Most of us have spent the majority of the week squelching around our local patches in between rain, rain and more rain. Associated with the wet weather have been incessant strong southwesterlies and finding the sun has been a difficult task for sizeable chunks of the week. A high-pressure system slipping over the country from the 14th onwards should calm things down a bit and allow many areas to clear up from the floods. Weather aside, the pace of recent weeks has not relented as several top-quality birds were found during the week.
By far and away bird of the week was the 1st-winter Allen's Gallinule found exhausted at Portland (Dorset) on the 10th by a local dog-walker. This is only the second British record and, as the last was as long ago as 1902, birders around the country braced themselves upon hearing the news. Unfortunately the bird only remained alive for a further hour. Further details on this exciting record can be found at:
This find ties in nicely with two recent records in Spain, and perhaps another bird in better condition is frequenting a wetland somewhere in the southern part of the country.
On the 9th news broke of an adult Ivory Gull in Gwynedd. Many birders probably resisted the initial temptation to travel for such a fantastic bird: perhaps some had already travelled north to see the adult in Highland over the Christmas period. By Saturday night the pictures were on the BirdGuides website and many had second thoughts as the pristine adult perched on top of a dead porpoise carcass proved just too tempting. With the food source still present the bird has delighted many observers during the week, but there are potential plans to remove the carcass by the weekend and it is likely that the bird will depart the area in search of new rancid delights. Further details on this bird can be found at:
A second adult Ivory Gull was reported yesterday, and confirmed today, in Lytham St. Annes in Lancashire. This is the 5th found this winter, which thereby equals 1979/80 as the best for records of this species.
Elsewhere, a Ross' Gull was present at the gull hot-spot of Blackpill Beach near Swansea, but the Plym Estuary adult was last seen on the 10th, as was the Galway adult. In Ireland a white morph Gyrfalcon was seen in County Cork briefly on the 11th. The Great White Egret in Cheshire was seen again on the 13th after an absence of nearly three weeks, with another in north Norfolk on the same day, whilst the Snowy Egret remains on the Isle of Arran. Among the week's 'possibles' were 3 Alpine Swifts over Howth Head (Dublin) on the 13th and a Franklin's Gull near Llanfairfechan (Conwy) on the 12th. The Bonaparte's Gull remains in Cornwall and other adults were reported in Cumbria and West Sussex during the week. Long-staying rarities include the Hume's Warbler in Northumberland, King Eider in Norfolk, Lesser Yellowlegs in Pembrokeshire and the Shorelark in Derbyshire. In Norfolk the Olive-backed Pipit was relocated on the 12th, but in Glamorgan there has been no sign of the Redhead which was last seen on the 5th - where is it now? Small numbers of Leach's Petrels have been seen off a number of watchpoints during the early part of the week and you can read more about the exceptional numbers of the last week in Russell Wynn's article at:
Finally, news of yet another possible American Warbler reached us on the 13th with an unconfirmed report of a Yellow Warbler in London on the 30th January and 2nd February - who said that winter birding was dull!
A milestone was reached by the Bird News Extra service this week as we sailed through our 50,000th record since the start of the service - that's over a 1,000 reports a week, not bad value for a subscription charge of 38 pence per week (less than the typical cost of a single premium rate phone call). We often get comments that certain areas receive more reports than others but, unfortunately, we can only publish information that we know about. Please note that if you are out and about birdwatching you can always call us on our freephone number 08000 350444 with your sightings, or sightings can be emailed to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or submitted through the Bird News Extra submission page. We would love to increase our 'coverage' of lesser known areas, but to do so we need to be in a position to publish the information by having it sent to us in the first place!