Rare Breeding Birds Panel
RBBP - the secure information archive on the UK's rare breeding birds - Twitter: @ukrbbp
Rare Breeding Birds Panel - mid June 2017
LATEST NEWS Further news on nesting Black-winged Stilts (left) has emerged over recent days. After the loss of chicks at the WWT reserve at Welney, Norfolk, two pairs are known to be with chicks at the RSPB Ouse Washes reserve and at the reedbed-in-making at Potter Heigham. There are also other pairs nesting in the south-east of England: future RBBP reports will detail the definitive position. Prospects for the colonisation of Black-winged Stilts were reviewed in a paper in British Birds last November, and this year's events match the predictions in that paper. Meanwhile, the Cattle Egrets at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands in Cheshire still have at least one large young in the nest. Elsewhere in Britain, rare warblers such as Marsh, Savi's and Icterine are establishing territories. Please be mindful that singing birds may mean a nesting attempt is underway nearby so watchers should be very careful not to enter vegetated areas and consider not making their news public so that these rare birds have the best chance to raise young. Careful follow-up observations to establish the outcome are, however, recommended. All records should be submitted to local county recorders to make sure they are documented locally and by RBBP for the future benefit of ornithology in the UK.
Each week during the 2017 breeding season we are including a TIP OF THE WEEK here on our home page. Each tip will suggest an activity that birdwatchers could take part in to help find and record rare breeding birds. At times, we might focus on species of uplands or lowlands, forest or coast, north or south, but over the season there should be something for everyone. Watch out for new tips every week; so far this year we've given hints for recording Quail, Little Egret, Goshawk, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Greenshank, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Firecrest, Cetti's Warbler, Willow Tit and Hawfinch. If you found any, please ensure that you submit the records to the local county/regional bird recorder directly or via BirdTrack. You can download a short guide on using BirdTrack to submit records of rare breeding birds here. All such records will be collated for compilation into the annual return by county recorders to RBBP.
This week's featured species: Honey-buzzard (see photo right, kindly provided by Ian Andrews). In recent weeks we have encouraged you to go out in the evenings listening for squeaking young Long-eared Owls, whip-lashing Spotted Crakes in marshes or calling Quails from arable fields. All of these species could merit further searches, but this week we're suggesting you make use of the warmer weather and look over woodland habitats for Honey-buzzards or other large birds of prey. Honey-buzzards are known to occur in relatively few areas but are almost certainly under-recorded; any found in June or July are likely to be breeding in the area. They nest in larger blocks of both broad-leaved and coniferous woodland, in lowlands and at higher elevations, and keep below the canopy most of the time. So, settle down in a good vantage point and scan with a telescope for several hours. You may be rewarded with sightings of other species such as Goshawk or Red Kite as well - these species will have large young to feed at the moment so may be more obvious than they were in May. In Scotland and probably northern England, Honey-buzzards arrive later in the year and so do not become more visible until mid July onwards, so save this tip for a month's time!
Remember, it's not just those species featured here in recent weeks - if you see (or hear) any birds on the RBBP List (in breeding habitat), make sure that you submit those records too and make sure you use the breeding evidence code to document breeding evidence). Using the BirdTrack website, you can add a six-figure grid reference or pinpoint the sighting on the map. Similarly, if you use the BirdTrack smartphone app, the record will be allocated an accurate location. For some tips on how to use BirdTrack in this way, download our PDF Recording of breeding evidence and rare breeding birds using BirdTrack. There is the added bonus that any records with breeding evidence can be incorporated into the new European Bird Atlas. For more information on that project see EBBA2. The BTO have set up a very useful website to help focus fieldwork efforts (all species, not just rare breeders) in Britain and Ireland: Gapfinder.