© SK58 Birders 2019
website est. 1996
Rarity Descriptions Received and Accepted
These accounts are as submitted, therefore are not edited in any way.
Garganey Spatula querquedula
& Time of Record: 26/05/2018- 11:40-12:00
inc. Grid Reference: Langold Lake SK5786
A D Hirst (ADH)
from Observer: Initially 300m, but flew past at c30m
of Observation: Viewed for about 20mins,
& Light Conditions: Was a calm day, wind was SW, circa force 3-4,
5/8 CC and generally a mild and calm pleasant day.
Aids Used: Zeiss 10x42 HT + Canon 7d camera and Canon 100-400mm EF Lens
of Species: Familiar with all UK wildfowl having seen many Garganey
Spatula querquedula at such places as rspb Lakenheath, North
Norfolk reserves, e.g. Cley & rspb Titchwell. Many seen on European
birding trips, such as Mallorca and mainland Spain, and northern countries
such as Estonia and Finland.
of Similar Species: Familiar with all European wildfowl in most plumages,
having travelled widely in Eastern, Western, Northern and Southern Europe.
Present for Comparison: Mainly Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, some
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula, Coot Fulica atra, Mute Swan
Cygnus olor (6) and Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus.
Smaller than Mallard Anas platyrhynchos and Tufted Duck Aythya
fuligula, roughly size of a Teal Anas crecca.
Plumage: Initially viewed at distance, the head and chest appeared dark with pale flanks, dark brown rear, but with a most striking blazing white supercilium extending to the back of the head and down the neck slightly. The bird swan up and down giving better views and did eventually fly when disturbed by landing Canada Geese Branta canadensis. In flight it basically showed a dark front, pale wings and belly (central section) with a darker rear. In flight the upper wing showed a pale blue forewing, a dark (green?) speculum with a broad white border in front and behind. The underwing had a burnt biscuit colour leading edge, a broad white underwing and a darker trailing edge with possibly a white border to this trailing edge. The head, neck, breast and under forewing were a warm burnt biscuit colour. The belly was off white with feint speckling on and towards the flanks and vent. The tail (above and below).
Quite a compact, squat little duck, the size of a Teal Anas crecca,
but the dumpiness of a Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula.
Initially it was quite wary and swam around the centre of the lake,
furthest away from visitors walking around the lake. Occasionally parties
of Canada Geese Branta canadensis would fly in and land or the
Mute Swan Cygnus olor would approach the immediate area, pushing
the bird further away. At one point it flew from the centre of the lake
to the eastern edge, flying past me at distance of c30m (see Image 01
taken with 400mm lens, then cropped image as Image 02).
Quite a rapid wingbeat as you would expect from a compact duck, fairly
shallow wingbeats on relatively long wings.
information and story surrounding the record.
Having watched the bird for about 15 mins and taking notes I began to retrace my steps back to the car park, having put the news out on the SK58 Birders News Network. Stopping occasionally to look back at the bird. On one occasion I saw the bird take off and managed to fire off a few images (see Image 01, as taken directly from the camera). I took several pics as it flew c50 from up the central strip, towards the eastern edge, but here were many Mallard Anas platyrhynchos and Coot Fulica atra, as this edge is popular with folk feeding the birds. The bird landed, but with the number of other wildfowl, it quickly turned 180 degrees, began to swim back, then took off and landed where it initially took off from in the centre of the lake. Happy with my images I returned to the car park and left to continue my days birding. I put the news out but not aware of any subsequent sightings. Given the nervousness of the bird, I didn't expect it to remain any longer than one day.
This constitutes the second confirmed record of Garganey Spatula querquedula in SK58, the previous record been 11 years earlier on 11/04/2007 at Brown Bailey's pond, plus a 'reported' Garganey Spatula querquedula in the visitor log book at Roche Abbey on 08/05/00.
description is late in submission as I thought I'd already produced
one at the time, but cannot locate it, so have rewritten this in January
2019, using notes taken at the time (from my database) and images taken
of the bird in question when found.
Observer: Mick Clay ,etal
Tel No: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Species: Yellow browed Warbler (2 no)
Date and Time: 4th October, 2016, 9.00am - 11am
Locality: North Anston Pit Top, North Anston, South East of Sheffield, SK 5185.
Distance from Observer: 10m to 30m.
Period of Observation: 2hours. Mick Clay(finder), with the following observers, Andy Hirst, Brian Chambers, Ivan Keeton and Chris Lilley.
Weather and Light Conditions: Fine and sunny, clear, light easterlies,
Optical Aids Used: Leica 10 x 42 Binoculars.
Species Present for Comparison: Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Robin,
Experience of Species: Birds seen along the east coast for many years and many just the week before.
Experience of Similar Species: Pallass Warbler on the East coast over many years, several Arctic Warbler at Spurn, Green Warbler in Georgia and Hume's Yellow browed Warbler at Flamborough and many in India.
Call: I identified the bird on call as it gave a distinctive tsueeht call repeatedly making it easy to follow as it moved. A call I have heard many times on the east coast
Size and Structure: very similar in size to Chiffchaff.
Head Pattern: Showed a greyish green appearance with a long yellow supercilium and dark bill.
Under parts: off white bellow with dark legs
Behaviour: For all the time the bird moved backwards and forwards feeding high in a dwarf oak tree were it was first seen and then flying back to small willow coppicing/brambles area to feed .
the early morning of the 4th October I decided to go around one of my
local patches the North Anston pit top to see if there were any passage
birds there as I had previously looked around Kiveton pit top at the
weekend looking for or should I say hoping for Yellow browed Warbler.
I had just stopped to talk to two walkers who asked me what I was looking
for and I explained to them what it was and no sooner had they left
and I continued my walk when a load fairly constant call tsueeht unlike
that of Chiffchaff hweet came from my left from high in a dwarf oak
tree straight in front of me giving excellent views. It continued to
call throughout its stay making it easy to observe. I watched it before
calling other members of the bird group who all dashed to the site to
see excellent views of the bird. Once most people had seen the bird
I thought it best to go back to work being some two hours late when
a second bird was heard calling on the way back to the car. Again I
reported this and this was also picked up by other birders.
Observer: Mick Clay
Tel No: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Species: Great White Egret (Egretta Alba)
Date and Time: 16th November, 2015, 8.15 - 8.17am
Locality: Axle Lane, South Anston, South East of Sheffield, SK 5083.
Distance from Observer: 50m at it's nearest
Period of Observation: 2 minutes. Mick Clay.
Weather and Light Conditions: Dull and light breeze from the west, three eight's cloud cover,
Optical Aids Used: Leica 10 x 42 Binoculars.
Species Present for Comparison: Carrion Crow.
Experience of Species: Birds seen in Britain, 30 in Romania 2006 and 4 in 2007,100 in France 2011, 4 in Georgia 2013, many in India 2014, 3 in Morocco 2012 and 4 in 2015.
Experience of Similar Species: Little Egret seen in many places in Britain and a broad, Cattle Egret in Britain and many places abroad and Intermediate Egret in India 2014.
Size and Structure: Long legged and large bodied very similar in size to Heron which I see most days by the ponds on Axle Lane. It was easy to compare the size of the bird as it flew along side 2 Carrion Crows .Differs to Little Egret and Cattle Egret in being much larger in its projecting legs and wing size. There is the possibility of a albino Heron which would have pale legs and more vocal especial when being mobbed by Corvids.
Under parts Showed a white appearance overall. Its legs were dark and bill yellow.
It was in flight all the time I saw it flying from the east to west
as it was being mobbed by two resident Carrion Crows. Its flight never
changed just a easy and steady flight.
the early morning of the 16th November I went on my local patch Axle
Lane at South Anston as I do most mornings and evenings. It was a dull
day with a light breeze from the west direction so I decided to keep
on the wall side for shelter. I walked west along the wall and then
decided to come back east along the wall .As I came back I could here
Pink footed Geese calling from the What appeared to be the south so
I started to look for those when in picked the bird being mobbed by
two Carrion Crows. They followed the bird from the east to west until
it disappeared over Kiveton hall Farm. As soon as the bird went out
of view I immediately contacted Brian Chambers a Sk58 member who lived
in that area to the west but he failed to see it. I also contacted Andy
Hirst, other Sk58 members and Bird Guides.
Date & Time of Record: 27/1/12 aprox 11.45
Locality inc. Grid Reference: SK 581890
Observer: Simon Mitchie
Tel No: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Distance from Observer: closest 20m to about 100m Period of Observation: 20 minutes Weather & Light Conditions: Dry, clear bright. Sun behind observer mostly Optical Aids Used: Zeiss Victorys 10x42FL, Leica Scope 15-60x zoom Experience of Species: Many Glaucous Gulls in various age groups over 20 years birding. Experience of Similar Species: Have seen many species of gull around the world, including many Glauous & Iceland in various age groups. Species Present for Comparison: None directly, some Black-headed Gulls nearby. Details Size: immediately noticed large size & was backed up throughout observation. Although alone would suggest larger than Herring Gull Plumage: Large pink based bill, Black towards tip but at close range had a distinct pink tip. Broad biscuit coloured wings with white tips.
Structure: Large fierce looking gull with large pink/black bill, Leg colour not recorded as only landed at distance & landing in the ruts of ploughed field.
Behaviour: Flying low over field then dropping to ground for a few seconds before flying again. Didn't see the bird with food but assumed it was searching for worms etc.
Flight: Slow, gliding most of the time.
Call/ Song: Not heard
Observer: Mick Clay
Tel No: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Species: Brent Geese Branta hrota
Date and Time: 29th November, 2011, 8.15 - 8.17am
Locality: North Anston, South East of Sheffield, SK 5185.
Distance from Observer: 300m.
Period of Observation: 2 minutes approximately.
Weather and Light Conditions: cloudy and strong south westerly winds.
Optical Aids Used: Leica 10 x 42 Binoculars.
Species Present for Comparison: Black headed Gull and Rook.
Experience of Species: Birds seen throughout Britain, mainly on the east coast.
Experience of Similar Species: Canada and Barnacle Goose.
Size and Structure: Long swept back pointed wings and small stocky goose size bodied with short neck.
Under parts: The belly areas were only very lightly contrasting to the upperparts with white rear end unlike Barnacle Goose and Canada goose which are much paler /white below.
Call: No call heard as it was very windy.
Behaviour: Very strong flying geese with a slight formation and long swept back pointed wings. The wings seemed more long and pointed due to the very strong winds.
During the early
morning of the 29th November I went on my local patch Axle Lane at South
Anston as I do most mornings. It was extremely windy from a south westerly
direction so I decided to keep on the wall side for shelter. I walked
west along the wall and then decided to come back east along the wall
as the wind was keeping most birds out of sight only Black headed Gulls
and Rooks feeding in the adjacent field. I always have one last look
over the fields from south to east when I spotted three very dark geese
flying west to east. When I identified the birds I contacted Andy Hirst.
The birds where flying low greatly affected by the wind and appeared
to drop down on the east side of Anston so I decided to drive along
Woodsetts Road ,Anston and back along Swinston Hill Road Dinnington
to see if the birds had landed as the other two local records had both
landed. The birds must have kept flying east probable to the east coast.
