Saturday, 7 August 2010

Mega Birds and a Cuckoo.

Crested Lark. Colin Bushell.

Here's another seriously superb photograph which has been on Birds2blog before, in fact its still in my sidebar and will remain there until it 'falls off' at the bottom as I replace it with new ones. But this image is well worth placing in this post, not just because it is appropriate but it is also of a bird seen in Lesvos on Colin's trip there in April this year. You can keep up to date with Colins comings and goings both here and abroad HERE 

At the end of April 2009 I did some notes on two 'mega's' in the UK at the time and I came across the paper during one of my regular searches through old records and notes. Finding the paper - and the picture in my sidebar - I thought it would be interesting to post the notes today editing them to read as an up to date post.

Two birds were in the country on the 29 April 2009 which created some interest for me in that one of them was the subject of the 'Hastings Rarities Affair' - a long story -  and both of them have quite old first records in the UK though the second one mentioned here was removed following the Hastings Affair. The first one is the Crested Lark and was found at Dungeness in Kent drawing birders from far and wide to see this mega in the UK. The earliest record in this country was obtained in West Sussex c.1845. The bird of course had been shot which was a practice rife in those days but thank goodness in this regard we have by now become more civilised though there is still room for much improvement in hunting and persecution areas, but its hard to believe that so called birdwatchers of the day were trapping larks and pipits for pies and puddings, whilst finches and buntings were being sold into the cage bird trade. 

It is quite surprising - for a bird which breeds such a short distance away across the English Channel and little change in its occurrence since the 1800's - that the Crested Lark remains a seriously rare bird in the UK the latest one being found in Wiltshire on 27 November 2009.

The other bird in the UK at the same time was the Collared Flycatcher and is one of the many species involved in the 'Hastings Rarities Affair' a scandal which stretches the imagination a little too far in that some of the birds in the list included several records of several species, an example of which is five Collared Flycatchers. Following the dismissal of records of the Hastings birds which had been claimed as seen in the years 1911/16/22, the first acceptable one in the UK was of a bird at Whalsay, Shetland in 1947, but the bird present at the same time in this country as the Crested Lark was found in Southwell, Portland, Dorset in April 2009 and by a coincidence was the 22nd record which was at the time just one more than the Crested Lark. The latest record of Collared Flycatcher is of a bird on Lewis, Outer Hebrides on 1 June 2010.

And finally....

Cuckoo. John Bateman.

Many thanks to John for the excellent photograph of the juvenile Cockoo which is still giving good views to all who choose to visit Cockers Dyke off Pilling Lane where we observed the birds ability to take caterpillar prey from a 40ft dive from telephone wires at a 100% success rate.


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