A summary of most of the rarities we've photographed from the start of this century up to the end of 2008, when we began to limit our twitching activity in Britain. Birds from before 2000 may feature in the "Megas from the past" section, whilst photos taken before 2003 will have been taken on non-digital media (i.e.film!), so quality may not be perfect when copied.


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Recent Photos.
List of
Rarities from 1985
White-tailed Eagle Barrow Common Nfk. Jan. 2000
A good start to the new millenium, one of these in Norfolk, and on the ground! Albeit only briefly, I was driving around looking for it when it appeared through a gap in the hedge. Hard braking, and a few shots out of the window before it took off again, mobbed by corvids.
Sora Stover Country Park March 2000
This bird had apparently over-wintered here, but was very secretive, and often views were dependent on water levels. I spent several hours waiting for an appearence, and when it did so was almost too close for comfort! I managed a few frames before it returned to the reedbed.
Gyrfalcon Cape Cornwall March 2000
The bird of the New Millenium (so far) and for those who managed to see it a magnificent specimen giving really good views. More people would have seen it but for it moving around somewhat and one location being suppressed for some time by the Cornish suppressor-in-chief!
Lesser Scaup Drift Resevoir March 2000
Many birders must have seen this bird who otherwise wouldn't have bothered, as it was just down the road from the Gyr. I remember seeing the first accepted one in 1987, strange how common they had become even by the end of the century.
Franklin's Gull Thamesmead London April 2000
A gull of fairly irregular appearence, sometimes turning up for a few years, and then no records for some time. I suspect some have been continuing their migration pattern this side of the pond, since we once saw four in the same area in Namibia, which were more likely to have originated from Europe than South America, where they winter mainly on the Pacific littoral.
Marbled Duck Kelling Water Meadows April 2000
One of two at this site briefly, I've never heard of a better candidate for Category A status. Wary and fully winged, at a time when they are known to wander, but there are still too many in captivity for the BOU's liking.
Asian Desert Warbler Sammy's Point Spurn May 2000
A species becoming quite regular in occurence at the time, this one showed very well, but it was in fact the last record so they have subsequently regained mega status. This was also before African and Asian were split, so an African one would be nice, but less likely as they're almost sedentary.
Fan-tailed Warbler Portland Bill May 2000
Given its missing tail perhaps the modern name of Zitting Cisticola would have been more appropriate. Told years ago this species would soon be colonising from the near continent-we waited, and waited....... At last a record, then a further two that year! Since then we're back to waiting, and the French range has contracted.
Western Bonelli's Warbler Landguard May 2000
Having missed the Crested Lark by about twenty minutes, this was some consolation- no, it wasn't any consolation at all come to think of it. I didn't even manage a decent shot of it, but our long wait for Crested Lark finally came to an end at Dungeness, so I can now look at this without painful memories!
Great Reed Warbler Chapel Point Lincs. June 2000
A typically elusive bird, singing almost constantly, but it showed from time to time. The trick was to co-incide the gap in the reeds swaying in the breeze with the stem from which it was singing. A Purple Heron in the same area provided some relief from the boredom.
Blackpoll Warbler Seaforth N.R. June 2000
Although the commonest American Warbler to grace these shores, it has only been seen once in this plumage. Sadly it only stayed a day, probably due to lack of suitable habitat at Seaforth, although it must have been better than the ship!
Barred Warbler Holme August 2000
I've never got a really good shot of one of these, this is probably the best I've managed. Never very obliging, I usually get bored waiting for a decent appearence. Some respond to pishing but soon learn to ignore it, this one did show better than most.
Spotted Crake Titchwell August 2000
This particular bird turned up here at least two years running, and close to the bank. They're normally distant as the choice of reedbed margins is quite extensive, but this one, rather than being elusive, would come right out on the mud in front of its admirers.
Solitary Sandpiper Porthellick, Scilly October 2000
Having dipped the Cliff Swallow that obviously left the previous day, this bird just below the hide was some consolation, indeed it was a lifer for Ann, still a fairly difficult bird to catch up with on the mainland.
Red-eyed Vireo with Bush Cricket Cot Valley October 2000
Having tried on several occasions to get a really good shot of one of these, I think I finally succeeded with this obliging bird, which however still disappeared for long periods like most of its species .
Yellow-billed Cuckoo St.Levan October 2000
Millenium year was never going to live up to the previous autumn, but a sprinkling of American goodies included this obliging bird which actually stayed alive a few days for a change. Equally against the norm. was a Radde's Warbler at the same site which showed excellently.
Radde's Warbler St.Levan October 2000
The aforementioned Radde's Warbler was one of the most obliging we've seen, repeatedly climbing to the top of the bushes it frequented. As a whole the species seems to have become less frequent in recent years.
White-spotted Bluethroat Shoeburyness March 2001
A nice spring male of a species which has become less common since we started birding, although the white-spotted variety is probably on the increase, perhaps due to global warming. As with many the white spot was difficult to see, more of a white feather.
Short-toed Treecreeper Dungeness March 2001
Kent continued its virtual monopoly on this species with this early record. Keeping to a small area of small trees it showed extremely well, also climbing concrete posts and walls on occasion. Maybe a real Wallcreeper here next?