SPECIES: Little Egret Egrettea garzetta ad. winter
Andy Hirst, Mick Clay, James Clay, Geoff Facer, John Gallagher &
Alan Bradford. Found by Keith Trow.
Date & Time: Wednesday 3rd March 16:45-18:15.
Locality inc. Grid Reference: Carlton Lake, SK584836.
Distance from Observer: c100m, down to 25m as it flew by.
of Observation: On show continuously. I arrived 16:45 until 18:15-90
Optical Aids Used: Nikon 10 x 42 High Grade binoculars and Nikon ED82 telescope & x30w.
Species Present for Comparison: Grey Heron.
Experience of Species: Have seen Little Egret many times in the UK and seen literally thousands on numerous trips into Europe.
Experience of Similar Species: Am familiar with all European Heron/ Egret species and am aware of white morph races of Reef Heron for example, as seen in Israel. Also aware of Snowy Egret having seen them in the USA.
Size: Much smaller than accompanying Grey Heron, but larger than say a Little Bittern.
Structure: This was clearly an egret with long legs, long thin body, albeit hunched up. A long neck with long head extenuated by a long dagger like bill. Given the sleek elongated shape I ruled out Cattle Egret.
Plumage: The bird was pure white from head to tail, although no sign of any plumes on the head, and only modest chest plumes. I took the bird to be an adult in winter plumage.
Bare Parts: The obvious bare parts were the bill and legs. The bill was a steel grey colour, not black, with dark grey lores, leading to a dark eye. There was a patch of yellow on the underside of the gape/ bill. The legs were a darker shade of grey, almost black, but with striking yellow feet, which were obvious when the bird walked and in flight as they extended beyond the tail. I could rule out a vagrant Snowy Egret given the dark legs, Snowy Egret has much paler, yellow legs and yellow lores. Cattle Egret could be ruled out on head shape, no jowl and longer darker bill on Little Egret plus pale legs and eye on Cattle Egret. Given the dark bill, legs, yellow feet I had no hesitation in identifying the bird as Little Egret. Given the lack of plumes, greyish bill and legs I aged it as an adult winter.
Behaviour: Initially found by KT sat in a mature tree on the island in Carlton Lake. At some point between his call and my arrival, some 30 mins later, the bird flew down to the south side of Carlton Lake. Here it was when I arrived, sat side ways on hunched up in the company of a Grey Heron. After about 20 mins the bird walked a few steps, showing it's back, tail and feet. It stopped and remained hunched up. Over the next 20 mins or so it occasionally took a few steps, extending it's neck and turning around occasionally preening, and extending itself. By about 17:45 the light was beginning to fail and the bird took off. It attempted to land in the same tree it was originally found in. After several attempts at landing and circling it gave up and perched in a taller tree on the south side of the lake. It remained here for about 10 mins, before taking off and circling Holme Farm wood. It circled the wood and lake several times before eventually dropping in to Holme Farm wood, where it was lost from view, as it presumably went to roost.
Flight: Was quite slow, deliberate and straight but purposeful on bowed wings. Seemed to have problems landing in trees with small vertical branches.
This has been a long overdue addition to the SK58 list, and bird predicated to turn up this year, given the increasing numbers found along the Idle at Lound. KT is to be congratulated for finding another new bird for SK58-time in the field pays off!
Andy Hirst 11th March 2010.
SPECIES: Red-necked Grebe
Date & Time: SAT 20 FEB at 8am
Locality inc. Grid Reference: Langold Country Park
Distance from Observer: 4/5 metres
of Observation: ongoing except when it was diving
Optical Aids Used: Helios 8x42 binoculars
Species Present for Comparison: G C Grebes( 2 in close proximity.)
Experience of Species: Only experience of species is reading in books.
Experience of Similar Species:
Stephen Gallagher. 02/03/2010.
SPECIES: Buff-breasted Sandpiper Tryngites subruficollis Juv.
Andy Hirst, Mick Clay & Phil? (observer from Worksop)
Date & Time: 1st October 2009, c18:15-18:45
Locality inc. Grid Reference: Axle Lane, South Anston, S Yorkshire. SK504843
Distance from Observer: Initially 250m-down to 100m
of Observation: 30 mins
Optical Aids Used: Nikon 10 x 42 High Grade binoculars & Nikon ED82 with 30WA eyepiece
Species Present for Comparison: Golden Plover
Experience of Species: Have seen two previously, one at Lound, in the early 90's as I recall (pre-database of records!). The second an adult at Wheldrake Ings on 29/09/02.
Experience of Similar Species: The only confusion species, if unsure of scale would be Ruff, have seen Ruff in various plumages and aware that Ruff come in many sizes and variations including leg colour, but not this small.
Size: Initially identified as Ruff (for about 2 seconds), but when seen with Golden Plover, the bird was tiny, estimate size comparable to Dunlin.
Structure: A small slender looking wader with short fine bill, hunched looking back and long wings giving an elongated, looked fairly leggy.
Call/ Song: Silent
Behaviour: The bird appeared from long stubble or a shallow depression as I was looking through a Golden Plover flock. It fed actively with quick actions moving through the scattered Golden Plover. After 10 mins of viewing it flew low about 10m further away from us. We moved closer to relocate the bird. After about 5 mins of searching we found the bird again in the loose flock of Golden Plover. It was actively foraging moving through the Golden Plover flock, occasionally preening. The bird was spooked? And took flight flying to our right, before dropping over the wall and out of sight.
Flight: Rapid flight with deep wing beats on lengthy wings. Initial flight view was short as it flew 10m further away from us, revealing long, fairly narrow wings of a uniform colour. The second time it flew up, gaining altitude, when it was overtaken by c20 Golden Plover, this caused the bird to drop to just a few feet above the ground, it then gained a bit of height, continuing to fly to our right at 200m distance, and lost from view as the flew over a wall over the ridge of Axle Lane. This second flight was of about 350m before being lost from view.
On the third pass of the plover flock I concentrated on the furthermost Golden Plover as they were slightly harder to see as the stubble was slightly longer due to ridges in the ground. Panning through I noticed a plain faced bird with a short black bill emerge from slightly longer stubble. It looked like a Ruff, so said to Mick and the Phil? "I've a Ruff", as it emerged it walked between 2 Golden Plover-it was tiny and realised it wasn't a Ruff, it was way too small so was something different. I then said "It's tiny!, I think I think its Buff-breast". I then guided the other two on to the bird's location.
For a few moments it gave only glimpses as it walked in and out of thicker stubble actively feeding (only just visible above the stems of stubble). I remembered Buff-breasted Sandpiper recalled small Ruff, which is what we were looking at. The most immediate features were it's small size (far too small for even a small Ruff), short fine black bill, prominent black eye in a plain face, buff from head to belly, a well marked scalloped back with finer, heavier markings on the shoulder/ neck sides, with similar speckling on the cap, emphasising the plain face. The bird then flew about 10m further away from us in longer stubble. I didn't notice any contrasting plumage features on the back, tail or wings. This confirmed to me it wasn't a Ruff as these have pale 'lozenges' in the tail.
At this point we (myself, Mick Clay and Phil? From Worksop) discussed what we were looking at. I was convinced we had a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, to which Mick agreed. We discussed the plain face, neck markings and buff from head to belly and dirty yellow legs. At this point Phil? Produced an obscure bird book, which had a ropey pic of Buff-breasted Sandpiper-this showed the plain front and yellow legs, the legs something we had noted, but didn't know these were an id feature.
We decided to get closer to the bird agreeing we had enough to be 99.9% certain it was Buff-breasted Sandpiper and to get closer just to beef up our description. We proceeded further along the wall until we were at right angles to the flock, and moved about 10m further into the field (the flock of Golden Plover & Buff-breasted Sandpiper appeared settled). We spent an agonising few minutes trying to relocate the bird from our new position. Phil? said he had it. It was now in the centre of the Golden Plover flock on a slope which was facing us, providing us with an excellent vantage point and view of the bird at some 120-130m distance. The bird was feeding/ preening and moving hurriedly in between the Golden Plover. Here we could clearly see the scalloped back contrasting with the buff brown front and belly, with dull yellow legs and heavier speckling to the neck sides, near the shoulder. After about 5-10 mins the bird took off low and flew to our right, here it gained a bit of height, then dropped just above the ground as it avoided a faster flying flock of c20 Golden Plover. The Buff-breasted Sandpiper then joined the back of the Golden Plover flock and disappeared from view behind us and over the wall on Axle Lane. We noted a white underwing, but didn't know to check for the diagnostic darker notch on the bend of the underwing, until consulting reference works later. We did note that it had deep rapid wing beats on long wings.
We re-traced our steps to the where we had the previous few Golden Plover as we thought this is where the flock including our Buff-breasted Sandpiper may have landed. It was now about 18:50 and dusk. In the failing light we met Brian Chambers at the right angle of the path and scanned the 20+ Golden Plover for the Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Unfortunately we were unable to relocate the bird, and suspect it continued over the wall, and over the field further south with the small flock of Golden Plover. We (Andy Hirst, Mick Clay, Phil? From Worksop and Brian Chambers) stayed until 19:15, buy which time it was almost dark.
I returned at dawn the following morning before work. I searched for an hour and half at the wall side stubble where c200 Golden Plover were gathered. Over the 90 minutes groups of c20-50 Golden Plover dropped in. By the time I left c500 Golden Plover were present, but no sign of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper (or Dotterel!). Mick Clay arrived and stayed until 09:00 by which time he estimated c1500 Golden Plover were present, again there was no sign of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper. We concluded the bird had turned up the previous afternoon as a result of the low pressure system over northern England/ Scotland. Had fed and rested that afternoon and flew south that evening with a small party of Golden Plover.
Around this period there a number of Buff-breasted Sandpiper many from Ireland and Northern Scotland, although several made it further south, reports through BirdGuides:
16:55 03/10/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper Shetland Foula one at Southness; also Barred Warbler and Yellow-browed Warbler on the island
19:09 01/10/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper Outer Hebrides St. Kilda one present today
18:23 01/10/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper S Yorks South Anston 18:15 one this evening with 300 Golden Plovers on Axle Lane, in stubble field between the wall and the A57
18:11 01/10/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper Cleveland Dorman's Pool 17:00 juvenile feeding on west side of pool at 17:00
12:19 01/10/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper Cleveland Saltholme Pools RSPB juvenile still in field by Back Saltholme Pool, viewed from near Calor Gas Pool
13:34 30/09/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper Cornwall Trevorian Pool juvenile in bare field between Trevorian Farm and Trevear Farm at c.SW371262 today but mobile; also 1st-winter Mediterranean Gull and adult Yellow-legged Gull
17:33 29/09/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper Argyll Loch a'Phuill, Tiree one today; also Pectoral Sandpiper and 10 Whooper Swan
22:36 28/09/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper Shetland Quendale, Mainland still at Ringasta; also Barred Warbler still at Lower Voe
18:58 28/09/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper Galway Inishmore 18:00 juvenile on the machair at Trawmore this evening
15:54 28/09/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper L'derry Myroe Levels 15:20 five juveniles on the northern Lawn Fields; access via the Roe Estuary
16:24 27/09/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper Shetland Quendale, Mainland still with Golden Plovers at Ringasta today
08:40 27/09/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper Cleveland Saltholme Pools RSPB juvenile still on Back Saltholme Pool viewed from the PetroPlus layby
19:29 26/09/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper Cleveland Saltholme Pools RSPB 17:00 showing well with 2 Ruff in field adjesent to Back Saltholme
16:50 26/09/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper Shetland Quendale, Mainland 16:30 near Ringasta and viewable from road to Loch of Spiggie. With Golden Plover and 3 Ruff but elusive
11:59 26/09/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper L'derry Myroe Levels 11:50 two at Myroe Lawn Fields with Golden Plovers late morning
11:52 26/09/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper Wexford Tacumshin juvenile still this morning; also a Little Stint
20:20 25/09/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper Cleveland Saltholme Pools RSPB 16:00 still from Saltholme Pools Hide this afternoon
19:02 25/09/09 Buff-breasted Sandpiper Wicklow Kilcoole 13:45
the second Buff-breasted Sandpiper found within SK58. The first on 20/09/2002
at the same site.
