheless, when encountering a
Blackcap in Britain in winter its worth
remembering that its not just any
Blackcap, but likely to be a breakaway
bird and, although a potential champion
of speciation, it may at best only become
genetically distinct to a subspecic level.
With that in mind, dont hold your breath
for an armchair tick any time soon
Acknowledgements
I am indebted to Dawn Balmer, Andy
Musgrove and Mike Toms at the BTO for
their helpful comments and supply of data.
speculated that mantle and bill colour
may play a role in allowing individuals
of the same population to recognise each
other, further increasing reproductive
isolation.
The fact that this population of
Central European Blackcaps has
undergone a rapid evolution within
an incredibly short timeframe poses
a number of interesting questions.
Will evolution continue to the extent
that individuals from it will become
phenotypically distinct, allowing us
to condently identify them in the
eld? Will the population ever become
suf ciently genetically distinct to merit
full species or at least subspecies
status, and will Britains wintering
numbers continue to grow as a result
of this populations apparently higher
edging rate than south-western
migrants breeding in the same area of
central Europe?
On the question of full speciation,
some authorities point to the fact
that central European Blackcaps still
interbreed with their south-western
counterparts and they argue that there
is not yet enough information about
the ofsprings fate. There is evidence
from captive breeding experiments,
however, that such birds set out on an
intermediate direction of travel between
north-west and south-west at the onset
of autumn migration.
To further complicate matters
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Britains winter
Blackcaps seem to
have undergone a
rapid micro-evolution,
developing rounder
wings and shorter
beaks than those
wintering elsewhere.
WINTER BLACKCAPS
Traditionally thought of as a summer visitor,
there has been a huge increase in Blackcap
numbers in winter. The latest fgures from
the British Trust for Ornithology show:
Total wintering population: 3,000
Total 10-km square occupancy in Britain
and Ireland for 2007/08-2010/11: 48%
Gains in occupancy since 1981-84: 944
Losses in occupancy since 1981-84: 192
Increase in occupancy since 1981-84: 77%
i
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16 Green Street, Bath, BA1 2JZ
Fax: 01225 469 761 Email: optics@acecameras.co.uk
Open Monday to Saturday, 08:45-18:00hrs - Online 24/7
Ultravid 8x32 HD .................... 1419
Ultravid 10x32 HD .................... 1499
Ultravid 7x42 HD .................... 1499
Ultravid 8x42 HD .................... 1579
Ultravid 10x42 HD .................... 1659
Ultravid 8x50 HD .................... 1579
Ultravid 10x50 HD .................... 1659
Ultravid 12x50 HD .................... 1869
High defnition & contrast
Colour fringe free
AquaDura lens coating
Close focus from 3.2 metres
Rich detail - dawn to dusk
APO Televid 82 Angled &
25-50x WW Eyepiece ................. 2649
APO Televid 65 Angled &
25-50x WW Eyepiece ................. 2149
Ultravid HD Binoculars
Precision high-performance lenses
Improved prism coating
AquaDura easy-clean coating
Shock-absorbent rubber armour
Trinovid 8x42 ................................. 979
Trinovid 10x42 .............................1029
Televid Spotting Scope
Trinovid 42
The ideal universal
binos. Compact
size. Bright with
high contrast.
Eye-strain free.
Ultravid 8x20 BR ......................... 549
Ultravid 10x25 BR ......................... 569
Trinovid 8x20 BCA ...................... 349
Trinovid 10x25 BCA ...................... 369
Extra Value Bundles
Leica Stay-on Case ...........................140
*1
Giottos 8253 Tripod + 6011 Head .239
*2
*1 Valid when purchased with a Leica Televid Scope
*2 Valid when purchased with a Leica Televid Scope,
individual price 276
Geovid HD-B
ABC ballistic system
and an integrated
micro-SD memory card
that allows users to
upload specifc ballistic
data
Geovid 8x42 HD-B ...................2599
Geovid 10x42 HD-B ...................2649
N
EW
!
E&OE Free UK postage for items over 200 Add 6 for UK delivery on items below 200
Trinovid BCA
Compact which
offers a fantastic
viewing experience
for a wide range of
situations
Ultravid BR
Specially designed
eyepieces that
guarantee a wide
and sharp view
C
O
M
IN
G
S
O
O
N
!
We also stock...
JANUARY SALE - LIMITED STOCK
ED82 MAGNESIUM
Lightweight magnesium alloy construction
Superior ED multi-coated optics
Air Spaced Triplet for enhanced performance
Waterproof & nitrogen flled
Only

499
-

SAVE 150

Including 30xW eyepiece
& Stay-on-case
Precise barrel focus system
Built-in lens hood
Rotating tripod mount
10 year Avian guarantee
MAG F
8x32 ... 369
7x42 ... 379
8x42 ... 389
10x42 . 399
10x50 . 429
Exceptional
performance at an
afordable price
Zenith STL80 Microscope
Was 210 - Now 179
Lowepro Optics Bags
50% OFF
Scope Photo Travel 350 AW
WAS 189 - NOW 94
Scope Porter 200 AW
WAS 169 - NOW 84
Scope Travel 200 AW
WAS 139 - NOW 69
Kowa TP-556, 500mm, Prism & Filter
1 ONLY - WAS 4026 - NOW 2999
Questar Birder Broadband + 24MM
1 ONLY - WAS 4599 - NOW 2999
850mm Adapter for C
Was 589 - Now 499
10% OFF ALL AVIAN BINOS
AND MULTIVIEW SCOPES
Zenith T70L Microscope
Was 75 - Now 59
Avian Eyecups Twin Pack
Was 25.95 - Now 19.95
Blower Brush
Was 9.99 - Now 3
350mm Adapter for C/N
Was 419 - Now 359
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p64-65.indd 1 11/12/2013 15:07
01225 466 364
8x42 SLC HD ........................ 1430
10x42 SLC HD ........................ 1505
8x56 SLC .............................. 1095
15x56 SLC .............................. 1290
8x20 BN ......................................445
10x25 BN ................................. 515
8x30 CL Companion .............. 730
10x30 CL Companion .............. 755
EL SWAROVISION
Optical Quality:
Redefned
Fluorite-containing HD lenses
Maximum detail recognition
Brighter image
Perfect image & handling
EL wrap-around grip
Low weight & Perfect balance
EL 32 Swarovision
8x32 EL .. 1415
10x32 EL .. 1430
EL 42 Swarovision
8.5x42 EL .. 1710
10x42 EL .. 1775
EL 50 Swarovision
10x50 EL .. 1865
12x50 EL .. 1880
ATX 65
with 25-60x
module
2055
ATX 85
with 25-60x
module
2495
ATX 95
with 30-70x
module
2735
ATX/STX SCOPES
Secondhand
All used items come with a 3 month warranty
ATS/STS 65/80HD
ATS/STS 80HD Body .........................1485
ATS/STS 65HD Body .........................1035
20-60x eyepiece .......................................... 360
25-50x eyepiece .......................................... 440
Prices include VAT, are correct at time of going to print & are subject to change without notice Visit our website for full details & the latest prices
Giottos 8253B tripod & head for only
239 when bought with a Swarovski
Scope. Individual price 276
661/662 & 30x ................................. 788
661/662 & 20-60x .......................... 858
663/664 & 30x ...............................1118
663/664 & 20-60x ........................1188
773/774 & 20-60x ........................2128
82SV & 20-60x ................................. 958
883 & 30xw .....................................2099
884 & 30xw .....................................2199
883 & 20-60x ..................................2298
884 & 20-60x ..................................2398
30xw .........229 20-60x ......299
30xw .......319 20-60x ....529 25-60x ....669
Only
2549
Save 876!
LIMITED STOCK
TSN-883 Bundle
SPECIAL OFFER
We have a wide selection of used
scopes, binoculars and cameras.
Please call or check our website
for the latest arrivals.
Part-exchange welcome.
DCB II
Digiscoping Adapter
............. 270
TLS APO
Digiscoping Adapter
......... 362
T2 Mount Adapter (required for TLS APO) .......16
Purchase an ATS/STS scope with
eyepiece and receive a FREE ACE
Stay-On Case
CTC 30x75 Draw Scope .............855
CTS 85 Draw Scope ................ 1215
BINOCULARS
Dec 2013
883 scope body
25-60x eyepiece
Kowa stay-on case
FREE BD 8x32 Binoculars
FREE TSN-IP4S/5
iPhone Digiscoping Adapter
Full image stabilised
binocular range now in stock!
8x25 IS ............................... 269
10x30 IS ............................. 335
12x36 IS II ......................... 579
15x50 IS ............................. 899
18x50 IS .......................... 1039
10x42 L IS ...................... 1279
OPTICS
PREMIER DEALER
Victory HT 8x42 ................... 1449
Victory HT 10x42 ................. 1499
Conquest 8x32 HD ............. 609
Conquest 10x32 HD ........... 649
Conquest 8x42 HD ............. 709
Conquest 10x42 HD ........... 749
Victory Compact 8x20 ........ 469
Conquest Compact 10x25 . 359
LIMITED STOCK
TSN-773 Bundle
SPECIAL OFFER
COMPACT OR STANDARD SIZE
*only 3 postage
ONLY 19.95
PER PAIR OR
25.95 FOR
TWINPACK*
EYESHIELD
WINGED EYECUPS
It should be
illegal to sell
binos without
these!
S McAfee
The Avian EyeShields are made
of fexible rubber & ft most types
of binocular. They cradle your
eyes, cutting out ambient light &
signifcantly improve your viewing
experience. They also protect against
wind, dust, rain & snow and can be
folded down when not in use.
NEW CL POCKET
8x25 CL Pocket ........................485
10x25 CL Pocket ........................525
N
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W
!
N
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W
!
NEW SLC
Only
1799
Save 744!
8x42 SLC ...............................1180
10x42 SLC ...............................1245
8x56 SLC ...............................1650
10x56 SLC ...............................1660
15x56 SLC ...............................1700
Eyepieces For 77mm & 88mm
Eyepieces For 600, 660 & 82SV
TSN-773 scope
25-60x eyepiece
Kowa stay-on case
FREE CLEANING KIT WITH
ALL SWAROVSKI FULL-SIZE
BINOCULARS & SCOPES
1-14.indd 1 12/4/2013 5:39:56 PM
www.aceoptics.co.uk
LITE
Small enough for
your pocket, yet
large enough for
super performance.
8x28 .... 169 10x28 . 189
LITE OPEN-BRIDGE
Open-bridge design
Compact.
Wide feld of view.
8x32 .... 159
8x42 .... 169
10x42 . 189 10x50 . 229
Variable angle
between 0-90.
9.5/10 in Bird Watch-
ing review.
MULTIVIEW 80
MV80 & 20-60X .................. 339
BL 10x42 BR ..................................... 289
BL 8x33 HD ................................... 379
BL 8x44 HD ................................... 399
BL 10x44 HD ................................... 399
BL 8x52 HD ................................... 449
BL 10x52 HD ................................... 449
BL 8x56 .......................................... 585
BL 15x56 .......................................... 645
MD50W Scope with 16-30x ............ 249
High Grade Range
Made In Germany
8x33 HG ......................................... 629
8x43 HG ......................................... 649
8.5x52 HG ......................................... 719
8x56 HG ......................................... 689
10x43 HG ......................................... 649
10x52 HG ......................................... 729
APO High Grade
8x43 APO HG ............................. 1019
10x43 APO HG ............................. 1019
BV Series
8x25 BV .......................................... 109
10x25 BV .......................................... 109
8x42 BV .......................................... 169
10x42 BV .......................................... 189

8x42
MD CWP Monocular
............89
8x25
Macroscope
......................... 129
16 Green Street, Bath, BA1 2JZ
Fax: 01225 469 761 Email: optics@acecameras.co.uk
Open Monday to Saturday, 08:45-18:00hrs - Online 24/7
Ultravid 8x32 HD .................... 1419
Ultravid 10x32 HD .................... 1499
Ultravid 7x42 HD .................... 1499
Ultravid 8x42 HD .................... 1579
Ultravid 10x42 HD .................... 1659
Ultravid 8x50 HD .................... 1579
Ultravid 10x50 HD .................... 1659
Ultravid 12x50 HD .................... 1869
High defnition & contrast
Colour fringe free
AquaDura lens coating
Close focus from 3.2 metres
Rich detail - dawn to dusk
APO Televid 82 Angled &
25-50x WW Eyepiece ................. 2649
APO Televid 65 Angled &
25-50x WW Eyepiece ................. 2149
Ultravid HD Binoculars
Precision high-performance lenses
Improved prism coating
AquaDura easy-clean coating
Shock-absorbent rubber armour
Trinovid 8x42 ................................. 979
Trinovid 10x42 .............................1029
Televid Spotting Scope
Trinovid 42
The ideal universal
binos. Compact
size. Bright with
high contrast.
Eye-strain free.
Ultravid 8x20 BR ......................... 549
Ultravid 10x25 BR ......................... 569
Trinovid 8x20 BCA ...................... 349
Trinovid 10x25 BCA ...................... 369
Extra Value Bundles
Leica Stay-on Case ...........................140
*1
Giottos 8253 Tripod + 6011 Head .239
*2
*1 Valid when purchased with a Leica Televid Scope
*2 Valid when purchased with a Leica Televid Scope,
individual price 276
Geovid HD-B
ABC ballistic system
and an integrated
micro-SD memory card
that allows users to
upload specifc ballistic
data
Geovid 8x42 HD-B ...................2599
Geovid 10x42 HD-B ...................2649
N
EW
!
E&OE Free UK postage for items over 200 Add 6 for UK delivery on items below 200
Trinovid BCA
Compact which
offers a fantastic
viewing experience
for a wide range of
situations
Ultravid BR
Specially designed
eyepieces that
guarantee a wide
and sharp view
C
O
M
IN
G
S
O
O
N
!
We also stock...
JANUARY SALE - LIMITED STOCK
ED82 MAGNESIUM
Lightweight magnesium alloy construction
Superior ED multi-coated optics
Air Spaced Triplet for enhanced performance
Waterproof & nitrogen flled
Only

499
-

SAVE 150

Including 30xW eyepiece
& Stay-on-case
Precise barrel focus system
Built-in lens hood
Rotating tripod mount
10 year Avian guarantee
MAG F
8x32 ... 369
7x42 ... 379
8x42 ... 389
10x42 . 399
10x50 . 429
Exceptional
performance at an
afordable price
Zenith STL80 Microscope
Was 210 - Now 179
Lowepro Optics Bags
50% OFF
Scope Photo Travel 350 AW
WAS 189 - NOW 94
Scope Porter 200 AW
WAS 169 - NOW 84
Scope Travel 200 AW
WAS 139 - NOW 69
Kowa TP-556, 500mm, Prism & Filter
1 ONLY - WAS 4026 - NOW 2999
Questar Birder Broadband + 24MM
1 ONLY - WAS 4599 - NOW 2999
850mm Adapter for C
Was 589 - Now 499
10% OFF ALL AVIAN BINOS
AND MULTIVIEW SCOPES
Zenith T70L Microscope
Was 75 - Now 59
Avian Eyecups Twin Pack
Was 25.95 - Now 19.95
Blower Brush
Was 9.99 - Now 3
350mm Adapter for C/N
Was 419 - Now 359
S
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1-14.indd 2 12/4/2013 5:33:38 PM
p64-65.indd 2 11/12/2013 15:07
66 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


GARDEN BIRDING
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I
ts cold outside, and I bet if you
plump up the cushions, turn up
the heating and get a nice bottle
of wine out of the fridge you nd it
that bit harder to head out to catch
a glimpse of that elusive Sociable
Lapwing or Siberian Rubythroat
youve been hearing about. Its the
same for birds: the more comfortable
you make their home, the more time
they will spend there, and the larger
the variety of visitors will be.
Its entirely up to you what level of
hospitality you ofer the great thing
about gardening for wildlife is that a
little bit of efort can go a long way.
And if everyone does their bit, it really
can make a diference.
Theres no time like the present
Gardens are an increasingly important habitat for birds, and anyone from the
keenest gardener with acres to work with to those with a tiny urban plot can
make space for wildlife. The RSPBs Gemma Butlin offers a monthly guide
to creating a garden for nature.
to start creating your wildlife garden.
In fact, if youre willing, you can be
kept busy all year round. Theres a
basic pattern of jobs depending on
the season. Winter is all about feeding
and providing birds with as much
energy as possible to face those long,
cold nights. Spring means setting the
garden up to be a good nesting and
feeding site for breeders. Summer is
mainly when you get to sit back and
enjoy watching what has come to visit.
And autumn is the time to make big
changes such as digging ponds and
planting shrubs and trees before the
winter ocks return.
If you are up for being kept busy year
round, follow our monthly guide to what
to do in your garden.
big Your
garden year
The last couple of
years have seen huge
numbers of Waxwings
in Britain. Planting
berry-bearing trees
could attract this
colourful species to
your garden.
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1401 p66-68 yourBigGardenYear FIN.indd 66 12/12/2013 14:17
www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 67
GARDEN BIRDING
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including Blackbird, Song Thrush


and Starling, as theyll be able to
get to invertebrates like worms and
leatherjackets earlier. Leaving some
grass long may help invertebrates
that will become bird food later in the
year, such as grasshoppers.
May
Watch out for nesting attempts in
the peak breeding period and report
them via www.birdguides.com
if you dont already. The welcome
scream of Common Swifts will start
to ll the air again make sure
they can get into their traditional
nest sites or provide alternative
accommodation like a swift box under
the eaves.
Plant perennials to give the garden
colour and provide nectar to attract
benecial insects as well as the
birds that feed on them. Dont use
chemicals to control unwanted pests
let your birds do it for you! They
need insects to feed their young at this
critical time of year.
June
Were still in the peak nesting season so
if youre a cat lover as well, its a good
time keep them indoors, particularly
during dawn and dusk when edglings
are especially vulnerable.
Supplementary feeding is a good
idea during some summer months.
At this time of year go for a seed
mix that is high in sunower hearts,
and avoid whole peanuts. Live
mealworms, especially if we get
summer storms, can help adult birds
get their young through such spells.