Pallas' Grasshopper Warbler Blakeney Point September 2001
For the first afternoon of this bird's stay I was stuck at work- seven miles away! I made it on the way home and expected it to be gone the following day. However, to the delight of many, it remained throughout the weekend and into the next week. Another Fair Isle speciality unblocked!.
Bobolink Prawle Point October 2001
A relatively quiet October this year, one of the highlights being this bird which showed well for over a week, unlike many of its kind. Being a mainland record made it even more popular, and a personal bonus was my finding a Monarch butterfly at the site.
Snowy Egret Balvicar November 2001
Although long-predicted, the first record was always expected in Cornwall somehow. Indeed, if Bill Jackson hadn't recently moved to the area from Shetland, it might never have been found, but the beautiful location and its length of stay made it the twitch of the year for many people.
Gull-billed Tern Titchwell November 2001
A fairly regular vagrant at a very irregular time of year, most are spring birds, or earlier in the autumn. Unusually this showed very well, choosing to hawk over fields just to the south of the reserve.
Baikal Teal Minsmere November 2001
No really good photos exist of this, as it was a wary bird, associating with wild Wigeon. Perhaps this fact helped it to become the first record accepted as category A since all previous records were relegated to D or worse. Only took ten years, and probably wouldn't have except for the discovery of large numbers wintering in Korea.
Olive-backed Pipit Lyndford Arboretum
February 2002

A good start to a new year for me, another bird which is often skulking and difficult to photograph showing quite well, about five miles from home! I photographed it before work one day!
Ivory Gull Black Rock Sands
February 2002

We had a winter break for ten days in Nepal, and on the day before we left one of the birds I had always wanted to see appeared, an adult Ivory Gull! We were astounded to find it was still there on our return, so we went the next day, and had it to ourselves for over an hour. Twenty minutes after we left it flew off, and wasn't seen again!
Ross' Gull Scarborough N.Yorks March 2002
A nice winter-plumage adult, always one of my favourite birds, this bird stayed quite some time and treated us to flight shots as well as landing just behind the seafront cafe on a disused tennis court. Obviously being weather dependent occurences are very variable, some years none, others several.
Lesser Sand Plover Rimac May 2002
Having been to Northumberland on the strength of a "possible" which was obviously a classic Greater when we got there, we finally caught up with a real one, speedily and positively identified. Should have gone back later after the crowds had died down when the photos would have been much better, but it was a tick!
Woodchat St.Marys Scilly May 2002
A small consolation for anyone dipping the Lesser Kestrel there at the time. We didn't, but weren't able to photograph it in poor weather conditions, so a bedraggled Shrike is all I have for the website.
American Wigeon Minsmere May 2002
A spring bird which had either wintered somewhere on this side of the Atlantic or arrived from Siberian regions, thus a classic male in good plumage. We found a Eurasian Wigeon on a trip to Washington state, presumably there will always be such interchanges.
Great Reed Warbler Frensham Ponds May 2002
As with most of its kind, easy to hear, difficult to see. This one did however come out of its favoured reedbed on occasion and jump about in adjacent trees, of course not when we were there!
Common Rosefinch Weybourne June 2002
An unseasonal bird, although spring males seem to occur every few years. As this bird was in full breeding plumage and singing, this seems to have been a breeding attempt rather than vagrancy, unfortunately there were no females around.
Red-footed Falcon Hickling Broad July 2002
A typical record of this regular vagrant, not always easy to locate. Quite a late record, I returned to this recently to see if we'd overlooked another Amur Falcon, but it seems this one was correctly identified, unfortunately!
Marsh Sandpiper Blacktoft Sands July 2002
An early returning failed breeder presumably, stopping off for a couple of weeks at the site of Britain's first Red-necked Stint. Alone this time however, apart from a couple of Spoonbills and a family of foxes wandering across the scrape!
Stilt Sandpiper Pennington Marsh July 2002
Having seen several of these in Britain, but never anywhere else, it has become one of my favourites. Unfortunately this is the only one I've ever got decent shots of, and I think it first started me thinking about "going digital" as I could have produced even better.
Black-headed Bunting Corton Suffolk September 2002
Having finally ticked this species quite late in my twitching career, and as they are usually spring males, I had to go for this local bird in autumn. It didn't attract a great deal of attention as its stay was short, but showed really well for a bird which can be a bit skulking.
Sardinian Warbler Old Hunstanton October 2002
These used to be major rarities and always difficult to see, but from about this year they became far more regular and strangely more obliging. I twitched Cornwall for my first one and waited several hours for a brief appearance, this was my second in Norfolk.
Arctic Warbler Cot Valley OCt. 2002
Our own autumn was enlivened by finding this, which disappeared soon after. We put the news out immediately, and thankfully it was refound the next day on the other side of the valley, and enjoyed by many. Oddly another showed elsewhere for a couple of days, when it suddenly became a Willow Warbler!
Rufous Turtle Dove Stromness Orkney Dec. 2002
This year really ended with a bang, although I had to wait a few days before I could get there. It was literally a hundred yards from the ferry terminal which was a good thing since by the time the ship docked there were only about a couple of hours daylight left, being so far North in December.
