Dec 122004

Sora – Porzana carolina – Clifton Pit, Attenborough Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire.

Birding is just an unpredictable experience. We had covered a local patch at Willington, Derbyshire, for not a lot – a few common species of wildfowl. We had then spent nearly 3 hours in a damp hide sitting and patiently waiting for a Bittern, at the Attenborough Reserve, that had regularly been performing in front of the said hide. Cutting our losses, we decided to make our way back to the car park and try for nearby Short-eared Owls. On our stroll back, Richard, Rod, Will and myself met a local birder, Paul Buxton, who was scoped up overlooking a vegetated island on Clifton Pit. To our surprise he had found a small crake, what he thought was a Spotted Crake, we all suddenly came to life!. Once we looked at the bird it was obvious to me that this was no Spotted Crake. It simply had to be a SORA. 
We waited for it to show again and needed a couple more views to be absolutely 100% sure. This was a mega bird  and we had to sure. YES it was definitely a SORA and it took a few minutes  for the impact to sink in. 
The first record for Nottinghamshire and the Midlands – wow, and about the 15th record for Britain of this North American vagrant crake. A real nice way to end the day.
My notes that were sent to the British Birds Rarities Committee read something like as follows:-
At first I thought it was a first year bird, however I am more inclined to think it was an adult in winter plumage. The bird had a yellow-green triangularshaped bill with no visible signs of any red or orange coloration to the bill base. The facial area in front of the eye, around the base of the bill, chin and throat was black. The crown was clean with no streaking and a clean grey neck and upper breast area with no spotting. The grey colour of the neck extended behind the eye and ear coverts and formed a prominent supercillium. There was also a tiny white triangular mark just behind the eye. The fringes of the tertials were silvery white and showed no signs of any “Wavy Bars”. The upper-parts, crown, nape and rear of neck were an olive-brown colour. The mantle had several rows of black “Chevrons” fringed and bordered with “Silvery-white” which formed a “tram-line” effect down the back. the under-tail was distinctive, in having an orange-buff central patch, bordered either side with white. It constantly flicked its tail, in typical crake fashion. The legs were greenish yellow with long toes. Across the flanks there was an intricate pattern of black & white "Wavy lines".
The record was eventually accepted by the BBRC as a Sora.


Oct 312004
Britain's 1st Masked Shrike - 31st October 2004

Masked Shrike – Lanius nubicus- Juvenile – 1st year Kilrenny Common, Kilrenny, Fife. Note the overall grey appearance of the bird. A small and slightly built shrike. Small thin bill less heavy than other shrike species I have seen. Also a long tail and a rump which is dark and same colour as back. Note the large,clean white wing patch, which is very prominently set-off against the blackness of the rest of the wing. Note large area of white and scaley looking scapulars that contrast well against the overall greyness of the bird.     The bird appeared to be in tail moult but […]

Oct 052004
A Controversial Curlew at Minsmere - 5th Oct 2004

Eurasian Curlew – Possible 1st winter female Slender-billed Curlew – Numenius tenuirostris . 5th October 2010 – Minismere, Eastbridge area, Suffolk.   On 28th September 2004 Brian Small posted two photos on Surfbirds of an interesting looking Curlew species, found on the Minsmere Levels, Suffolk. On 29th  September 2 more photos were posted by Jeff Higgott and by early October, the bird was being considered to be a 1st winter female Slender-billed Curlew!! Even one of Europe’s experts on the species, Didier Vangeluwe had been to see it. The bird was featured on October 1st on a local “Look East” BBC News broadcast and it […]

Oct 022004
Cream-coloured Courser - Isles of Scilly - 2nd Oct 2004

  The first British record for 20 years. A bird of arid grasslands and deserts, breeding from the Canary Islands, eastwards across to North & East Africa into Iraq and then from southwest Asia towards Afganistan.   This bird was first discovered on St.Agnes on 28th September. It was on on St.Agnes for a short time before it then disappeared. It was eventually re-located on St.Martin’s on 29th September. Fortunately remaining long enough for me to visit the islands on 2nd October.           A mythical bird that performed well showing down to 15-20 feet on occasions. These pictures were digi-scoped. The bird […]

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