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Rare Bird Sightings
February 2006

Photo  Copyright 2006 Steve Botham:
Photo: Steve Botham

UK Safari Tip:
Need help identifying birds? One of the best field guides is the "Collins Bird Guide" - available through the Amazon bookshop -  click here

This White-Headed Duck was spotted at Broadwater Gravel Pits Denham, Buckinghamshire, at the beginning of the month. White-Headed Ducks are a globally threatened species. The European population is estimated to be between 50-100 pairs, all found in Spain.

By contrast, the Ruddy duck, which was imported to this country from America in the 1940's, is quite a common species. The ruddy duck, named after its red-brown plumage, has ruffled a lot of feathers because it mates with the White-Headed duck producing a fertile cross-breed. In an effort to save the White-Headed duck species from extinction, and under pressure from the Spanish Government, the UK Government is culling Ruddy ducks. After habitat loss, non-native species are considered the biggest global threat to biological diversity.

Photo  Copyright 2006 Steve Botham:

This Laughing Gull, a visitor from North America was spotted at Porthmadog, Wales. It's one of three in Wales which arrived as a result of Hurricane Wilma in November. In most years only one or two Laughing Gulls are recorded in the whole country, but last year around 60 arrived and several counties had there first ever record (i.e.Pembrokeshire went from 0 to 6). Most of them moved on before the new year.

Photo  Copyright 2006 Steve Botham:

An adult Ring-billed Gull was spotted at Westcliff-on-Sea at the beginning of the month. This species has a black ring near the tip of the pale bill (hence the name). Around 50 of these birds arrive in the UK each year from North America, often showing up at coastal estuaries.

Photo  Copyright 2006 Steve Botham:

This Lesser Scaup was at the Ouse Washes, Cambridgeshire on the 5th February. This is another North American bird, with just one or two showing up in the UK each year. These ducks are a bit smaller than our native Scaup with a bump on the back of the head, and a small black nail on the bill. The markings on the back are much coarser.

Track Down More Info

Top 50 Garden Birds ID Chart
Wetland Birds Identification Chart
UK Safari Rare Bird Section
UK Safari Bird Section

  2006 G. Bradley. All Rights Reserved