Supplementary
feeding is a good
idea during some
summer months

January
Feeding garden birds is of
paramount importance this
month. Seed mixes and leftover
kitchen scraps might be the
energy boost that could be the
diference between life and death.
You could try slicing apples and
pears and hanging them on trees
or shrubs you may even get
lucky and tempt a Waxwing.
Youve got a good chance of
getting Redwing and Fieldfare
through your feeding eforts, too,
especially during spells of snow
and hard frosts.
Providing water is essential.
Float a ball or lay a sheet of
plastic in the bird bath to allow
you to easily pull out the ice
before relling it.
February
February can bring some of the
coldest days of the year. There
is often a food gap in the wider
countryside at this time of year,
and gardens can pull in species
such as Reed Bunting and
Yellowhammer by providing a
mix of food that includes seeds,
mealworms, suet pellets and
household scraps like grated
cheese.
Some garden birds start to
nest this early, so now is the
last opportunity to do any
trimming before the breeding
season proper gets underway. Its
also your last chance to put up
nestboxes if you want them to be
used this year.
March
Lots of species will be scouring gardens
looking for twigs, dry grass and moss
to build nests with. You can help by
leaving out pet fur or uf from the
dryer bundle it up and hang it in a
hedge near a window to see which birds
take it. Please dont put out cotton wool,
though: it can be dangerous to birds as
the bres wrap around legs and claws.
Many people (understandably) think itd
be ideal to line a chilly nest.
April
Some birds use mud to build their nests,
so if we have a dry April its a great
idea to provide a wet patch of mud by
a border or pond. Swallows, House
Martins, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes
will be among those who snap it up.
This is also a good month to give at
least some of your lawn the rst cut
of the year. A patch of short grass will
benet the feeding behaviour of birds
Apples and pears will bring in winter visitors like Fieldfare
(above) leave the fruit on the oor for these ground-
feeding species.
Birds such as Great Tit (main photo) and Blue Tit (right)
are perennial garden favourites. Providing food will keep
them coming back throughout the year.
Some resident
species, such as
Blackbird, start
breeding as early as
February, so make
sure your
nestboxes are
ready for
them.
1401 p66-68 yourBigGardenYear FIN.indd 67 12/12/2013 14:18
68 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


July
In the peak of summer make sure
birds have access to water from
ponds or bird baths, and keep
them topped up with fresh water
every day. Clean them regularly
too a hygienic garden in the
heat can help avoid garden bird
diseases like trichomoniasis.
August
Many of our garden birds
are now moulting and can be
harder to spot with their duller
plumage and quiet behaviour
during this period. Its a good
idea to place feeders closer to
cover to give moulting birds
more condence when feeding.
September
Gather any surplus windfall fruit
like apples and pears and store
it away for use later in winter
when the really cold weather
arrives. Starlings, Blackbirds and
Song Thrushes are among those
who will be very thankful for this
extra winter larder.
Dont be too quick to cut of the
dying back foliage of perennials
this month. Its tempting to tidy
up, but seed heads will attract
nches and provide a good
natural source of food.
October
This is an ideal month to plan
and dig a wildlife pond which
will be lled by autumn and
winter rains. Birds need to
drink and bathe every day and
a wildlife pond with shallow
margins is the perfect place for
them to do this. You will also be
adding a range of other species
to your garden, with aquatic
insects colonising new ponds
during their aerial phase. Make
sure you dig a deeper trench
in the centre of the pond to
provide a safe wintering spot for
frogs. October is also the best
time to clear out your nest boxes.
November
Now is the time to get planting
bare-rooted trees and shrubs
that will give birds places to
nest, roost and feed when they
mature. Whether you add a
single specimen or a cluster in a
border or hedgerow, this is one
of the best things you can do to
help wild birds in gardens.
GARDEN BIRDING
nestboxes to allow wintering birds to
nd shelter and to give prospecting
individuals potential nesting sites to
check out for the coming spring. Blue
and Great Tits often start this process
in the depths of winter.
Theres no time like the present
to start reaping the rewards of your
eforts. If you take part in the RSPBs
Big Garden Birdwatch this January
youll be able to keep an of cial tally
of what visits your garden for your
own interest and help with this ever-
important survey.
This year the event takes place on
Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 January.
To take part, spend just one hour at
any time during the weekend noting
the highest number of each bird species
seen in your garden or local outside
space at any one time. You then have
three weeks to submit your results to
the RSPB, either online at www.rspb.
org.uk/birdwatch or by post.
This year, for the rst time, youre
being asked to log some of the other
wildlife you see in your garden too.
The RSPB wants to know whether
you ever see deer, squirrels, Badgers,
hedgehogs, frogs or toads in your
garden, to help build an overall picture
of how important our gardens are for
all types of wildlife. The charity will
gather useful information about these
other species and share them with its
conservation partners after the survey.
Once the RSPB knows which species
are regularly being seen, it will also be
able to tailor its advice so that people
can help their wild visitors nest, feed
and breed efectively.
Participants dont have to count
these other species over the Big
Garden Birdwatch weekend just tell
the RSPB whether theyve been seen
in participating gardens, at any time
of year.
Yellowhammer
isnt usually
thought of as a
garden bird, but
providing a mix
of food during
February when
there is often
little to eat in
the countryside
could bring one
to your garden.
There is plenty of choice on what
to plant, but try to go for a mix of
plants that ofer prickly, evergreen and
deciduous foliage, as well as berries,
fruit, nuts and seeds. The options are
many but any of the following would be
a great start: Rowan, Hawthorn, Silver
Birch, Pear, holly, Hazel, Blackthorn, ivy
or Wild Privet.
December
This is a good month to do maintenance
of deciduous trees and shrubs as birds
wont be nesting, the plants will be
dormant and most fruiting or berry-
bearing species will have had their
fruit consumed; if theyre still in fruit,
though, dont cut them just yet.
Gardens get busier as the temperature
drops, so ensure birds have plenty
of cover to roost in. You can put up
T
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Competition
WEVE teamed up
with the RSPB to give
readers the chance
to win one of 10 mini
Big Garden Birdwatch
kits worth more than
15 each each
contains a feeder
and seed mixes
(left). Go to bit.ly/
gardeninsects to discover which insects
and other invertebrates are eaten by birds,
and to answer the following question:
Q. Which garden bird species is
famous for eating snails?
Enter your answer online at
www.birdwatch.co.uk/competitions.
Closing date for entries is 12 January
2014. Full terms and conditions are
available online.
More information on feeding
birds in your garden can be
found on our website.
w
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ENTER
ONLINE
1401 p66-68 yourBigGardenYear FIN.indd 68 12/12/2013 14:19
Calls may be recorded for training purposes. All prots from the sale of goods are paid to the RSPB (registered charity number in England and Wales 207076,
in Scotland SC037654) by its wholly owned subsidiary RSPB Sales Ltd (registered company no. England 2693778). Registered ofce: The Lodge, Sandy,
Bedfordshire SG19 2DL. 451-1466-13-14
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call 0845 1 200 501 or 01324 744341 or visit an RSPB shop
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SAVE
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2526 January 2014
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RSPB_POCKET_HB_BIRDS final .indd 1
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70 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


OPTICS
Your trusted guide to whats new in birding: bit.ly/birdwatchreviews
EXPERT
REVIEWS

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BONUS
ONLINE
CONTENT
Kite ies high with
Lynx HD
BELGIAN optics company Kite
has launched a new range of
two 30 mm binoculars which are
likely to fnd favour with fans of
both compact and small-sized
mainstream birding models.
Weighing just 461 g, they are
lighter than most binoculars at
the lower end of this objectives
size range. Theyre smaller than
the majority, too, without crossing
the border into compact territory.
Smooth simplicity marks
their external appearance, while
the Kite logo and model name,
embossed unobtrusively in shiny
gold, provide lift and add a touch
of class to an otherwise rather
plain-looking binocular. Dont be
fooled, however, by the demure
exterior, which gives nothing away
in terms of performance. Theres
a lot of power shoe-horned
into these tiny twin barrels,
as I discovered the moment I
took them into the feld during
November last year.
Apart from the fact that I hardly
noticed I was wearing them the
slender neoprene-type neck-strap
Kites small and punchy Lynx HD binoculars
seem set to become high fyers, says
Optics Editor Mike Alibone after an
exclusive pre-launch test.
lends comfort to the already light
weight I was immediately struck
by both the crisp, bright image
and the natural colours delivered
by this binocular.
So, buoyed by favourable
frst impressions, what else did
this new model from Kite offer?
Its dual texture, soft rubber
armouring is non-slip, as is the
rubber covering to the fnger-width
focus wheel. The latter, although
minimally ribbed, still provides
enough grip to turn smoothly
through little more than one
clockwise revolution between
close focus and infnity, so fast
focusing is easily achieved.
My measured distance for the
close focus was 1.5 m, just
0.2 m greater than that quoted by
the manufacturer.
Even this fgure is
highly acceptable,
as is the binoculars
feld of view an impressive
151 m at 1,000m, which is truly
exceptional for an 8x magnifcation
binocular. For this price I would
have expected signifcant
curvature of feld and a broad
periphery of image softness:
surprisingly, both are minimal.
The image remains sharp
across the vast majority of the
feld, all of which I was still able
to see while the metal, soft
rubber-covered eyecups were fully
extended. While these twist up in
the conventional manner, I was
surprised to fnd there
were no mid-point or full
extension click-stops at
which to lock them. This proved
not to be a problem as they
simply stayed put during viewing,
although they did sometimes
shift moderately when applying
or removing the articulated
rainguard supplied as part of the
package. Its worth mentioning
at this point that the eyecups are
removable through a screw mount
and the manufacturer will replace
worn eyecups free of charge
throughout the warranty period.
The dioptre adjustment ring,
located immediately below
the right ocular, can be turned
without having to move the
eyecup from its desired position.
It cannot be locked and there is
an incremental settings scale,
although it is not denoted
numerically.
Out in the feld this binocular
performs very well indeed,
consistently delivering strong,
Did you know?
Many manufacturers are now applying hydrophobic (water repellent)
coatings to the surfaces of their products lenses. Measuring only a
few nanometres in thickness, they reduce smearing and the adhesion
of water droplets, grease and dirt to the lenses, adding a measure of
protection and making them easier to clean. The application of such
coatings has a negligible effect on light transmission.
?
REVIEW
Kite Lynx HD 8x30 binocular
1401 p70-71 Expert reviews v3.indd 70 12/13/2013 4:41:20 PM
OPTICS
72
Nikon bridges
the gap
The new V2 camera is put
through its paces fnd out what
Steve Young liked about it.
72
Digiscoping
adapter
Nikons latest accessory for the
companys own feldscopes and 1
series of cameras.
74
App comparison
Both the Sibley and
Peterson guides are available for
your smartphone and iPad, but
which one is best?
75
BTO Atlas
Could this be the most
important book of the decade?
Read on to fnd out ...
76
Cracking the
warbler code
This innovative guide to North
American wood-warblers
incorporates sonograms into the
species accounts.
76
Introduction to
bird photography
Tips and advice from some
of Europes best wildlife
photographers.
THIS MONTHS EXPERT PANEL
MIKE ALIBONE is
Birdwatchs Optics
Editor. He has been
testing binoculars and
telescopes for more
than a decade.
DAVID CALLAHAN
Prior to joining
Birdwatch, David
trained as a taxonomist
at the Natural History
Museum.
STEVE YOUNG
is Photographic
Consultant for
Birdwatch and an
award-winning wildlife
photographer.
SHARON STITELER
is better known as
BirdChick. She is a
dedicated birder and
the author of two
birding books.
OLIVER SMART is a
wildlife photographer
and ornithologist. His
images have been
published in range of
books and magazines.
REBECCA
ARMSTRONG has
been working for
Birdwatch for fve
years and is a self-
confessed app junkie.

www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 71
natural colours against a generally
warm colour rendition, at a
remarkable degree of brightness
even in poor light conditions. On
one occasion, while watching a
Cormorant roost as the afternoon
light faded, I was impressed at
the level of detail still visible at
twilight. Contrast is also very
pleasing, as is the very low degree
of chromatic aberration. Its
present, as in all binoculars, but
Ive encountered signifcantly more
in some models which sell at a
much higher price than this one.
The outer lens surfaces
are covered with Kites new
PermaVision water- and dirt-
repellent coating. This also offers
more resistance to scratches and
is said to increase their longevity,
as well as rendering them easy
to clean.
Both Lynx HD models are
supplied with a soft carry case
and clip-in objective covers. The
8x under test is one of the best-
performing small binoculars I
have reviewed and, in my opinion,
represents extremely good value
for 459.
FOR those of us who go birding
on public transport, bike or foot,
the development of telescope-
bearing backpacks has been a
quiet revolution. We can walk
anywhere, over any terrain and
long distances with any size
scope and tripod supported
fully on our backs,
leaving our hands
free for bins and
notebooks.
However, it takes
some experience
and practice to
get the three
main brands to ft
comfortably, given
the variability of
human physiques
and the tendency
of the backpacks to
ride up or their straps to loosen.
There has also been an issue
with capacities, with some bags
not having quite enough room
to accommodate a feld guide,
packed lunch, camera and lens
(though a superzoom bridge
camera can get round this last).
The favourite of many birders,
Scopac, has updated its already
competitive product with a main
pocket that now holds around
4.5 litres, as well as extra
straps, a small phone pocket
and a plastic key fob. The
greater capacity gives plenty of
room for most of a birders daily
feld accoutrements, meaning
one problem with the earlier
design has been satisfactorily
resolved. Unfortunately,
however, there is no bottle-
holding side pocket.
A pair of extra straps that ft
around the top of the tripods
legs means that there are now
three points of attachment
along their length, resulting in
much less riding up and the
consequent awkward balancing
angles. The front straps that go
around the wearers shoulders
and chest are padded for
comfort. There is
an additional map
or document pocket
which holds a feld
guide or notebook
with ease. The
result is improved
comfort, with the
bag also sitting
lower on your back
and simultaneously
pulling less on your
shoulders.
The Scopac
upgrade compares well with
rival Cley Spys Mulepack, and
is in some respects preferable,
with its extra stability and
carrying space. With the
addition of a bottle pocket to
keep fuids away from cameras
and optics, the product would
be near-perfect. David Callahan
Great tripod support
Scopac Plus
Further info
Price: 459
Size: 120x114 mm
Weight: 461 g
Field of view: 151 m at 1,000 m
Light transmission: 89 per cent
Close focus: 1.3 m
Gas-lled: yes
Waterproof: yes
Guarantee: 30 years
Verdict

Crisp bright image
Low degree of chromatic
aberration

No click-stop positions to lock
twist-up eyecups
Further info
Price: 59
Capacity: 4.5 L
Colour: black
Contact: call 07810 560916
or 01263 511587 or visit
www.scopac.co.uk
Verdict

Increased capacity gives plenty
of room for a days worth of kit
Tripod is securely attached

No water bottle pocket
Tough armouring makes
body rugged and very
robust
Image is sharp and bright with
great colours and contrast
Both chromatic aberration
and curvature of eld largely
insignicant
Fine focusing easy to achieve
1401 p70-71 Expert reviews v3.indd 71 12/13/2013 4:47:43 PM
72 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


EXPERT REVIEWS PHOTOGRAPHY APPS
Digital double
NIKONS popular V1 compact
system camera has been
replaced by this latest version,
the V2. The new model features
a 14.2 MP high-speed AF CMOS
sensor, ISO range of 160-6,400,
Nikons next generation dual
EXPEED 3A processing engine, an
advanced hybrid auto-focus (AF)
system, a 3.0 LCD monitor and
a built-in fash. Photographs can
be taken either using the screen
or the viewfnder to focus.
Improvements over the original
V1 model include a higher-
resolution sensor, hand grip and
pop-up fash. The grip and new
design give the camera the feel
of a small DSLR rather than a
compact, and the V2 looks better
for the makeover. Matrix, centre-
weighted and spot metering are
all available, and the electronic
shutter can cope with up to 60
frames per second (fps) shooting;
be warned, you will take a lot of
photos with this camera. There
are all the auto controls you would
expect, but you can also switch to
manual exposure and focusing if
you prefer complete control.
As a stand-alone system
with the lens package this is
an excellent camera for general
use, but the appeal for bird
photographers lies in the adapter
that allows the V2 to be used
with Nikons vast range of other
lenses such as the 500 mm f4.
Coupled with a sensor size that
gives a 2.7x magnifcation, the
500 mm effectively becomes a
1,350 mm lens. A new battery
has also been introduced for the
V2, so if you are going to upgrade
from a V1, those spare batteries
will have to be replaced too.
I was a fan of the V1, but have
to admit that the V2 is a big
improvement. The AF is faster,
the colours appear to be more
accurate and saturated in the
images that I took and there is
less noise when using the higher
ISO settings.
I tried to use the V2 as I
imagine most birders would and
shot in large fle JPEG mode. I
used it with my 500 mm lens most
of the time, but also attached it to
the EDG scope with the DSA-N1
photo adapter. It worked very well
with both, and I was particularly
Further info
V2 camera
Price: 799
Monitor: 3 LCD
Weight: 337 g with battery and
memory card
Max image size: 4,608x3,072
pixels
14.2 MP 13.2 mm x 8.8 mm
CMOS sensor
Full HD video recording
Verdict

Fast AF
Accurate colours

Different battery from V1 so any
spares need to be replaced
Further info
DSA-N1 digiscoping adapter
Price: 180
Weight: 180 g
Size: 68x58 mm
Compatible eldscopes: EDG 85
VR, 85-A VR, 85, 85-A, 65 and
65-A; Monarch 82, 82-A, 60 and
60-A; ED 82, 82-A, 50, 50-A; EDIII,
EDIII-A; III, III-A;
Compatible cameras: V1, V2, J1,
J2, J3, S1
Verdict

Sharp images quickly and quietly
Good colours and contrast

Increased risk of camera shake
pleased with a series of Spotted
Redshank images taken at
Leighton Moss RSPB, Lancs, using
the 500 mm lens. Supporting
the lens on a beanbag to prevent
camera shake, the AF locked on
to the fast-feeding bird, producing
results that were not too different
to those I took with my DSLR for
comparison.
Once again after reviewing an
item, I fnd I want to buy it!
DESPITE many birders carrying
some sort of camera around with
them these days, digiscoping is
still popular with those that like
to spend their time watching
birds rather than setting out with
photography as their priority.
Nikon has now produced a
handy little adapter to connect
its range of feldscopes to any of
its 1 series of cameras. I tested
it with an EDG scope and the V1
camera. This set-up converts the
telescope to a 540 mm f6.3 lens.
Add on the 2.7x crop factor of the
cameras and you have a 1,458
mm f6.3 lens super powerful!
But that extra power increases
the problem of camera shake, as
the telescope has no vibration
reduction system and no auto-
focus the scopes focusing
wheel has to be used to achieve
a sharp image. I didnt think Id
have much of a problem with
this, but I have to confess that I
kept forgetting to refocus as my
subject moved, waiting for the
lens to do it for me. But once Id
adjusted to using a manual lens
again I started to enjoy the extra
power I had at my fngertips.
Results were very good, with
sharp images, good colours and
contrast. The bigger image meant
there was less cropping to do
for those (most) of us that like
to crop in to the centre of the
picture when that rarity is a bit
too distant.
An obliging young Little Owl and
a juvenile Garganey were among
my favourite subjects for this test
and results on both were very
good, even though on most days
the light wasnt very helpful.
If you can keep this system
steady on a good tripod or well-
flled bean bag, it will give very
good results.
Nikon has added to its photography range with a new bridge camera and a digiscoping
adapter. Steve Young found much to like about both products.
REVIEW:
Nikon V2 camera and DSA-N1
digiscoping adapter for Nikon
1 series cameras
Nikons V2 compact system camera
is a step up from the V1, with faster
performance and reduced noise.
The DSA-N1 adapter
can marry any Nikon
1 series camera to
the companys EDG
telescopes.
1401 p72-73 Photo and Apps v4.indd 72 12/13/2013 5:03:29 PM
EXPERT REVIEWS PHOTOGRAPHY APPS
One of a successful series of Spotted Redshank images. Nikon V2,
adapter, 500 mm lens, 1/2,500th sec, f5.6 ISO 400.
This Garganey was good for practising manual focus. Nikon EDG scope,
30x eyepiece, DSA-N1 adapter, Nikon V1, 1/250th sec, f6.3, ISO 200.
This young Little Owl was very obliging, but the more space you gave it
the more relaxed it was. The scope and adapter effectively combines to
produce a 1,458 mm lens, so photographers can remain a safe distance
away. This image was taken with the scope supported on a beanbag while
lying on the ground. EDG scope, 30x eyepiece, DSA-N1 adapter, Nikon
V1, 1/80th sec, f6.3, ISO 200.
YOURE out in the feld and notice
a wildfower you dont recognise, or
maybe see a
bird feeding on
an unfamiliar
berry. Youre
not a wildfower
enthusiast so
you dont have
a relevant feld
guide, but you
still want to
know what youre looking at. Which
is where this new app comes in.
Naturetale asks a series of
simple questions about habitat,
colour and shape shape may
be omitted in months where not
much is in bloom to help you
recognise an unknown British
fower or berry. Youre then given
a selection of photos that match
your description.
Tap the image you think looks
most like your fower to access a
larger photo. If nothing matches,
tap No for the option to either
browse all fowers of the same
colour or take a photo and email
it to the developers.
Once youve found your fower
youre presented with information
about it, including its name,
how common it is, its uses for
humans and other wildlife, and
any literary or cultural references.
This is a very simple set-up and
easy to use. With 200 species
included in the database, it
should allow you to identify much
of what you see in the British
countryside, increasing your
knowledge of nature as you go.
Its not foolproof, however, and
it does rely on users to some
degree guessing what shape or
colour the developers consider a
fower to be. Rebecca Armstrong
2.99 28.1 MB Requires iOS 5 or later Version 1.0.1
bit.ly/bw259Naturetale
More
info
APPS
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STEVE YOUNGS PHOTO CHALLENGE
Waxwings make an excellent winter photography subject, and last years invasion provided the
opportunity for unusual shots like this one of a large ock descending on a berry tree.
S
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Waxwing
ITS another easy photo challenge this
month, and it should be a very popular
one. Last winter saw a record number
of Waxwings reaching the country
in what was the biggest invasion
ever. These delightful bandit-masked
berry-eaters were seen throughout the
country and there must be hundreds, if
not thousands, of photos on your hard
drives. Send in your best candidates
for a chance to win this months
birding book prize. There will be lots
of entries so try for something a bit
different good luck!
As ever the winning shot will feature
in our monthly eNewsletter sign up at
bit.ly/bweNews.
www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 73
Naturetale
1401 p72-73 Photo and Apps v4.indd 73 12/13/2013 5:04:23 PM
EXPERT REVIEWS APPS
Download America
THE North American Bird Guide
by David Sibley (known as just
Sibley in the vernacular) was
a revolutionary revision of the
standard feld guide, being
largely based on illustrations
with very little text. An acquired
taste, those who like it swear
by it, though others fnd the
illustrations a little too bright and
rendered with artistic licence.
I am a fan, but the original
softback has always been rather
sizeable for use on the hoof and
I looked forward to trying out
the app in the feld on a visit to
New York at the tail end of the
migration period.
The most recent version of
the app (v1.8) is 447 MB in
size (taking about 40 minutes
to download via wi-f, depending
on your connection speed). It
contains the whole text and
illustrations from the book (some
6,600 paintings and about 800
range maps), plus vocalisations
(about 2,400 individual samples
of 700 species). It is these last
that are the real clincher for
mobile users. Multiple calls and
songs are included for virtually
all species, often from several
A more old school
proposition, the much
cheaper Peterson
app has its merits
too. Its home page
allows a choice of
basic major bird
groups as painted
icons before you
plunge into the
plates, which are reproduced
directly from the familiar classic
feld guide.
There is a simple index listing
bird types like blackbird, robin,
grouse and so on, which also link
to the plates from the book. Other
tabs include a place to store your
life list, a search facility by state,
month, type, habitat or taxonomic
order, and a More button which
links to various options explaining
the use of the guide, more detailed
and in depth than Sibley but
perhaps they need to be, as the
app isnt quite as simple and user
friendly.
That said, if youre familiar with
the book, youll take to it like a
recording locations, and therefore
provides regional variations
of each. New discoveries, like
the currently mooted King and
Clapper Rail splits, werent
confrmed previously, but much
of the continental variation is
included.
The real virtue of this app is
its simplicity. On opening, the
user is presented with a choice
of indexes: Taxonomic, Alphabetic
and Smart Search. You can also
choose to update your current
list from this home page, and set
location and language. There is
also the usual introduction, bird
topography and usage tips.
Once you have found the
species you are looking for
(and this wont take long), you
will be able to scroll through
colour illustrations of each in all
plumages and the major regional
variations, while reading the basic
information on the species. There
are icons to the top right for
selecting range maps or sounds.
A real advantage is that you can
keep the bird sounds looping while
looking at the illustrations. I didnt
use the sounds for feld playback
merely for quiet feld reference
as I visited in the breeding
season, but there will be a clear
advantage for birders to have such
an astounding sound library come
the autumn migration period.
As it stands the app is by far
the most expensive of these two
products, but customers will get
their moneys worth.
Like the book, the app is
due a revision soon, and we
understand that David Sibley has
been working fat out to ensure
that this will be next year. The
downside at present is that
current users wont be able to get
an upgrade as things stand. The
author is trying to change this so
there may yet be good news for
purchasers new and old.
The bulk of a feld guide can weigh a birder down during hours in the feld, and app
technology is an easy way to remove this burden from our shoulders. Most regions
have been remarkably slow in adopting this tech addition to Apple and Android
smartphones and tablets, but North America is now well covered. David Callahan used
the two most popular in the feld, and reports on their pros and cons.
REVIEW:
The Sibley eGuide to Birds
REVIEW:
Peterson Birds Pocket Edition
a Field Guide to Birds of
North America
From mydigitalearth.com 13.99 477 MB Requires iOS 4.3 or
later Version 1.8 bit.ly/bw259SibleyGuide
More
info
From Appweavers Inc 1.49 476 MB Requires iOS 5.1 or later
Version 1.3 bit.ly/bw259PetersonPocketGuide
More
info
swift to the sky, but like the Sibley
app, the only real addition to the
book is the sound library. This
is by no means as varied as its
competitor, refecting its economical
price by providing just one song
example for each species or
subspecies, selected by tapping on
the individual birds on the plates,
which often illustrate fve or six
different species at once. This
can necessitate
a zoom for
accuracy, but
does allow
comparison more
easily than its
rival app.
Another small
bugbear is that
once you have
scrolled back
a page or two
you have to go
through the
whole process
of locating a
species again
rather than
reverse scrolling,
which is where the Sibley app also
comes out on top, by allowing a
combination of pages once youve
got the knack.
Dont get me wrong the
Peterson app is a fne piece
of technology which will prove
eminently useful in the feld and
should help you to identify virtually
every bird you come across,
though it adds less to the print
version. The Sibley app has seized
the opportunities that mobile
usage provides with more fair,
but at greater expense. It proved
much more easy to consult quickly
when those tricky and unfamiliar
female wood-warblers popped up
in front of me.
74 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


