29/07/2004
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Focus On: Temminck's Stints in spring 2004 – a record influx

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During spring 2004 an exceptional movement of Temminck's Stints took place, with a minimum of 226 birds reported on Bird News Extra. The majority of records were along the east coast, primarily between Kent and Northumberland, though much smaller numbers penetrated into the Midlands. As is usual, records further west were scarce and relatively few reached further north to Scotland.

Temminck's Stint: Aughton Ings, E. Yorks. (Photo: Russell Slack) Temminck's Stint: North Cave Wetlands, E. Yorks. (Photo: Darren AP Ward)

Temminck's Stints breed mainly in the tundra zone from Scandinavia eastwards to eastern Siberia. A very small population of breeding birds occurs in the Scottish Highlands, but number just two-three pairs in most years. The bulk of the European breeding population occurs in Russia, with an estimated 1-10 million pairs. The main wintering areas are from Mediterranean basin and northern Afrotropics across the Middle East and east across southern Asia to Japan.

In Britain, apart from the small breeding population, it is predominantly a scarce passage migrant, with numbers varying from year-to-year. Annual fluctuations are no doubt determined by a number of factors, but key during spring migration periods during an overland movement through Europe between mid-April and mid May will be weather patterns across the continent. Britain lies at the western edge of the migration route, thus there is variability in the numbers of birds reaching our shores. The prime period for this scarce stint is condensed into the period mid- to late May, with stragglers met with well into June and there is, as with most waders, no obvious gap between northbound birds and the first returning birds of the autumn. Autumn numbers are fewer in number, with failed breeders presumably accounting for early 'autumn' sightings. There is a clear east-coast bias to the records, with Temminck's Stints much scarcer further west and into Ireland.

During the period 1968-2001, there were around 3,106 recorded in Britain. The best year ever for the species was 1987 when the annual total was 176 birds, most of which were associated with a dramatic spring movement. The second-best year ever was 2001, when 134 were noted. Annual means for Britain in 10-year periods are: 71 between 1968 and 1979, 105 between 1980 and 1989, 95 between 1990 and 1999 and 131 between 2000 and 2001.

Temminck's Stint: Aughton Ings, E. Yorks. (Photo: Russell Slack) Temminck's Stint: Ringstone Edge Reservoir, W. Yorks. (Photo: Sean Gray)

The forerunner of the spring 2004 movement was a single bird at Saltholme Pools (Cleveland) from 22nd-24th April which at the time was perhaps of little interest in other than the fact that it was relatively early (a delve into county avifaunas reveals just one April record in Yorkshire, four in Norfolk and one in Suffolk; compare this with the earliest for Shetland which is 17th May). This was followed by another April record, with one at Ynys-Hir (Ceredigion) on 26th April.

As would be expected, small numbers began arriving from 1st May onwards and nationally by 10th May there had been 16 birds recorded. The 11th May saw an arrival of seven birds, including three together at North Cave Wetlands (E. Yorks), which had increased to four birds by the following day. These were very much the forerunners of the main arrival, with daily totals of new birds in double-figures on 13th and 14th May. The peak arrival took place on 15th May when 30 new birds arrived, with 24 the following day. Thereafter, numbers declined steadily, though between 9 and 18 new arrivals were noted daily between 17th and 23rd May, with the end of the main passage occurring on 26th May. After this date single figures were recorded on several dates into June. By the end of June around 226 birds had been involved with the spring movement, a total eclipsing the record annual total of birds in 1987. The spring 2004 estimate represents a minimum value, as it has been assumed here that there was minimal turnover at sites, though in reality this was probably not the case. In addition, 'new' birds were assumed at a given location only where there had been a significant gap between sightings.