SPECIES: White Stork
Andy Hirst, Mick Clay & James Clay
Date & Time: 5th June 2008, 13:00-13:10
Locality inc. Grid Reference: Hodsock SK599868
Distance from Observer: c1.2km
of Observation: 10 mins
Optical Aids Used: Nikon 10 x 42 High Grade binoculars
Species Present for Comparison: Common Buzzard
Experience of Species: Familiar with White Stork, observed on annual basis for past 5 years with trips to Spain & Eastern Europe.
Experience of Similar Species: Familiar with Black stork, again seen annually on trips to Extremadura in Spain and Romania.
Size: Clearly bigger than nearby Buzzard. Bigger than a Heron.
Structure: A bulky bird, a big bird, long wings, head/ neck and legs.
Plumage: Observed in flight only. Initial sighting was a bird flying away with very distinctive black & white wings. The broad white wings had black secondaries and primaries, with white coverts. The head and neck were also white. Once it began to circle on a thermal we could see the same pattern on the underwing, and a solid white body below-with red trailing legs. A Black Stork would show all black wings (primaries/ secondaries as well as coverts above and below). The only white area would be a largish patch on the belly.
Call/ Song: Not heard-too far away
Behaviour: Initially picked up flying away from us towards Blyth (>NE), the bird being at least 1km away. It then turned northwards, circling, gaining height, then continued more in a >NW direction before being lost from view behind woodland.
Flight: Fairly slow deliberate wing beats with long periods of gliding. Once it hit a thermal it circled on outstretched flat wings, gaining height, before drifting off-gliding to the NW.
In the distance (c1km away) to our East, Mick shouted he had it. It was quite high in the sky flying away from us, towards Blyth, but this side of the ridge (Ash Holt). All 3 of us picked up on it through binoculars. Although distant, the light and visibility were excellent with little to no haze. In front of us was a very large white bodied bird with long white wings, black primaries and secondaries, with long white head neck. Unfortunately it too far away to make out bill and legs. It was gliding with intermittent deliberate flaps. Nearing the wooded ridge it must have hit a thermal. From here it began to circle, rising on the thermal. This allowed us to pick up the underside as well as the upper side as detailed above. Also on the same thermal was Common Buzzard giving a good size comparison, the White Stork was slightly larger in wing length and width. After circling several times the bird had gained height and drifted off to the NW, back towards Oldcotes. We lost the bird from view behind woodland between us and it after observing for about 10 mins as the bird as continued >NW.
There is no question as to its identification, just to its status. A Dutch ringed bird was present in the area the previous year. Normally the escapee's from Harewood House fly around in the spring, so suspect this was a genuine continental bird. Around the same time other records of this species were noted:
Andy Hirst 11th May 2009 (no description has been forthcoming so I've committed pen to paper).
Species: Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
Observer: Mick Clay
Tel No: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Species: Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
Date and Time: 7th May, 2008, 6.35 -6.50am
Locality: North Anston Pit Top Birdhide , North Anston, South East of Sheffield, SK 5185.
Distance from Observer: 30m.
Period of Observation: 15 minutes. Mick Clay.
Weather and Light Conditions: Fine and sunny, clear, two eight's cloud cover,
Optical Aids Used: Leica 10 x 42 Binoculars.
Species Present for Comparison: Little ringed Plover, Ringed Plover and Lapwing,
Experience of Species: Birds seen throughout Britain and abroad..
Experience of Similar Species: Passage Greenshank, Common, Green and Marsh Sandpipers
Size and Structure: : Long legged and slim bodied, compared to Greenshank which is a third bigger and a much longer legged. Green and Common are more shorter legged and more dumpy.
Underparts The belly areas were white with lightly streaked breast unlike Common Sandpiper which is buff streaking forming a breast band and Green Sandpiper which is much more darker streaking. Its legs were green.
the early morning of the 7th May I decided to go to the Bird hide on
the North Anston pit top to see if there were any passage birds there.
Once the bird was identified I contacted other local birders but the
bird was chased by the resident Little ringed Plover, flying away north.
SPECIES: sub adult male Woodchat Shrike nominate senator race.
Observer: Found by Dave Thornley, description by Andy Hirst. Viewed at length by Andy Hirst & Mick Clay.
Tel No: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Woodchat Shrike, North Aston, 5th May 2008. Image © Mark Reeder
Date & Time: 5th May 2008, 14:30-18:30, 20:00-21:00.
Locality inc. Grid Reference: Rackford Lane, off Rackford Road, North Anston, S. York's, SK536836.
Distance from Observer: 30m-100m.
Period of Observation: c5 hours.
Weather & Light Conditions: Bright, sunny, warm, 3 oktas cloud cover, light S> SE breeze.
Optical Aids Used: Nikon 10 x 42 High Grade binoculars, Zeiss 85mm Diascope with 32x w/a eyepiece. Sony Handycam through Diascope.
Species Present for Comparison: Was mainly on it's own throughout. Occasionally flew onto telegraph wires where Yellowhammer was sat.
Experience of Species: See Woodchat Shrike annually as I go to Spain most years where the nominate senator race is present. Have been to the Balearics c10 times so familiar with the badius race that occurs there. Have seen eastern forms in Israel, but that was a long time ago.
Experience of Similar Species: Familiar with all European Shrike species and forms having visited Eastern Europe several times, Lots of tours to Spain/ France & Balearics. As well as Lesvos for Masked Shrike & Lesser Grey Shrike. Have seen most shrike species in the UK in mostly 1st winter plumages. Red-backed Shrike-numerous on the East Coast, Isabelline again on the East Coast (Spurn in mid 80's) and North Ronaldsay in early 90's. Seen lots of Great Grey Shrike in UK, 3 in SK58 in recent years, and Lesser Grey Shrike in Norfolk. Although this is my first Woodchat Shrike in the UK. (Not much of a twitcher!).
Structure: Typical shrike shape, quite large headed, slender body and long tail. Bill appeared quite large, but not out of proportion to the head or body. I believe badius has a deeper, slightly more bulbous bill.
Plumage: When we first arrived the bird was c100m away, but sat out in the open, allowing excellent views through the scope. We saw a shrike that was basically white below, black and white above, with a rich brown cap that extended down the nape to the top of the mantle. Immediately identified it as Woodchat shrike, given the black and white upperparts, thick black eye-stripe and rufous brown cap. Red-backed Shrike was ruled out because of lack of rufous mantle, but rufous on the head/ nape, as opposed to a pale grey head (crown to nape) as on Red-backed Shrike. The wings in Red-backed Shrike are also uniformly rufous on the scapulars with solid dark primaries with no wing patch or pale edges. Isabelline was also ruled out as it was too strongly patterned on the head, plus it had a very dark tail, as opposed to rufous/ reddish in races of Isabelline.
Head: A rufous-brown hind crown that extended in a broad band down the nape to the top of the mantle. The fore crown and forehead were black. This broad black band extended from the forehead through the eye, including lores, which had 2 tiny white spots above the bill, narrowing as it passed the ear coverts before terminating at the base of the nape at the top of the mantle. Mantle & Back: appeared slate grey, not jet-black, the rump appeared white, although frequently covered by the wings. The long tail to the base of the rump was black, with a fine white border. Wings: Were black and white. The greater covers were slate coloured, with a vertical broad white band on the scapulars that extended from the nape area on the folded wing to the base of the secondaries. The secondary feathers also had very fine white edges. Of note was a white base to the primary feathers forming a solid white block of white in the folded wing on the outer primaries. Under-parts: were generally white, although slightly buffy towards the tail end of the flanks, which were observed through the scope, as were very fine, subtle vermiculations along the flanks, which extended almost as far back as the under-tail terminating and narrowing at the base of the primaries on the folded wing, indicating an immature bird, not quite a full adult. The white under-parts extended from the vent, through the belly & chest, terminating at the chin/ bill-where the broad black band through the eye began. Bare Parts: The legs appeared dark, probably black, the bill was all dark (slate grey/ black), no eye-ring was noted.
The arrival of Martin Garner prompted a conversation on race, the two races in the frame were the nominate senator found throughout southern Europe and badius, found on the western Mediterranean islands. Eastern races were ruled out by the strong bold markings, which appear paler, especially on the underside, and generally duller plumage in niloticus for example. The presence of a white base to the primaries, forming a white block, plus a broad black forehead band confirmed this bird as senator, ruling out badius, as the white primary base is absent, and the black forehead band is narrower in this race.
Call/ Song: Silent
Behaviour: The bird was very active, when first encountered it was catching insects flycatcher style, i.e. returning to the same bush after a short flight to catch prey. Occasionally the bird flew further (c10-20m) away and took up a new perch, invariably on the top of the hedge or small tree. On two occasions, the bird rose after catching insects, perching on nearby telegraph wires. After a few minutes, it returned to a 30m stretch of hedge where it spent most of the time. Throughout the period of observation it remained faithful to a 30m section of Hawthorn hedge, only once disappearing on the far side of the hedge out of view, although after 10 mins it returned to full view.
Flight: Took short flights to and from the same perch whilst almost constantly feeding. When slightly longer flights were undertaken it flew strongly, directly with rapid steady wing beats, typical of a shrike.
Mick and I had a brief conversation about putting out the news. The site was on a public footpath, on grazing land; so many feet would do no damage. The lane was a dead end and therefore very quiet, had ample parking along the verge and further up along the road, and the most importantly the bird was actively feeding and we were far enough away that lots of visiting birders wouldn't disturb the shrike or prevent it from feeding. Considering all these factors, we couldn't see any reason why we shouldn't put out the news, so at 14:55 we spread the word. We then proceeded to call everyone on the local grapevine; in the meantime, the shrike was very active, flitting along a 30m, stretch of hedge, obviously very content, preening and very successfully catching lots of insects, flycatcher style, returning to the same perch each time. Remarkably, within a few minutes, the first birders arrived, and within half an hour a group of 6-7 were admiring this gorgeous bird. The bird showed extremely well for the masses of visiting birders, mostly from Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster, many on their way home from the east coast-North Anston being literally 5 minutes from junction 31 of M1 so wasn't much of a detour, and certainly worth the effort.