1401 p72-73 Photo and Apps v4.indd 74 12/13/2013 5:47:10 PM
www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2013 75
EXPERT REVIEWS BOOKS
Monumental achievement
an exhaustive
(and somewhat
exhausting for the
layman, I suspect)
itemisation of
the background,
organisation,
survey methods,
data capture
and analysis,
and detailing of
problems and
lessons learnt.
Dividing Britain
and Ireland into
10-km squares,
very few were
omitted (though
understandably
more were
covered more
intensively in
summer). In fact
in winter, just
0.02 per cent of the land area
remained uncovered, with this
fgure dropping even further in
summer to 0.004 per cent.
A lengthy chapter analysing
trends in the islands avifauna
presents the overall patterns
of change, as well as changes
in species grouped by habitat
specialisation and broader
taxonomic relationship; for
instance, we can see how
farmland or wetland birds have
fared, or conversely raptors and
waders.
While there is not enough
room here to summarise all
the information contained in
the book, there have certainly
been substantial range shifts
in many species since the
last atlas. Bearing in mind
that the new volume doesnt
deal with population in terms
of numbers of individuals,
there have been range shifts
north-west in Grasshopper and
Garden Warblers, east in Green
Woodpecker and Stock Dove,
and a retraction south-east in
Nightingale and European Turtle
Dove. Upland species with
nowhere to go have suffered
range contractions probably due
to climate change, and may reach
vanishing point in the ensuing
century.
As ever, it is the species
accounts which hold the most
revelation for the ordinary birder,
and these come thick and fast.
However, the sparseness of some
winter visitors such as Arctic
Redpoll and Lesser White-fronted
Goose may raise questions as
to why they are included,
while there are maps for
Zitting Cisticola and Short-
toed Treecreeper based
on their presence in the
Channel Islands. Again,
quizzical expressions may
be donned when the reader
sees maps for the likes of
Swan Goose, Wood Duck,
Helmeted Guineafowl and
Indian Peafowl.
Outside the questions
of birders lists, however,
all the aforementioned
species need to be
monitored as they are
wintering or breeding in
some numbers in Britain,
and any increases, shifts
or declines are informative
for the future (although
there is an argument for
taking these species out
of the main accounts as
an appendix).
It is also noteworthy
that results derived from
anything other than a
specialist crossbill survey
have caused Common
and Scottish Crossbill
data to be combined on
one map, underlining
the extreme diffculty
of identifying the latter
species in the feld. Also,
the occasional form
such as Bean Goose
that is now routinely
split remains lumped in the text,
occluding meaningful comparison
in future.
The maps are as detailed
as one would hope. However,
there may have been a graphical
method of combining most into
one or two larger maps allowing
room for more detailed analysis
in the text, which can sometimes
be a little over-generalised.
There is also a slight problem
with the size of the possible,
probable and confrmed breeding
dots in the legend to each
summer map, which differ in size
to those on the actual maps and
cause confusion as to the local
status of each species at frst
glance. A helpful quick reference
to the map symbols is well placed
on the inside front cover.
I suspect most Birdwatch readers
will have been anticipating this
mighty tome for some time, and
many will have contributed results
from their own timed transects
to help build up the copious data
used to complete the fve-year
project.
Probably the largest-scale bird
survey undertaken anywhere in
the world to date, the information
in the book took more than
40,000 volunteer surveyors (as
well as several other reliable
sources) four summer and winter
seasons to accumulate, and the
results bear out this incredible
effort. The distribution of almost
300 British species over the fve
years including the entirety of
our breeding avifauna plus regular
wintering birds is presented in
a spacious, easy-to-read format
comprised of a photograph
or two of the bird in question,
some basic analytical text and
anywhere between one and six
maps.
These last are the meat of
the book, representing variously
the distribution, distribution
change since previous atlases
(breeding atlases for the
periods 1968-72 and 1988-91),
relative abundance and relative
abundance change of breeding
species, and the distribution
and changes since the previous
winter atlas (1981-84).
The layout of the book is
logical. The 156 pages of
introductory text is informative,
starting with an introduction,
glossary and standard
references. It then leads into
More info
Bird Atlas 2007-11 by Dawn Balmer, Simon Gillings, Brian Caffrey, Bob
Swann, Iain Downie and Rob Fuller (BTO Books, Thetford, 2013).
720 pages, more than 1,300 maps and numerous colour illustrations,
tables, fgures and colour photographs.
ISBN 9781908581280. Hbk, 70.
But these are minor quibbles
considering the breadth of
the work, which will be both
invaluable and seminal to
professional ornithologists
and birders alike, and should
take pride of place next to that
other essential BTO tome, The
Migration Atlas (2002).
The necessity of producing the
atlas, and indeed continuing to
amass the data in another 10
years or so, is illustrated by the
fairly healthy status indicated on
the maps for Dartford Warbler
and Kingfsher, in both of which
birders have anecdotally noticed
substantial declines over the
last couple of winters, and which
may need more nationwide
assessment soon. David
Callahan
Birdwatch
Bookshop
from
64.99

More info
Bird Atlas 2007-11 by Dawn Balmer, Simon Gillings, Brian Caffrey, Bob Swann, Iain Downie,
and Rob Fuller (BTO Books, Thetford, 2013).
720 pages, more than 1,300 maps and numerous colour illustrations, tables, fgures and
colour photographs.
ISBN 9781908581280. Hbk, 70.
Birdwatch Bookshop from 64.99.
1401 p75-76 Books v3.indd 75 12/13/2013 5:43:00 PM
76 Birdwatch

January 2013 www.birdwatch.co.uk


Cracking the warbler code
THE Warbler Guide is not just a
feld guide for identifying 56 North
American species of wood-warbler,
but more a textbook for home
study. This photo-packed book not
only teaches you what feld marks
to use but includes other tools
such as moult, habitat, timing,
hybrids, songs and calls, and
even similar non-warbler species,
to fgure out this tricky group of
birds. The drawings by Catherine
Hamilton round out features that
photos cannot easily communicate,
such as tail patterns and colour
palette impressions.
The guide starts with what to
focus on in the feld to identify a
warbler, from outer tail feathers
to rumps and wing-bars. Warblers
move quickly, and knowing what
to watch for can help when you
only see that Connecticut Warbler
for a scant few seconds before
it skulks into cover. Readers
can also learn the basics of
moult and how that can help
differentiate tricky autumn-
plumaged birds.
What makes this book
unique is its use of warbler
sonograms to teach a new way
of separating the songs and
calls of different species. Even
without a musical background or
parabolic microphone, the use of
sonograms as a visual aid can
help learn the difference between
a Chestnut-sided Warbler and an
American Redstart. This technique
may not be for everyone, but could
be more useful than mnemonics
like Please to, please to, please
to meet ya.
The individual species
accounts incorporate such details
as the parts of a tree in which
you are most likely to see each
species, as well as a range
map. The photos are not just
the pretty shots, but rather how
you would actually see a warbler
in the feld, perhaps obscured
by a branch, with only the cheek
visible. The accounts also feature
similar-looking birds so you get a
side-by-side comparison.
What really makes this
book special from other North
American warbler books is the
chapter entitled Quiz and Review.
Photographs of birds in natural
positions are offered, and you
get the chance to work out
identifcation on your own and
then go through the authors
explanation of the correct identity.
Weight-wise, the book is a
beast. However, the publisher
Princeton University Press has
made eight pages of the quick
fnders available free online,
including just the tails, the face
or whole body perched or in fight.
Print them out and keep them in
a pocket or store them on your
smartphone or iPad if you take
that in the feld. Similarly, a new
sound guide is also available (see
panel for links to both).
This book is essential for
anyone planning a North
American trip in spring or autumn,
when these colourful hoards
move through the continent.
Sharon Stiteler
More info
The Warbler Guide by Tom
Stephenson and Scott Whittle,
illustrated by Catherine Hamilton
(Princeton University Press,
Princeton, 2013).
560 pages, more than 1,000
colour illustrations, 50 maps.
ISBN 9780691154824.
Pbk, 19.95. Birdwatch
Bookshop from 17.95.
Downloads
Free PDFs or JPEGS of Warbler
Quick Finder Guides at bit.ly/
bw259WarblerQuickFinder.
The Macaulay Library of the Cornell
Lab of Ornithology has a download
costing 5.99 of all the warbler
songs and calls in the book that
can serve as an audio companion.
It cant be downloaded to a
smartphone or tablet, but must
frst be saved to a computer for
syncing to a mobile device. Visit
bit.ly/bw259WarblerCalls.
Birdwatch
Bookshop
from
17.95
AS we all recover from the
seasonal frenzy and over
indulgence, determined this will
be the year we actually stick to
those resolutions, one way to
lift mid-winter spirits is to plan a
2014 holiday.
If youre considering a birding
break with a Spanish favour,
the Easybirder DVD and book
sets by Dave Gosney are a great
place to start.
This popular
and accessible
series is
constantly
updated by the
author as he
revisits the sites regularly.
The DVD discovering the
Canary Islands includes
footage of many endemics
such as Fuerteventura Chat,
Blue Chaffnch and Tenerife
Robin, plus a superb selection
of seabirds, while that for
Extremadura includes more
than 77 species at 15 sites
throughout this fascinating area,
including Azure-winged Magpie,
Black-shouldered Kite and
Iberian Green Woodpecker. The
accompanying books contain
the authors trademark maps
and provide summaries of all
the best birding sites.
If you have a passion for owls
and want to make it your mission
this year to discover more about
BOOKSHELF
Lift those winter spirits by
planning a trip abroad or
indulging in a passion for owls,
says Heather OConnor.
this much-loved and fascinating
family, then we have two new
titles for you this
month. Owls
by renowned
wildlife
photographers
David Tipling and
Jari Peltomki
is a stunning collection of
photographs featuring the
authors pursuit of northern
Europes 12 owl species, ranging
from the huge Great Grey to the
tiny Pygmy. Accompanied by the
authors vivid diary entries, we
experience their often feeting
encounters, such as the eerie
hoot of a Tawny Owl emanating
from a churchyard.
The newest
addition to
the Collins
New Naturalist
series provides
a fascinating
overview of
the biology
and history of British owls.
By Mike Toms, Owls covers
origins, anatomy, behaviour and
ecology, and looks across the
British owl species, addressing
conservation issues and
changes in populations.
These titles, plus many more,
can be ordered using the form
opposite or online at www.
birdwatch.co.uk/store.
Learn techniques from the best
WRITTEN by three
of Europes best
bird photographers
Markus Varesvuo,
Jari Peltomki and
Bence Mt you only
have to fick through
the frst couple of pages to realise the quality of the images. Those
photos, combined with the comprehensive text, make this an
outstanding handbook to own ...
The Handbook of Bird Photography by Markus Varesvuo, Jari
Peltomki and Bence Mt (Rocky Nook, California, 2013).
368 pages, numerous colour photos.
ISBN 9781937538101. Pbk, 38.50.
More
info
EXPERT REVIEWS BOOKS
VISIT WWW.BIRDWATCH.CO.UK/STORE TO BUY THESE AND MANY MORE BOOKS

Read Oliver Smarts full review: bit.ly/bw259PhotoHandbook


1401 p75-76 Books v3.indd 76 12/13/2013 5:49:26 PM
DONT DELAY ORDER YOUR BOOKS POST-FREE
*
TODAY!
Simply ll in the form below, order online at birdwatch.co.uk or call 020 8881 0550
We have hundreds more titles on our website visit www.birdwatch.co.uk or email bookshop@birdwatch.co.uk for enquiries. *In the UK only
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Enter below details of the books you require (we offer many titles in addition to those featured here), add
your personal details (as they appear on your credit/debit card statement, if paying by card) and return this
form (or a photocopy) with payment to the address below.
Title Quantity
__________________________________________________________________ __________
__________________________________________________________________ __________
__________________________________________________________________ __________
Finding Birds in the
Canaries (book and
DVD set)
Dave Gosney
19.95 Only 18.95
SUBSCRIBER PRICE 17.95l
(+ 5 p&p Europe, 6 ROW)
* Offer ends 28 February
The 81-minute DVD covers
more than 50 species at 15 sites in
five of the Canary Islands, with attention
to the three most popular birding islands:
Tenerife, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. The book
describes and maps the best sites in detail.
The Warbler Guide
Tom Stephenson and
Scott Whittle
19.95 Only 18.95
SUBSCRIBER PRICE 17.95
(+ 5 p&p Europe, 6 ROW)
* Offer extended to 31 January
Enabling you to quickly
identify the 56 wood-warbler species
in North America, this groundbreaking
guide features more than 1,000 stunning
colour photos, extensive species accounts and
an entirely new system of vocalisation analysis.
Read our review on page 76.
Grouse of the World
Roald Potapov and Richard Sale
29.99 Only 26.99
SUBSCRIBER PRICE 25.99l
(+ 5 p&p Europe, 6 ROW)
* Offer ends 31 January
This new title explores grouse
evolution and then looks at each
of the 19 species, detailing distribution,
habitat, plumage, subspecies, breeding, diet and
conservation. This is the first comprehensive
guide to look at the 19 species in the family and
includes many detailed drawings, photographs
and maps.
Multimedia
Identification Guide
to North Atlantic
Seabirds: Pterodroma
Petrels
Bob Flood and
Ashley Fisher
42.95 Only 38.95
SUBSCRIBER PRICE 37.95l
(+ 5 p&p Europe, 6 ROW)
* Offer extended to 31 January
This new title, accompanied by two DVDs, is an
essential ID guide and provides vital preparation
for a seawatch or pelagic trip.
Finding Birds in
Extremadura (book
and DVD set)
Dave Gosney
19.95 Only 18.95
SUBSCRIBER PRICE 17.95l
(+ 5 p&p Europe, 6 ROW)
* Offer ends 31 January
The popular Easybirder book
and DVD series packs now adds this
fascinating area of Spain. The book comes
complete with detailed maps and summaries of
all the best sites, while the DVD lets you know
just what its like to go birding in the area.
The Birdwatchers
Yearbook 2014
Edited by David Cromack
18.50 Only 16.50
SUBSCRIBER PRICE 15.50l
(+ 5 p&p Europe, 6 ROW)
* Offer ends 31 December
Now in its 34th edition, and in
336 fact-filled pages, this title
provides a comprehensive compendium
of verified information covering all aspects of
birding to see you through the year. Why trawl
the internet when all the information you need is
in one handy volume?
Frontiers in Birding
Martin Garner
19.99
SPECIAL OFFER:
ONLY 9.99!
(+ 5 p&p Europe, 7 ROW)
* Special offer extended to 28 February
Covering many subjects at the
cutting edge of practical birding, the
author and contributors are enthusiastic in
pushing forward the boundaries of what we know
about birding and identification in this classic
guide.
Multimedia
Identification Guide:
Storm-petrels &
Bulmers Petrel
Bob Flood and
Ashley Fisher
42.95 Only 38.95
SUBSCRIBER PRICE 37.95
(+ 5 p&p Europe, 6 ROW)
* Offer ends 31 January
This revised and updated second edition is
accompanied by two DVDs with more than 120
minutes of both at-sea and in-colony footage.
Bird Atlas 2007-2011
Dawn Balmer, Simon
Gillings, Brian Caffrey,
Bob Swann, Iain Downie
and Rob Fuller
69.99 Only 65.99
SUBSCRIBER PRICE 64.99
(UK only)
* Offer ends 31 January
Compiled from data received from more than
40,000 volunteer surveyors, this is the most
important, complete and comprehensive book of
British and Irish breeding and wintering birds for
decades. Read our review on page 75.
Top 100 Birding Sites
of the World
Dominic Couzens
19.99 Only 17.99
SUBSCRIBER PRICE 16.99l
(+ 5 p&p Europe, 6 ROW)
* Offer ends 31 January
Featuring detailed accounts of
the best birdwatching sites in the world,
this completely revised edition gives background
and first-hand experience of what you can find at
each. Expertly written and highly readable with
lavish photos of the birds and scenery at each of
the chosen hot-spots.
Owls
David Tipling and Jari Peltomki
9.99 Only 8.99
SUBSCRIBER PRICE 7.99
(+ 5 p&p Europe, 6 ROW)
* Offer ends 28 February
For two of the worlds finest bird photographers,
Jari Peltomki and David Tipling, photographing
and learning about owl behaviour has become
a passion. The book explores the fascinating
lives of Europes owls, accompanied by riveting diary accounts from the authors
adventures photographing in the continents wildest places. It reveals these
secret lives in spectacular pictures, many published here for the first time.
With compelling text that successfully combines fascinating information with
accessibility, we get a rare glimpse of some of Europes increasingly rare and
endangered species captured on camera.
The Crossley ID Guide:
Britain & Ireland
Richard Crossley and Dominic
Couzens
16.95 Only 15.95
SUBSCRIBER PRICE 14.95
(+ 5 p&p Europe, 6 ROW)
* Offer extended to 31 January
Aimed at beginner and
intermediate birders, yet suitable for all
levels, this new volume in the groundbreaking
series is arguably the most user-friendly guide
to the birds of Britain and Ireland, utilising
thousands of photos as an identification aid.
bookshop
www.birdwatch.co.uk 020 8881 0550
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Owls
Mike Toms
35 Only 31
SUBSCRIBER PRICE 30l
(+ 5 p&p Europe, 6 ROW)
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Released early January 2014
Exploring Britains beloved
Barn, Tawny and Snowy Owls,
among several others, the author
uses the latest research from his
work with the British Trust for Ornithology to
focus on breeding, dispersal, diet, vocalisations,
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1401 p77 BookshopJan14 v3.indd 77 12/13/2013 5:52:45 PM
78 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