Two-barred Crossbill Sandringham December 2002
A classic female bird which showed well, but unfortunately always quite high in the trees, hence the poor angle. I had seen a male at this site in the past but didn't manage to photograph it, so this was better than nothing.
Two-barred Crossbill Hedgerley Bucks February 2003
After the frustrating female, I dashed across to Bucks in the hope of this male, but it proved to be even more difficult, always distant. George Reszeter was next to me with his digital camera, and I finally decided I would have to enter the 21st century.
Dark-breasted Barn Owl Welney WWT March 2003
A long-staying bird which attracted a lot of attention, especially as it was often about in broad daylight, due to weather conditions at the time. Numbers of english Barn Owls were also to be seen in the area, allowing good comparisons. Never managed a shot of the breast, but an obviously different bird from behind.
Sardinian Warbler Holme March 2003
Another showy male Sardinian Warbler, quite possibly the same bird that I'd photographed the previous October, although if so it had obviously reverted to skulking habits in the meantime. They do seem to be early migrants, so this bird's appearence may have been coincidence.
Rose-coloured Starling RAF Cranwell March 2003
This bird had been coming to feeders on the base housing estate for a long time, and to be honest I twitched it out of boredom and because work took me in that direction. Obviously it's beginning to acquire adult plumage.
Bonaparte's Gull Fairburn Ings April 2003
Only went for this to try out my new digital camera, which I'd finally got. I had to take the instruction book with me! but this was one of the first shots I took, a good distance away, and I ended up getting it published in Birding World!
Ferruginous Duck Lyndford Pits April 2003
Still a bit quiet, but this was a (very)local bird for me so I went to learn a bit more about my new camera, although it was a very easy subject. Ferruginous Ducks seem to be very variable in their appearences, this bird returned the following winter.
Taiga Flycatcher Flamborough April 2003
At last a decent rarity, although at the time it hadn't been split, but it still attracted a big crowd. Being a spring bird probably helped as it was obviously more attractive than the usual autumn immature flycatchers.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper Wicken Fen Cambs. May 2003
Again a bird more usually associated with autumn, I've always wanted a really good shot of one of these, but this wasn't to be the one. It remained fairly distant in an inaccesible area.
Alpine Swift Minsmere May 2003
I really like Alpine Swifts so when this one lingered for a while at Minsmere I went to give it a try. It always stayed quite high so a really good shot wasn't possible, but this was quite acceptable. I also got a Cetti's Warbler out in the open for once, a successful day.
Audouin's Gull Dungeness May 2003
Mildenhall to Dunge on a Bank Holiday, would we get there in time? As it turned out we had a dream journey and I was one of the few photographers to catch this "first" on the ground, as we went looking for it to help a friend arriving from Yorkshire just as it flew off.
Serin Holkham Pines May 2003
One of a pair which appeared to not linger long, but they were taken off the news as it was realised they may stay to breed, which in fact did happen along with a second pair.
Sabine's Gull Lowestoft June 2003
Perhaps the condition of its flight feathers caused it to linger, but this otherwise immaculate adult bird was to be found on the harbour wall for a couple of weeks. Surely one of the most attractive gulls, usually only seen on a seawatch.
Black Lark South Stack June 2003
Two British firsts in consecutive months gave the potential for a really good year, this was a world tick for most people also (I'd dipped in Kazakhstan). Showed well in a really suitable area, the nearby cafe made a fortune!
Marsh Warbler Kelling Water Meadows June 2003
A difficult bird to see in Britain these days, this one put on a real show, being both visible and vocal, and mimicking several species, including Oystercatcher!.
Whiskered Tern Hallcroft Pits June 2003
A regular vagrant but this one tempted me as it spent most of its time flying along the bank adjacent to the assembled birders, thus making photography fairly easy. Nice plumage as well
Least Sandpiper Tring August 2003
I have to confess we called in on this on our way home from a funeral! Neither of us needed it, but we did have to endure extreme lighting in the wrong place, hence the "washed-out" look. Shame as it actually showed really well.
White-headed Duck Little Paxton September 2003
A very non-approachable bird, but that won't cut any ice with the BOU. We've never heard of any in captivity except in WWF centres, and since being the cause of Ruddy Duck on the British list they tend to keep better control of their birds. If Ruddy can wander sufficiently to hybridise with White-headed, why shouldn't they disperse in the reverse direction?
Red-footed Falcon Wickham Fen August 2003
A typical autumn record of this lovely falcon, taken on the same day as the next species. They will fly quite long distances between favoured perches, so there's always an element of luck in trying to photograph one.
Citrine Wagtail Kelling Water Meadows August 2003
Now far commoner than in the past but still one of the earliest migrants in autumn, we keep hoping for another spring male but in the meantime I'll settle for a first-winter showing as well as this. Probably overlooked in the past, some reports still turn out to be yellowish juv. Pied Wags.
Booted Warbler West Runton September 2003
Another reasonably common "rarity", the second I had photographed in Norfolk. This one was a bit skulking but showed well occasionally against a nice backdrop of yellow. Note the Phylloscopus like jizz, which rules out Sykes Warbler (unfortunately!).
