Newsletter / Blog

Rare bird sightings – UK and Ireland

The week’s highlights of rare bird sightings in the UK  and Ireland include -

Baillon’s Crake – Porzana pusilla – Malltraeth.

Collared Flycatcher – Ficedula alibicillis – Donegal, Ireland.

European Roller – Coracias garrulous – East Yorkshire.

European Roller

The European Roller, Coracias garrulus, is the only member of the roller family of birds to breed in Europe. It migrates vast distances between continents. It is a bird of warm, dry, open country with scattered trees. It winters primarily in dry wooded savanna and bushy plains, where it typically nests in tree holes.


It is mainly blue with an orange-brown back and black flight feathers. The head, neck and underparts are light blue, whilst the upperparts are brownish-orange. A short, thin black stripe runs through the eye and the tail is greenish-blue with a darker base. In flight the brilliant azure blue leading edge and the contrasting black wing-tips can be seen. Sexes are similar, but the juvenile is a drabber version of the adult.


The call is a harsh crow-like sound. It gives a raucous series of calls when nervous.


Mainly eats flying insects, such as termite alates, beetles and locusts, rarely eating small vertebrates. It typically hunts from a perch, waiting until prey gets close before pouncing on it.


The nest site is situated in a hole in a large tree, building, cliff or riverbank. A clutch of one to six, but most commonly four or five, eggs are laid from May to June. The eggs are incubated, primarily by the female, for 17 to 19 days. The chicks  develop quickly and fledge after 25 to 30 days. The young continue to be fed by adults for a further three weeks or more.

 Conservation Status – Near threatened

This species has undergone rapid declines across its global range and it is consequently considered Near Threatened. Declines have been most pronounced in northern populations. Threats include persecution on migration in some Mediterranean countries and hundreds, perhaps thousands, are shot for food in Oman every spring. Use of pesticides reduces food availability, and the species is sensitive to changing farming and forestry practices.


Ask Aves Birding Tours/Safaris/Adventures to create a tour for you to see these Rollers during the South African summer [October to April] or book on one of the following Aves scheduled tours: -

Aves Arid Birding Tour/Safari/Adventure

Aves Eastern Cape Birding Tour / Safari /Adventure.

Aves Highlands / Tembe Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves KZN Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves North East Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves North West Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves Western Cape Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves West Coast Birding Tour / Safari /Adventure.



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