EXPERT REVIEWS TRAVEL
13-20 April 2014
Price: 1,299 (including
flights)
ESTONIA is one of the worlds
most dramatic migration locations,
renowned for its amazing spring
passage of millions of wildfowl
and waders flying along the coast,
between the Baltic Sea and their
Arctic tundra breeding grounds. In
addition, large flocks of wildfowl
include wintering Stellers Eider,
while unspoilt forests are home to
an exciting range of boreal
specialities. This fully inclusive
Birdwatch holiday focuses on that
famous migration spectacle, with
Stellers Eider and a
mouthwatering line-up of owls and
woodpeckers among the many
potential highlights.
Our eight-day tour begins in
OTHER TOURS
Holland in spring
15-20 May 2014
Price: 695 plus
international flights
(approx 100)
Join this great new break for
Purple Heron, Bluethroat, Great
Reed, Savis, Marsh and Icterine
Warblers and the chance of
some spring rarities, as well as
tickable Black Swan and Bar-
headed Goose.
Contact Birding Breaks on
0031 20 77 92 030 or email
info@birdingbreaks.nl.
Shetland in autumn
26 September-3 October 2014
Price: 1,145 (plus flights)
The ultimate autumn migration
experience in the Northern Isles,
at the prime time for scarcities
and rarities. Expect both,
perhaps including some seriously
rare Siberian vagrants, under the
leadership of Martin Garner and
Shetland Natures local experts.
Contact Shetland Nature on
01957 710000 or email info@
shetlandnature.net.
Azores in autumn
11-19 October 2014
Price: 1,330 (flights
included)
The Azores have produced 60
Yank species, including Wood
Duck, Western Sandpiper,
Wilsons Snipe, Mourning Dove,
Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-
throated Vireo, Myrtle Warbler,
Northern Parula, Baltimore
Oriole and Rose-breasted
Grosbeak, among many others.
Contact Archipelago Azores
on 01768 775672 or email
info@azoreschoice.com.
BOOK WITH PEACE OF MIND
OUR programme of reader holidays offers an unrivalled birding experience. We work in partnership with
professional specialist companies to offer exciting itineraries led by experienced guides and at prices that
offer superb value for money. Whats more, you can book your holiday with complete peace of mind our
partner companies are fully bonded with the CAA and hold ATOL licences, or have other arrangements in
place to protect your money.
The basic cost of holidays may include return flights from London, all accommodation, ground transportation,
some or most meals and a few other items, but the exact terms and conditions vary please contact the
company operating your holiday for further information and a detailed itinerary.
basis, all meals, guiding and
entrance fees and ground
transportation. Not included are
insurance, beverages and items of
a personal nature. For an itinerary
and reservations, please contact
WildWings on 0117 965 8333 or
email wildinfo@wildwings.co.uk.
Tallinn, the Estonian capital, from
where we will head to the west of
the country, and then take in the
key sites of Matsalu National
Park, Saaremaa island and Nigula
and Soometsa forests. The
birding can be outstanding, with
peak passage at Matsalu alone
on occasion producing more than
a million diving ducks, while
counts of wild swans and
Barnacle Geese regularly number
tens of thousands. Waders
sometimes also occur in huge
numbers, while Matsalu boasts
no fewer than 170 breeding
species, among them Red-necked
Grebe, Bittern, Osprey, White-
tailed Eagle and Caspian Tern.
Other sites can be every bit as
memorable, and the whole
itinerary has been designed to
take in a wide range of species,
among which could be Taiga Bean
Goose, Bittern, White Stork,
Stellers Eider, White-tailed Eagle,
Goshawk, Rough-legged Buzzard,
Capercaillie, Black and Hazel
Grouse, Common Crane, Wood
and Purple Sandpipers, Ural,
Eurasian Eagle, Tengmalms and
Pygmy Owls, White-backed, Three-
toed, Black, Middle Spotted,
Lesser Spotted and Grey-headed
Woodpeckers, Nutcracker, Crested
and Bearded Tits, Great Grey
Shrike and Parrot Crossbill.
Mammal fans may also be in
for a treat, with chances of Wild
Boar, Elk and European Beaver
among others, and we may even
find tracks of Wolf or Brown Bear.
This tour is operated for
Birdwatch by WildWings (fully
bonded and licensed through the
CAA, ATOL licence 5429) in
association with Estonia Nature
Tours. The price includes flights,
all accommodation on an en-suite
world of birds
Birdwatch
Wondrous wildfowl, woodpeckers and more
S
T
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E
R

S

E
I
D
E
R

B
Y

J
A
R
I

P
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T
O
M

K
I

A
N
D

T
H
R
E
E
-
T
O
E
D

W
O
O
D
P
E
C
K
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(
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)

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ESTONIA
OUR EXCLUSIVE PROGRAMME OF READER HOLIDAYS
1401 p78 world of birds v3.indd 78 12/13/2013 5:54:24 PM
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The best tips, advice and more
www.birdwatch.co.uk
82
How to ...
Save money by growing
your own bird food.
83
ID tips
Learn how to pick out a
Black-throated Diver.
83
How to ...
Be a backpack birder.
84
Your questions
answered
Our panel of experts tackles your
conundrums.
86
On our website
and Listcheck
The state of Britains countryside
birds and new hummingbird
species.
87
How to ...
Improve your birding
by keeping a year list, and the
easiest way to record all those
species seen in a year.
EXPERT
ADVICE
THIS MONTHS EXPERT PANEL
CHRIS HARBARD
After many years at
the RSPB, Chris is now
a tour leader, writer
and editor, dividing his
time between the UK
and USA.

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ONLINE
CONTENT
DAVID CALLAHAN
Prior to joining
Birdwatch as staff
writer, David trained
as a taxonomist at
Londons Natural
History Museum.
DOMINIC MITCHELL
is Birdwatchs founder
and Managing Editor.
He took up birding
more than 40 years
ago, and is often found
on his London patch.
DR RON SUMMERS
is the RSPBs
Principal
Conservation
Scientist and has
made a lifetimes
study of crossbills.
RICHARD JAMES
is a wildlife adviser
at the RSPB, with a
thorough knowledge
of invertebrates,
reptiles, amphibians
and birds.
MIKE LANGMAN
is a full-time bird
illustrator whose
work has featured in
numerous books, as
well as nearly every
RSPB reserve.

www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 81
EXPERT ADVICE HOW TO
THIS quick and easy method
of providing a hanging feeder
for birds is great fun to make,
especially for children, and is also
quite inexpensive.

You will need
Pine cones: use the largest
cones possible, at least 5-10
cm in width. They should be
fully opened and dry.
String or wire: suitable lengths
for tying to each cone so they
can be hung from a tree branch
or bird table. Garden twine is
good as this is likely to last;
use wire if you want it to be
squirrel proof.
Suet or lard: shredded beef
suet or pieces from a butcher
are preferable, but lard can
also be used. Vegetable suet is
not so good.
Seeds: any standard wild bird
seed mixture.
Nuts: whole shelled peanuts
or peanut granules. Whole
peanuts can be split in half for
use in smaller pine cones.
Pinhead oats: these are small
with no husks and easy for
birds to eat.
Raisins: these, sultanas or
currants can be used.

How to make
1 Tie a length of string
around the base of the
cone, between the lowest
scales. If using wire, you
can hook it around the
cone or through a loop of
string. This needs to be
long enough to tie around
a branch or hang from a
bird table.
2 Gently heat up some
beef suet or lard in a pan
until it just melts there
is no need for it to be
very hot.
3 Add the seed mixture,
nuts and dried fruit and
stir well; use roughly twice
as much mixture as suet
or lard. Leave it until the
mixture starts to harden.
4 Press the mixture into the
scales of the cone, covering it
completely.
5 Roll the covered cone in wild
bird seed to give it a fnal coating.
6 Hang the cone in a suitable
site and store any extras in a cool
place for later use. Any extra seed
and fat mixture can be frozen.
When the mixture starts to harden, carefully press it into the scales of the pine
cone. This can be a great way to teach children about feeding garden birds.
Make a homemade suet cone
HOW TO . . .
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1401 p81-87 Expert advice v3.indd 81 12/13/2013 5:23:12 PM
82 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


EXPERT ADVICE HOW TO ID TIPS
Grow your own bird food
HOW TO . . .
PROVIDING birds with food can
help them to survive the cold winter
weather. Purchasing bird food can
be very expensive, but with careful
planning it is possible to grow your
own supply of some foods simply
and cheaply. Here are fve great
ideas.
1 Sunower seeds
Sunfowers are easy to grow,
either as a crop in a vegetable
bed, or spread throughout the
garden. Black seeds are usually
favoured over striped ones as
they have the highest oil content
(up to 50 per cent). Varieties
such as Black Russian (one of
the mammoth varieties) produce
very large often single seedheads,
while other varieties may have
smaller multiple fowers. You can
either buy seeds from a garden
centre, or use those bought for
feeding the birds, in which case
always use ones with the shells
still on and dont use roasted
seeds as these will not germinate.
Plant the seeds 3-6 cm deep in
loose soil about 20-30 cm apart,
somewhere that gets plenty of
light. For the best results, plant
when the weather is warm and
all danger of frost is past, and
stagger plantings over several
weeks to allow them to mature
at different times, ensuring an
ongoing supply. Some seed heads
can be left on the plants, where
birds can feed on them, while
others can be cut and allowed
to dry before storing. Save some
of the seeds for planting the
following spring.
2 Millet
Late spring is a good time to
start planting millet white or red
varieties can be used. It is best
grown separately, where it can be
protected from birds eating it too
soon if you wish to collect and
store seeds. Simply scatter seeds
over the planting area and cover
them with thin layer of soil sunny
areas are best. They should sprout
in about a week and be ready to
harvest in about 10 weeks.
The seeds turn gold or brown
when ready to pick and should
be dried thoroughly. They can be
stripped off and used loose in a
seed mix, although bunches can
also be hung with seeds still on
the stem. Save some of the seeds
for planting the following spring.
Wild bird seed mixtures usually
contain millet and other seeds, and
you could experiment by planting
some of these.
3 Fruit
Soft ripened fruits are particularly
liked by thrushes. Apples and
pears are most readily eaten and
there are varieties which produce
a good crop from a small tree.
New trees are
best planted in
the autumn using
bare-rooted or pot-grown stock
from a garden centre. Choose a
variety that stores well so that
fruit can be kept well into the
winter Fiesta is a good apple
variety and Conference is always a
favourite among pears. Remember
that it may take a couple of years
for fruit to be produced, especially
if starting with a small tree.
4 Berries
Berry-bearing trees and shrubs
provide plenty of food for birds. If
you have room, then plant different
species which offer berries
throughout the winter. Mountain
Ash, holly and hawthorn are native
species, with the last two good for
hedging and the frst providing early
berries. With holly you need both
male and female trees to produce
berries. Pyracantha (aka frethorn)
and cotoneaster are two of the
more exotic species, with a wide
range of varieties providing lots of
berries which the birds love.
5 Wildower seeds
Instead of flling your feeders, why
not fll your fowerbeds with seed-
producing plants? There are lots
of wild plants that can be grown in
gardens, many of them producing
fabulous fowers as well as
seeds. Try some of the following:
Teasel, Lesser Knapweed, Greater
Plantain, Cornfower, Sorrel, Field
Scabious and Greater Hawkbit.
Dont forget a really weedy patch
with plants such as Fat Hen,
groundsel, thistles and Dandelion.
Most garden centres have wild
fower mixtures and many of the
more invasive species may well
arrive on their own.
Growing your own bird food can save you money, as well as provide year-
round interest in the garden. Sunowers (below) are a favourite for birds,
while hawthorn berries attract a range of species, including Blackbird.
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1401 p81-87 Expert advice v3.indd 82 12/13/2013 5:24:06 PM
EXPERT ADVICE HOW TO ID TIPS

www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 83
THE modern birder needs to be
ready at a moments notice to
head out into the feld. Having
everything packed and ready in a
backpack will help to maximise
the time spent birding. Here are
some things every backpack
birder should have, assuming
that most will always carry optical
equipment accessories and a
smartphone:
Phone charger: you never
know when you might run out of
juice, especially in some isolated
area, so pack a battery-powered
charger and plenty of spare
batteries (usually AA) or even a
solar-powered charger for those
sunny days. A car charger is
Be a backpack birder
HOW TO . . .
Keep a backpack full of
all your essentials so that
youre always ready to go.
FOR many, winter holds the real
opportunity to see our three
commoner diver species, the
scarcest and perhaps most
desirable of which is Black-throated.
All three species are
monochrome, with paler
underparts and overall dark
upperparts. Black-throated is most
similar to Great Northern, and
the key feature on the majority of
individuals is the large white fank
patch, usually visible in all but the
most choppy of water conditions,
and also visible from behind
(though Red-throated can also
show this feature).
The scaly back and mantle of
Black-throated tends to be more
tinged with brown in winter in
juveniles, whereas adults have
almost uniform black. Black-
throated often has a dark neck and
head contrasting with a paler back.
When seen, the lores are often
dark, too, unlike Great Northern.
The details of the head will
help a lot in identifcation. Black-
throated has a thinner bill more
of a stiletto than a dagger and
a less complete and thinner neck-
band, which barely interrupts the
smooth curve of the dark border of
ID TIPS
its dark hind-neck. Though its head
often looks round, it can also show
a lumpy-headed look like Great
Northern, but never as extreme.
Great Northern also has a more
prominent eyering and sometimes
raised feathers at the stern.
Black-throated Diver
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also useful to top up your phone
as you drive keep it with you in
case you fnd yourself not in your
own car.
Phonescoping adapter: if
you are packing the latest
smartphone, why not use
it for digiscoping? Modern
smartphones have amazing
built-in cameras and there are
adapters to help you to take great
images without the need for a
bulky camera and big lens.
High-energy food: pack energy
bars, chocolate or some other
snack to give a much-needed
boost. High-glucose bars give
you a quick fx, while grain-based
bars provide a more gradual and
prolonged energy release.
Water: always pack a full water
bottle as there is nothing worse
than having a thirst on a warm
day. Its best not to take cans
or bottles of fzzy drinks as
these can get shaken up.
Dry clothes: pack a
lightweight waterproof coat
and trousers as sudden
showers may materialise, and
keeping dry means staying
warm and comfortable.
Waterproofs are also good for
additional wind protection.
Warm clothes: take a feece
as an extra layer of clothing just
in case it gets cold too many
layers are better than too few.
Pack a woolly hat, gloves, scarf
and extra socks as much heat
is lost through extremities, and
these will all help you stay extra
warm.
Notebook and pencil or
pen: still essential, both for
sketching and taking detailed
notes, and quicker and easier
than trying to type into a
smartphone. Keep them
dry in a plastic zip-lock bag.
Remember, if you fnd a rarity
you usually need more than just
a photograph to get records
accepted.
Emergency pack: full of
essential items, such as basic
frst aid equipment (plasters,
bandage, scissors and so on),
a multi-purpose knife, a small
torch, a whistle (to attract
attention), black sticky tape
(useful for fxing things) and a
couple of small plastic bags.
1401 p81-87 Expert advice v3.indd 83 12/13/2013 5:25:43 PM
84 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


EXPERT ADVICE Q&A
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I took this picture yesterday of a
bird of prey feasting on a pigeon. I
just wanted to know what bird it is.
@longjoe77 via @BirdwatchNews
A
David Callahan replies: Your bird
is a female Sparrowhawk eating
a Woodpigeon, a surprisingly unusual
occurrence. The debate about whether
Sparrowhawk can take Woodpigeon
as prey has reared its head before in
Birdwatch. Previous correspondence has
been somewhat inconclusive, but with
some knowledgeable observers claiming
that the pigeons are too bulky to be
taken regularly even by the most robust
female Sparrowhawks (females are larger
than males). It has been assumed that
any Woodpigeon taken by a Sparrowhawk
will be either ill or underweight, and the
cover afforded by a garden has clearly failed this particular individual. Your photo is
unequivocal evidence that these raptors can and do hunt Woodpigeons, on occasion
at least.
Q
Which shrubs or berries are best to attract
Waxwings (right) to my garden?
Ben Taylor via www.facebook.com/birdwatchmagazine
A
Richard James, RSPB Wildlife Advisor, replies:
Waxwings arent fussy birds and they will eat
almost any fruit on offer. Haws, hips, cotoneaster,
rowan, holly and ivy are all popular foods for the
species. They will also feed on apples, including crab
apples. Providing berries from any of these plants,
or indeed others recommended by the RSPB (see
bit.ly/rspbberries), is a great way to help and attract
wintering birds in your garden. More common winter
visitors such as Redwings, Blackbirds and Fieldfares
will beneft too, even if you are not fortunate enough
to be visited by a fock of Waxwings.
Q
What is the best place to report ringed birds
that I have seen?
Sue Smith via email
A
Nick Moran of the British Trust for Ornithology
(BTO) replies: The best place is the BTOs
own website, and the vast majority of ring sightings
are reported online these days. A handy Report a
ringed bird link can be found on the right-hand side
of the home page (www.bto.org, see below) that
goes through to the Euring website (http://blx1.
bto.org/euring/main). This then takes the observer
right through the whole process of reporting the
bird via this online portal. Note that for colour-
ringed birds, the observer is encouraged to fnd and
contact the project co-ordinator, via the European
colour-ring birding website (www.cr-birding.org).
ANSWERED
YOUR QUESTIONS
Yellow-breasted
Bunting on the
Farne Islands,
Northumberland,
7 September
2013 but is it a
scarcity, a rarity or
a vagrant?
Q
What is the difference
between a scarce migrant
and a vagrant, and where would
you draw the line between the
two?
Anne Prior, Notts
A
Dominic Mitchell replies:
The difference is effectively
statistical. In Britain, a vagrant
or rarity can be defned by
the Rarities
Committees criteria for
consideration, which is a species
occurring on fewer than 150
occasions in the previous 10
years, with 10 or fewer in eight
of those years. In broad terms
scarce migrants are the next level
of frequency up and therefore
occur more predictably, but are
still unusual enough to merit the
term scarce.
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1401 p84-85 Q and A v3.indd 84 12/13/2013 5:58:16 PM
www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 85
EXPERT ADVICE Q&A
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Following the recent crossbill invasion,
Ive been looking at a few shots that
I digiscoped back in 2005 at Loch Garten
RSPB, Highland. At the time, one male bird in
particular looked to have a Parrot Crossbill-
type bill (2), especially when compared to the
other male bird that was with it (1). I showed
the photos to the RSPB wardens at the time
but they did not think it was a Parrot. I have
included a more recent photo of a Common
Crossbill from the same reserve taken in April
2012 for comparison (3).
I still think it is, especially after seeing
the photos of the recently arrived birds. As I
include the photos in a talk that I do as part
of my job as a ranger, Id be interested to
see what you think.
Dave Owen, via email
A
Ron Summers, Principal Conservation
Scientist and RSPB crossbill
researcher, replies: The second (2) bird
certainly looks like a Parrot Crossbill, but it
would not be possible to say for certain what
the other Loch Garten bird (1) was on the
basis of the single photo.
Have you got a question for our experts?
Send your queries to us via social media at
www.twitter.com/BirdwatchNews or
www.facebook.com/birdwatchmagazine, on our
forums at www.birdwatch.co.uk/forums, or by
emailing editorial@birdwatch.co.uk or by writing in
to: Your Questions Answered, Birdwatch, The Chocolate
Factory, 5 Clarendon Road, London N22 6XJ.
Q
Ring-necked Parakeet (left) is now widespread in southern
England, and has population pockets elsewhere in the country. It
is hard to imagine that this has not affected some native British bird
species. Is there any evidence for this?
Terrence Bennett, Berks
A
Richard James replies: Ring-necked Parakeets have certainly
become a common sight in parts of the South-East in particular.
In Britain, there is currently no evidence to suggest that these birds
have caused the decline of any of our native British birds. However, it is
important that the continued spread of these birds and its implications
for our native species are closely monitored.
1 2 3
Q
Is there a British or European
equivalent to the Sibley or Peterson
bird eld guide apps?
Jon Adams via www.birdwatch.co.uk/forums
A
David Callahan replies: Coincidentally,
we cover these extremely useful feld
guide apps on page 76. Unfortunately, as yet
there are no equivalents to these excellent
guides in Europe, though we understand
that an app company based in the UK is
developing a Collins Bird Guide app for
release in the near future.
1401 p84-85 Q and A v3.indd 85 12/13/2013 5:59:49 PM
86 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


EXPERT ADVICE ONLINE
Britains birds
in a state
ON OUR WEBSITE
THE latest State of the UKs Birds report reveals that many of our
familiar countryside birds are suffering plummeting populations. In
some parts of Britain some species have disappeared completely.
Many of these are reliant on habitats in the wider countryside rather
than being maintained on special sites, such as nature reserves.
Of particular concern are Grey Partridge and European Turtle Dove
(halved since 1995), and the unique British subspecies of Yellow
Wagtail (left declined by 45 per cent).
bit.ly/bw259birdstate

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New
Brent
Goose
The mystery
form of
Brent Goose
that breeds in the high Arctic of
west Alaska and winters in Puget
Sound, Washington, United States,
colloquially known as Grey-bellied
Brant, now has its own trinomial,
and its been taken from the other
rarer form recorded in Britain
and Ireland, called Black Brant.
Branta hrota nigricans is the name
now used for Grey-bellied, while
Black takes the name given to
a subsumed form from Russia
called orientalis, as the name for
MAIN STORY Slender-billed Curlew removed
from BOUs British list
Following reviews by both the British Ornthiologists
Unions Records Committee and the Rarities
Committee, the identifcation of the bird previously
accepted as Slender-billed Curlew, seen at
Druridge Bay, Northumberland, on 4-7 May 1998,
is no longer considered as proven.
bit.ly/bw259slenderbill
Middle Eastern and African hunters agree to
responsible hunting
Prominent hunters from the Middle East and Africa
have signed a declaration on what has been termed
responsible hunting at a ceremony organised by
BirdLife International.
bit.ly/bw259hunting
New breeding sites found for Asias rarest
bunting
Three previously unknown breeding sites for Rufous-
backed Bunting, Asias rarest bunting species,
have been discovered by BirdLife. It has declined
because of conversion of its habitat to farmland.
bit.ly/bw259bunting
Nesting birds turn the clocks back 50 years
after cold spring
This years chilly spring delayed the breeding of
many bird species by several weeks, taking their
dates back to those more typical of the mid-1960s,
say the BTO.
bit.ly/bw259BTObirds
Amur Falcon reprieve in India
BirdLife action in Nagalnad, India, has seemingly
brought an end to the systematic hunting of millions
of Amur Falcons, frst reported last year.
bit.ly/bw259amurindia
In the
digital
edition
MORE fantastic extra
features will appear in
Januarys newly redesigned
digital issue, including:
Bonus images of Western
Orphean Warbler, Northern
Harrier and Baikal Teal.
Video and more images of
Pink-footed, and Tundra and
Taiga Bean Geese.
Additional photos and sound
fles of this months rarities
and scarcities.
More photos of birds you can
see as you begin your new year
listing, or plan your frst birding
trip of the year.
The digital edition is available
for PC, Mac, iPhone/iPad and
Android. Sample editions are
free, while single issues or
subscriptions can be purchased.
Go to bit.ly/bwDigitalEd to fnd
out more.
Updating avian taxonomy
LISTCHECK
Grey-bellied was given to the type
specimen when it was thought
to be a Black Brant, and takes
taxonomic precedence.
There are several records
thought to be of the newly named
form from Ireland over the last 20
years or so, and it is thought that
they are sometimes overlooked.
Up with the larks
In accordance with the notion that
the South American avifauna is
well over-lumped, a widespread
hummingbird species has now
been split into four. Already
designated separate English and
scientifc subspecifc names,
Bearded Helmetcrest Oxypogon
guerinii has become: Blue-bearded
O cyanolaemus (Sierra Nevada de
Santa Maria, Colombia), White-
bearded lindenii (Venezuelan
Andes), Green-bearded guerinii
(eastern Colombian Andes) and
Buffy stubelii (central Colombian
Andes) Helmetcrests. The taxa
had already been split by BirdLife
International under regional names
earlier in 2013.
Grey-bellied Brant at Bull Island,
Co Dublin, November 2013
this form now has an ofcial
subspecic name.

