At last … Honey Buzzard

It’s about time we had one this year and John Peacock was lucky enough to catch this individual as it passed over the footpath near the Screen Hide at Summer Leys this morning. Initially mobbed by a crow, it circled and quickly gained height before moving off north-west at about 08.15.

Honey Buzzard, Summer Leys LNR, 30th June 2011 (John Peacock)

Plumage characteristics, such as the slightly darker secondaries than primaries, with barring conspicuous and filling the space between the covert barring and the darker trailing edge – as well as the outer primary barring extending out toward the darker tips – point to this individual being an adult female. Honey Buzzard is a scarce annual passage migrant with, over the last ten years, 2-4 records per year. In 2000 a record 37 were recorded as part of a national autumn invasion but prior to that there had been only 12 records in the 20th century.

Leucistic Willow Warbler

Keith Smith sent me these images of a leucistic Willow Warbler, with plumage reminiscent of a domestic Canary, recently photographed at Summer Leys. It was along the old railway track at the far end of the reserve (opposite end to the car park) frequently dropping down out of view to feed, then appearing again in the same general area.

Leucistic Willow Warbler, Summer Leys LNR, June 2011 (Keith J Smith)
Leucistic Willow Warbler, Summer Leys LNR, June 2011 (Keith J Smith)

Leucistic Willow Warblers are rare but not without precedent. There are two recent, similarly striking, examples from Scotland involving returning breeding individuals (paired to ‘normal’ Willow Warblers) with a female on Mull in 2003 and 2004 and a male near Dalry, north Ayrshire in 2010 and again this year