Red-breasted Flycatcher Kelling September 2003
An annual migrant, especially in autumn, and in a typical plumage, this showy bird had a vestige of colour and was actually quite attractive.
Green-winged Teal Hayle October 2003
Having had such a good spring we rather hoped for a good autumn, but it wasn't to be on Scilly. We usually lurk around in Cornwall, but didn't stay long this year. This not very well-marked bird was one of the highlights(?).
Ring-billed Gull Helston Boating Lake October 2003
Getting bored, we did the pilgrimage to see this long-stayer at the tourist site, as did many others. I'm sure the cafe were sad to see it go, although there was a Wood Duck there at the time, which attracted zero interest from birders. Having seen them in the states and realised how tame they can be in some places, I'm beginning to wonder.
American Wigeon Hayle October 2003
At the time there was always one of these on the Hayle from October onwards, usually wintering, but not always a returning bird. I duly photographed it as it as it came close on this occasion.
Yellow-browed Warbler Hemsby October 2003
We finally got fed up and returned to Norfolk, not much there either. Another regular migrant showed well near our campervan site, so it got its photo taken. These seem to have become a bit scarcer recently.
Pallas' Warbler Southwold October 2003
Now a regular autumn migrant, these were an extreme rarity just before we started twitching. Most birders never tire of seeing them, I once got a really good shot of one on slide film, but I've somehow never managed a repeat.
Isabelline (Daurian) Shrike Burnham Norton Oct. 2003
At last a "decent" rarity, although again one that has become far commoner in recent years. Its favoured area was right beside the sea wall in adjacent bushes, and as I stood next to a professional photographer it was facing away from us. He went to change his flashcard, and of course it turned to look at us! Result!.
Pied Wheatear Waxham October 2003
Another obliging rarity which has become less common of late. This was the last bird we went for on our October wanderings, just a mile walk from Waxham Church. Unfortunately that was a Norfolk mile! but it was worth it.
American Robin Godrevey Dec. 2003
We were out of the country soon after, and returned a fortnight before Christmas with no cards, shopping etc. done. I'd always wanted to see American Robin, having missed at least two, so we managed to fit it in somehow. Little did we know at the time there'd be one much closer to home in the New Year!
Baltimore Oriole Headington Dec. 2003
After the aforementioned dash, it was no more birding unless absolutely necessary, so this bird had been there a while when I went to photograph it just before New Year.A local kindly allowed access to his garden so it became irresistable.
American Robin Grimsby January 2004
Just like buses! You wait years for one then two come along almost together. This was a better marked bird which showed really well, so worth the trip.
Ferruginous Duck Lyndford Pits February 2004
The returning bird from previous years, just a nice shot with the male Tufted Duck. Just good friends!
Pine Bunting Choseley Barns March 2004
Another rarity which occurs quite a lot for a few years and then seems to disappear, presumably due to fluctuating populations. This bird was particularly welcome since the previous record for Norfolk was very flighty and only actually crossed the Norfolk border for a few minutes.
Black-necked Grebes Pugneys Country Park April 2004
Common enough in England on passage and when wintering, these attracted a lot of attention since they were obviously a potential breeding pair (and there was a Bufflehead on the same lake!)
Bufflehead Pugneys Country Park April 2004
The real reason for so much attention was this, Britain's second easily twitchable Bufflehead. Given the location and its popularity in collections, why were these (rightly) accepted but a wild Falcated duck, wary and with wigeon, in Eastern England, not?
White Stork Netherton April 2004
Just down the road from the Bufflehead was a pair of White Storks, so we obviously took the slight detour to photograph them. One bird was ringed and was traced to the continent, they actually attempted breeding but failed.
Black-throated Diver Highland May 2004
A holiday to Scotland enabled us to photograph a couple of species which are rarely seen in breeding plumage south of the border.
Slavonian Grebe Loch Ruthven May 2004
Another such bird at the famous RSPB reserve where they show well. Makes a change to go to a reserve and see birds at close range, perhaps the tufts remind robin strokers that birds really do have ears!
Icterine Warbler Bungay June 2004
For some reason this is the only Icterine Warbler I have ever photographed! I think it's a case of "there'll always be another next year".
Spotted Sandpiper Hampton-in-Arden June 2004
A fairly regular rarity, but not often in breeding plumage. However, they have bred, on one of our trips we met the chap who discovered the pair on Mull in
Greater Sand Plover Snettisham July 2004
For me the highlight of the year thus far, although it wasn't a tick, but near home, in good plumage and showed well on the day I was there. On the day of its discovery and the next it had remained distant.
Long-billed Dowitcher Gibraltar Point July 2004
A nice summer-plumaged bird in a summer of waders, this bird did move around the scrape more than birders would have wished, but occasionally came reasonably close.
Montague's Harrier Frampton Marsh 2004
For just a couple of years the RSPB set up viewpoints around the wash to view what in my opinion is one of our most elegant raptors. They seem to change breeding sites every so often, and no site has subsequently been easy to cope with crowds. Of course, since Frampton became an RSPB reserve sod's law has prevailed- no Monty's.