Chart of reported Temminck's Stint numbers, spring 2004

Chart of reported Temminck's Stint numbers, spring 2004

As would be expected, the majority of sightings were along eastern England between Kent and Northumberland. The largest number of birds were reported in Norfolk, where perhaps as many as 34 birds revealed their presence, followed by Suffolk with 19 birds. Other counties to accumulate double-figure counts included Cambridgeshire, Cleveland, E. Yorks, N. Yorks, Kent, Lincolnshire and Northumberland. There were numerous reports of multiple occurrences, but some notable flocks were detected. These included: 5 at Buckenham Marshes (Norfolk) on 16th May, 6 at Filey (N. Yorks) on 16th May, 6 at Wicken Fen (Cambs) from 16th-17th May, 7 at Hickling Broad (Norfolk) on 17th May, 6 at East Chevington (Northumberland) on 20th May, and 7 at Druridge Pools (Northumberland) on 21st May.

Distribution of reported Temminck's Stints, spring 2004

Distribution of reported Temminck's Stints, spring 2004

Temminck's Stint: Aughton Ings, E. Yorks. (Photo: Russell Slack) Temminck's Stint: Seaton Common, Cleveland. (Photo: Jane Hanson)

 

Temminck's Stint: Aughton Ings, E. Yorks. (Photo: Russell Slack) Temminck's Stint: Welney WWT, Norfolk. (Photo: Adam Morgan)

 

Given the elusive nature and small size of this delightful stint, one can only wonder at how many birds sneaked through our larger wetland areas?

Sightings by region reported on Bird News Extra are as follows (it should be noted that all these are subject to acceptance at a county level and as with all rare or scarce sightings observers are urged to send their reports to the county recorder even if they are featured here).

East Anglia

Cambs: Nene Washes 1st May; Barleycraft GPS 2nd May; Paxton Pits 3 from 14th-16th May; Wicken Fen 6 from 16th-17th May, one on 18th May and one on 23rd May. Essex: Holland Haven 7th-9th May; Vange Marshes 2 from 13th-14th May; Potton Island 2 on 15th May. Norfolk: Hickling Broad 3rd-5th May, 2 from 15th-17th May, 4 on 18th May, 7 on 19th May, 3 on 20th May and one on 21st May; Welney 3rd May, 7th-9th May and 2 from 22nd-23rd May; Titchwell RSPB 6th May, 17th May and 2 on 18th May; Cley 8th May, 3 on 13th May, 15th May, 20th May, 21st May, 4 on 22nd May, 23rd May and 6th June; Stiffkey Fen 12th May and 2 on 18th May; Buckenham Marshes 15th May, 5 on 16th May, 3 on 19th May; Berney Marshes 21st May; Salthouse 17th May; Holkham 22nd May. Suffolk: King's Fleet, Felixstowe 6th May; Trimley Marshes 4 on 14th May, 19th May, 23rd May and 25th May; Boyton Marshes 14th May, 2 from 15th-16th May, one on 17th May; Landguard NR 2 on 15th May; Minsmere 3 on 15th May, one on 16th May, 2 on 17th May, one from 21st-22nd May, 4 on 23rd May; Hen Reedbed 2 from 15th-18th May, 2 on 25th May; Livermere Lake 21st May.

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Midlands

Buckinghamshire: Willen Lake 18th May. Derbyshire: Aston-on-Trent GPs 20th May. Gloucestershire: Severn Beach 13th May; Frampton-on-Severn 2 on 20th May, one on 20th and 22nd May. Leicestershire: Wanlip GPs 3 on 17th May. Northamptonshire: Pitsford Reservoir 19th May; Stanwick GPs 20th May Nottinghamshire: Lound GPs 15th-16th May and 26th-28th May; Hoveringham GPs 18th May; Dunham Pools 2 on 24th May. Oxfordshire: Otmoor 13th-16th May, 21st-22nd May; Farmoor Reservoir 14th May, 2 on 23rd May; Balscote 14th-15th May; Didcot 25th May.

