Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Black-winged Pratincole at The Ouse Washes, RSPB

A very dodgy 'record' shot of this 3* mega rarity that has been hanging around the RSPB site of the Ouse Washes in Cambridgeshire for a while now. The Black-winged Pratincole should be on the Steppe, grassland or arable area of the northern Black Sea or Kazakhstan where this species breeds, but instead this particular bird has found itself in the U.K. moving down the east coast and ending up in Cambridgeshire, where myself and Lisa saw it yesterday evening.

I really should have gone for it a long time ago, but the walk mentioned on the report of at least 4km (one way) and the fact that it kept disappearing put me off a bit. What a lightweight, I hear you cry! With it being continuously reported on Monday and the weather set fair, I made up my mind to go and managed to rope poor old Lisa into coming with me.

After a seemingly never ending walk we arrived at the birds favoured location where a friendly birder was encountered and after enquiries told us that the bird was flying around several hundred metres in the sky, but putting on a good show. At that moment he saw something moving, so we both raised our bins and there was my first Black-winged Pratincole flying gracefully through the sky, its movements reminiscent of a Black Tern. Both Lisa and myself got great views through my scope and I managed to get a couple of truly awful record shots until the bird appeared to land in long grass, where it could no longer be seen. As night fell we started the long walk back, but somehow, it didn't seem as long!

Showing its black underwings

Showing the top of the bird which shows its lack of white trailing edge of the inner wing (a feature of the similar Collared Pratincole)


  1. Well John, I can honestly say that I have never heard of this chap!
    I’m experimenting with a new idea of mentioning the music I’m listening to while posting or commenting. Right now it’s Edith Piaf's 'Hymn to Love'.
    CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

    1. It's not a bird that you come across that often Bazza! A daft name, but a cracking bird!
      The only song I know by Edith Piaf is 'Je ne regrette rien', or something like that!


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