Black-winged Stilt Titchwell July 2004
A last look at this now-famous bird for me, still not sure if it's a genuine vagrant but doesn't really matter. Caught by the side of the path for once.
American Golden Plover Old Hall Marsh July 2004
Continuing with the summer of waders theme, if you catch up with one of these early enough it will still be in summer plumage and thus far more attractive than autumn birds. Common enough in July.
Marsh Sandpiper Fobbing Marsh August 2004
Yet another wader, when will there be a real rarity? Of course when I photographed this I didn't know it wasn't far off! and they're a lovely elegant wader anyway.
Greenish Warbler Blakeney Point August 2004
Another Warbler I've only ever photographed once, in Britain at least. Don't think it was really necessary to walk to Blakeney Point however, but it passed an afternoon.
Glossy Ibis
Breydon Water September 2004

Breydon Water being the boundary between Norfolk and Suffolk , I actually saw this bird in both counties on the same day. When it flew to the Suffolk side it gave some really good views.
Stone Curlew
Lakenheath September 2004

Whenever I visit a Stone Curlew site the birds are always distant, so I was really pleased to find this one near the road whilst driving home, obviously a migrant. Problem was it was right opposite Lakenheath USAF base, so getting a big lens out was not perhaps the cleverest move!.
Cream Coloured Courser
St. Martins October 2004

Finally! the BIG wader! The last twitchable one was in 1982, just before I began twitching, so this was a "must see" bird for Ann and I. On that first, wet morning of its stay we didn't know it would end up being photographed on a mobile phone weeks later, but you only need to go once.
Sardinian Warbler Winterton October 2004
Yet another Norfolk record of Sardinian Warbler, again showing well on occasion. This was a good start to our autumn holiday, unfortunately it fizzled out somewhat, but there was always the Courser to think back on.
Common Cranes Waxham October 2004
Showing just up the road from the warbler, and staying in the field long enough for people to visit, these two were obviously from the small population in the area. Nice that one was a juvenile.
Redhead Kenfig Pool October 2004
Being a bit bored, we went to see an African Spoonbill in Cardiff, just in case, and decided to drop in on this whilst in the area. A returning bird, it turned out to be the last Redhead we've seen.
Pallid Swift Bawdsey October 2004
Nothing to really take us anywhere else, we returned home towards the end of our holiday, only to divert before reaching home to see this. Pallid Swifts, once an extreme rarity, are far commoner now, but how many are actually juvenile Swifts?
Masked Shrike Kilrenny October 2004
It had to happen, holiday over and we have to drive to Scotland for something. At least it was worth the trip, for Britain's first Masked Shrike, the most attractive of the juvenile shrikes in my opinion. A spring adult would be nice.
King Eider 1st winter Titchwell December 2004
A rubbish photo, but a Norfolk tick for many people, it stayed around quite a while, but has never become a regularly returning bird like some of the Scottish ones, unfortunately.
Dusky Warbler Kessingland January 2005
A quiet start to the year, this bird was overwintering, but in common with many of its kind was never very showy.
Black Redstart Anmer Norfolk January 2005
We went for a White-tailed Eagle which moved around, most people only saw it distantly, so some consolation came in the form of this overwintering bird.
Great Grey Shrike Harpley Dam February 2005
Walked miles in snowy conditions, only to have this bird fly into the bush in front of my car as I was about to head for home. Better than not seeing it at all.
Black Brant & hybrid young Holkham Feb. 2005
A trip to Norfolk chasing a Snow Goose saw this family party in the field next to Lady Ann's Drive, the adult a returning bird from previous years.
Snow Goose Holkham February 2005
Tha aforementioned Snow Goose, which spent a few hours in a field next to the main road before resuming its wanderings with the Pinkfoot flock.
Whiskered Tern Lakenheath May 2005
Still no major rarities to excite us, but this was local so I went to see it. I've seen White-winged Tern at the same site, but never a Black Tern.
Ring-necked Duck Grafham Water May 2005
Still not the best May on record, this duck showed quite well not too far from home, and was in good plumage.
Stilt Sandpiper Burnham Norton May 2005
At last a decent rarity, not a tick for us unfortunately, but always welcome. One day I'll get one close enough to get a really decent photo.
Barrow's Goldeneye Ythan Estuary May 2005
Finally, a bird really worth travelling for, and of course it had to be a long way! Having not been around for the first one, and a few false starts, this was added to our British lists.
Trumpeter Finch Landguard May 2005
Couldn't complain about distances for this, the first for many years, and another tick. In fact we went to see it after work, and watched it go to roost that evening. It turned out to be the first of three, since when its mega-rarity status has diminished somewhat.
Common Pratincole Cley June 2005
Two new birds in May meant we weren't expecting too much for the summer, but this was nearby and Pratincoles are always good value. Strange that not that long ago we twitched Ann's first Pratincole, and that was the first in Norfolk for 50 Years!
Lesser Crested Tern Cley July 2005
The famous Farne Island bird meant that this didn't attract huge numbers of admirers, but they are still rare birds and worth seeing if one is "pinned down" for a while, as this was.