The 1998 Druridge Bay Slender-billed Curlew has


now been designated Not Proven, but many birders
will still be keen to know what exactly it was.
In
association
with
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round-up
The hummingbird White-bearded
Helmetcrest has just been split
from Bearded, along with three
other new species. N
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1401 p81-87 Expert advice v3.indd 86 12/13/2013 5:26:42 PM
EXPERT ADVICE ONLINE
www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 87
Exe Estuary (Starcross) 09.26 03.39 08.38 01.11
Devon 21.52 16.11 20.57 13.46
Poole Harbour (town quay) 03.36 06.50 10.32 05.01
Dorset 11.33 19.14 23.11 17.25
Langstone Harbour (Northney) 02.05 08.53 01.19 06.42
Hampshire 14.22 21.58 13.28 19.23
Thames Estuary (Sheerness) 03.04 09.30 02.10 07.25
Kent 15.32 22.03 14.32 20.05
London Bridge 04.21 10.41 03.28 08.34
Greater London 16.49 23.16 15.50 21.14
Colne Estuary (Wivenhoe) 02.38 09.10 01.46 07.00
Essex 15.04 21.47 14.06 19.43
Blakeney Harbour 09.14 03.51 08.24 01.36
Norfolk 21.37 16.23 20.40 14.15
Hunstanton 09.00 03.26 08.09 01.00
Norfolk 21.15 16.02 20.18 13.48
Blacktoft 09.22 03.51 08.32 01.36
Yorkshire 21.44 16.23 20.47 14.15
Teesmouth 06.18 00.40 05.23 11.04
Durham/Yorkshire 18.30 13.14 17.30 23.38
Holy Island 05.01 11.43 04.10 09.29
Northumberland 17.19 16.22 22.10
Firth of Forth (Cockenzie) 05.26 04.26 09.57
Lothian 17.36 12.07 16.32 22.32
Morecambe Bay 01.40 08.38 00.49 06.24
Lancashire 14.01 21.02 13.04 19.00
Dee Estuary (Hilbre) 01.15 08.19 00.27 06.05
Cheshire 13.35 20.42 12.41 18.39
Loughor Estuary (Burry Port) 08.53 03.31 08.00 01.09
Carmarthenshire 21.17 15.59 20.17 13.49
Severn Estuary (Berkeley) 10.30 04.58 09.42 02.35
Gloucestershire 22.07 17.30 21.59 15.13
Belfast 01.34 08.17 00.41 06.15
Co Down 13.50 20.38 12.51 18.44
Dublin (North Wall) 02.13 08.55 01.14 06.52
Co Dublin 14.27 21.17 13.23 19.24
5th 12th 19th 26th 5th 12th 19th 26th
SUNDAY HIGH TIDES IN JANUARY
Full moon date is Thursday 16 January
JANUARY is clearly the best time
to start a year list if you are to
maximise your time in getting the
highest number of birds possible
during 2014.
The earlier you start the
better, if you are to see those
long-staying rarities and winter
scarcities along with all of our
commoner residents there are
plenty of suggestions about what
to look for where to help formulate
your tick-accumulation strategy on
pages 37-40.
However, a year list isnt all
about the accumulation of ticks.
Doing such a list for your patch,
your county, or indeed nationally,
can also be a valuable self-
education tool. Your knowledge
of birds movements can certainly
be improved by spending time
working out strategies for seeing
the trickier species. When are
you likely to see migrant waders
passing through your local
wetland? Which sites in your
county or region are most likely to
produce scarce passerines? And
where in the country can you see
localised species with a minimum
of time and effort?
Working out the answers to
these questions will result in
you collating your own sightings
and records, consulting regional
guides, breeding and wintering
atlases, local bird reports
and online repositories like
BirdGuides (www.birdguides.
com), as well as asking birders
with more experience than
yourself. All these sources will
add to your in-depth birding
knowledge and help you be in the
right place at the right time.
Once you are in position,
will you be able to identify the
species you need? Many of those
essential year ticks are cryptic
or hard to separate from their
congeners. When you make that
trip of hundreds of miles to see
Arctic Redpoll, you will need to
know why it is the species you
hope it is, and perhaps even to
identify it to subspecies level in
case it is split in the future. A
past year list is never quite static,
always changing form with the
vagaries of taxonomic decision.
Doing a serious year list can
also improve your feld skills. If
you miss a calling Lesser Spotted
Woodpecker at a key site in early
spring, for instance, you will need
Lesser Spotted
Woodpecker
is declining in
Britain, making
it harder to
record each
year. Keeping
track of your
sightings
could help you
identify reliable
sites for the
species.
Improve your skills with a year list
HOW TO . . .
to fnd it by eye, no mean feat
for such a secretive species. The
same is true if you miss one of
our all-too-brief summer visitors
and have to locate, say, Wood
Warbler in August.
Listing may seem a dry and
quantitative pastime, but in
practice it will involve all the
birding skills you can muster. Give
yourself the target of seeing as
many species as you can for the
year and see if you can match it
your birding can only beneft.
Keep your year list
on a spreadsheet
of the list and let go, then hit
enter, and your total appears.
This will work in Microsoft
Excel, as well as free software
such as OpenOffce (www.
openofce.org) and Google Drive
(www.drive.google.com). To
make things even easier, you can
download Birdwatchs own list
from bit.ly/bw259Checklist.
Your lists can be as
comprehensive as you like. The
method described will produce a
very simple record of which bird
species have been seen over
a period of years. However, you
can use other felds to include
date and location data or how
many of each species were
seen or any other information
you want.
HOW TO . . .
USING a spreadsheet is an easy
way to keep track of your records.
The simplest way to do a year
list is to insert every British bird
species into the frst column in
taxonomic order. Leave the frst
row blank this is where you
insert the years. When you see
a particular species in that year
make a mark in the relevant feld,
or square. 1 is best, as you
can use the spreadsheets own
functionality to add up how many
species youve seen in a year.
To do this, click in the square
you want the total to appear
and type =SUM( then scroll to
the top of your list, click in the
square for the frst species and
hold your mouse button down.
Drag all the way down to the end
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1401 p81-87 Expert advice v3.indd 87 12/13/2013 5:28:40 PM
Booking is easy!
Use our website or call us direct:
book by phone 017687 75672
book online at www.azoreschoice.com
YOUR HOLIDAY. YOUR ADVENTURE.
American Vagrants in the
Azores!
Fly 3 hours from the UK into the middle of the Atlantic
and youll nd the Azores a spectacular group
of 9 volcanic islands. Still one of Europes undiscovered
gems, the islands combine an Old World charm and
a natural beauty that you might want to keep a secret.
The Azores are becoming
increasingly popular for
bird-watchers, especially
towards the end of the year
when we nd many American
vagrants on the islands.
Join Dominic Mitchell, a well
respected Azores birder, on
this years trip where we visit
the islands of Sao Miguel,
Terceira, Flores and Corvo.
Tour dates
11th to 19th
October 2014
From 1660pp
(including ights)
ARC2790 Birdwatching Ad Resize Ad1 AW.indd 1 10/12/2013 10:16
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www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 89
YOUR MAGAZINE
Next month
Guess whos guest editor
of the February issue ...
Februarys Birdwatch on sale 23 January
Pre-order your
copy online now at
www.birdwatch.co.uk
OR see page 59 for details
on how to subscribe and
get this issue delivered
direct to your door PLUS
receive a FREE pair of
Bridgedale socks!
Rarity review of the year
Migration and vagrancy
explained
ID photo guide to Velvet
and White-winged Scoters
Photo special: goose-
watching in Scotland
Irelands top west coast
winter sites
Plus rare birds galore!
Plus all the big stories, analysis of the latest
rarities, expert reviews and advice, and your
questions answered
1401 next issue v2.indd 89 12/12/2013 17:52
Reports: regions
Isle of Mull
Luxury s/c cottages near Iona
ferry. En-suite B&B also available.
Birdwatchers paradise Golden and
Sea Eagles, Corncrakes, Hen Harriers,
Puffins. Off-season offers available.
Tel: 01681 700260
www.isleofmullholidays.com
TO ADVERTISE HERE in the next
issue of Birdwatch please call Ian Lycett
on 020 8881 0550
Have you seen our website www.birdwatch.co.uk
Mull Charters
01680 300 444 or
07788 677 131
info@mullcharters.com
www.mullcharters.com
Sea-eagle boat trips
and wildlife cruises.
See and photograph
eagles up close.
CLEY-NEXT-THE-SEA. Fully furnished
flat, close to the windmill, local shops,
pubs and reserves. Ideal base for birding
the reserves and coast. Reasonable
rates. Tel: 01263 740772. Email:
charles.simeons@btinternet.
com
CLASSIFIED Directory
NORFOLK SCOTLAND SRI LANKA
MADEI RA WI ND BI RDS
Birdwatching & Nature tours
www.madeirawindbirds.com &
www.madeirabirds.com
Phone: +351-917777441
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA. Lots of
endemic families - Cockatoos, Lorikeets,
Bowerbirds, Honeyeaters, Megapodes,
Lyrebirds www.zestforbirds.com
AUSTRALIA
NORFOLK
WEST SUSSEX
PARAGUAY
MADEIRA ISLANDS
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SCOTLAND
HOLIDAYS
ACCOMMODATION - UK ACCOMMODATION - ABROAD
For details call Peter 07584 992 959
or email pdobbing@gmail.com
Shetland Isles
B&B accommodation at the old post
ofce at Gutcher, Yell (opp Unst ferry).
Comfortable double bedroom, sitting room
with freesat T.V, shower room and day
room. Excellent for ferry connection to
Unst and Fetlar. Large shop 2 miles away
at Cullivoe and 25 min drive to ferry to
Mainland. 35 per night and evening meal
available (price on request).
The perfect birding retreat
Fully restored cotage in picturesque Kelling, sleeps
7. Large garden adjoining open countryside, o-road
parking, Wi-Fi, satellite TV. Superb birding minutes
to beach, Kelling Water Meadows and Kelling Heath,
close Salthouse, Cley and Sheringham for waders,
rarites and seawatching, easy access Broads,
Blakeney Point, Titchwell RSPB. Telephone:
01263 713133
and ask about Sea View Cotage, Kelling, or visit
htp://tnyurl.com/NorfolkSeaView
North Norfolk coast
To advertise, email ian.lycett@birdwatch.co.uk, call 020 8881 0550 or write to:
Birdwatch Classifieds, The Chocolate Factory, 5 Clarendon Road, London N22 6XJ
UK Wil dl ife Hol idays.
Bird and wildlife self-catering
holidays for groups of 6-9.
www.ukwildlifebreaks.co.uk
Telephone: 01395 446626
Sheringham, Bed & Breakfast
Oering a large twin room with private shower room.
7 miles from Cley Marshes & 25 miles from Titchwell
Marsh, both easily accessible by car and bus. Only a 5
minute walk to Peddars Way, Norfolk Coastal Path and
award-winning beaches
To ensure a quality service, youll be our only guests!
Tel: 01263 825216 or www.craftcottagebandb.com
BIRDING IN ANDALUCIA
Fantastic birding , wildlife, peace and
beauty, in hidden Spain. Our Andalucian
farmhouse provides the ideal setting for
the bird-watching holiday you deserve.
To see our 2014 offers and book your
next holiday, visit our web-site at:
www.birdhols.com
or email george@birdhols.com
Telephone: + 44 1253733568
Mobile: +44 7856819291
HERZEGOVINA
PERU
EXCITING OPPORTUNITY!
Lease-hold holiday bungalow,
Medmerry Park, West Sussex
adjacent to RSPBs newest
reserve. Fully furnished, sleeps six,
six years on lease 3,500.
For further details please email
chaletbrack@gmail.com
PARAGUAYAN
ADVENTURES
Short and long stay accommodation,
wildlife trips and river journeys on a
beautiful Paraguayan farm
www.paraguay.ch
Bank Park Lodge is a beautifully decorated 4
star holiday cottage that sleeps 5. Only 6 miles
fromthe superb birding at Aberlady Bay and
boasting a 4 acre garden and wood with nesting
Sparrowhawks, songbirds and woodpeckers. We
offer a donation of 25 per booking to the RSPB.
Ideal location for viewing wintering wildfowl and
exploring Edinburgh.
www.edinburghholidayrentals.com
Edinburgh
SCOTLAND
Cavalry Park Drive is a fewminutes walk from
Holyrood Park where there is an abundance of
birdlife on Dunsapie Loch, St. Margarets Loch
and Duddingston Loch. Stylish apartment with
easy access to Edinburgh and great birding sites
like Musselburgh Lagoons. Sleeps 7. Serviced 4
star. We offer a donation of 25 per booking to
the RSPB.
www.edinburghholidayrentals.com
Edinburgh
90 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


Hunstanton
Norfolk
If you enjoy amazing birding, walking,
photography etc. in one of the best
areas in Europe...then you should also
stay in one of the best guest houses
with sea views!
Sunset Inn will discount the normal
advertised rate to readers of Birdwatch
by 10% when you book direct:
Sunsetinn.booking@gmail.com
www.Sunsetinn.co.uk
Tel:01485 298087
p90-91.indd 74 11/12/2013 16:41
Reports: regions
TO ADVERTISE HERE in the next
issue of Birdwatch please call Ian Lycett
on 020 8881 0550 or email him at
ian.lycett@birdwatch.co.uk.
Rare Bird Alert
Read the News FIRST
FREE 7-day web trial &
special pager offers
www.rarebirdalert.com
(tel: 01603 457016)
Slides for sale
A wide selection of British and European species. Ideal
for talks. Phone or write with requests, 3.50 per slide,
discount for large orders.
Steve Young, 6 Portelet Road, Liver pool
L13 6SE. Tel: 0151 220 9838
RARITY
PHOTOS
FOR SALE

Scilly 2013 and
many other rarities
from the year and
stretching back
through decades of
raremongering.
Just 2.50 each,
including p&p.
Steve Young,
6 Portelet Road,
Liver pool L13 6SE.
Tel: 0151 220 9838.
www.birdsonfilm.com
SCOTLAND OPTICS
FOR SALE. Leica Ultravid 7 x 42 HD
binocular. Mint condition; immaculate
and barely used; complete and boxed.
1,000. Contact 0207 274 2662.
E-mail: bolokovsky@hotmail.
com
FOR SALE. Swarovski 8.5 x 42SV
EL binocular. In immaculate, mint
condition, boxed and hardly used.
1,200. Contact Robin on 0207
274 2662. E-mail: bolokovsky@
hotmail.com
SPAIN
MENORCA
CYPRUS
CANARY ISLANDS
SPAIN
ACCOMMODATION BIRDERS' MARKETPLACE
FOR SALE
NEWS
FOR SALE
PUBLISHING
FOR SALE
FOR SALE
Never miss an issue, turn
to page 88 for our great
subscription offer!
your business within
these pages in the next
issue please call Ian
Lycett on 020 8881 0550
TO ADVERTISE
To advertise here please call
Ian Lycett on 020 8881 0550
FOR SALE
COUNTY & LOCAL BIRD REPORTS bought
& sold; fill those gaps in your collection?
Over 3,000 in stock, add your 'wants' to
my database. Contact Steve Holliday for
catalogue & details at
birdreports@hotmail.co.uk or call
01670 731963 (eves/weekends)
VISITING SPAIN?
Professional local guides can show
you the specialties of Catalonia
(Ebro Delta, Pyrenees), all within a
2 hour drive from Barcelona.
Call us on 34-677 576 124 or
email deltabirding21@gmail.com
UPDATED original
BIRD WATCHERS
LOGBOOK
A concise way to record your observations.
Monthly, annual & life columns for 968 species.
Garden birds, migrants, index & diary pages.
Send 9.50 to Coxton Publications Ltd,
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- Tel: 01482 881833
BHUTAN
Responsible travel since 1999
Join the
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www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 91
Optrep Optical Repairs - Since 1960
www.opticalrepairs.com
Tel: 01243 601365 E-mail: info@opticalrepairs.com
Optrep (ref: BW2), 16 Wheateld Road, Selsey, West Sussex PO20 0NY
(5 minutes from Pagham HLNR)
REPAIRS & SERVICING OF BINOCULARS & TELESCOPES
Birdwatching and Wildlife
tours and trips in Menorca
throughout the year.
Local ornithological and
naturalist guide.
www.menorcawalkingbirds.com
info@menorcawalkingbirds.com
Tel. +34 672 095 812"
B & B, half board, self-catering. Ideally
located in Hoyos del Espino (vila).
Groups welcome, guides on request.
www.gredos-rural.com
BIRDING GREDOS
Tel: 00 34 66 44 94044
BIRD GUIDE SERVICE AND
RESEARCH PROJECT
FUERTEVENTURA
Bird Watch
www.fuerteventurabirdwatch.co.uk
p90-91.indd 75 11/12/2013 14:59
92 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


