Birdwatch: Wicked winds make a muddle of incoming species

Red-necked phalaropes have been spotted sporting their summer plumage.  Pic: Michael Ashforth

Red-necked phalaropes have been spotted sporting their summer plumage. Pic: Michael Ashforth

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THE UNSETTLED weather sweeping in from the Atlantic has had an impact on bird migration.

East coast birding hotspots have remained quiet while waders, on their way to breeding sites in the far north, have lingered at inland sites to rest and refuel.

Red-necked phalaropes were reported at reserves across England including three in Yorkshire, females on the D reservoir at Tophill Low and Hatfield Moors, South Yorkshire on Sunday and another female the following day at Holderness Field, Kilnsea which remained by mid week.

All were in summer plumage, rusty red around the neck contrasting with bright white cheek patches; the females being larger and more brightly coloured than the males.

They were stopping off on their way to nesting sites just below the Arctic Circle. A few pairs, around 20 a year, nest in the far North West of Scotland and on Shetland and Outer Hebrides.

Sanderlings have also been reported at inland sites across the region including six at Swillington Ings, Leeds and another six at Edderthorpe Flash, South Yorkshire. They nest in the far north of Canada, Greenland, Spitsbergen and across Siberia and, as a result, most British birders see them in winter - small plump waders running along the tide line of sandy beaches.

About 30,000 winter in Europe when they have smart grey upperparts contrasting with white underparts and black bills and feet.

Some of the birds being seen now are starting to develop summer plumage and back on breeding sites will have a mix of orange-buff, cinnamon and brown on the head and upperparts.

Other waders have included turnstones, good numbers of ringed plovers, and one or two little stints and curlew sandpipers.

Two waders from the Mediterranean, a pair of black-winged stilts, were seen at Potteric Carr reserve, Doncaster last Friday and were at the Frampton reserve, Lincolnshire for two days before. These exotic looking birds, which as the name suggests have exceedingly long legs, bred successfully at two sites in south-east England last year; the first breeding records in this country for 27 years.

Other bird sightings included a first summer drake American wigeon seen along with a female Eurasian wigeon at Bewholme Hall Pond near Hornsea, Tophill Low and the Well and Holderness fields at Spurn.

Also at Spurn a female or immature golden oriole was found at the Point.

Quail have been heard, including two at Swillington Ings and more may arrive in the next week or two.

Top Yorkshire birder John McLoughlin photographed a family party of two adult and three juvenile bearded tits at Swillington Ings, a first for the site.

A great white egret was present at Porterfield Quarry reserve, North Yorkshire, a white-winged black tern was seen over Putney’s Country Park near Wakefield and two black terns at Fairburn Ings.

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