Sooty Tern Cemlyn Bay July 2005
This one did attract a lot of interest, but gave people the runaround at first, some even followed it to Ireland only to find it had returned to Wales. Eventually it settled down for a while at Cemlyn, which had enjoyed a Bridled Tern in 1988.
Cattle Egret Hinchinbrooke July 2005
From the sublime to the, not ridiculous, but mundane at best, this was at least in nice plumage. Seemed that the good run of mega's had come to an end.
Pectoral Sandpiper Titchwell August 2005
Annual in migration seasons, I suspect many Pectoral Sandpipers are returning birds, and probably get here from both America and Eastern Siberia.
Dotterel Snettisham August 2005
Often seen on return migration, these birds obviously lack the stunning plumage of spring birds, but make up for it with their tameness and varied habitat requirements, as opposed to large fields with lots of furrows favoured by spring "trips".
Little Crake Slimbridge September 2005
A detour on our annual trip to the West, this bird showed well if you waited long enough, but you had to be quick. Our previous Little Crake showed well but was always strongly backlit, so no decent photos.
Ring-necked Duck Marazion September 2005
Arriving in a quiet Cornwall, our second of these this year was in eclipse plumage, seen while looking for Aquatic Warblers or anything else we could find.
Long-billed Dowitcher Drift Resevoir September 2005
For the second year running early autumn didn't produce any real rarities, this bird did at least show very well on occasion.
Black-winged Stilt Gweek Cornwall October 2005
A juvenile bird, which is relatively unusual, as is the time of year. Most Black-winged Stilts seem to be spring overshoots, one wonders where this bird originated.
White-rumped Sandpiper Grafham Water October 2005
Another regular migrant wader, seen after we had returned home from what was a disappointing autumn. At least it showed really well and posed for its photo.
Little Swift Cromer November 2005
Having planned a trip to Wales we heard that this bird had gone to roost on a cliff, so we took a somewhat roundabout route to watch it leave, as the photo shows. Good decision, as after flying around for about 15 minutes it headed south and wasn't seen again.
Black Scoter Llanfairfechan November 2005
Good weather greeted us in Wales so we stopped for a look at the famous Black Scoter. This resulted in one of the few shots ever taken of this bird, albeit at great range.
Green Heron Red Wharf Bay November 2005
As we didn't get to Anglesey until quite late we opted for a good night's sleep, but the heron was still in its favoured area the following morning. My photos would have been even better but it was chased around by another photographer, who got the benefit of Ann's opinion of him!
Grey-cheeked Thrush Great Wood November 2005
Ann's only one of these was probably a Bicknell's, and they had become far less regular of late, so we went to see this inland bird, that in itself being unusual. It proved quite elusive but luck was with us and it spent a few minutes right in front of the camera.
Red-throated Diver Caister November 2005
Whilst photographing the next bird I turned round to see this Diver about ten yards offshore, not a bird that's photographed in non-breeding plumage too often, since it occurs inland far less frequently than the other two regular Divers.
Desert Wheatear Caister November 2005
Another winter, another Desert Wheatear They're obviously used to the cold from nights in arid regions, but are far commoner than any other vagrant Wheatear, and seem to linger longer.
American Wigeon Barleycraft Pits Cambs. November 2005
Migration seemed to have largely finished for this year, so I popped down the road to photograph this wintering duck. More people than expected did the same, perhaps they were bored too!
Sociable Plover Rainham Essex December 2005
Most records of these are in late autumn/winter, one day I'll get a decent photo of one. They have occured in spring, in breeding plumage, but not for a few years now.
Ross' Gull Cley January 2006
Unlike last year, 2006 started with a bang , this bird having been seen the previous day along Blakeney Point. Being New Years day we arrived late, just as it flew in to the pool near Coastguards car park. A Norfolk tick, having missed the famous 1984 bird.
Red-necked Grebe Lackford January 2006
The rest of the early part of the year was uneventful, this was about 20 minutes away so I went to photograph it, again a bird more often seen at distance offshore.
Alpine Swift Minsmere/Lowestoft April 2006
When spring migration did get underway two or three of these superb Swifts visited the area and lingered for a week or so.
Alpine Swift Minsmere/Lowestoft April 2006
This is a second bird, both were photographed at Minsmere, where a third joined them briefly whilst I was there.
Alpine Swift Seaton Devon April 2006
The year was turning out to be an Alpine Swift year, I can't remember why we were in Devon but we managed to see another three. They were prone to wandering however, and the only one I managed to photograph reasonably was this one which roosted every night on a building in the town centre.
Subalpine Warbler Stanpit Marsh April 2006
Picked this up on the way home, having not seen one for a while, and it showed quite well at times, probably because there wasn't much dense cover.
Killdeer Blakeney Norfolk April 2006
Out of the blue came a Norfolk tick, we having been abroad for the brief stayer of the previous year. A bird which had probably overwintered undetected, it stayed a week and showed very well at times.
White Stork Kings Lynn April 2006
Photographed on my way home from work, this bird had been touring Norfolk most of the afternoon, and seemed to have settled to roost on this power pylon. It wasn't however seen the next day.