At about 18:00 Mick Clay left, I left at 18:30, after a great afternoon's birding, watching a very active and showy bird. During the hours of observation the bird performed brilliantly, actively feeding along the hedge, occasionally flying to nearby wires, as well as preening often, only disappearing from view for a few seconds at a time. I returned at 20:00 to a small band of birders, who were still arriving and departing. The bird was still sat out although not as active, as presumably the insects were not as abundant in the cooler evening. As it became dusk I left the site, with the bird still in view on top of the hedge. At 06:00 the following morning Mick Clay looked for the bird, but by 08:00 it wasn't found. Given the clear calm conditions of the previous evening it had obviously departed. A Woodchat Shrike did turn up at Spurn on the 8th May, same bird?
We estimated between 70-100 birders must have visited the site on the afternoon and evening of the 5th, all appreciative of the bird and of SK58, and us of them for their exemplary behaviour.
There have been 6 previous inland records of Woodchat Shrike (race not assigned, but presumed nominate senator race) in Yorkshire;
This obviously a first for SK58 Birders and just rewards to members of SK58 for their continued local patch watching.
Andy Hirst 5th November 2008.
SPECIES -GANNET, Juvenile. Morus bassanus.
-Brian Chambers. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
DATE -Friday, September 28th 2007. TIME -08.10 am.
LOCATION -First seen flying directly over the Hospice at North Anston Pit Top.
DISTANCE from OBSERVER -about 100 metres at the closest. It is difficult to accurately estimate the birds height. I would say about 100 metres, certainly no more than twice the height of a mature Beech Tree.
PERIOD of OBSERVATION -about 1 minute as it flew past.
WEATHER CONDITIONS -A light North-Easterly breeze. A generally bright morning, 20% blue sky and moderately high cloud cover. Temperature probably about 15-16 centigrade. Sun was hidden at the time of the bird's passage.
OPTICAL INSTRUMENTS -Opticron 10 x 42 Binoculars.
OTHER SPECIES PRESENT -Not many birds observed on the site at the time. The large size birds that I had seen were -Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Crow, Rook and Magpie.
EXPERIENCE of the SPECIES -Seen on numerous occasions whilst sea-watching and also at the nesting colony at Bempton Cliffs.
SIZE, STRUCTURE, PLUMAGE -Four factors about the bird immediately registered with me. The large size of the bird. It's wingspan . The overall bullet -shaped appearance. The generally dark appearance.
BIRD'S AGE -I would describe this as a 1st Winter bird. The upper wing plumage was totally dark, there was no presence of any white feathers, the under wing was just a shade lighter. The belly was also just a light grey -a similar shade to the under wing feathers, there was certainly no whiteness as would be evident on a 2nd Winter bird.
DESCRIPTION -I arrived at NAPT about 7.30 am thinking that I would be first on the site that morning and maybe see something on the Scrape before it was scared away. However, this was fanciful thinking as there were no birds on the scrape and very little elsewhere. I was on the footpath near the Hospice, wondering where to go next, when I saw a bird about a 100 metres distant that immediately looked unusual. I focussed the bins on it and immediately thought Gannet, I had spent the day before at Spurn and witnessed a continuous passage of Gannets, mostly juveniles, close in shore over the sea. I mused afterwards that I must have been dreaming !
The bird had come from the south-east flying directly over the Hospice and away to the north-west, I was able to observe it for about a minute before it disappeared over the horizon.
bird was basically dark, not black but more a very dark brown, on close
observation I could make out a lighter belly and underwing,
It flew in a fairly direct path with what I would describe as fairly fast wing beats followed by a short glide. I could not detect any call.
As stated above my immediate thought was Gannet, afterwards I recalled possible similar species.
Gulls -the wings were much too long and narrow. The bill was long and with the head had the dagger shape, nothing like bill shape of a gull or the angle between the forehead and bill of a Gull. The wing-beats were not like the more leisurely ones of Gull species.
Skuas -The Great Skua would be nearest in size but again the above factors and the tail was long and pointed, the body streamlined to give that overall bullet shape, nothing like the deep barrel shaped chest of a Skua.
Shearwaters -Not big enough, bill not of the correct shape.
Cormorant or Shag -The head, neck and bill had that streamlined bullet shape, nothing like the long neck of these species.
Divers and Grebes -the bill may be similar but the neck was not long enough.
Garganey Brown Baileys 11th April 2007
SPECIES: Garganey -Anas querquedula
OBSERVER: Anthony Reed, Mick Clay, Brian Chambers.
TELEPHONE NUMBER: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
DATE AND TIME:11th April 2007,18.45-20.15
SPECIES PRESENT FOR COMPARISON: Tufted Duck, Coot.
EXPERIENCE OF SPECIES: I have observered this species fairly regular in numerous sites around England.
DETAILS:Size,Appeared to be smaller and more slight than the tufted duck that were present.
PLUMAGE: The chest of the bird was almost chocolate brown with slight mottling, the head which was chocolate brown with a striking white eye stripe that went from the front of the head down the neck. The birds body appeared to be greyish in colour ,the back feathers seemed more striking in appearance with black edges with light grey inners. The rear end of the bird was mottled brown.
BEHAVIOUR: When first found the bird was very nervy keeping its distance from the banking. The bird was constantly on the move for approx 5-10 mins,after this it settled down to sleep. When returning to the site I found the bird more settled,feeding,preening,amongst the Tufted Ducks.
After spending a unsuccessful trip to Steetley Ponds near Shireoaks
looking for summer migrants, I decided to call in to Baileys to see
if any Sand Martins had arrived back. As I walked towards the far end
of the pond from the car park, I noticed a duck which was acting very
nervous and keeping its distance from the banking.Immeaditly I recognised
it as a drake garganey,I watched the garganey for approx 10-15 mins
before making a dash home to pick up my camera to try and get some pictures
of it as it was my first record for Baileys. While at home I checked
the sk58 website and found it was probably the first record for the
area. On arrival back at baileys I viewed the bird from the far end
of the pond and managed to take some record shots, at this time I contacted
Mick Clay to inform him of the birds presence who duly arrived with
Brian Chambers who both connected with the bird. As I left the site
at around 20.15 the bird was still present.
Found by Mick Clay, Brian Chambers & Geoff Facer. I turned up (Andy
Hirst) and hour later and confirmed identification.
Date & Time: 12th November 2006, c11:30.
Locality inc. Grid Reference: Langold Lake SK578864.
Distance from Observer: 2-6 feet.
of Observation: c1 hour.
& Light Conditions: It was a bright, cool winters day, 3/8 cc, light
SW, but crisp.
Aids Used: Nikon 10 x 42 High Grade binoculars.
Present for Comparison: Was mainly on its own, although Coot and Moorhen
Experience of Similar Species: Familiar with all resident & visiting grebe species within the UK, have seen all breeding grebes on breeding grebes, as well in winter & juv. plumage during the autumn and winter in the UK and overseas, such as Spain for example.
Structure: Quite a distinctive shape, very truncated rear end, upturned bill and steep forehead, short & squat. Fine bill, with upcurved lower mandible, which is straight in Slavonian Grebe. Slavonian grebe also shows more raked forehead, and more slender body.
Plumage: Again distinctive. The head and neck were off white and black, the crown was black, this extended below the eye line to ear coverts, forming almost a hooded appearance. This punctuated with a bright red eye. In Slavonian Grebe this line is straight and through the eye, not below. The neck was off white with a darker area around the lower neck forming a broad collar-making the white throat and nape stand out. The under parts were smoky-off white in colour, with almost black-flecks in the rear. The upperparts were a dull black/ slate grey in colour.
SPECIES: Common Eider (1st yr male).
A very robust looking bird, quite low in the water, but wide & long
bodied. The head was in proportion the body, and distinctively triangular
shaped, accentuated by long (for a duck) pointy (rounded tip) bill,
with a straight gape, as opposed to the 'smirk' line as in King Eider
(f & imm).
Generally all dark (brown-failing light didn't help), which would indicate
an adult female or imm male. The head was all dark, ruling out juv male,
and the presence of 2 pure white feathers on the mantle/ back ruled
out a female-leaving a 1st yr male bird.
For the 15 mins I observed the bird it remained in the same spot, preparing
to roost on the water.
Species : Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus
Observer : Richard Buckley
Address : xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Tel No : xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date & Time : 8th February 2006, 10:40
Locality : Just outside Turnerwood, South Yorks on the Chesterfield Canal towpath. SK5381
Distance from Observer : At first about 40 feet then up to less than 30 feet until lost undergrowth.
Period of Observation : Watched for about 3 or 4 minutes.
Weather & Light Conditions : Sunny and bright with the odd cloud. Breezy North Wind.
Optical Aid Used : Zeiss 10 x 50 binoculars
Species Present for Comparison : Long-tailed Tit, Treecreeper and Goldcrest.
Experience of Species : Have seen the species on two occasions, in Norfolk and Clumber Park, Notts
Experience of Similar Species : Quite experienced in the observation of Goldcrest over the years having observed them regularly in Shireoaks Park and Clumber Park, Notts. Have seen them two or three times within the last week. I also had been watching two individuals about twenty minutes earlier about a mile away.
Size : The same size as Goldcrest.
Structure : Again the same as Goldcrest.
Plumage : The bird was first viewed from behind in some ivy on a hawthorn trunk and seemed to be all one buff colour, but on emerging from the ivy it was apparent that there was a contrast from the greenish back to the lighter underside. A black eye stripe was unmistakeable also contrasting the white supercilium. I was also lucky enough to have this bird in the same view as a Goldcrest and it was obviously not the same species.
Call / Song : The bird was silent.
Behaviour : The bird foraged in ivy clad hawthorns and along and under tree branches.
Whilst walking along the Chesterfield Canal towpath near to Turnerwood, South Yorks I spotted a flock of small birds foraging in the trees and undergrowth. There were about six to eight Long-tailed Tits, five or six Goldcrest and the above bird. At first I thought it was another Goldcrest but when I had a clear view it was obviously not a Goldcrest. The sun was behind me and I was within thirty to forty feet of the bird and the views I had were exceptional. As mentioned in Plumage, I was lucky in that at one stage I had both Goldcrest and this bird in view as they were within a foot of each other.
Species: Artic Skua-Stercorarius parasiticus
Observer: Mick Clay and Brian Chambers
Tel No: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date & Time: 10th October 2005 -8.20 am
Locality: Axle Lane, South Anston, South Yorkshire
Distance from Observer: First viewed at about 200m then at about 100m
Period of Observation: Approximately 3 minutes
Weather & Light Conditions: Good viewing conditions, 5/8 cloud cover and light southerly winds.
Optical Aid Used: Initially picked up with naked eye and then watched with Leica 8 x 32 binoculars.
Species present for comparison: Golden Plover, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Black Headed Gull.
Experience of similar species: Both adult and juvenile birds seen at Flamborough Head, Filey , Spurn and Norfolk over many years
Plumage: Overall a very dark appearance.
and flight: The bird was flying north-west underneath about 1000 Gold
Plover which had been disturbed on Axle Lane and were flying back in
the same direction. Its flight was fast and graceful and so took my
attention immediately .As the bird got closer I could see it was Skua
species. Its main feature was its overall dark appearance with only
a relatively short tail which meant it was a juvenile. In comparison
to juvenile Long-Tailed Skuas they show distinctive upper-part barring.
