IN these difficult times most birdwatchers are sensibly still generally staying close to home. This reduced coverage of the area, coupled with the glorious sunny weather, was not conducive to discovering rare birds but there were a handful of top quality sightings.

At Nosterfield a beautiful Red-necked Phalarope was the pick of the finds. In Britain nesting is restricted to a handful of sites in the Hebrides and Shetland. They are one of the few species where the female is more brightly coloured than the male and the males also incubate the eggs and raise the young. For some reason this is one of my wife’s favourite birds…

They are also noticeable for their unique feeding style, sitting on the water and spinning like a top. It is thought this draws water up from below the surface and with it the bird’s insect prey. This superb little wader has only been recorded in this area twice before and therefore attracted a good sized, but socially distanced, crowd.

The Lesser Yellowlegs, a very rare American wader, was still present at Nosterfield all month and probably now represents the longest-staying bird ever recorded in the country, having been present in the area since before Christmas. Unfortunately for the photographers it still tends to favour the far banks at the reserve. A Garganey at this site completed a triumvirate of good birds on this excellent nature reserve.

Elsewhere one lucky household in Newton-le-Willows reported a Hoopoe in their garden. Seeing this impossibly exotic species in a bird book when I was a child was one of the things which initially interested me in birdwatching and I have been lucky enough to catch up with a handful in Britain over the years. This is one I photographed in Suffolk a couple of years ago.

Other records of interest in May included four reports of Osprey, including two together near Middleham, and a Curlew Sandpiper at Catterick. Newsham Ponds meanwhile attracted a Wood Sandpiper and a pair of Mediterranean Gull successfully nested at the site.

At the time of writing a Red-footed Falcon had been reported perching in the unlikely setting of the Simply Dutch sign on the A1 access road just south of Leeming! There has been a notable influx of this eastern falcon into Britain this spring and the finder managed a phone shot of the bird which does indeed seem to show a female Red-footed Falcon. This would be the first local record of this superb raptor. It will be worth keeping your eyes peeled as the bird may still be in the area.

No doubt about the other bird to look out for this month, Rose-coloured Starling. There has been a huge influx of this striking species to western Europe and a number of UK sightings have occurred. So far most sightings have been on the western fringes of the country but these are likely to move inland. There will undoubtedly also be further arrivals on the east coast and the first Yorkshire birds have already been reported.

The photo shows one I photographed in Kazakhstan a couple of years ago where numbers have increased significantly and it was by far the commonest bird we saw in the country. Someone described them as a starling in a pink fur gilet which is pretty accurate. Not surprisingly they usually associate with common starlings and this means they are as likely to turn up in a garden as a nature reserve so keep those feeders well stocked!

If you are lucky enough to spot a Rosy Starling or any unusual bird I would love to hear from you at