COMMENT YOUR TURN
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your
letters&photos
Tell us what you think. Write to Dominic Mitchell, Managing Editor, at:
Birdwatch, The Chocolate Factory, 5 Clarendon Road, London N22 6XJ
or email letters@birdwatch.co.uk
www.facebook.com/birdwatchmagazine @BirdwatchNews
Gambian
rebirds
DURING the dry season from
November to April, bush fres
are not unusual in the West
African state of The Gambia.
Indeed, farmers often use fre
as a means of burning off old
vegetation prior to planting a
new crop. But a bush fre,
whether controlled or wild,
does not always pose the
threat to wildlife that one
might expect.
In January 2013 my
Gambian guide, Dembo Sonko,
and I had been searching
without success for the iconic
Northern Carmine Bee-eater in
the countrys remote Central
and Upper River Division.
Dembo was clearly becoming
frustrated that the birds were
not favouring their usual
haunts and assumed rightly
that they were away feeding
somewhere.
We had almost given up the
search when our eyes were
drawn to plumes of smoke and
fames coming from some
grassland, which looked to be
dangerously close to a village.
As we approached, the crackle
of fre burning quickly through
dry grass became audible, but
judging by the way the villagers
carried on about their normal
tasks we realised this was
probably a deliberate and
controlled burn.
Having satisfed ourselves that
the blaze was not a danger, we
concentrated on the focks of
birds swooping and fying over the
fames. We were delighted to see
that the fock of about 40 birds
consisted of a dozen of our quarry
species, with the remaining birds
being Abyssinian Rollers and one
Rufous-crowned Roller.
As the blaze progressed across
the grassland, insects mainly
grasshoppers, crickets and
locusts rose in panic, only to be
caught by the circling rollers and
bee-eaters. We noticed that the
latter were less brave than the
former and rarely dropped below
about 30 feet above the fre,
whereas at times the rollers
seemed to fy right through the
fames in pursuit of their quarry.
I was totally transfxed by the
spectacle which would still have
held my attention if the birds
involved were common species,
but the fact that the starring role
was played by two of the most
beautiful birds in West Africa, one
of which the bee-eater is also
rare in The Gambia, made this
day very special.
Ian Misselbrook, via email
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BIRDWATCHS Steve Young
was the photographer of the
image that caused Margaret
Photographers beset by snipers
the extremely tame Great Snipe in
Yorkshire last autumn, featured in
Novembers Birdwatch.
He explains: The two twitchers
in the photo didnt sit close to the
bird it climbed out of the ditch in
which it was feeding and walked
up the bank towards them. It took
a look and then walked down the
bank again to carry on feeding.
The Great Snipe was unperturbed
by human presence, and carried
on feeding, catching worms and
occasionally fying to and from the
ditch, often running across the road
Whitworth to write in to our
December issue, complaining about
the proximity of photographers to
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A Northern Carmine Bee-
eater ees the smoke
(below), while an Abyssinian
Roller makes the best of the
groggy insects confused by
the bush res (bottom).
through birders legs to reach its
other feeding areas, such as the
caravan park or feld.
Occasionally birds behave
totally unexpectedly and this
was one of those very rare
and welcome events. Ive
seen nothing like it since the
Baillons Crake that walked
past birders feet as it fed
along the bank of a pond in a
Sunderland park in May 1989.
Visiting birders and
photographers gave the Great
Snipe a lot of respect, but
when a bird walks towards you
and then right past you, there
isnt a lot you can do.
The Spurn Great Snipe approached photographers
of its own accord. It seems unlikely that visiting
birders had much to do with its death, as it was
feeding well up until it was killed by a cat.
1401 lettersAndPhotos FIN.indd 92 12/13/2013 5:39:51 PM
Caught out?
I was very interested to read
Margaret Whitworths letter in
your December issue about the
stresses endured by the Spurn
Great Snipe (see opposite). Please
ask the people who caught the
Ruby-crowned Kinglet in a net
(page 7, December) to what extent
this helped scientifc research or
contributed to the welfare of the
bird.
If, as I suspect, it was for their
own gratifcation while stressing
out an obviously exhausted bird,
then surely this is behaviour that
should be condemned rather than
reported without comment. If you
dont have a camera good enough
to get shots in the feld then leave
the bird alone.
John Barnett, via email
Eamonn ODonnell and Steve
Wing reply: We felt it necessary
to trap the bird to get a conrmed
ID of what would be a rst record
for Ireland. With the current trend
within birdwatching that demands
good photographic evidence
before a rarity will be accepted, we
were left with little alternative. In
answer to the comment that the
bird was obviously exhausted we
would point out that the bird was
feeding quite happily and actively,
showing no signs of stress.
High praise
MY compliments on the pleasing
new look to Birdwatch. Its always
good to refresh things, even
if the existing standards are
already high.
David Mercer, via email
www.birdwatch.co.uk Birdwatch

January 2014 93
COMMENT YOUR TURN
I have always been extremely
sceptical about the estimates of
the number of birds that cats kill
(Letters, December).
Over the last 40-odd years we
have had nine cats, usually two at a
time. One of these had kittens and
it became evident within six months
that one of these was unhealthily
interested in birds. It was put down.
For all the rest, there was very little
concern with birds and casualties
were uncommon. At the worst, we
may have had a total kill of less
than one bird a month. Of even
more interest is the fact that two
years ago, we were adopted by a
stray or feral cat. This had evidently
been living wild in the countryside,
and it was with us for 18 months
until it had to be put down because
it could be unpredictably savage.
In that whole time it never caught
a single bird, but gave the small
rodents a hard time.
It would be interesting to have
the total estimated predation
quantifed as to species, and by
how much the population of each is
being affected.
Martin Woodcock, via email
I totally disagree with a
magazine that I subscribe to for
my recreation and information
being used for political activism.
I found the comments
published in the December
issue under the name of Bill
Oddie (among others) to be
both nauseating and disgusting.
While we live in a free country
with freedom of speech, we
also elect our representatives
and the comments were very
insulting to the people who
voted for them.
I have today instructed my
bank to cancel my direct debit
for my subscription to Birdwatch.
Its a shame as the magazine
had much improved its quality
of presentation recently.
David Miller, via email
IN your December issue, Graham
C Vaudin wrote about a cat collar
which he had found which had a
magnet attached. He implied that
this had been deliberately attached
by the cat owner in order to prevent
the bell ringing perhaps to make it
easier for the cat to catch birds.
Apart from the fact that removing
the bell with a pair of scissors
or pliers would be much simpler,
the magnet is actually there to let
a closed cat fap open when the
cat approaches, thus allowing it
to enter its house, and hopefully
preventing other cats getting in
(unless, of course, they are similarly
equipped).
Such hysterical prejudice
against cat
owners and
others is, I am
afraid, increasingly
prevalent in
society today.
Please let us
keep a sense of
proportion about
this topic!
Niall Ferguson,
via email
Dominic Mitchell replies:
Whether birders or not, cat
owners are understandably very
attached to their pets, while
others are equally justiably
worried about the numbers
of wild birds taken by cats.
The problem is that almost all
serious studies of cat predation
have found that domestic cats
do indeed take many millions
of birds every year, which must
have a deleterious effect on
populations in some areas. Even
those who believe their pets
only take one bird per month
on average must accept this
is still 120 over a decade, per
household. While studies have
to extrapolate to an extent,
these results have to be taken
seriously.
Support on social media for
Scottish Natural Heritage formally
objecting to a wind farm in
Sutherlands Flow Country
Ian Smith: Wind farms are a
pollution factor if placed on peat.
The carbon sink holds more CO2
than a windfarm could save over
its entire life time. A disgrace.
... and a reader posts his
unseasonal observation
Mik Webb: I have just seen 2
swallows at Pendeen Lighthouse.
11th of December! A bit late is
it not?
Birdwatchs redesign gets the
thumbs-up and inspires young
birders, Boris Johnsons airport in
the Thames Estuary looks less
likely and not all about the
shing industry is bad
@OneTrueScally: love the new
format chaps, highly recommend
to anyone who does not
subscribe. Well done :-)
#birdwatchmag
@SWARD34: Love the great
new-look mag. Some fantastic
features!
@MatthewJBruce: A steady
fow of new members @NGBirders
Looks like the piece by
@LucyMcRobert1 in
@BirdwatchNews mag is reaching
people :) #NextGenBirders
@gingercls: Great news
@BirdwatchNews: 2 areas of
Thames Estuary in Kent
protected, further confounding
plans for Boris airport
@EnergyMarine: commercial
fshing sees number of bird
species thrive throughout world
via its discards feeding them!
Join the
debate online
You can use our Facebook
page to comment on all the
latest birding news, which is
updated on a daily basis.
Follow us on Facebook
at www.facebook.com/
birdwatchmagazine and
Twitter at www.twitter.com/
BirdwatchNews to keep up
with the news, opinions and
controversies, post your own
photos and comments, bonus
competitions, and to read
interesting snippets that weve
collected from all around the
world of birding.
Cat debate continues
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Disgusted and insulted
Dominic Mitchell replies:
It would be remiss of us
as a magazine supporting
conservation to let David
Camerons claim to be the
greenest government ever go
unchallenged in the face of so
many bad policies for wildlife. It
is simplistic to try and separate
politics from conservation
instead, why not debate the
issues that concern you with
other readers?
Bob Flood and Ashley Fisher
stood in the rain trying to see a
late-October Paddyeld Warbler
on St Agnes, near to Paul Dukes
house. Taking pity on them, he
brought out a pot of tea and
some jammy dodger biscuits.
Revived, they stuck it out and
eventually saw the bird.
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COMMENT MURMURATIONS
Even the more commonplace species
refused to hang around for more than half an
hour, excepting of course the Peninnis Snow
Bunting, which was trodden on daily. And
lets not forget about the chap who broadcast
loud and clear: Calling all birders, (a phrase
strictly reserved for a mega) the turtle dove
is still showing well. The only exception was
the Sora and then another one turned up.
By the third week of October, such was the
feeling of suspicion and vexation that I wouldnt
have dared to claim a Red-legged Partridge
on Tresco not without 20 photographs, ve
eyewitnesses and a DNA sample.
At times the evening bird-log was on
the edge of descending into anarchy. The
cynicism in the air was palpable when
someone claimed the Purple Heron a week
after general wisdom accepted that it had
gone, and whats that I hear you say about an
Olive-backed Pipit? I know Im not alone in
raising an eyebrow at the St Agnes Whites
Thrush incident, either.
Regardless, and I fear Im in a minority, I
had a truly wonderful time on Scilly and Ill
be back again next year. I experienced the
greatest wildlife moments of my life actually
the greatest moments of my life on two of
Joe Penders of-island boat trips, with a bow-
riding Common Dolphin only inches from
my ngertips.
On top of that, a Scilly Shrew
scurried over my hand. The moths were
phenomenal: Deaths-head, Convolvulus and
Hummingbird Hawkmoths were ticks for me,
with the rst involving the rather amusing
and unsavoury necessity of peering at a
primary school window with binoculars.
If you go to Scilly just for the birds, then a
bad year like this is understandably of-
putting, and bloody expensive to boot. If you
go for the Scilly experience, however the
wildlife, the banter, the boat trips, the sunshine
then the intoxicating simplicity of the place
is still magical and addictive. So please go
again next year if its up to me to nd the
rarity, then Scilly really is doomed. And no one
will believe me anyway.
Lucy McRobert returns in the March
issue.
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Birders had
never known
a Scilly like it:
more dips than
a KFC variety
bucket

T
here was a bit of a theme this
year on Scilly: everyone would
wander around listlessly for the
morning, gazing forlornly at Water
Rails and Jack Snipe, enthusing
about views of Yellow-browed
Warbler, and lamenting the lack of a rarity or
two to colour that evenings conversation. At
least once a day youd hear some optimistic
birder chirp: But Ive had fantastic views of
Wryneck! And Im sure someone spent an
afternoon counting gannets.
Then our handheld radios would crackle into
life and the atmosphere would electrify. A small
scrum would ensue and we would descend on
the relevant island, eld, beach or churchyard,
where we would stand around for a few hours,
scrutinising Common Chifchafs, Robins,
Wrens, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes. Then
someone would take their trousers of.
Finally, after some indenite amount of
time, the rst murmurings of discontent
and impatience would start, culminating
in that most depressing of phrases: No
further sign.
Most birders had never known a Scilly
like it: more dips than a KFC variety bucket.
Birds were missed by hours, minutes or even
seconds. Those who did see the goodies
mostly had untickable views, and a growing
atmosphere of doubt would descend. Single
observer records became the norm; showing
well turned to ight views only, denite
became probable, possible and then (cue
collective sigh) unconrmed.
Vague descriptions would be analysed
and challenged, ight paths retraced. The
more stoic would remain rm, leaning on
scopes and fervently scanning, while the
rest (arguably those with sense) would retire
disillusioned to the nearest caf.
Tripod attack
I witnessed intelligent birders beating bushes
with tripods in frustration, as the Grey-cheeked
Thrush did its daily 30-second excursion
around the churchyard. Fully grown adults
sulked in the corners of hides, trying to enjoy
the sight of two frolicking Eurasian Wigeon,
while a few miles ofshore a Pterodroma petrel
skirted past the Scillonian III.
LUCY McROBERT
No further sign
The annual Scilly season was disappointing for some this year but, says
new columnist Lucy McRobert, it really depends on your perspective.
Will Wagstaff
and Tim Elms
manage to not
tread on the
Peninnis Snow
Bunting.
94 Birdwatch

January 2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk


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www.birdwatch.co.uk World of Birds

2014 3
CONTENTS
4 Home run
Great holiday options for the stay-
at-home birder.
8 Birding on Aphrodites island
Europe and the Middle East meet
on Cyprus.
11 Paradise islands
Trinidad and Tobago have a
Neotropical niche of their own.
15 One in a million
Few other locations can match
Madagascar for endemic diversity.
18 Heart of the jungle
Bengal Florican and more in
Nepals Chitwan National Park.
20 More than meets the eye
Penguins are not the only
attraction on the Falklands.
22 Reader holidays
Shetland is our featured tour, plus
Estonia, Holland and the Azores.
Cover: Trinidad Motmot, one of two species
endemic to Trinidad and Tobago. Above:
Ruby-Topaz Hummingbird, another gem
found in these superb Neotropical islands.
Contents
Central to the appeal of a much-anticipated birding holiday is
the prospect of something new. Whether at home or abroad, new
experiences and, ideally, new species are the benchmarks by which
we all judge such trips. If the species we see happen to be genuinely
rare as well, perhaps even endemic, then so much the better.
For these reasons this years World of Birds supplement our
21st annual edition focuses squarely on the theme A world of their own.
Whether its the extraordinary and endangered Bengal Florican in the grasslands
of Nepal, the exotic endemics of Madagascar, a unique wheatear and warbler
in Cyprus, the windswept avifauna of the wild South Atlantic or the tropical
attractions of Trinidad and Tobago, all the overseas destinations in this issue
have been carefully chosen for the special birds and experiences they ofer.
With the prospect of such exciting overseas adventures its sometimes easy
to overlook the appeal of birding closer to home, but there is of course also
much to enjoy on our own doorstep. As well as all the ideas in the main issue
for maximising your birding year in Britain and Ireland in 2014, we begin this
supplement with a special look at some of the most productive destinations
around these islands for memorable birding moments. From the spectacle of
wintering goose ocks in Norfolk to Speyside specialities and vagrant-hunting
in Irelands wild west, holidaying at home has much to recommend it too. Use
all of the ideas in this supplement and the contact points for specialist tour
companies to help plan your special birding holidays for the year ahead.
11
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Published by Warners Group Publications 2014
World of Birds is published by Warners Group Publications. No part of this
magazine may be reproduced, copied or stored in a retrieval system without the
prior permission in writing of the publisher. The views expressed are not
necessarily those of Warners Group Publications or its staff. No liability can be
accepted for any loss or damage to material submitted, however caused.
This publication is
printed by Warners
01778 395111
Managing Editor: Dominic Mitchell
Sub-Editor: Rebecca Armstrong
Staff Writer: David Callahan
Head of Design: Lynn Wright
Office Manager: Heather OConnor
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Publisher: Rob McDonnell
Advertisement Sales Manager:
Ian Lycett (020 8881 0550)
Marketing Manager:
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Birdwatch
WOB14 contents.indd 3 12/13/2013 6:18:56 PM
4 World of Birds

2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk
the belt could lead to a greater
appreciation of these close-to-home
destinations for both species and
spectacle. There are other advantages,
too: you can speak the language, you
won't get charged excess on your
optics, you won't need jabs, there will
be no jet lag and the exchange rate
is negligible you just get in your
car (or carriage, seat or cabin) and
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B
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forefront of many birders
minds as the new year starts,
but post-Christmas, and in nancially
austere times, our choices may be
limited to the home front rather than
an exotic location.
Luckily the British Isles are well
known for their world-class birding
sites, and perhaps a tightening of
Home run
David Callahan takes a look at
some of the great holiday options
available in Britain and Ireland
for the stay-at-home birder.
The north Norfolk coast is
a must for huge ocks of
wintering wildfowl.
concentrate on the birding. All the
regions mentioned below will have
afordable and presentable B&Bs
and hotels locatable online, while
transport costs will depend on your
means and preferred mode.
The major British preoccupation
is the weather, and so it is with
birding: regionally, many of our sites
are best chosen according to season
DESTINATIONS

Luckily the British
Isles are well known
for their world-class
birding sites

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Lapland Bunting is a scarce winter
visitor to the north Norfolk coast; a trip
in January or February could deliver
this desirable species.
WOB14 stay put FIN.indd 4 12/12/2013 17:56
www.birdwatch.co.uk World of Birds

2014 5

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and White-fronted Geese will also be
present in the area.
A local base will enable productive
searching for winter passerines such as
Shore Lark, Twite and Lapland and
Snow Buntings, and leave you in pole
position for the numerous reserves in
the region, all of which are bird rich
in winter.
If you still havent scratched your
goose itch, then visit the Yare Valley
to the south for the regular ock
of Taiga Bean Geese, while a few
individuals of Tundra Bean may be
detected among the hordes further
north (see pages 45-52 in the January
2014 issue of Birdwatch for help on
separating these two similar species).
Ideas for spring
The rst signs of spring may turn a
birders attention elsewhere when it
comes to a break (though Norfolk will
withstand a visit at any time of the year).
Early to mid-spring on the Outer
Hebrides should pay of. Barnacle
and Greenland White-fronted Geese
still linger. Notable skua passage builds
up through the season (with the two
scarcer species occurring mostly in
mid-late May), along with the chance
of White-billed Diver and the other
Britains largest
grouse, a displaying
Capercaillie is an
arresting sight. Head
to Scotland in April.
Gavia species in March and April.
The islands are a stronghold for
Corncrake and birds will be arriving
from late April, when the vegetation
is still short enough to aford the
odd sighting as well as hearing the
bizarre rasping call. Add to this the
presence of Golden Eagle and other
Scottish specialities and a spring visit
is certainly enticing.
For the full suite of Scottish
residents, however, a spring visit to
Speyside and the Cairngorms
is a must. Early April will net you
displaying and nesting Black Grouse,
Capercaillie and with luck all three
crossbills. Most of these plus scarce
summer visitors including Dotterel will
be possible in the Highlands in May.
Wales also has mountains, of
course, and most of our upland and
woodland visitors and breeders can
be seen come the end of spring and
beginning of summer. Snowdonia
will be alive with the sounds of
Red Grouse, Whinchat, Northern
Wheatear and Ring Ouzel, while
the broadleaved woods will ring with
singing Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher
and Common Redstart. Tick them
of on a day trip or really soak up the
atmosphere with a prolonged stay.
to maximise the potential birding
opportunities.
Winter wanderers
With migration a distant memory,
it is winter spectacle that lures most
birders out into the cold, and our
internationally important ocks of
wintering geese will certainly provide
this. You may have it in mind to
see the hordes of Snow Geese in
Manitoba, but such sights can be
matched in north Norfolk by Pink-
footed Geese (ocks of which have
been known to include the occasional
Snow Goose anyway, as well as the
odd wandering Rosss).
While there are Pink-feet present
over much of the north Norfolk
coastal strip, perhaps the prime site
is the Holkham and Wells area. The
best viewing is from lay-bys on the
A149 coast road.
January and February hold the peak
numbers, which can nudge 10,000
in a good year. The majority will
be Pink-footed Geese from Iceland
and Greenland, but large numbers
of Dark-bellied Brent Geese from
coastal Siberia also rove the coastal
grass, very occasionally with a vagrant
Black Brant or two among them,
Catch up
with a singing
Nightingale on
a spring trip to
Dorset.
WOB14 stay put FIN.indd 5 12/12/2013 17:56
6 World of Birds

2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk
Summer specialities
Late May into June is the best time
to get those species limited to our
southern counties, in particular
summer migrants. A Dorset base
could be good to get these, as the
county has plenty of prime birding
sites, while excursions could take
you to see Cirl Bunting in Devon,
rare herons on the Somerset Levels,
Nightingale on the doorstep and
all manner of scarcities and rarities
picked up by the news services.
Dont ignore southern wetlands
in late summer, either, as they are
highly productive for the wader
watcher and it is still possible to
locate most of our mid-year visitors
with a little efort.
Autumn daze
The attentions of most birders
lock on to passage species come
the autumn, and there will be plenty
of visible migration, as well as the
chance of exciting rarities.
Irelands west coast ofers
numerous sites to explore for the
prospective rarity-nder, particularly
for American waders early in the
season and passerines later on. The
lack of phone reception in some places
can be frustrating, but that only adds
to the pioneering atmosphere of a
week or two in counties Mayo, Galway,
Clare or Kerry, and the landscape is
satisfyingly rural and green, too.
The real Mecca for rarities, though,
is Shetland, which seems to have
eclipsed Scilly for the British lister
during the last decade, and the
grand mosque for worship there is
Fair Isle. Though often booked up in
advance, there are sometimes rooms
and deals available for late September
and October, and for those wanting
to get desirable Sibes on their
British list, this is the place to go. A
good autumn will get you plenty of
Continental scarcities and perhaps
even a rst for Britain; Fair Isle has
hosted plenty of these in the past.
Dont think that the rest of
Shetland has nothing to ofer,
though. The Northern Isles receive
an unfair share of Britains most-
desired species every year, and
basing your stay on Mainland with
its accessible airport, harbour and
car hire rms will enable you to nd
your own birds or respond to mega
alerts promptly.
Wherever you end up taking your
staycation, a judiciously timed and
chosen location in Britain or Ireland
should supply you with birding
memories aplenty, perhaps a few
life ticks, and maybe even a bank
account in the black.