While Pomarine and Great Skua have much heavier bodies, larger bill
and broader wing.I also consider juvenile Gannet but this has much longer
wing span 165 to180cm compared to Arctic Skua 97 to 115 cm and much
larger bill.There was also juvenile gulls but these are all pale bellow
and this bird was not.This bird from the views I had was a juvenile
Arctic Skua, as a adult has a more prominent tail projection.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper at South Anston On Friday the 20th September 2002
Thanks to Mark Reeder for his speedy description, and to Ray Greasley who initially had it fly over RVCP and relocated it at Axle Lane.
I visited, as I do most evenings, Rother Valley Country Park. However this time I was hoping that the Buff-breasted Sandpiper, which was present briefly in the morning, might put in another appearance. On arriving I spoke to Ray Greasley, who had found it ( At both RVCP & Axle Lane). As neither it nor any Golden Plovers were present I decided to check the nearby fields around South Anston. As I drove along Dog Kennel Lane I looked down into the fields and noticed a large group of Golden Plovers approximately 400 yards away. I parked at the side of the road and began to scan the flock with my Leica APO 20-60. Almost immediately I noticed a Dunlin sized wader feeding among the mainly stationary 'Goldies'. The buff underparts and blackish/buff mottled upperparts were obvious, even the mustard yellow legs and 'beady' black eye could be seen clearly at 400yds. This was clearly the Buff-breasted Sandpiper and not a Ruff (a grey male was present earlier in the day). At this point Pete Wragg and Ray Greasley joined me. After further views we decided that better views could be obtained from Axle Lane. On arriving there the bird was feeding in front of us at no more than 100yds. The following features were noted: -
Size and shape: A small Dunlin sized wader appearing round-headed and bodied. Wings appeared longish falling level with tip of tail.
Bare Parts: The bill was short 'dagger' like and blackish. The legs were strikingly mustard yellow.
Eye: The eye was blackish and very prominent against the buff tones of the head.
Underparts: The underparts were buff-coloured appearing a richer tone around the upper breast. The neck and head were also buff-coloured, the hind neck and crown being slightly darker. The sides of the neck were spotted black with blotchier blackish spotting on the sides of the upper breast.
Upperparts: The upperparts appeared mottled blackish/buff. The scapulars and coverts were centred blackish with buff, not whitish, fringes. The flight feathers appeared black with pale fringes. At rest the wings appeared to be equal in length with the tail. During my observations I did not see this bird in flight so consequently the underwing or tail pattern were not noted. Due to the buff not whitish fringes to the upperparts we considered the bird to be an adult.
Previous experience: I have seen four previous individuals in Britain, Cley 1986, Cornwall (3) 1993. I am also very familiar with juvenile/ female Ruff.
Conclusion On the evening of the 20th September an adult Buff-breasted Sandpiper was present (having been present earlier) with Golden Plovers at Axel lane South Anston. It was seen by Ray Greasley, Mark N Reeder and Pete Wragg, several other unknown observers also saw it. On the 25th September an adult Buff-breasted Sandpiper was found at Wheldrake Ings North Yorkshire. Both Ray Greasley (who saw it)and myself (from photos) considered it the same bird as the South Yorkshire bird.
SPECIES: Spotted Redshank (juvenile) Tringa erythropus.
Observer: Andy Hirst & Mick Clay, joined later by Brian Chambers.
Tel No: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date & Time: 13th August 2002, circa 15:30.
Locality inc. Grid Reference: Flash in field, just east of Hodsock Sewage Works SK 602865.
Distance from Observer: Circa 100m.
Period of Observation: We watched the bird for about 20-30 mins.
Weather & Light Conditions: Fine, bright, 2 oktas cloud cover, light NE breeze.
Optical Aids Used: Nikon 10 x 42 High Grade bins + Kowa 611 scope with 30 WA.
Species Present for Comparison: Greenshank, Lapwing, Snipe and Dunlin.
Experience of Species: Fairly familiar with all passage waders through UK. I usually visit wader sites in UK most autumns, notably Norfolk (Snettisham, Titchwell, Cley) and Yorkshire sites such as Blacktoft Sands.
Experience of Similar Species: Again fairly familiar with most passage waders in most plumages through UK.
Size: Smaller than Lapwing and Greenshank, but larger than Snipe and Dunlin.
Structure: Generally quite sleek and slender with a longer finer bill than Redshank, with proportionally longer legs also.
Plumage: Generally colder looking than Redshank, greyer, not as brown as Redshank. Being quite dark above and below this bird was aged as a bird of the year. Whilst a sleep, when first observed, it showed a short white eyestripe along the lores, between the bill and eye. This contrasting with the darker, greyer plumage of the head and body. Bare Parts: The legs were a vivid red colour with a vivid red-based lower bill that was darker towards the tip, as was the upper bill. The red of the bill and legs contrasting with the colder grey tone of the plumage. When it eventually took off it showed a neat white block from above the dark rump, up to the back, almost reaching the mantle, with no visible wing bar. This indicative of Spotted Redshank.
Call/ Song: Silent
Behaviour: Initially flew in with Greenshank and Ruff, and lost from view as it landed behind cover. After half an hour of scanning the bird was noticed on the far bank asleep, on one leg. After a period of 20 mins or so it awoke, and after a few more mins. it took off with the Greenshank and Dunlin. It circled with them before departing high to the south.
Flight: Generally straight, with rapid shallow wingbeats.
Following a successful weekend at Flamborough, and noting a good passage of waders Mick Clay and I decided to return mid Sunday afternoon to checkout Hodsock to search out any passage waders. The heavy rainfall had produced a shallow flash. Arriving about 15:00 we were initially disappointed with ideal conditions, but no waders visible. After about 10 mins of scanning a mixed group of waders descended on the pool, obvious were 2 Greenshank, which called several times. In with them were 2 similar sized birds (Ruff) and a more slender bird that landed out of view. These birds enticed a Dunlin out in to the open, which had remained hidden prior the others landing. The Greenshank began feeding at opposite ends of the pool. The other birds (Ruff) were also observed at opposite ends of the pool, one a juv male, the other much smaller and therefore juv female. These along with a Snipe and Lapwing providing a great spectacle. For the next 15 mins. we constantly scanned the pool from left to right hoping to pick up on the wader that landed out of site. After a short while (circa 10 mins.) a scan produced a slender darker wader that initially looked like a Redshank, which was asleep, on one leg with it's head facing towards us. However looking through the scope it clearly showed a defined short white stripe along the lores, between the bill and eye. This with the long red legs and cold grey plumage lead me to i.d. the bird as a Spotted Redshank. Eventually it woke up to reveal a longer (than Redshank), finer bill that had a red base to the lower bill. After about 20 mins, (by which time Brian Chambers had joined us) the tringas became restless and flew off with the Dunlin, leaving behind the Lapwing, Snipe and the 2 Ruff. The Greenshank called several times, as the Dunlin, Spotted Redshank and Greenshank circled the field twice, before heading off high to the south. This was a spectacular site, for SK58 has no permanent wader habitat. The sight of 6 wader species together was truly memorable (Spotted Redshank, Ruff, Greenshank, Snipe, Lapwing and Dunlin), especially when this constitutes the first record of Spotted Redshank within SK58 since the groups inception in 1992.
Andy Hirst 07/09/02.
Species: Sandwich Tern -Sterna Sandvicensis
Observer: Mick Clay and Ivan Keeton.
Date and Time: 25th April 2002 -7.30am.
Locality: Axle Lane, (Todwick end) South East of Sheffield.
Distance from Observer: 30m.
Period of Observation: 1 minute.
Weather and Light conditions: 5/8 cloud cover and westerly wind.
Optical Aid Used: Leica 8 x 32 binoculars.
Species present for comparison: None.
Experience of Species: Seen at several coastal sites around Britain and abroad.
Experience of similar species: All British breeding terns including, Arctic, Common, Roseate and Little seen at various coastal and inland sites and Gull-Billed Tern seen abroad.
Structure: Large and long winged with long black bill.
Plumage: Pale bird with dark black cap.
Behaviour and Flight: Flying North with long wing beats. I checked first the bill and could clearly see this was long and black unlike the Gull-Billed that has broad wings and thicker black bill. I could not see the yellow or pale tip of the bird due to the slight angle the bird was to us. There is also Roseate Tern that has a black bill, but also has longer tail streamers and shows pink column below.
Notes: I arranged to meet Ivan at 7am to listen for Grasshopper Warbler that had been on Axle Lane on the 19th April. At 7.30 Ivan called out large Tern, so from listening out for the Warbler I looked up seeing the bird 30m away flying in a northerly direction. I then let Andy Hirst know of this bird and he informed me that there had been several other birds in land. This represents the second record for this species within SK58, the first in July 1999.
Mick Clay.12th September 2002.
SPECIES: Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa).
Observer: Andy Hirst.
Date & Time: 25th August 2001, 07:30.
Locality inc. Grid Reference: North Anston Pit Top, SK5185.
Distance from Observer: 200-400m alt: 70-100 feet.
Period of Observation: circa 30-40 seconds.
Weather & Light Conditions: 1 okta cloud cover, fine, mild & warm, sunny.
Optical Aids Used: Leica 8x32 binoculars.
Species Present for Comparison: None.
Experience of Species: Pretty experienced with most British waders. I see this species annually, especially on passage at sites in Norfolk and more locally at Blacktoft Sands RSPB Reserve and Old Moor Wetland Centre-Barnsley.
Experience of Similar Species: Familiar with both common species of Godwit, as with Black-tailed Limosa limosa, Bar-tailed Godwits Limosa lapponica are encountered annually, more locally at Blacktoft Sands RSPB Reserve.
Size: Difficult to judge, but given the distance involved, the bird seemed quite large, larger than a Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, similar to Whimbrel Numemius phaeopus, smaller than Curlew Numemius arquata.
Structure: The bird with it's trailing legs and long fine bill, looked elongated, despite a fairly bulky body. The wings were quite long, and fairly broad.
Plumage: The plumage was very striking. The rear of underside was generally pale. The reddish breast was not seen as the birds wing and position relative to me did allow this feature to be seen. The upper parts were also striking with a broad white wing-bar through the black primaries and secondaries of a dark wing. The tail was white with a broad black band at the tip. The mantle and back were dark, although paler than the wings and tail. The legs projecting from the rear were dark.
Call/ Song: Silent
Behaviour: The bird flew through, without landing or deviating.
Flight: The flight was fairly rapid, on broad black and white wings. It was about 70-100 feet above the ground, given that I was not on the valley floor. The flight was silent, direct and straight. The bird flew down the valley in a SE direction, until lost from view behind trees.
SPECIES: Corncrake Crex crex
Observer: Andy Hirst.
Tel No: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date & Time: 23rd September 2001, 09:30.
Locality inc. Grid Reference: North Anston Pit Top, by Cramfit Brook (SK514856).
Distance from Observer: 7 feet.
Period of Observation: Literally 1-2 seconds.
Weather & Light Conditions: Dull, 8 oktas cloud cover, fine and mild, light N breeze.
Optical Aids Used: None, just my eyes.
Species Present for Comparison: None.
