My UK Year List - 2014

  • 117-118) GREAT WHITE EGRET and LONG-TAILED DUCKS at Mary's Lake, Earls Barton GP, 9 January
  • 116) Barnacle Goose, Emberton Park, 9 January
  • 114-115) SMEW and Cetti's Warbler at Great Hardmead Lake, Amwell, 7 January
  • 113) Reed Bunting, Tyttenhanger, 7 January
  • 112) Tree Sparrow (32 birds), Tyttenhanger, 7 January
  • 111) Sparrowhawk, West Hyde, 7 January
  • 110) Mandarin Duck, Burnham Beeches NNR, 7 January
  • 100-109) Curlew, Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Common Shelduck, Kittiwake and Mediterranean Gull at Church Norton, 6 January
  • 99) RUDDY SHELDUCK, Sidlesham Ferry, 6 January
  • 96-98) Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone and Rock Pipit in Shoreham Harbour
  • 95) Red-breasted Merganser, Widewater, 6 January
  • 94) GREY PHALAROPE, Hove Lagoon, 6 January
  • 93) Grey Partridge, Broom, 5 January
  • 92) Goosander, Woburn Lakes, 5 January
  • 91) Skylark, Totternhoe, 5 January
  • 90) Yellowhammer, Totternhoe, 5 January
  • 89) Corn Bunting, Totternhoe, 5 January
  • 88) Water Pipit, Wilstone, 5 January
  • 87) SABINE'S GULL, Weston Turville, 5 January
  • 86) Common Scoter, Brogborough, 4 January
  • 85) GREAT NORTHERN DIVER, Stewartby Lake, 4 January
  • 84) Red-legged Partridge, Hatch, 4 January
  • 83) Common Kestrel, Langford, 4 January
  • 82) GLOSSY IBIS, Frensham, 4 January
  • 81) Goldcrest, Frensham, 4 January
  • 80) Green Sandpiper, Lynsters, 3 January
  • 79) Stock Dove, Lynster's, 3 January
  • 78) Egyptian Goose, Lynsters Farm, 3 January
  • 77) Common Chiffchaff, Stockers Lake
  • 76) SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF, Stockers Lake
  • 75) Siskin, Stockers Lake
  • 74) Dunnock, Stockers Lake
  • 73) Ring-necked Parakeet, Stockers Lake
  • 72) Lesser Redpoll, Stockers Lake
  • 71) Coal Tit, Chaffinch House
  • 40-70: Nuthatch, Greylag Goose, Pied Wagtail, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Common Redshank, Common Snipe, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, LITTLE STINT, Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Wagtail, Goldeneye, Meadow Pipit, Greenfinch, Marsh Tit, Dunnock, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tit, Bullfinch, Jay, Red-crested Pochard, Wren, Collared Dove (all at Tring Reservoirs), Brambling (Ivinghoe), Herring & Great Black-backed Gull, CATTLE EGRET (Briarhill Farm, Calvert) & Green Woodpecker
  • 1-39 all local, Chess River Valley & Shardeloes Estate: 1 January 2014: Chaffinch, Common Starling, Woodpigeon, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Common Magpie, Mute Swan, Mallard, Moorhen, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Rook, Common Buzzard, Canada Goose, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Tufted Duck, Pochard, House Sparrow, Common Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Pheasant, Gadwall, Kingfisher, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Robin, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Little Grebe, Common Gull, Red Kite, Redwing, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Goldfinch, Mistle Thrush, WOODCOCK, Treecreeper, Greenfinch and Water Rail

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Year Listing in the UK

Lee Evans has been Year-listing in the UK since 1977 and has achieved annual totals of over 300 species ever since. Although he has recorded in excess of 360 species on some nine occasions, his record stands at 386 species - achieved in 1996. Adrian Webb in Year 2000 recorded at least 378 species, making him by far the highest-listing individual to compare with Lee. In terms of Life Listing, Lee has recorded 577 species in Britain and Ireland and 853 species in the wider Western Palearctic region.