North East England

Cleveland: Saltholme Pools 22nd-24th April, 2nd-3rd May, 2 on 4th May, one on 14th June; Seaton Common 3 on 13th May, 21st May, 2 on 23rd May and one on 25th May; Scaling Dam Reservoir 18th-20th May. Durham: Bishop Middleham 2 from 19th-21st May. E. Yorks: North Cave Wetlands 3 on 11th May, 4 from 12th-14th May, one from 24th-26th May; Flamborough 15th May; Aughton Ings 2 from 15th-16th May; Paull Holme Strays 2 from 16th-18th May, one on 29th May; Blacktoft Sands 19th and 21st May; Tophill Low 5th June. Lincolnshire: Welland Bank Pits 13th-17th May; Gibraltar Point 18th May, 4 on 19th May, one on 23rd May; Flixborough 20th May; Covenham Reservoir 20th-21st May; Messingham Sand Quarry 24th May; Saltfleet Haven 26th-27th May. North Yorkshire: Scalby Lodge Pond 2 on 14th May, 3 from 15th-17th, 2 on 19th and one from 20th-22nd May; Filey 5 on 15th May with 6 on 16th May; Bank Island 16th May; Nosterfield NR 28th May. Northumberland: East Chevington 14th May, 2 on 15th and 18th, one on 19th, 6 on 20th, 2 on 23rd and one on 24th May; Druridge Pools 5 on 19th May, 3 on 20th, 7 on 21st and 2 on 22nd May; Hauxley NR 1st June. S. Yorks: Edderthorpe Flash 12th-13th May and 24th-25th May; Old Moor 2 on 16th and 21st May; Wombwell Ings 2 from 17th-21st May. W. Yorks: Ringstone Edge Res 31st May.

North West England

Cheshire: Inner Marsh Farm 12th May; Great Sankey 17th May. Lancashire: Aldcliffe Marshes 26th June. Gtr Manchester: Rumworth Lodge Res 8th June.

Northern Ireland

Antrim: Belfast Harbour 15th June. Down: Quoile Pondage 23rd May. Londonderry: Lough Beg 23rd-24th May.

Scotland

Aberdeenshire: Slains Pools 20th-26th May; Loch of Strathbeg 8th June. Angus and Dundee: Monikie CP 2 on 16th May, 4 from 17th-18th, 2 from 19th-21st May. Clyde: Carnbarns Pond 27th June. Lothian: Belhaven Bay 22nd May. Orkney: Loch of Tankerness 8th May, 2 on 30th June; North Ronaldsay 3rd June. Shetland: Pool of Virkie 24th May, 11th June; Loch of Hillwell 11th June; Baltasound, Unst 22nd-23rd June.

South East England

Bedfordshire: Broom GPs 17th-19th May. Berkshire: Greenham Common 11th May. E. Sussex: Rye Harbour 26th-27th May. Hampshire: Farlington Marshes 2 from 11th-14th May, 4 on 15th May; Fleet Pond 16th May. Kent: Grove Ferry 2nd-3rd May, 20th-21st May, 2 on 22n, one on 26th May and 12th June; Sevenoaks 13th May; Cliffe Pools 15th May, 3 on 16th, 4 on 17th, one on 25th May; Denge Marsh 4 on 18th May, one from 20th-21st May; Reculver 19th May. Greater London: Fairlop Waters CP 2nd May; Belvedere 12th May; Ponders End Lake 12th May; Kempton Park NR 19th May; Beddington SF 22nd-24th May. Surrey: Staines Res 14th June W. Sussex: Pagham Harbour 11th-12th May, 23rd May, 2on 25th, one on 26th May.

South East England

Dorset: Ferrybridge 14th May; Swineham GPs 2 on 15th May

Wales

Ceredigion: Ynys-Hir 26th April, 2 on 17th May, one from 19th-20th May. Conwy: Conwy RSPB 15th May. Gwent: Goldcliffe Pool 16th May.

References

Taylor M, Seago M, Allard P, Dorling, D. 2000. The Birds of Norfolk. Pica Press. East Sussex.
Wilson, A and Slack, R. 1996. Rare and Scarce Birds in Yorkshire Privately Published, Guildford.
Pennington, M., Osborn, K., Harvey, P., Riddington, R., Okill, D., