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bird notes.

Byline: ROBIN SANDHAM

BEFORE the weather turned nasty before the end of March, a few migrants had started to arrive including a quality cast from southern Europe, brought up on constant southerly winds lasting a week or more.

However, it was the east coast which was pulling the crowds.

North Wales' Alan Davies was giving an optics demonstration at Minsmere RSPB in Suffolk when two local birders came rushing in with a photo of a presumed lesser kestrel they had just taken.

Alan confirmed their thoughts, got the news out, and chaos prevailed. It was the first "twitchable" (meaning to have a realistic chance of seeing it) lesser kestrel on UK mainland since 1974 and immediately created a lot of interest.

These raptors are from southern Europe and you might have seen them whilst holidaying there.

Churches and other tall buildings in Spain, Italy or Turkey are a good spot to find them nesting colonially.

They look similar to our common kestrel but with lest detailed markings and bolder colouring with a blue hood, tail, wing bar and a brick-red colour to the back.

A supportive cast of pallid swift and alpine swift were a short distance up the coast near Lowestoft, all of which are likely to have arrived at the same time.

I managed to get down there on March 30 and timed it just right to also see two penduline tits again at Minsmere. These odd little birds have a racoon-like black mask and look similar to a miniature red-backed shrike. What a great reserve and area this is for birding.

If you get chance go in May when all the birds are breeding with a great chance of hearing nightingale, and seeing bittern, marsh harrier and dozens of avocets. The surrounding heaths are good for Dartford warbler and nightjar.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 10, 2010
Words:303
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