The real Mecca for autumn rarities is Shetland

DESTINATIONS
The Outer Hebrides (main
photo) should deliver
divers in spring, perhaps
including White-billed
(below) if timed right.
Cirl Bunting is impossible to
locate away from its Devon
stronghold; combine with a
trip to Dorset for a range of
local specialities.
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WOB14 stay put FIN.indd 6 12/12/2013 17:57
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8 World of Birds

2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk
A WORLD OF THEIR OWN CYPRUS
But these species would be more
of an added bonus for visitors, as
there are a host of other easier-to-
see resident birds which are hard to
nd elsewhere in Europe, including
Chukar, Black Francolin, Long-legged
Buzzard, Bonellis Eagle, Spur-winged
Lapwing and Audouins Gull.
Special species
The two breeding endemics are also
easy to nd. Cyprus Warbler is present
throughout the year, although some
do leave the island in winter, and
the breeding population is declining
rapidly in the west of the island.
Cyprus Wheatear is a fairly ubiquitous
summer visitor, present from mid-
March to early October, being
particularly common around the hill
villages, foothills and forest edges.
The upland pine forests also host
a number of endemic breeding
subspecies: Cyprus Wren, Cyprus Coal
Tit, Dorothys Treecreeper and Cyprus
Jay, all of which are easily found.
Cyprus Scops Owl, which will surely
be split as a new species in the future,
occurs widely in the foothills and lightly
wooded areas throughout the island.
It is often missed by visiting birders:
secretive and small, it is easy to overlook
Hard to see regionally, Demoiselle Crane uses
Cyprus as a stopover point in the autumn.
The island is home to Cyprus Wheatear
(right) and Cyprus Warbler (far right), both
of which are breeding endemics. They are
relatively easy to catch up with during the
summer months.
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ituated on a migration
crossroads, Cyprus is a great
birding destination which hosts
several breeding endemics. A member
state of the European Union, the
island is in the south-eastern corner
of the Mediterranean Sea, just 40
miles south of the Turkish coast and
65 miles west of the Syrian mainland.
So it should be no surprise to learn
that this is one of the few European
countries where Bateleur, Little Swift,
Dunns and Bar-tailed Larks, Blyths
Pipit and Grey Hypocolius have been
recorded.
Birding on
Aphrodites
island
Is Cyprus in Europe
or the Middle East?
Both, according to
Colin Richardson, and
thats part of its special
birding appeal.
when sitting deep in tree branches
in the daytime. However, it is easy
to locate after dark when its echoing
double-call will lead you straight to it.
Another priority is Demoiselle
Crane, a hard-to-see regional species
which makes a stopover every
autumn. Flocks arrive during a very
narrow window between the last
week in August and the rst week in
September. The best place to see them
is at the Akrotiri Salt Lake. Numbers
of this graceful species are declining,
so instead of the hundreds that used to
occur, only tens are seen these days.
Migration station
Spring is the best time to visit Cyprus;
March to mid-May is peak passage
and produces a satisfying selection of
migrants and summer visitors. Some
of the rst regulars to arrive are the
challenging array of Yellow Wagtail
subspecies, occasionally including
the hybrid forms superciliaris and
dombrowskii, and breeding visitors
such as Great Spotted Cuckoo,
Masked Shrike and Cretzschmar's
Bunting.
Then the migrant wheatears
arrive Isabelline, Northern and
Eastern Black-eared with interesting
WOB14 8-9 cyprus FIN.indd 8 12/12/2013 18:17
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Visiting
Cyprus Tourism: phone 00 357 22 691
100; email cytour@visitcyprus.com; www.
visitcyprus.com.
Birding North Cyprus: phone 00 903 92 224
0850; email cypruswildlifeecology@gmail.com;
www.cypruswildlifeecology.wordpress.com.
Further reading
The Birds of Cyprus by Peter R Flint and Peter
Stewart order at www.birdwatch.co.uk/
store.
Finding Birds in Southern Cyprus by Dave
Gosney order at www.birdwatch.co.uk/
store.
Birding resources
BirdLife Cyprus: phone 00 357 22 455 072;
email birdlifecyprus@birdlifecyprus.org.cy;
www.birdlifecyprus.org.
Cyprus Birds, for photos of birds recorded in
the country: www.cyprusbirds.com.
Nature of Cyprus, for all wildlife recorded on
the island: www.natureofcyprus.org.
i
Cyprus
warblers such as Rppells, Eastern
Subalpine, Eastern Orphean, Barred
and Eastern Bonellis. Among all this
standard fare its possible to nd a
semi-rarity: Baillons Crake, Caspian
Plover, Cream-coloured Courser,
Pallass Gull, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater,
Bimaculated Lark, Desert Wheatear,
Rock Thrush, Olive-tree Warbler,
Eastern Cinereous Bunting and more
occur almost every year.
By late April the air is full of the calls
of European Bee-eaters, while Red-
rumped Swallows and Alpine Swifts
pour in of the sea. European Rollers
start occupying nest holes inland, while
wires and telegraph poles host perching
Lesser Kestrels and Red-footed
Falcons. The coastal clifs see their rst
Eleonoras Falcons in mid-April, while
the wetlands of Akrotiri and Larnaca
often attract Broad-billed Sandpipers
and Red-necked Phalaropes.
Autumn in Cyprus is greatly
underrated. Migration starts early,
in the heat of the summer, when
thousands of Lesser Grey, Red-
backed and Masked Shrikes start
appearing from late July. Demoiselle
Cranes pass over the island from
late August, formations often ying
over the Akamas region in the late
afternoon. They herald the beginning
of raptor passage in September, when
thousands of Honey Buzzards, joined
by Black Kites, Steppe Buzzards and
the occasional Booted, Short-toed and
Lesser Spotted Eagle, appear.
Where to go
There are so many good places to
bird. Starting in the west with Paphos,
check the lighthouse area for migrants,
then move east to Paphos plain, which
includes the irrigated elds around
the airport and sewage plant, then
to Mandria and the famous Lark
Corner, named for its ploughed elds
which pull in unusual larks such as
Bimaculated and Lesser Short-toed.
Further east, about half way
along the south coast, is the Akrotiri
Peninsula. The salt lake has hosted
up to 10,000 Greater Flamingos and
the surrounding wetlands including
Phasouri and Zakaki merit a full days
visit. Larnaca and Oroklini have a
range of diferent species at their
pools and marshes, and the latter has
a large salt lake.
If you enjoy watching dynamic
migration, visit Cape Greco, the most
easterly point on the south coast. Its
thick scrub and open coastline is a
great place to nd tired migrants and
is easily worked by birders. Audouins
Gulls pass regularly and Spectacled
Warbler is resident in large numbers.
This area is also popular with bird
poachers so if you see anything
suspicious immediately call the police.
The Karpas Peninsula, or the Pan
Handle, is the most easterly region,
in the Turkish-occupied north. It is
accessible by showing your passport at
one of the discrete border posts and
paying an insurance fee for your car.
Karpasia is an area of exceptional
beauty and greatly underwatched by
birders. This long, undeveloped nger
of cereal elds and light woodland
attracts great ocks of birds in spring
and is worth a visit if time permits.
Colin Richardson is chairman of the
BirdLife Cyprus Rarities Committee and
former editor of the Cyprus Bird Report.
If you have any questions about Cyprus
birding please contact him at Richar@
cytanet.com.cy.
Cape Greco on the south coast is an excellent place to watch migration in action.
WOB14 8-9 cyprus FIN.indd 9 12/12/2013 18:17
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p10.indd 1 11/12/2013 16:12
www.birdwatch.co.uk World of Birds

2014 11
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Paradise islands
Caribbean in character but lying close to northern South America, Trinidad and
Tobago occupy a Neotropical niche all of their own. Dominic Mitchell went in
search of a mega-rare endemic and much more.
was pointless. Is there a realistic
chance? Every birder knows nothing
is guaranteed, but then every birder
also has species they are determined
to see. Here on Trinidad, mine was
the countrys eponymous piping guan.
And in the back of my mind was
the parting shot from a friend whod
visited before but not seen the islands
most-wanted endemic: You can
forget that no one ever sees it.
Diplomatically, Mukesh, my guide,
made positive noises but emphasised
how dif cult Trinidad Piping Guan, or
Pawi in local parlance, can be to nd.
Classied as Critically Endangered
by BirdLife International, its world
population of fewer than 250
individuals perhaps many fewer is
still occasionally persecuted for the pot,
and now restricted to a few forested
fragments around the island.
We eventually reached one of
them, our arrival being greeted
by the repetitive hoop-ing call of a
Ferruginous Pygmy Owl. As we took
up position and the rst glow of light
began to brighten the sky, raucous
Orange-winged Parrots noisily started
departing their roosts.
We scanned the distant tree-tops
back and forth, searching for signs
of movement as the light slowly
improved. For such big birds Trinidad
Piping Guans can be surprisingly
hard to pick out, creeping about deep
within the canopy of trees as they feed.
But then it happened: a suggestion of
a movement. I waited. There again.
I called Mukesh over and we both
T
his is it, I thought. Last day.
One chance. We left behind the
dim illuminations of the lodge
and their attendant moths, crunched
quietly along the pitch-black entrance
track, then hit the tarmac to begin
our descent of the Northern Range.
It was unfeasibly early, but there were
several hours of driving to get under
our belts before sunrise.
I had to ask, even though asking
A WORLD OF THEIR OWN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Classied as Critically Endangered,
Trinidad Piping Guan is notoriously
difcult to see, but this individual
obligingly posed for photos.
Recently split from Blue-crowned, Trinidad
Motmot is the islands other endemic
bird species, though it is easier to nd in
neighbouring Tobago.
WOB14 11-13 trinidad FIN.indd 11 12/12/2013 18:26
12 World of Birds

2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk
stared intently, until nally a large
bird broke cover. Yes! The head of
an extraordinary-looking creature
emerged from the foliage and began
delicately plucking and swallowing
berries, its bare pale face, blue wattle
and erect crest appearing almost
prehistoric. There is no mistaking the
near-mythical Trinidad Piping Guan.
Hummingbirds for breakfast
As we watched over the next 30
minutes, the bird proved to be the
rst of several in this productive area
of forest edge, which also gave up the
likes of Trinidad Euphonia (not an
endemic, despite its name), Red-legged,
Purple and Green Honeycreepers, Blue
Dacnis, Spectacled Thrush and Cocoa
Woodcreeper.
Feeling sated and with the pressure
of, we moved on to another more
open patch of forest, only to
encounter further Pawis, this time
at closer range. One even posed for
photos, and by the time we had to
leave my wildest expectations had
been exceeded the minimum total
was 11 diferent birds, probably
several more. Mukesh declared it one
of his best experiences of the species
in all his years of guiding.
We worked our way back to base
at the Asa Wright Nature Centre and
Lodge, delighted with the mornings
haul. It was the highlight of a trip
already full of memorable moments.
Many had come within Asa Wrights
own extensive grounds, including the
unique experience of standing in a
stream at the mouth of a darkened
rocky chasm, peering into the gloom
as Oilbirds moaned, screeched and
peered back. These large, nocturnal
frugivores use echolocation to navigate
in the dark, and like the piping guan
also seem somehow prehistoric, having
existed in Trinidads remote caves for
untold thousands of years.
Even the routine birding was
exceptional at Asa Wright, where
mornings began on the balcony
as the mist lifted of the forest and
hummingbirds, honeycreepers
and tanagers arrived en masse for
breakfast. Long-term provision of
sugar-water and fruit has made the
immediate vicinity of the centre
a haven for a huge range of
species. It was extraordinary
to watch the likes of Green
and Rufous-breasted Hermits,
Tufted Coquette, White-
chested Emerald, White-lined,
Silver-beaked and Turquoise
A WORLD OF THEIR
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Tanagers, Great Kiskadee and
Spectacled Thrush at little more
than arms length. On a couple of
occasions the islands other endemic
bird, the recently split Trinidad
Motmot, appeared briey to feed.
Nearby, trails through the forest
produced a diferent range of birds,
including superb views of Bearded
Bellbird as it tolled its monotonous
clonking song. Golden-headed
Manakins performed bizarre
manoeuvres at a special
viewpoint nearby, while
directly along the main trail
a Common Potoo roosted
motionless atop a broken
tree trunk, as if glued to the
spot.
Although some distance
from the centre, Caroni
Oilbirds forage at night, using echolocation
in the same way as bats.
While currently
classied as Least
Concern, the world
population of the
uncommon Long-
winged Harrier is
declining.
WOB14 11-13 trinidad FIN.indd 12 12/12/2013 18:27
A WORLD OF THEIR OWN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
www.birdwatch.co.uk World of Birds

2014 13
nearby. My best wetland nd here was
a party of Masked Ducks, while on the
coast nearby single Lesser Black-backed
and Black-headed Gulls among ocks
of Royal, Cabots and Cayenne Terns
were unexpected reminders of home.
Elsewhere on the island I beneted
from the expert guidance of local
ornithologist Newton George, whose
garden produced an excellent range of
hummingbirds including Ruby-Topaz,
unusually showy Barred Antshrikes
and easily the best views I had of the
endemic Trinidad Motmot, which is
much easier to nd on Tobago.
One afternoon we went across to
Little Tobago, where Magnicent
Frigatebirds hung on air currents
just above our heads and Red-billed
Tropicbirds sat on ramshackle nest
scrapes by the path, oblivious to our
presence just inches away. A particular
highlight was watching an Audubons
Shearwater in its nest burrow, but far
rarer was the Scaly-naped Pigeon a
vagrant from elsewhere in the Lesser
Antilles found by Newton soon after
we landed.
On my last day of the trip we also
birded Tobagos forested interior,
where the likes of Venezuelan
Flycatcher, Olivaceous Woodcreeper,
Plain Antvireo, Rufous-breasted Wren
and Yellow-legged and White-necked
Thrushes were all additions to the trip
list. It was another reminder that both
of these bird-rich islands have their
own unique attractions. Miss either at
your peril.
Visiting
Trinidad and Tobago Tourist Board:
gotrinidadandtobago.com.
Fly direct to Tobago on Monarch Airlines
(www.monarch.co.uk); connecting fights
to Trinidad on Caribbean Airlines (www.
caribbean-airlines.com) take just 25
minutes.
Trinidads Asa Wright Nature Centre and
Lodge (www.asawright.org; email asawright@
tstt.net.tt) is top priority on any itinerary.
The Magdalena Grand Beach Resort (www.
magdalenagrand.com; email: reservations@
magdalenagrand.com) is the perfect base in
western Tobago, close to the airport and with
excellent birds on the doorstep.
Further reading
Field Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and
Tobago by Martin Kenefck, Robin Restall and
Floyd Hayes (Christopher Helm, 2008).
A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago
by Richard French and John P ONeill (Cornell
University Press, 2012).
A Birdwatchers Guide to Trinidad & Tobago
by William L Murphy (Prion, 2004).
Birding resources
As well as birding on its extensive property,
the Asa Wright Nature Centre can arrange
guided excursions to other areas of Trinidad
(contact details as above).
On Tobago, local tour guide Newton George
is recommended (www.newtongeorge.com;
email: newton@newtongeorge.com).
Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists Club:
http://ttfnc.org.
Download an Avibase T&T checklist from
www.bit.ly/bw259TTchecklist.
i
Trinidad and Tobago
sounded by those raucous chachalacas,
while Wattled Jacanas and Azure and
American Purple Gallinules stalked
the lily pads on ornamental ponds
near the road. One such pool held a
surprisingly large American Alligator,
which showed no interest in me or the
dozens of Southern Lapwings standing
Swamp is another unmissable
experience. A late afternoon boat trip
will produce the extraordinary sight
of thousands of Scarlet Ibises ying
in to roost, turning the lush green
mangroves temporarily scarlet and
pink as adults and immatures line up
alongside parties of herons and egrets.
Another wetland gave up stunning
views of the uncommon Long-winged
Harrier. My nal evening on the island
saw me accompany Dave, another Asa
Wright guide, to savannah habitat to
net such exciting new birds as Pinnated
Bittern, White-tailed Nightjar, Tropical
Screech-Owl and the diminutive
Green-rumped Parrotlet.
Island hopping
Its a very short ight east to Tobago,
but Trinidads smaller neighbour feels
quite diferent both in character and
in birds. Curiously, while Trinidad
boasts the lions share of the combined
bird list of 477 species for both islands,
and has exclusive rights on the piping
guan, Tobago has its own set of birds
not shared with the larger island. These
include Rufous-vented Chachalaca,
its national bird, the Near Threatened
White-tailed Sabrewing, an otherwise
range-restricted Venezuelan speciality,
Blue-backed Manakin and some 70 or
so other species.
I was based at the Magdalena Grand
Hotel near the west end of the island,
where extensive grounds provided
the perfect introduction to Tobagos
birds. The early morning alarm was
Far left: the south-
easternmost island
in the Caribbean,
Tobago is home to
a range of unique
plant and animal
species, as well as
one of the two local
endemic birds.
Left: the Purple
Honeycreeper
found on Trinidad
is recognised as an
endemic subspecies
one of 36 unique
to the islands.
WOB14 11-13 trinidad FIN.indd 13 12/12/2013 18:28
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p14.indd 1 11/12/2013 16:14
www.birdwatch.co.uk World of Birds

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One in a million
For a truly unique birding destination, and birds youll see nowhere else,
few have the otherworldliness of Madagascar, an endemic island hot-spot
off East Africa in the Indian Ocean, says David Callahan.

A WORLD OF THEIR OWN MADAGASCAR


Several of
Madagascars
unique bird
species are
highly range
restricted.
Subdesert Mesite
(left) is found
only in a small
lowland region in
the south-west,
while Long-tailed
Ground-roller
(below) is
endemic to arid
spiny forests near
the coast, again
in the south-
west.
2 Mad 1 732 Subdesert Mesite_Andrew
Moon LR.tif
breeding species of the latter, too),
while Cuckoo-roller is in its own family
(though the Grand Comoro subspecies
is sometimes split); it is also related to
true rollers and appears to be a very
primitive form of that order. Asities
are a very distinctive subfamily of the
broadbill family, sometimes considered
to be a true family, which resemble
sunbirds somewhat (endemic sunbirds
are also present on the island).
Perhaps most intriguing of all are
the vangas, which demonstrate an
evolutionary radiation comparable to
the Hawaiian honeycreepers. In fact,
several vanga species were believed to
be warblers, ycatchers and babblers
until very recently, though most
resemble shrikes. Species include
Nuthatch Vanga, an analogue for
its familiar namesake; Sickle-billed
Vanga, which approximates an
Asian spiderhunter; and the bizarre
Helmet Vanga, which has a bright
blue hornbill-like beak. Madagascar
is also home to the 11 species of the
M
adagascar has been isolated
for 88 million years, and
it should come as no
surprise that this lengthy period has
enabled it to evolve a minimum of
105 extant endemic bird species,
with further unique subspecies (and
several splits perhaps in the of ng).
Add to this hundreds of species of
unique amphibians, reptiles and
mammals and you can see why the
island is an absolute must visit for
both the world birder and those with
an interest in all natural history.
The avifauna is striking and
individual, with seven families or
subfamilies (and numerous genera)
found only in this region: mesites,
couas, ground-rollers, cuckoo-
rollers, asities, vangas and Malagasy
warblers. Mesites are one of those
odd bird families that are incertae sedis
and appear to have af nities with
both pheasants and cranes, as well
the freakish Kagu and Sunbittern.
Couas are turaco-like members of
the cuckoo family related to the
Asian ground-cuckoos. Ground-
rollers are related to the true rollers,
as well as kingshers and bee-eaters
(Madagascar has its own endemic
WOB14 15-17 madagascar FIN.indd 15 12/12/2013 18:20
16 World of Birds

2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk
Malagasy warbler family, members
of which were formerly classied
variously as bulbuls, babblers and true
warblers, but which also appear to have
diferentiated within the island itself.
Hunting endemics
Madagascar can be divided into several
distinct ecological and geographical
zones, most of which will have to be
visited if all the endemic species are to
be seen. Little of the islands ancient
vegetation remains, and many unique
animal species including birds have
disappeared with it.
Some original evergreen humid
forest remains on the eastern lowlands,
while the western side of the island
is dominated by dry deciduous trees.
Dry limestone-tolerant scrub and forest
remains in part in the south, while there
is isolated marshland and mangrove
forests on all coasts, along with largely
man-made savannah, uplands and
secondary growth in the centre.
Most visitors arrive in Antananarivo,
the capital, via the international
airport. Within driving distance is
Ranomafana, a rainforest national
park in which some of the ground-
rollers, Brown Mesite and three asities
can be found, among other species.
A central base isnt really possible
on such a large island, but there are
lodges available in some of the
parks (including Ranomafana) and
camping is also possible if you dont
mind roughing it a little. The reserve at
Perinet is probably the most famous on
the island, and can deliver many hard-
to-get species such as Scaly Ground-
roller and Collared Nightjar.
Continuing south, taking in a site or
two for Bensons Rock Thrush, many
birders head towards the unique
spiny forests around Didierea, and the
bird-rich coast the arid land holds
the regionally endemic Subdesert
Mesite and Long-tailed Ground-roller
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among others. Also in the south is
Berenty reserve, created to preserve
several lemur species but also home to
striking birds including Giant Coua
and Red-tailed Newtonia, one of
the distinct insect-eaters similar but
unrelated to our own warbler families.
Other scarce specialities in the region
are Van Dams Vanga and the often
conding Madagascar Crested Ibis.
Rocking the thrushes
There are a number of unique birds
to the north, too. It is certainly worth
visiting the Masoala Peninsula in the
north-east for the outlandish Helmet
Vanga and the obscure and retiring
Slender-billed Fluftail, a tiny rail
species. Many birders no longer want
to make the trek to the extreme north
to see Amber Mountain Rock Thrush,
found solely on its namesake mountain,
since it has recently been lumped with
Forest Rock Thrush. I found the trip
worthwhile, though, and there are