Monday, 8 February 2010

My first-ever NORTH AMERICAN EIDER (dresseri)

Drake North American Eider, Glasagh Bay, Fanad Head, County Donegal, Decembver 2009 (Wilton Farelly)


Temperatures dropped to 3 degrees overnight but cloud moved in from very early morning. This cloud was accompanied by very cold North-easterly winds, which made viewing birds difficult as the day progressed. It did remain dry however.

It was a 90 minute drive north to the Fanad peninsula in northern Donegal. Ballybofey afforded us with more Hooded Crows and Common Starlings, whilst Broad Water, at the north end of Mulroy Bay, alongside the R246 north of Carrowkeel, yielded PALE-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE and 2 drake Red-breasted Mergansers.


Fanad Head, in the vicinity of the lighthouse, added numerous Hooded Crows,15 Redwing, several Common Blackbirds and my first RED-BILLED CHOUGHS of 2010 (a pair feeding in a field alongside the road and showing well) (165). Two BARNACLE GEESE flew north.

Glasagh Bay was our main destination and eventually we found the narrow road which lead down to the tiny beach car park. Derek Charles and Wilton Farelly had discovered this bird in early January and had been particularly instructive and helpful in providing details and photographs.

A total of 314 COMMON EIDERS was present in the bay, in two main clusters, and after walking east along the beach to the east end of the bay, the birds could be satisfactorily 'scoped, as they fed 65-200 yards offshore. The flocks contained a minimum of five brighter-billed 'northern' birds or variants, along with the much more obvious and paler-billed 'dresseri' - NORTH AMERICAN EIDER.

Although difficult to locate, mainly due to the fact that the flock were so closely packed, were often in diving mode for extended periods and the sea swell was quite high, the key features enabling differentiation were thus -:

1) Slightly smaller in size, with a different head profile and a fine black line between the bill and the crown on a side-view;

2) A paler bill, with bulbous lobes at the top of the bill extending well up the crown and in line with the eye;

3) Pale green on head much more extensive and obvious;

4) White 'sails' often noticeable.

The bird was often part of a displaying group of adult drakes and it was when partaking in such activity that it was most easily located; otherwise it was very difficult. It was the first North American Eider that both Chris Heard and I had ever seen.

In addition to the Eider flock, three hours of scanning yielded 1 GREAT NORTHERN DIVER, at least 15 RED-THROATED DIVERS (including several adults already in breeding plumage), 5 Northern Gannets, numerous European Shags, 2 vocal WHOOPER SWANS (an adult and first-winter), a few LONG-TAILED DUCKS (including a dapper winter drake) and an immature VELVET SCOTER.

Waders on the rocky coastline included Common Redshank, Oystercatcher, Eurasian Curlew and Turnstone, whilst 2 Common Buzzards, COMMON RAVEN, up to 15 HOODED CROWS and several more RED-BILLED CHOUGH were also encountered.


Having spent so much time in Donegal, birding opportunities for the rest of Sunday were somewhat minimal. We decided to target the geese flocks NW of Sligo.

A herd of 8 WHOOPER SWANS (three first-winters) were feeding close to the road near Ardtermon House, whilst the bulk of 2,300 BARNACLE GEESE were just NE of Raghley, in the fields south of Ballintemple. We managed to locate a single pale RICHARDSON'S CANADA GOOSE feeding within the flock but not the larger individual (166).

Searching unsuccessfully for Twite at Raghley Point did provide further excellent views of PALE-BELLIED BRENT GEESE (25 birds).

Driving further north and viewing the 'Red Barn' area of fields, 350 or more BARNACLE GEESE were encountered, 15 Fieldfares and a wing-tagged introduction immature WHITE-TAILED SEA EAGLE.


Prior to returning to Knock Airport, we stopped off at Quay Street car park in Sligo, where a GREAT NORTHERN DIVER was affording crippling views in the harbour.

And that was it - a very enjoyable and rewarding weekend spent in western and NW Ireland. I am indebted to the kind help of those Irish birders that rang and texted, particularly Dermot Breen, Tom Cuffe, Ronan McLaughlin and Sean Cronin.

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