Laughing Gull Cley Marsh May 2006
A few years since the superb summering bird in the area, this one seemed a bit late acquiring its breeding plumage, or possibly was starting to lose it early.
Lesser Scaup Bramford Water Park May 2006
The head shape seemed wrong, but it was accepted as a first for Suffolk, whilst Norfolk is still waiting. It did dive constantly, at least when I was there, and the crown was apparently "matted down" as a result.
"Yellow-billed" Tern Cemlyn June 2006
Was it a Cayenne Tern?. Eventually people seemed to put it down as a hybrid, but given that American Sandwich Terns have occured here, and Clements has recently split the Nearctic races (to include Cayenne), did it originate from across the pond, and have we "thrown away" a tick?
White-tailed Eagle Mull June 2006
On holiday, having investigated the "tourist" site to discover the birds were about a mile away, we were given another site where we watched this bird at close range sat in a tree.
King Eider Irvine Harbour June 2006
Took all afternoon to find it but eventually this bird was quite close off the harbour wall, along with lots of Eider. Pity the plumages were just starting to go into eclipse.
Montague's Harrier Norfolk June 2006
Enough visits to the widely-known Norfolk site resulted in a reasonable shot of a male. When I had it on display at Titchwell In Focus, the local RSPB asked for it to be removed as so many people were asking where it was taken. Perhaps the site wasn't that well known after all! They're not there now anyway.
Lesser Grey Shrike Shingle Street July 2006
A very obliging , and nicely-plumaged bird which is a fairly regular visitor, although often far more difficult to approach. This species was one of the first rarities I ever photographed, but I went to North Wales for that way back in 1986.
Lesser Yellowlegs Gibraltar Point July 2006
An annual migrant from North America, surprisingly common in the east of the country. This bird was very mobile, but settled in front of the hide for about 30 seconds, just long enough!
Cattle Egret Blakeney October 2006
This October didn't exactly start with a bang, but this Cattle Egret gave us something to do. It may actually have been an escape, as was another, of the eastern race coromandus. Unfortunately that was far too tame to be anything else, as they have now been split by some authorities.
Canada Warbler Kilbaha October 2006
We rarely twitch Ireland, but as this was a world tick for me I was persuaded by a friend to go. We arrived 20 minutes after it had last shown, and spent the rest of the day becoming increasingly worried as it didn't re-appear. Half an hour before we had to leave for our return flight it showed for a few minutes, enabling me to get at least some photos.
Whiskered Tern Titchwell October 2006
By contrast with the Warbler, this tern, in a rarely-seen plumage, chose the nearest corner of Titchwell saline lagoon to patrol up and down, much to the delight of birders, photographers and Robin-strokers.
Least Sandpiper Copperhouse Creek October 2006
Our annual trip to the west country didn't prove very fruitful, but we started by watching this little gem at great range, some even walked out on the estuary mud for better views (to no avail). The following morning it was feet away from the wall at Copperhouse.
Spotted Sandpiper Hayle Estuary October 2006
Just the other side of the estuary this bird was equally obliging ,having been in the area some time. In fact it settled down to winter, although I don't remember if it made it.
Pallas' Warbler Gramborough Hill Salthouse October 2006
I still love Pallas' Warblers, and I've still never bettered the photo of the first one I ever photographed, but it's a good excuse to keep trying.
Red-flanked Bluetail Thorpeness October 2006
From being an extreme rarity to an annual visitor in ten years, we only bother now with local birds, unless a mature male chooses to visit. My personal view is that these birds may be prospecting rather than just lost migrants, time will tell.
Little Auk Snettisham November 2006
Another October passed with no real "megas", but going into November inland Little Auks are always worth a look, this one (of two) was only yards inland, so may have returned to a pelagic life.
Grey Phalarope Snettisham November 2006
Another pelagic winterer only a matter of yards inland, and not really a rarity, but always an attractive bird. Even more attractive would be a breeding bird, but that has so far eluded us.
Long-billed Murrelet Dawlish November 2006
Just when you thought you could relax and start thinking about Christmas, Bang! the bird of the decade! And to think it nearly got away identified as a Little Auk. A world tick for many people, good photos were easy, unlike the other Murrelet (Ancient) years before.
Black-eared Kite Blakeney December 2006
Still the year wasn't over, especially if you agreed with this somewhat contentious split. First seen in Lincolnshire, it wasn't until chasing it around in Norfolk it flew over the carpark and I finally got a good shot.
Lesser Yellowlegs Thornham Harbour January 2007
By contrast the New Year started quietly, but this bird was seemingly left over in Norfolk from the previous autumn. As can be seen, it showed extremely well in the muddy channel next to the carpark.
American Robin March 2007
When I finally was able to get away for the Pacific Diver, it chose to fly off whilst we were driving up the motorway. This was some consolation not far away.
Wilsons Phalarope Grafham Water May 2007
For us the year was still quiet, but a nice breeding-plumaged female not too far from home gave me something to do. Strangely these birds not uncommonly occur here as adults.
White-tailed Plover Caerlaverock June 2007
At last, a bird most birders had been waiting a long time for, and a world tick for us as well. Great location, although it proved elusive for some people, and never really came close, the shot here will do for me!