Perhaps the most
intriguiging birds of all
are the vangas

The stunning Red Fody is found


only in the Madagascar region.
Ifaty spiny forest (left) is the
only easily accessible area for
a number of rare endemics,
including Crested Coua (right).
Vangas are found only on Madagascar and
the Comoros, with Helmet Vanga restricted
to lowland and lower montane rainforests
of north-eastern Madagascar.
WOB14 15-17 madagascar FIN.indd 16 12/12/2013 18:21
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A WORLD OF THEIR OWN MADAGASCAR
www.birdwatch.co.uk World of Birds

2014 17
Visiting
Consulate General of Madagascar: phone
00 27 21 674 7238; email madaconsgen@
infodor.co.za; www.madagascarconsulate.org.
za/tour.html.
Madagascar National Tourism Board: phone
00 261 20 22 661 15; www.madagascar-
tourisme.com.
Madagascar National Parks: phone 00 261 20
22 415 38; email contact@madagascar.national.
parks.mg; www.parcs-madagascar.com.
Further reading
Birds of Africa Vol VIII: Birds of the Malagasy
Region by Frank Hawkins and Roger Safford
order at www.birdwatch.co.uk/store.
Birding resources
Asity Madagascar, BirdLife partner:
www.asitymadagascar.org.
Wild Madagascar provides information on the
islands wildlife: www.wildmadagascar.org.
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Madagascar
The best of Scottish birding
W: www.heatherlea.co.uk E: info@heatherlea.co.uk T: 01479 821248
The best of World birding
A Birdwatch reader holiday partner again in 2014.
Small, personal groups led by expert guides.
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Fully inclusive holidays with all guiding, travel,
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many sites to the north where you can
see the more widespread avifauna,
such as Madagascar Goshawk and
Madagascar Sparrowhawk.
The uniqueness of Malagasy wildlife
has seen it become one of the major
tourist attractions in the country, and
consequently it is compulsory to hire
a guide when visiting most of the
national parks and reserves. The best
of these are booked ahead by bird
and nature tour companies, so for a
good chance of seeing the majority
of the endemic species, a tour is the
way to go. The country can be birded
solo away from the reserves, but you
will miss some species without local
knowledge and it will take you a lot
longer to locate even some of the
commoner species.
A three-week visit will provide quality,
rather than the quantity that can be
scored in many continental African
countries. About 200 species are likely,
but the majority will be unique the
island is even more singular than other
hot-spots of endemism like Hawaii and
the Galpagos, with the addition of
curiosities from the whole animal and
plant kingdoms. With a guide, even the
casual birder can see most of the bird
species, and the numerous chameleon
and gecko species, weird insects and a
slew of utterly unforgettable mammals
will make for memories you will revisit
until your dying day.
Another Malagasy endemic is
Madagascar Harrier-hawk.
WOB14 15-17 madagascar FIN.indd 17 12/12/2013 18:21
18 World of Birds

2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk
A WORLD OF THEIR OWN NEPAL
The famous Florican
Chitwans dense forests, grasslands,
rivers, swamps and lakes form a
wide array of habitats for birds.
Lying alongside the parks rivers are
numerous small patches of grassland
which are home to several globally
threatened species. These include the
spectacular Critically Endangered
bustard, Bengal Florican. The
male performs a striking breeding
display, leaping above the grassland
and bouncing in the air, like a giant
black-and-white ball. The park and
its bufer zone also support the largest
remaining population of another
globally threatened species, Slender-
billed Babbler; other populations
are in north and north-east India.
This babbler skulks in tall grassland
and is dif cult to see except during
the breeding season, when it is more
vocal and conspicuous.
Grey-crowned Prinia and Bristled
Grassbird are two more threatened
subcontinental endemics which can be
easily seen in Chitwan. The former is a
resident that favours Themeda grassland
with scattered trees and scrubby
undergrowth, while the latter is a fairly
common summer visitor to the park.
The grassbird spends most of its time
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he most literal translation of
the Nepali words that make up
Chitwan is chit or chita (meaning
heart), and wan or ban (jungle).
Chitwan is thus the heart of the
jungle, and this meaning certainly
still holds good today.
This superb national park covers
some 360 square miles in the lush
Chitwan Valley in central Nepal, on
its southern border with India. Parsa
Wildlife Reserve extends for a further
200 or so square miles beyond its
eastern boundary. It was established
in 1973 as the rst national park in
Nepal, mainly to conserve the highly
endangered Indian Rhinoceros and
Bengal Tiger. Chitwan is also a paradise
for birds: around 550 species have been
recorded to date, representing more
than 40 per cent of the total found in
the Indian subcontinent.
The park also has an extensive
bufer zone which includes some
excellent bird localities, notably
Janakauli Community Forest close
to Sauraha at the eastern end of the
park, Barandabhar Important Bird
Area, which includes Bees Hazari Tal,
an attractive forested wetland, and
Namuna and other community forests
to the west of the park.
skulking in dense grassland, until the
breeding season, when males perform
a stunning song ight, rising about
20 m and circling widely for 10
minutes or more before descending, or
sing from exposed favourite perches.
Chitwan supports a number of
grassland specialists. Indian Grassbird,
a recently split species, only occurs
in the Indian subcontinent and is a
common resident in the park. Chitwan
is also an excellent site to nd the
resident Golden-headed Cisticola,
Yellow-bellied Prinia and Chestnut-
capped and Yellow-eyed Babblers,
while the secretive Chestnut-crowned
Bush, Dusky and Smoky Warblers
winter in tall grass near water.
Wetland profusion
The parks wetlands support a wide
array of aquatic birds. Many of these
are trans-Himalayan migrants that
only visit in winter, arriving in October
and departing again in about April,
or are only seen as they pass through
Nepal in spring and autumn. Regularly
recorded wildfowl include Ruddy
Shelduck and Bar-headed Goose.
The parks list has 36 wader species,
including the resident River Lapwing
which is common and widespread
Heart
of the
jungle
Carol Inskipp goes in
search of the special birds
of one of the natural jewels
in the Indian subcontinents
crown Nepals Chitwan
National Park.
Classied as Critcally Endangered, Bengal
Florican is the main target species at
Chitwan; there are fewer than 1,000 birds
left in the wild.
WOB14 18-19 nepal FIN.indd 18 12/12/2013 18:24
www.birdwatch.co.uk World of Birds

2014 19

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in the park, but is classied as Near
Threatened by BirdLife International,
mainly because of sharp declines in
South-East Asia.
Among the crakes and rails, Brown
and Ruddy-breasted Crakes are fairly
common residents. Recently, local bird
guides found Slaty-legged Crake nesting
in forested marshes in the park and in
the bufer zone in Namuna and other
community forests west of the park.
A number of sh-eating birds
have been recorded. These include
the fairly common Brown Fish Owl,
Grey-headed Fish Eagle, which is
most easily seen at Bees Hazari Tal,
and the rare Lesser Fish, Pallass Fish
and White-tailed Eagles.
Several kingshers are resident,
including the fairly common Stork-
billed, White-throated and Pied
Kingshers, while Blue-eared
Kingsher haunts deeply shaded,
forested streams. Storks are a regular
feature, especially Asian Openbill,
Woolly-necked and Lesser Adjutant,
which breed in the park, and
wintering Black Stork.
Much of Chitwan is forested, and
specialists of this habitat number nearly
half the bird species recorded in the
park. It provides a safe haven for Great
and Oriental Pied Hornbills which
River Lapwing
(inset) is numerous
on the rivers and
wetlands of the
park (main photo).
Visiting
Nepal Tourism Board: phone 00 977 1
4256909; email nfo@ntb.org.np;
www.welcomenepal.com.
Chitwan National Park: phone 00 91 (0)11
47094166; email rsrajindia1@gmail.com;
www.chitwannationalpark.net.
Naturetrek runs a tour to Nepal encompassing
Chitwan NP: phone 01962 733051; email
info@naturetrek.co.uk; www.naturetrek.co.uk.
Further reading
Field Guide to the Birds of Nepal by Richard
Grimmett, Carol Inskipp and Tim Inskipp
(Christopher Helm, 2000).
Birds of India: Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh,
Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives by
Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp and Tim
Inskipp (Christopher Helm, 2012).
Birding resources
Bird Conservation Nepal, BirdLife
International in Nepal: phone 00 977 1
4417805; email bcn@birdlifenepal.org;
www.birdlifenepal.org.
Birds of Nepal, an image catalogue of
species recorded in the country:
www.birdsofnepal.wordpress.com.
i
Chitwan National Park
are at risk from hunting outside the
protected area. Other forest residents
include 16 woodpecker species,
notably the diminutive White-browed
Piculet and magnicent Great Slaty
Woodpecker. Changeable Hawk-Eagle,
White-throated Bulbul, Red-headed
Trogon, Greater and Lesser
Necklaced Laughingthrushes,
Ruddy Kingsher, Long-tailed
Broadbill and Sultan Tit grace
forests in the Churia Hills.
Many forest species are
migrants. The resplendent
Hooded and Indian Pittas, Asian
Paradise Flycatcher, Blue-tailed and
Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Crow-
billed Drongo, Black Baza and several
cuckoos such as Chestnut-winged
and Jacobin are among the numerous
summer visitors.
Chitwans avifauna is swelled in
winter by many altitudinal migrants
that breed in the Himalayas and
descend to lowland and foothill
forests. These include thrushes such
as Scaly and Tickells; ycatchers
including Rufous-gorgeted and Slaty-
blue; and warblers such as Tickells,
Humes, Western Crowned and
Blyths Leaf Warblers, and Chestnut-
crowned and Yellow-bellied Warblers.
Yet more forest birds use Chitwan
only for a brief stopover on their way
to or from their breeding grounds,
and these include Dark-sided
Flycatcher and Spot-winged Starling.
The best times to visit Chitwan
are September to November and
February to April, when migration
is in full swing. April is the most
productive month, and it is easily
possible to see more than 160 species
in a day. At this time resident birds,
including the skulking grassland
species, are breeding and much
more conspicuous and vocal, spring
migration is at its peak and many
winter visitors have not yet left.
Lesser Adjutant breeds in the park. This
huge stork stands at more than a metre
high and is classied as Vulnerable.
Below: although relative easy to catch up
with in the park, Grey-crowned Prinia is
classied as Vulnerable.
WOB14 18-19 nepal FIN.indd 19 12/12/2013 18:24
20 World of Birds

2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk
A WORLD OF THEIR OWN THE FALKLANDS
the much-visited colony of 1,000
King Penguins (plus Gentoos and
Magellanics) at Volunteer Point near
Stanley to the row upon row of ufy
penguin toys in the tourist shops. You
can almost trip over them, in both
locations.
For the birder, though, penguins
wont be the whole story. You know
what to expect from them, although
admittedly, walking through a real
colony in the fresh South Atlantic air
is far more sumptuously satisfying
than seeing them on TV, and makes
you feel giddily incredulous. But what
of the supporting cast?
Star turn
There isnt much mention made of
landbirds in the brochures, but the
avian characters themselves havent
cottoned on to this and some behave
like the stars of the show. Visitors
are certain to be photo-bombed by
a perky cast, chief among which is
a female-Blackbird impersonator
known locally as the Tussacbird
(of cially Blackish Cinclodes). This
member of the Ovenbird family
(Furnariidae) is common and
widespread and utterly without
fear. It feeds at your feet like an
Blackish Cinclodes, known locally as
Tussacbird, is numerous in the Falklands.
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enguins and the Falklands
seem to go together almost
inextricably, dont they? And
just in case the connection slips your
mind, the tourist board conrms that,
yes, these ightless birds outnumber
human residents on the archipelago
by a ratio of 300 to 1.
Penguins are undoubtedly a big
draw for all tourists, both wildlife
enthusiasts and the general public.
Without them, how many would nd
this British outpost some 300 miles of
the coast of Argentina so appealing?
The birds are everywhere, from
More than
meets the
eye
The Falkland Islands are known for one
particular bird family but, says Dominic
Couzens, theres much more
to experience than those famous
fightless fippers.
over-exuberant Robin, and even
perches on the backs of the Southern
Elephant Seals, which seems to
irritate them (actually, everything
irritates them). The Falkland
archipelago is by far the easiest place
to nd this range-restricted species.
If the Tussacbirds are the court
jesters, the Striated Caracaras have
a slightly more sinister mien. They
are every bit as tame, but somewhat
more abusive leave your packed
lunch within range and they will help
themselves. They have been known to
snatch camera equipment and work at
shoelaces. If you sit down for a picnic
they will join you, like an ominous
interloper, hoping for easy pickings.
This strange behaviour is just an
extension of their foraging method.
They accompany seabird colonies
and plunder the lost and the weak,
and also take a few invertebrates.
Striated Caracaras (locals call them
by their nickname Johnny Rooks) are
so ubiquitous on some of the islands
that it is hard to believe they are
actually very rare and classied as
Near Threatened, with a total world
population restricted to the Falkland
archipelago and some rocky shores
and islands on the mainland. They
The Falkland Islands hold the worlds
largest breeding population of Striated
Caracara, with some 500 pairs.
2 Tussacbird_Carcass Island, Falklands_
Mar 10_Steve Young 2.tif
WOB14 20-21 falklands FIN.indd 20 12/12/2013 18:18
www.birdwatch.co.uk World of Birds

2014 21
A WORLD OF THEIR OWN THE FALKLANDS
such extravagance that even
the coal-black-plumaged Sooty
Oystercatchers glowed. The light
made the purple speculum of the
Crested Ducks blaze, and the bluish-
and-white marbling of the Falkland
Steamer Ducks made these plainest
of birds look like supermodels. The
light diverged those most dimorphic
of geese, Kelp Geese, even further
into their gender separation, the
pure white males contrasting utterly
with the tastefully black-and-white
barred females. What was so
outstanding was the silence: not
the hush of the lapping waves on
the beach, nor the sighing of the
Magellanic Oystercatchers. It was
the complete absence of any human
sounds no boats, no planes, no fuss.
And not a penguin in sight,
either.
arent quite endemic, but like the
Tussacbird, they are easier to see
here than anywhere else.
Cobbs Wren, on the other hand,
is endemic (along with one other
species, Falkland Steamer Duck),
occurring on a multitude of islands
and islets free of ground predators.
This behaves more like a proper
bird: more skulking than conding
and more of a challenge to see than
Tussacbird, but nobody searching
seriously is going to miss it. I was
especially pleased to nd this species,
which is longer-billed and plainer-
headed than our familiar Wren, on
Carcass Island in the north-west,
where it was originally described
in 1909. It is currently classied as
globally Vulnerable.
Decline and fall
Talking of threatened species, you
might be astonished to discover
that the Falklands Islands most
endangered resident is actually
Black-browed Albatross, which has
declined worldwide by 67 per cent
over three generations. Some 70
per cent of the world population
breeds in the Falklands, and there
are several colonies where you
can walk among the nests. On
Westpoint Island, for example, where
the clif-tops are shared with Western
Rockhopper Penguins, you can come
face to face with albatross chicks,
which are as ufy as teddy bears, and
the ying adults are so near you can
hear the whoosh of their wings. For
the ultimate seawatching experience,
I recommend a walk around Sealion
Island, where the albatrosses vie
for wingspan rights with the local
Southern Giant Petrels.
Apart from these obvious
specialities, the true appeal of the
Falkland Islands to the birder is
actually more about experiences than
a tally of species, however special.
Birding perfection is an ephemeral
thing, but for me, one early morning
on Carcass Island summed it up.
It was perfectly still, and the crisp
light illuminated everything with
Far left: the islands
hold the biggest
population of Black-
browed Albatross,
a species which is
classied as Near
Threatened.
Left: Cobbs
Wren is endemic
to the Falklands
and classied as
Vulnerable.
Carcass Island is home to a variety of
birds, including the endemic Falkland
Steamer Duck, seen in the foreground of
this photo.
The Falkland Islands
Visiting
Falkland Island Tourist Board: phone
020 7222 2542 and ask for tourism;
email info@visitorfalklands.com;
www.falklandislands.com.
Ministry of Defence fights from RAF Brize
Norton, Oxfordshire: phone: 020 7222
2542; email: travel@falklands.gov.fk.
LAN fies weekly from Heathrow via Santiago,
Chile: phone 0800 977 6100;
www.lan.com.
Further reading
Birds and Mammals of the Falkland Islands by
Robin Woods and Anne Woods (WildGuides)
order at www.birdwatch.co.uk/store.
Birding resources
Falklands Conservation, BirdLife
International in the Falklands: phone 01767
650639; www.falklandsconservation.com.
Birding in the Falklands blog: www.surfbirds.
com/community-blogs/falklandbirder.
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The Falkland Islands
WOB14 20-21 falklands FIN.indd 21 12/12/2013 18:18
22 World of Birds

2014 www.birdwatch.co.uk
TRAVEL
SHETLAND
26 September-3 October
2014
Price: 1,145 (plus flights)
THERE is something truly special
about birding on a remote
archipelago in autumn.
Shetlands reputation for this is
legendary. Its unique combination
of geographical location, stunning
scenery, crowd-less birding
localities and an unparalleled
track record for migrants, rarities
and headline megas make it a
paradise for birders, rarity
hunters and listers alike.
Year after year, a mouth-
watering selection of rare
species reaches the islands.
These include Lanceolated and
Pallass Grasshopper Warblers,
Pechora Pipit and Hornemanns
Arctic Redpoll, all of which
remain almost unknown
OTHER TOURS
Estonia in early spring
13-20 April 2014
Price: 1,299 (flights
included)
Focusing on the Arctic-bound
migration of millions of
waterbirds and Baltic forest
specialities, this bargain tour
could produce Stellers Eider,
Hazel Grouse, Common Crane,
Ural, Tengmalms and Pygmy
Owls, White-backed, Three-
toed, Black, Middle Spotted
and Grey-headed Woodpeckers
and Nutcracker, among others.
Contact WildWings on
0117 965 8333 or email
wildinfo@wildwings.co.uk.
Holland in spring
15-20 May 2014
Price: 695 plus
international flights
(approx 100)
Join this great new break for
Purple Heron, Bluethroat, Great
Reed, Savis, Marsh and
Icterine Warblers and the
chance of some spring rarities,
as well as tickable Black
Swan and Bar-headed Goose.
Contact Birding Breaks on
0031 20 77 92 030 or email
info@birdingbreaks.nl.
Azores in autumn
11-19 October 2014
Price: 1,330 (flights
included)
Led by Dominic Mitchell, the
Azores have produced 60
Yank species for us so far,
including Wood Duck, Western
Sandpiper, Wilsons Snipe,
Mourning Dove, Yellow-billed
Cuckoo, Yellow-throated and
White-eyed Vireos, Hooded
and Myrtle Warblers, Northern
Parula, Baltimore Oriole and
Rose-breasted Grosbeak,
among many others.
Contact Archipelago Azores
on 01768 775672 or email
info@azoreschoice.com.
BOOK WITH PEACE OF MIND
OUR programme of reader holidays offers an unrivalled birding experience. We work in partnership
with professional specialist companies to offer exciting itineraries led by experienced guides and at
prices that offer superb value for money so you can book your holiday with complete peace of mind.
The basic cost of holidays usually includes return flights from London, all accommodation, ground
transportation, some or most meals and a few other items, but the exact terms and conditions may
vary please contact the company operating your holiday for further information and a detailed itinerary.
elsewhere in Britain. There is
an exhilarating atmosphere in
the autumn that instills the
feeling that anything is
possible; recent years have
seen such highly desired
species as Siberian Thrush,
Siberian Rubythroat, Rufous-
tailed and Siberian Blue Robins,
Thick-billed Warbler, Chestnut-
eared Bunting and Taiga and
Brown Flycatchers arrive from
the east, while Yellow, Magnolia
and Cape May Warblers, Veery,
Swainsons and Grey-cheeked
Thrushes and Baltimore Oriole
have appeared from the west.
This itinerary is designed to
showcase the magic of autumn
migration on a remote
archipelago, and to offer the best
chance of finding birds and
connecting with those already
discovered. This special
Birdwatch tour, led by Martin
Garner of Birding Frontiers, along
with the combined experience,
local knowledge and field skills
of Shetland Natures Brydon
Thomason, Micky Maher and Rob
Fray, offers an unrivalled
Shetland birding experience.
This tour is operated for
Birdwatch by Shetland Nature
(regulated by the Financial
Services Authority and fully
covered by insurance for your
protection). The price includes all
accommodation on an en-suite
basis, meals, guiding fees and
transport within Shetland. Not
included are travel to and from
Shetland, insurance, additional
beverages and items of a
personal nature. For an itinerary
and reservations, please contact
Shetland Nature on 01957
710000 or email info@
shetlandnature.net.
Britains best autumn migration experience
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world of birds
Birdwatch
OUR EXCLUSIVE PROGRAMME OF READER HOLIDAYS
WOB14 22 reader hols FIN.indd 22 12/12/2013 18:29
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