Experience of Species: Seen and heard almost annually on breeding grounds in NW Scotland, most recently encountered on a trip to Poland this May
Experience of Similar Species: Very familiar with all ages of Moorhen Gallinula chloropus and Water Rail Rallus aquaticus, the latter occur almost annually during winter periods within SK58. Have seen and heard and fairly familiar with Spotted Crake Porzana porzana, although not observed annually. I have seen Little Crake Porzana parva in Spain, although not recently and have never seen Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla.
Size: Quite small, comparably sized to Water Rail Rallus aquaticus, much smaller and slender than a game bird, except for possibly a skinny Quail Corturnix coturnix
Structure: Despite the brief view I had, it was obvious this was a slender, quite long legged and winged bird, too leggy or sleek looking for a Quail Corturnix coturnix, not at all dumpy looking. I also ruled out juvenile Moorhen Gallinula chloropus because of the scaly back and lack any tail flash. I ruled out Water Rail Rallus aquaticus straight away due to the length of the wings that projected beyond and covered up the tail. Water Rail Rallus aquaticus have a short primary projection that fall short of the tail. The bird was also leggy, with long grey tarsus and toes. I saw the bird from behind and clearly saw its wings that met above and hid the tail. What I couldn't see was the head or neck, which were hidden from me as the bird slinked off with its head and neck lowered away from me, giving a hunched appearance as recorded in my notes immediately after the encounter.
Plumage: What was immediately apparent was the shades of cryptic brown plumage on the mantle and back. Despite the very brief view I noted what appeared to be a scaly back pattern comprising of streak like shades of brown, very similar to female Pheasant Phasianus colchicus. The wings (except latter third), underparts, head and neck were not seen in the brief view. I knew that juvenile Little Crake Porzana parva show a pale fringe on the tertials, this bird had none. What was very noticeable were the pale/ grey legs and feet. I didn't notice any white streaks, or ringlets on the upperparts which led me to rule out Baillon's Porzana pusilla and Spotted Crake Porzana porzana when I returned to my car and checked with the Collin's guide. I also noted that Little Crake Porzana parva show regular white markings on the mantle and back and that the other continental crakes show varying amounts of white ringlets and streaks in all plumage's. My bird showed none of these in the brief view I had.
Call/ Song: Silent
Behaviour: The bird was walking along the narrow path, I stumbled across it and saw it for less than a few seconds, obviously aware of me the bird disappeared from the path to the left in to very dense cover. The bird was observed briefly walking away from me, from literally under my feet, into deep undergrowth, from a path through reeds and long grass that forms the banking of Cramfit Brook. What was immediately apparent was the posture and walking action. The hunched posture with head and neck down meant I didn't see the head or neck, but I noted the purposeful way it walked, deliberately placing each step, although moving quickly in a slinking type action. This left me in no doubt I was looking at rail or crake. What crossed my mind was Corncrake Crex crex. The very brief views left little time for detailed notes. What was noteworthy was despite the fact I flogged the immediate area for a further 90 minutes, I did not see the bird again. It had literally disappeared, this an action typical of Corncrake Crex crex. I have flushed Quail Corturnix coturnix and Pheasant and both when flushed tend to run away and/ or fly, in the case of Pheasant Phasianus colchicus -quite noisily.
I was undertaking a typical route around my favoured North Anston Pit Top. On the return section I followed the bank of Cramfit Brook, where a very narrow, little used path cuts through the dense reeds and long grass that make up the bankside vegetation. I came across a small bird slinking away from me, almost under my feet. Obviously aware of me the bird deviated from the path in to the dense cover on the left and was not seen again. Despite the brief view I realised I had just seen a rail or crake, based on the size, sleek hunched body, long legs and purposeful steps that carried the bird quickly away. I knew it wasn't a young Moorhen Gallinula chloropus as it was to cryptically marked and not plain above, nor would a young Moorhen Gallinula chloropus slope off without flashing a white undertail or fly and call. As the bird was walking away its rear was the most obvious bit I saw and drew my attention. I looked for a tail with a white undertail. What I noticed were long wings that projected beyond the tail, the wing tip converging beyond the tail and hiding it. What then drew my attention were the pale/ grey legs and feet and the noticeable way it sloped off with a purposeful gait. After a brief search I telephoned Mick Clay and told him I had just observed what I thought was a Corncrake Crex crex. Unfortunately he wasn't able to come and help look. Despite searching the immediate 50m square for a further 90 mins the bird was not relocated. This further pointing to Corncrake Crex crex. I returned to my car and checked the Collin's field guide. This further added to my resolve that I had just had a brief view of a Corncrake on passage. Members of the group have subsequently asked me about the record, some suggesting that it may have been a Pheasant poult Phasianus colchicus. I could dismiss this straight away. My bird was clearly a crake or rail, the body was too small, the jizz of walking, not running away silently with a rear up, head down action typical of rail or crake and most untypical of a game bird. I ruled out Water Rail Rallus aquaticus as well based on wing length, which covered the tail. I would also possibly expect a Water Rail Rallus aquaticus to fly or call at some point during the 90 min search. Despite the all too brief view I did take note quite a few features, and upon reflection decided to write up and submit my notes. I am 99% sure I found the first Corncrake Crex crex within SK58. If you deem this account inconclusive I would welcome any pointers as to what the bird may have been. Attached a copy of reported Corncrake Crex crex during September 2001 and all Corncrake Crex crex records during the latter half of 2001. The search shows 4 reports in August, rising to 7 during September and 6 in October to date.
Andy Hirst 27th October 2001.
SPECIES: Woodlark Lullula arborea
Observer: Andy Hirst & Arthur Creasey
Tel No: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date & Time: 4th May 2001, 19.30
Locality inc. Grid Reference: North Anston Pit Top-SK517854
Distance from Observer: Initially circa 20 feet-then lost from view in distance
Period of Observation: Observed for about 2 mins.
Weather & Light Conditions: Although getting on, it was quite bright, light SW breeze, mild, with 3 Oktas cloud cover
Optical Aids Used: Leica 8x32 bins
Species Present for Comparison: Skylark and Meadow Pipit in the vicinity, although not in the same field of view
Experience of Species: Have observed Woodlark many times in recent years and have welcomed their dramatic increase in recent years. I look for these birds annually at traditional sites such as Weeting Heath in Norfolk and more recently at Budby Heath and Clumber Park; both in N.Notts. The last Woodlark I observed were three weeks earlier in a woodland glade near Bebrieza in Poland
Experience of Similar Species: Have seen all species of European lark except Dupont's. Especially familiar with British larks having witnessed and recorded the decline of Skylark locally and the increase of Woodlark nationally and regionally.
Size: Comparable to Skylark, although the birds did have a visibly shorter tail
Structure: Again comparable to Skylark, although the birds had what appeared to be broader based wings, and very distinctive shorter tails, which were spread and clearly in view as the birds rose. The short tails gave a more rounded, squatter appearance to both birds. This lark type build and short tail on both birds left me in no doubt that we were watching the first Woodlark recorded in SK58.
Plumage: Initially the birds were briefly viewed against the ground and woodland in the background, this gave an overall impression of being brown in colour, with similar markings to Skylark. Although once they broke the skyline they became silhouetted against the bright sky.
Call/ Song: Silent during observation.
Behaviour: Initially flushed in front of me about 20' away, 2 birds rose silently, they continued to rise to a height of circa 30-50 feet and then turned away and flew in a North Easterly direction until lost from view.
Flight: Typically lark like, with rapid wing beats projecting the birds vertically upwards. As they gained height they proceeded to fly strongly away buoyantly to the North East-typical of this species.
Whilst undertaking the annual SK58 sponsored Bird Race, Arthur Creasey and myself were combing the flat plateau of NAPT, in the hope of flushing a Snipe, or passerine from the thickening scrubby patchy ground cover of grasses that have encroached on the slag over recent years. As we approached the far North East corner of the plateau; 2 birds rose up in front of me, they were clearly larks, but both had short tails. I immediately identified them as Woodlark solely based on their shape. I shouted to Arthur who was about 20' behind me, that I had 2 Woodlark-he raised his binoculars and agreed with me that we were indeed looking at a pair of Woodlark. By now they had risen above the skyline which made plumage notes impossible as the birds were silhouetted against the sky. We continued to watch the birds as they rose and then flew away to the North East buoyantly, until lost from view. Despite this somewhat poor view both Arthur and I agreed that we had inadvertently flushed two birds that constituted the first Woodlark record for SK58. Woodlark is a species that was long overdue in SK58. The sandier soils to the East and North East already support a small breeding population, with well-established populations to the South East. Despite return visits the birds were not relocated. It was assumed they were a transient pair, possibly on their way to breeding locations near Doncaster. Andy Hirst 14th June 2001.
SPECIES: Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus.
Observer: Andy Hirst, Dave Dunford & Chris Lilley.
Tel No: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date & Time: 23rd September 2000.
Locality inc. Grid Reference: Kings Wood Corner, near Roche Abbey, Rotherham, S Yorks. (SK547895).
Distance from Observer: First observed individual at about 50 feet above ground, at a distance of about 50m. The bird then flew past us within 50' and continued south out of sight.
Period of Observation: From initial sighting at 11.15 eventually lost from view after circa 7-8 mins.
Weather & Light Conditions: The weather was superb. Visibility was clear with 2 oktas cloud cover with a force 3 SSE breeze. The sun was shining and it was mild, about 12-14°c-making the 5.5 hour raptor stint a pleasure.
Optical Aids Used: Leica 8x32BA binoculars and Kowa 611 60mm scope with 30x WA eyepiece.
Species Present for Comparison: Common Buzzard Buteo buteo had been observed all morning, indeed at least 7 birds were in the area. The morning vigil also produced 1 female, 1 adult male and 1 immature male Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus. The morning had been productive with notable passage of Pied Wagtail motacilla alba and Skylark Alauda arvensis.
Experience of Species: Fairly experienced with all buteo species found in Western Europe. This species observed annually at the well established haunt of Welbeck, North Notts, less than 10 miles from home. Also observed less frequently at the raptor watchpoint in Wykeham Forest, North Yorks. Have also witnessed birds in recent years on migration in Israel and through the Pyrenees at Organbidexka, so I'm pretty familiar with this species.
Experience of Similar Species: As recorder for SK58 Birders I have witnessed the rapid increase of Common Buzzard Buteo buteo within SK58. I spend many hours throughout the year watching and recording Common Buzzard Buteo buteo throughout SK58. We currently have a population of circa 7-10 pairs, concentrated in the northern half of SK58. I usually catch up with Rough-legged Buzzard Buteo lagopus annually, either around the Sheffield area or the East Coast during the winter.
Details Size: Comparable to Common Buzzard Buteo buteo, although body seemed slimmer, with longer wings and tail (fig. 1).
Structure: Generally very similar to Common Buzzard Buteo buteo, although the body appeared slighter, with a fairly slim breast. Head and neck were small and protruding. Not as bull-necked as Common Buzzard Buteo buteo would appear (fig. 3). It appeared the head and body was too small for the wings and tail. The wings and tail were distinctive. The wings were quite long, but flat, with a noticeable nip at the base, brought about by a bulge in the secondaries (fig.1, 2 & 5). The wings were also straight out from the body (fig. 1,5 & 6). When observed the tail was long, longer than Common Buzzard Buteo buteo, with rounded corners (fig.2 & 3), that almost recalled Goshawk Accipiter gentilis.