Little Bittern Titchwell June 2007
Reasonably showy for this species, although "helped" a bit too frequently with electronic recordings, especially as this was a potential breeder. Indeed, a juvenile was seen at the same location in autumn, so perhaps it did?
Dark-eyed Junco Langham July 2007
A quick dash after work for this, although rather a strange time of year for a migrant. Unlikely to have been an escapee though, and it certainly continued its migration that night, much to the displeasure of the assembled twitchers next day.
Squacco Heron Earith August 2007
An increasingly common vagrant and a site strangely close to a bird a few years previously and one a couple of years later. Perhaps Cambridgeshire will be the first area to be colonised as global warming continues.
Black Kite Nocton Fen August 2007
A record shot, seen on the way to see Brown Flycatcher. In fact we turned back here as it became obvious we should have gone for the flycatcher the previous day, but I'm sure there'll be another one.
Moltoni's Subalpine Warbler Burnham Overy Oct.07
Feeling frustrated by the dipping of the flycatcher, I went to photograph this bird, as much for an insurance tick as anything. Having been there a few days it was quite obliging in its appearences.
Lapland Bunting Salthouse November 2007
Not a rarity by any means, but an unusual chance to get a reasonable shot of a species usually viewed in the middle of a field. Somebody had put some grain down at Salthouse near the carpark and it proved to be very popular with this species and Snow Buntings.
Pomarine Skua Cley East Bank November 2007
Another species rarely photographed in Britain, there had in fact been two in the area for a few days, attracted by a large fish (how did that get there?). I just wish it had flown around a bit more but it makes a change from distant birds on seawatches.
Rough-legged Buzzard Yarmouth November 2007
Again a bird that is often seen distantly, I decided to go walkabout rather than watch from the "designated" spot, and was rewarded with aching legs and some reasonable photos.
Desert Wheatear Horsey November 2007
Yet another Desert Wheatear (about my tenth in England), but they usually turn up after the autumn migration has finished, often in East Anglia and when there's not a lot else around. Oh, and they're always tame!
Richard's pipit Terrington Marsh January 2008
Closeness to home was my only reason for going to see this, although wintering birds are unusual. Not unfortunately a bird to get very excited about.
White-crowned Sparrow Cley January 2008
By contrast, a bird to get very excited about, having dipped the Seaforth bird and not gone for the Irish one (which had no tail anyway). It turned out to be our only tick of the year, in the first week!
Great Grey Shrike Roydon Common January 2008
A regular wintering bird, at a regular wintering site. There's always the chance of a Merlin or Hen Harrier there as well.
Great White Egret Ouse Washes January 2008
A wintering bird which wandered about a great deal, indeed there may have been two. This and the next two birds are all becoming increasingly common, probably partly to do with global warming, but also loss of habitat on the continent.
Glossy Ibis Howden's Pullover February 2008
Increasingly arriving in small flocks, surely they will establish colonies soon. This was a solo bird however, it and the Cattle Egret being close to home on the same day.
Cattle Egret Legbourne Lincs. February 2008
Presumably Cattle Egrets are quite used to humans, associating as they do with domestic stock, this one was particularly approachable. Strange that they haven't colonised sooner, as worldwide their spread has been remarkable.
Great Northern Diver Blickling Hall February 2008
Although these divers commonly winter on inland waters, I hadn't seen one for a few years, so this bird, which came quite close at times, was worth the relatively short journey.
Red-footed Falcon Lakenheath May 2008
Unlike other potential colonisers, this species doesn't seem to be a lot commoner since we became aware of global warming, but flucuates in numbers annually. This bird was originally one of a pair, but nothing came of it.
Tawny Pipit Waxham Norfolk June 2008
Another bird I hadn't seen for a few years as I confess to finding Pipits unexciting in the main. It didn't look as if a great Spring was on the cards for us, so it was something to do.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper Maxey GP June 2008
I'm still waiting for a really good shot of one of these, they always seem distant when I go for them. However, they're normally approachable, I'll just have to go for one where there aren't lots of restrictions on access.
Lesser Grey Shrike Hickling Norfolk June 2008
Just filling in time really, this bird was nothing like as photogenic as the bird in Suffolk, partly because of fences again preventing access to its chosen field.
Lesser Yellowlegs adult Cley Norfolk June 2008
Another reason for birds being distant is the noise in most hides nowadays, but this bird was in a plumage (adult breeding) rarely seen in Britain, so I had a go.
Audouin's Gull Wolla Bank August 2008
One of only three really good birds I photographed in 2008, only one of which was a lifer. This attracted a lot of attention from Lincolnshire birders and any that missed the Dungeness bird, as it was the first easily twitchable one since.
Desert Wheatear female Saltfleet November 2008
Not another one! My only excuse is that it was on the way back from the Steppe Grey Shrike, and just round the corner from a Glaucous Gull at the Donna Nook seal colony.
Steppe Grey Shrike Grainborough November 2008
This was the only other decent bird I saw, right at the end of the migration season. Usually included in Southern Grey Shrike, they are distinctly different if seen well, although what the BOU think is another matter.
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Rarities from 1985