surfbirds logo
For birders all over the world
Surfbirds Home |

The Very Best of British and Irish Birding - 2012 Review

(roll your cursor over each image for a summary of the month's highlights -and click on
any image for a larger version. For non IE users click here for a full account of the year)

Hampshire scored with Spanish Sparrow and a Slate-coloured Junco whilst West Sussex hit back with Parrot Crossbill. The over-wintering Northern Waterthrush was relocated on the Scillies whilst two Northern Long-tailed Tits and Coues's Arctic Redpolls in Norfolk were all popular. Other over-wintering vagrants from 2011 included the Western Sandpiper in Norfolk, the Greater Yellowlegs in Scotland and a Bufflehead in Cornwall. The returning Lesser White-fronted Goose remained in Norfolk all month. A male Common Yellowthroat in South Wales drew the crowds whilst a Paddyfield Warbler in West Sussex eventually showed to those patient enough. Otherwise rarities from January hung onto into February with only a brief Two-barred Crossbill in Norfolk adding to the list of new highlight birds. An elusive White-tailed Eagle wandered around south-east England but generally evaded birders whilst an unseasonal White Stork in Lincolnshire was more showy. A stunning Baillon's Crake in Co. Wexford was, unsurprisingly, popular for Irish listers despite only staying a day. A Scops Owl on Scillies and a Short-toed Treecreeper in Kent (where else) stayed little longer. A Siberian Stonechat in Co. Wexford and a Red-flanked Bluetail in Co.Cork did hang around and left British birders reflecting on the luck of the Irish. By mid-month an influx of Night Herons had occurred into south-western counties heralding the arrival of Spring. A juvenile Thayer's Gull in Lincolnshire gave birders the run around before finally settling into a pattern of sightings whilst a Bufflehead in the same county was less accommodating staying just one day. A Falcated Duck in County Mayo was considered more than likely genuine; a male Pallid Harrier in Gloucestershire must have been a sight. Black-winged Stilts appeared in several counties but scarce passerines were in generally short supply.
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
A one-day first-summer male Orphean Warbler towards the end of the month drew large crowds in Cleveland. Other top notch birds included a Cream-coloured Courser in Herefordshire and a Baillon's Crake in Anglesey. Calandra and Crested Lark sightings along the Kent coast were reserved for their finders only. Ireland's first Collared Flycatcher, along with a White-throated Sparrow in Highland, a Roller in East Yorkshire and a Black-winged Pratincole in Cheshire were the best of the rest. The three-day Little Swift around the Wirral drew appreciative audiences although the long-staying Roller in East Yorkshire was without doubt the most popular. Scottish birders turned up Greater Sand Plover, River Warbler and another Black Scoter whilst from the English Channel came a report of a Black-browed Albatross. More typical were sightings of Barolo Little Shearwaters off Devon and Cornwall. By the end of the month a small invasion of Rose-coloured Starlings had started. The Yorkshire Roller travelled north, as far as Orkney, where birders also found a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and a Western Bonelli's Warbler. Several Caspian Terns arrived including a lingering bird in Norfolk while seawatchers notched up a Fea's Petrel off County Cork and double figure Wilson's Petrels from various pelagics. An Iberian Chiffchaff in Somerset remained on territory all month. The Greater Yellowlegs reappeared in Highland towards the month's end. Photos of a strange falcon in Cornwall later confirmed as an Eleonora's Falcon must have made one couple's birding year. But even more astounding was the report of a fly-by Black Skimmer from the Mullet. A difficult to connect with Spanish Sparrow arrived in Suffolk. A Stilt Sandpiper in Northumberland was more obliging. Other quality birds included a Black-winged Pratincole in the Outer Hebrides, an American Black Tern in Lincolnshire and a Yelkouan Shearwater off County Durham.
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
A Magnolia Warbler on Fair Isle for just one evening set pulses beating. A juvenile Baillon's Crake in London played hide and seek but finally showed to most birders. Britain's second Short-billed Dowitcher in Dorset was equally popular although a subsequent bird on Scillies and a Semipalmated Plover in the Outer Hebrides caused less of a stir. Two White's Thrushes and three Pallas' Grasshopper Warblers made east coast landfalls; a Red-eyed Vireo on Fair Isle signalled nearctic passerines were on the move. Two untwitchable Western Palearctic firsts - an Eastern Kingbird in Co.Galway and a totally unexpected Pale-legged Leaf Warbler in Dorset. More obliging (just) were a Belted Kingfisher, also in Co. Galway, and a Chestnut-eared Bunting in Shetland. Siberian Rubythroat, Eyebrowed Thrush, Black-throated Thrush and Bobolink all visited Shetland too. A long-staying Eastern Olivaceous Warbler in Fife and a Solitary Sandpiper on Scillies were more popular. Had a brief Asian Desert Warbler been relocated in Kent, many birders would have travelled to see this bird; instead birders gave the thumbs up to a first winter Hooded Merganser in West Sussex. The run of Spanish Sparrows continued with a further bird on the Isle of Wight whilst County Mayo delivered a Blackpoll Warbler and a Cedar Waxwing on consecutive days. The Outer Hebrides scored with a Pied-billed Grebe and American Coot. A late Bee-eater in County Durham added a splash of colour to the year's end. A showy Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll in Suffolk drew large crowds whilst first one, then two, Buff-bellied Pipits in Berkshire were equally popular birds. A Rose-breasted Grosbeak on the Scillies was equally unexpected. After missing last winter, the Pacific Diver reappeared in Cornwall. A Subalpine Warbler also started to overwinter in Cornwall whilst a brief, drake Falcated Duck in Oxford raised the usual questions. Another Desert Wheatear appeared in Aberdeenshire to complete a good year for this species.
September 2012
October 2012
November 2012
December 2012

Photos from top left: Spanish Sparrow and Common Yellowthroat copyright Richard Stonier; Baillon's Crake copyright John Coveney; Thayer's Gull copyright Alan Lewis; Cream-coloured Courser copyright Gary Thoburn; Roller copyright Rebecca Nason; White-winged Black Tern copyright Nick Hopper; American Black Tern copyright Dean Eades; Short-billed Dowitcher copyright Brett Spencer; Eastern Kingbird copyright Dermot Breen; Bee-eater copyright Ron Marshall; Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll copyright James Lowen.

You can search thousands of photos from 2012 and earlier for other rare birds - simply go to any gallery and use the search feature on the left hand bar. Many thanks to all the photographers who have 'showcased' their work on surfbirds in 2012.