Plumage: Was basically dark brown above and below. The head was all dark, with a yellow bill/ cere that was commented on afterwards. The eye was dark, which enabled us to age the bird as a juvenile. The upperparts were again dark brown, although appeared almost rufous in the sunlight. The tail was dark, with no discernable bands. However a pale area was noted at the base of the tail (fig. 7). Underparts were again uniformly dark, with no dark breast band evident, pointing to Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus as Common Buzzard Buteo buteo tend to show dark blotches to the breast sides. The underwings were again uniformly dark, with no bands/ barring noted. In the central primaries a large white patch was noted, with fairly extensive black wing tips (fig. 5). The all dark plumage, pale base to uppertail and lack of dark areas on breast sides, all pointed to juvenile Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus.
Call/ Song: Silent Behaviour: The bird flew in from the north at an altitude of circa 50'. The bird then pulled it's wings in slightly (fig. 4) and glided almost directly towards us. As the bird almost went over and past us it spread it's wings out, flapped several times before gliding on flat wings. The bird continued to flap and glide for a few more mins, becoming more distant. It then began to circle and gain height on a thermal, where it then continued south out of sight.
Flight: Initially the bird was flying, interspersed with glides, almost directly towards us (fig.1). The wing beats were similar to Common Buzzard Buteo buteo, but appeared more flexible, with possibly deeper wing beats. The bird as it approached pulled it's wings in slightly and glided as it went passed us (fig. 4). The bird then continued to glide on outstretched wings, with occasional flaps. The bird glided on flat wings that were held outstretched. Not brought forward and held up as in Common Buzzard Buteo buteo (fig. 5 & 6). As the bird became distant it began to circle on a thermal, before eventually gliding off south.
Working at BirdGuides I was monitoring the rarity reports of Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus as they arrived on the East Coast and over the next 10 days or so moved south and inland. At Kings Wood, near Roche Abbey a small band regularly watch for raptors. Most noticeable are the resident Common Buzzard Buteo buteo. Typically such locations regularly attract other raptors. Resident Goshawk Accipiter gentilis, Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus and Kestrel Falco tinnunculus have been supplemented this year by Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, Osprey Pandion haliaetus and Merlin Falco columbarius, with reports of Red Kite Milvus milvus. On Thursday 21st September I received a call from Mick Clay, an SK58 member. He told me that he had just been told by John O'Malley (a Kings Wood regular) that 3 Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus had just flown south over Kings Wood. Mick went out to his local spot-Axle Lane and saw 2 of them continue south. The following day JOM had a further 3 birds south. Clearly birds were moving through and in some number. Being at work I had to wait until Saturday 23rd September before I could get out. On Saturday 23rd September I agreed to meet Chris Lilley & Dave Dunford at Kings Wood corner, with the intention of spending the morning there and try to connect with any passing Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus. I was on site with Chris Lilley at 06.40, Dave Dunford arrived at around 08.45. The morning passed fairly quickly as passage birds were noted. By 10.00 Common Buzzard Buteo buteo were beginning to rise in modest numbers and by 11.00 at least 7 different birds were located in the air at once. At 11.12 a dark buteo was noticed, mobbed by corvids, this we identified as a juvenile Common Buzzard Buteo buteo. 3 mins. later a similarly coloured dark buteo was seen by me, flying almost directly towards us. The bird was lethargically flapping as I put my bins on it. At this moment it began to glide on outstretched wings (fig. 1 & 2). Noting the long wings, held flat and bulging at the secondaries, giving a distinctive 'nipped in at the base' look I shouted that it was a Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus. Our bird then brought it wings in slightly and continued to glide over us, within 50' (fig.4). Seeing the bird in this pose I began to doubt my initial decision. Although as the bird drew level with us and I was looking at the bird in profile I noted it had a proportionally long tail, with rounded corners. Noting that the tail was as long as the wings were broad, reminding me almost of Goshawk Accipiter gentilis in profile, but with a significantly slimmer breast (fig.3). In Common Buzzard Buteo buteo the tail appears much shorter. At this point the head became more noticeable. The classic 'Cuckoo' shape was evident (fig. 3). The head was smaller and more protruding than Common Buzzard Buteo buteo, where the head more often than not appears short and triangular, almost bull-necked. Having noted the structure and jizz in depth I concentrated on plumage as the bird began to fly away from us. The bird was generally dark brown above and below, with almost rufous tones on the upperparts, when the sun caught the wings. I did notice a pale area at the base of the tail (fig.7), with paler windows in the centre of the primaries. Looking at the tail I could not detect any noticeable bars against the dark brown plumage on the underparts. After noting the tail length, small protruding head, wing structure/ angle, and plumage I confirmed my initial identification and aged it as a bird of the year. The bird continued south, after several mins. it began to circle and gain height and then continued south out of sight after a further couple of mins. After the event, chatting amongst ourselves we noted the bird had bright yellow cere/ bill and dark eye. This run of records constitutes the first Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus records in SK58 since the formation of SK58 Birders. The total number of Honey-buzzard Pernis apivorus through SK58 during the nationwide influx totaled 11 birds. 3 birds on 21/09/00, 3 on 22/09/00-all south over Kings Wood. 2 of the birds recorded on 21/09/00 were observed over Axle Lane, circa 3 miles SSW of Kings Wood. My bird again over Kings Wood on 23/09/00, with 2 more birds reported the next week, 1 over Axle Lane (SK 507840) and a bird over Netherthorpe (SK 547807). To date I am awaiting descriptions from these observers. Andy Hirst 31st October 2000
Species: Black Tern. Chlidonias niger
Observer: Mick Clay.
Tel No: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date & Time: 15th May, 1998 early morning.
Locality: Canal Plantation, Axle Lane, South Anston, South East of Sheffield.
Distance from Observer: 125m. Period of Observation: Approximately 2 minutes.
Weather & Light Conditions: Fine and sunny.
Optical Aids Used: Leica 8 x 32 Binoculars.
Species Present for Comparison: Mute swan.
Experience of Species: Single bird at Rother Valley Country Park. April, 1997.
Details: Size: Appeared slight and small,with a short tail about the size of a thrush.
Plumage: My first sight of the bird was that of a distinctive black and sooty coloured bird. The head and breast were black and the wings sooty grey with a dark bill.
Behaviour/Flight. The bird flew from East to West along the centre of the pond 3m above the water with its head appearing to look down toward the water.
Notes: I was just on my return journey from covering my local patch when I looked towards Canal Plantation as the previous day there had been 8 Mute Swans feeding there. As I scanned along the water counting 6 Swans a distinctive black and sooty coloured bird flew from East to West about 3m above the pond. I then watched it fly back along the centre of the pond and could clearly see that it was a Black Tern. I then moved nearer the pond only to find that the bird had moved away probably to the rear of the trees on the South side of the pond. I waited a further half an hour to see a Common Tern again on passage visit the pond to feed. Only two days earlier on the 13th a total of 21 Common Terns on passage spent at least one hour during fog feeding on the same pond (MC,Jha) and some 4 birds earlier in the month.
These are unedited and reproduced as they were submitted.
SPECIES: Black Kite Milvus migrans.
Observer: Andy Hirst, Rob & Jill Hardcastle.
Tel. No. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date and Time: 27th April 1997, 19.11-19.15. Locality (grid ref.): From Carr village, near Maltby, Rotherham, on the edge of SK58 SK506904.
Distance from Observer: First seen at circa 3-400 metres distance, at a height of about 150-200 metres (best guess), until it disappeared to the North over Maltby.
Period of Observation: From 19.11 to 19.15, about 4 mins. (roughly).
Weather and Light Conditions: Fine, clear, 2 oktas cloud cover, light SE breeze, quite light due to lack of cloud cover.
Optical Aids Used: Leica 8x32 bins, plus Kowa 611 with 30WA eyepiece
Species Present for Comparison: None really, Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria were the birds in the foreground which we were scanning, they went up and the Black Kite Milvus migrans was seen behind them.
Experience of Species: Seen many times on trips to France and especially Spain, including, on migration through the Gibraltar area, and through the Pyrenees. Last ones seen in Israel in April 1996.
Experience of Similar Species: Pretty experienced with Red Kite Milvus milvus seen many times abroad and annually in central Wales. Last ones seen over M40 May 1996. Also experienced with Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, annually at Blacktoft Sands RSPB Reserve and in Norfolk especially Titchwell and Cley. Experienced with Osprey Pandion haliaetus also, having seen many abroad and in Scotland, Had several through the Sheffield/ SK58 area, the last one being April 1996. Experienced also with Buzzard Buteo buteo, we have at least one pair nesting on the northern boundary of SK58, these are seen almost weekly.
Size: Roughly same size as a Buzzard Buteo buteo, more comparable with Osprey Pandion haliaetus.
Structure: Quite a sleek looking bird, with long wings and slim body, slimmer body than Buzzard Buteo buteo, similar to Osprey Pandion haliaetus but all dark, with a longer tail, when the bird turned it twisted it's closed tail to reveal a forked tail.
Plumage: The body, wings and tail appeared to be all dark brown, with no apparent pale areas showing. Having seen many Red Kite Milvus milvus I could rule this out based on plumage, no white primary patches were seen, the underside and wings appeared all dark, in Red Kite Milvus milvus the wings and body would have looked rufous or a pale brown, as would the tail. The head was never seen because the bird was flying diagonally away from me. The bird twisted it's tail to turn slightly, this revealed the tail as dark brown. With no pale areas in the wing I assumed the bird was an adult. The only confusion species would have been Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, the bird showed no grey, no cream-crown could be discerned, but the shape, flight, actions and shape of the tail ruled out Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus. One possibility could be that it could have been a Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, with a few tails feathers missing creating the illusion of a fork, I could rule this out, the plumage looked too neat, the tail looked neat and tidy, not notchy, as a moulting, or ragged bird would look. I was happy the tail pattern was genuinely forked, and not forked due to missing central tail feathers.
Call/ Song: Silent
Behaviour: The bird flew diagonally away from us in a Northerly direction, after about a minute it changed direction slightly and flew more North-North East.
Flight: The flight initially drew my attention to the bird, I first looked at it and saw a dark bird, the size and wing length ruled out any corvid, I thought of Buzzard Buteo buteo, Osprey Pandion haliaetus, Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus and Black Kite Milvus migrans (In that order) ruling out each one based on the notes here. The wings were held in a shallow arch, kinked down at the carpal which immediately became apparent, reminiscent of an Osprey Pandion haliaetus, this ruled out Buzzard Buteo buteo, which fly on more upswept rounder wings. Osprey Pandion haliaetus was ruled out on plumage, this bird was dark above and below. This left Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus or Black Kite Milvus migrans. I have seen Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus both here and abroad, and this bird didn't look right, the wings were kinked when gliding, not held in a 'V', Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus hold their wings in a similar upswept fashion to Buzzard Buteo buteo. In my original notes I drew the shape (copied here) and noted that the flaps were interspersed with the occasional glide, like an accipiter, but the glides were less frequent than an accipiter. The wing beats looked fairly deep and laboured. Still not completely happy I had ruled out Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, the bird turned slightly, using wings and tail, the twist of the tail showed more of the tail and a shallow fork was noted, after seeing this fork I was happy that I could rule out Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus as they have a rounded tail. This left Black Kite Milvus migrans
After spending a fruitful day in the square (SK58), recording the first Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur and Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus plus a flock of thirty plus Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe, I met Rob and Jill Hardcastle, we decided to go to Carr Hill, a local vantage point which had produced Dotterel Charadrius morinellus in the past. Birds were obviously going through and in good number. We searched the area without success and moved on to the Village of Carr, where a small flock of Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria were occasionally roosting, we checked this flock for Dotterel Charadrius morinellus, to no avail. We began to pack up our gear, when the Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria flew up, I checked them with my bins, in case we had missed any Dotterel Charadrius morinellus, as I did this I noticed a large dark bird behind the Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, flying higher and away from us. The bird wasn't a corvid, this was ruled out by the length of the wings and body. My next thought was raptor, I reached into the boot of my car to get my scope, telling Rob "I had a raptor", I quickly picked up the mystery raptor in the scope. The first thing I noted was the shape and flight pattern, a sleek looking bird, with a deep laboured flight with the occasional glide, I dismissed Buzzard Buteo buteo based on the shape, Buzzard Buteo buteo look bulkier, this looked sleek with angular looking wings. A Buzzard Buteo buteo would look dumpier, with blunter, upswept rounder wings. The bird looked similar to Osprey Pandion haliaetus, this was dismissed on the basis of plumage. This bird was completely dark above and below, with a dark body, wings and tail. My next thought was female or immature type Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus. This is a bird I have predicted would be added to the SK58 species list in the near future, and the date would have been spot on. Whilst looking at the bird through my scope it twisted it's tail, which until now couldn't be discerned, because of the angle, the tail was lost against the outline of the furthest wing, however when the bird twisted it's tail, it turned slightly to a more North-North Easterly direction, the twist and new attitude of the bird gave a clear outline of the tail, this clearly showed a fork on the closed tail, putting this forked tail, the flight action, shape and plumage I could eliminate Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus. I identified the mystery raptor as an adult Black Kite Milvus migrans. I contacted other members of SK58, and local birder John O'Malley, who was out!, I then phoned Birdnet, the message was relayed that "Black Kite Milvus migrans was going over Maltby now". This is a first for the square, and according to 'Rare and Scarce Birds in Yorkshire' (Wilson & Slack) about the twentieth in Yorkshire. The next day (28th April) probably the same bird flew East down the Leven Valley in Cleveland at 16.35 (per Birdnet). I also believe one was seen at Carr Vale (North Derbyshire) A day or so before. Andy Hirst April 28th 1997
SPECIES: Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus)
Observer: Mick Clay & James Clay Date and Time: January 21st 1997.
Locality (grid ref.): Lingodell, Nr Firbeck 5488 Distance from Observer: c100m Period of Observation: c5-10 mins.
Species Present for Comparison: Canada Goose
Experience of Species: Seen in Norfolk on several trips previously
Size: Large Duck, small goose sized, smaller the accompanying Canada Geese.
Plumage: buff in colour with darkish facial patch, long pink legs and darker wings, which I could see was an Egyptian Goose
Behaviour: The bird after several minutes of viewing became very nervous and started to move away from the group of Canada Geese. It then took flight showing it's white forewing as it moved SE Flight: The bird took off with Canada Geese, showing buff plumage and clear white forewing.
While coming back from Tickhill with James I decided to call via Firbeck to see if we could see any Hawfinch without any luck. We then moved onto Lingodel, Firbeck. As I counted the Canada Geese I suddenly noticed a much different bird grazing not too far away, buff in colour with darkish facial patch, long pink legs and darker wings, which I could see was an Egyptian Goose. The bird after several minutes of viewing became very nervous and started to move away from the group of Canada Geese. It then took flight showing it's white forewing as it moved SE. The bird was then re-located the next day grazing on a field by Penny Hill, Firbeck and probably later disturbed by shooting.
Species: Juvenile American Golden Plover. Pluvialis dominica
Observer: Mick Clay, James Clay and Rob Hardcastle
Tel No: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date and Time: 5th September, 1996, 15.25 -18.25
Locality: Axle Lane, South Anston, South East of Sheffield, SK 5083 -5183.
Distance from Observer: 100m.
Period of Observation: 3 hrs. Mick Clay, James Clay, Rob Hardcastle 1hr.
Weather and Light Conditions: Fine and sunny, clear, two eight's cloud cover, wind light north easterly.
Optical Aids Used: Leica 8 x 32 Binoculars and Kowa TSN2 x 20 WA Telescope.
Species Present for Comparison: Golden Plover, Lapwing, Wood Pigeon, Starling, Yellow Wagtail.
Experience of Species: American Golden Plover at Middleton Moor, Derbyshire 19th August, 1995, viewed for 2 hours. American Golden Plover at Axle Lane, South Anston, Sheffield 31st August to 6th September, 1995 which was found by my son James, we spent approximately 15 hours studying the bird.
Experience of Similar Species: Daily counts of Golden Plover on Axle Lane, South Anston from late July to April, which often peak up to 3,500. Also Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus) several times on Axle Lane and in Lincolnshire.
Size: Appeared slightly smaller than Golden Plover.
Structure: At first sight the bird appeared thinner, slender and more upright with longer legs and wings which protruded approximately 25mm beyond the tail when compared with nearby Golden Plovers, clearly this was not a common Golden Plover.
Plumage: Upperparts Showed a greyer appearance overall when compared with the Golden Plover which were much more golden and warmer in tone, with a striking broad white supercillium, running from in front of the eye to the nape, emphasised by a dark crown with dark patch behind and in front of the eye almost creating the impression of an eye stripe. The bird also showed white tips (forming a V) on the wing coverts which I assumed made the bird a juvenile. The wings and the mantle appeared to be the same tone of spangled grey & white. Underparts The belly and ventral areas were white with no markings. Eventually (after circa 2½ hours) the bird raised and stretched it's wings, the raised wing clearly showed a grey underwing, unlike the nearby Golden Plovers underwing which were white. This along with the general size, shape, and plumage tone convinced us we were looking at our 3rd American Golden Plover, and 2nd bird for Axle Lane.
Behaviour: For the first ten minutes the bird moved about the edge of the group of 5 Golden Plover and then sat down again on the edge of the group, where it remained for a further 30 minutes. It then repeated the procedure several times. After some 2½ hrs. it raised its wings from when it was first seen, which showed a grey underwing and was viewed by James Clay who had the scope at the time. This was very reminiscent of the bird we found last year. At 18.40 (some 3 hours 15 mins. After first being found) the bird took off low with 4 of the Golden Plover over the wall into a further field 200m away joining 4 other Golden Plover where all 9 birds moved about looking for food. At 19.08 all 9 birds flew off North, and were lost from sight.
Flight: I did not view the bird in flight, but two observers (RH & JC) saw the bird fly with Golden Plovers. RH noted the bird in flight was more slender, sleeker and looked generally different from the accompanying Golden Plover.
Reference: I have not seen Pacific Golden Plover and therefore had to check my bird guides, Birds of Europe -Lars Jonsson, Shore Birds An Identification guide to Waders of the World and Macmillan field guide to Bird Indentification. With these, my field notes, the fact that the bird had an overall grey appearance, and white supercilium, unlike the Pacific Golden Plover, which has a more yellow appearance and yellow toned supercillium. I dismissed the bird being a Pacific Golden Plover. This left Golden Plover and American Golden Plover, having seen thousands of Golden Plover I was certain the bird I had was indeed an American Golden Plover. There were also several more birds in the country during the same period. A single on Shetland from 1st to 2nd September, two adults at the Orkneys from 8-11th, one remaining to the 22nd September, an adult at St Agnes (Scilly) on the 9th, a juvenile at St Mary's (Scilly) from the 13th to 30th September, a bird at Holy Island from the 17th to 26th and Ireland on the 20th, reference Birding World Volume 9 No 9.
Notes: During the afternoon of the 5th September, 1996 I was contacted by Andrew Hirst, who informed me that two Dottrel had been seen at Tickhill, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire. At 1300hrs I decided to walk round my local patch Axle Lane, South Anston which had small numbers of Golden Plover and I thought might attract any Dotterel passing over, as the site had done in previous years. When I viewed the fields I saw a small group of Golden Plover sat close together. I walked along the main path towards the birds to within 100m and then scoped the birds, the first bird I saw was walking around the edge of 5 other birds which were all sat down. This bird instantly grabbed my attention being very grey compared to the other birds and had a broad white supercilium with a dark crown and white tips to wing coverts. I viewed the bird for a further period of 10 mins, noting down the plumage, jizz and behaviour, when I was certain I was looking at a Juv. American Golden Plover I then contacted my son James Clay and several other birders telling them I was certain I had an American Golden Plover. My son James arrived within 5 mins. His first thoughts were yes we were looking at an American Golden Plover. Rob Hardcastle arrived about 2 ½ hours later (coming straight from work). I then viewed the bird with others birders until 18.30hrs when I had to leave. Although only JC saw the grey underwing through the telescope, the other observers agreed the bird was an American Golden Plover, based on the prolonged views, noting the plumage differences on the upperparts and head, structural differences in the body, wings and legs, both on the ground and in flight. The next day several observers were out at first light searching for the bird without success at all known sites, I continued my daily counts of Golden Plovers at Axle Lane, but did not come across the bird again. This constitutes the second American Golden Plover in SK58, the first being found by my son, James almost exactly a year to the day (31/8/95-6/9/95) at the same site, Axle Lane. Mick Clay. 29th October 1997.
Species: Brent Goose
Date: 17th April 1996 Observer(s): Rob and Jill Hardcastle
Distance from Observer: Hard to say, seen directly over head Visibility: Excellent
Period of Observation 1-2 mins.
Account: I was in the house watching TV when Jill called me into the garden to "Come and have a look at these ducks". I dashed out, and saw a small flock of around 6 birds approaching Throapham, flying Easterly from the direction of Goss Common. They were quite high, so I ran back in to retrieve my binoculars (Zeiss 10x40). When I returned the birds were almost directly overhead. My first reaction was, these aren't ducks they're geese. They were small geese however, although exact size was difficult to judge, as they were still flying quite high. I studied them for about a minute as they flew over and away and concluded on the basis of size, short-necked appearance, lack of pale white on the under parts and heads, apart from the under tail area, that they were Brent Geese. They continued flying directly Eastward in a loose formation until they vanished out of sight.
Size: Small, (Jill thought they were ducks at first as they approached) but exact size difficult to judge (see account above).
Structure: Dumpy, short-necked, relatively short winged.
Plumage: Apart from white rear, all dark plumage. No white on head/ face discerned (see account above), nor pale/ white belly. No clear demarcation between neck and belly, suggesting dark bellied race bernicla. Dark wings.
Behavior: Purposeful, direct flight, shallow wing beats, no calling heard. Possible alternative species: I dismissed the other two main possibilities, Canada and Barnacle, on the account of size, the short-necked appearance of the birds seen, the apparent lack of white on the face, and the lack of pale/ white feathering of the birds seen. Rob Hardcastle.
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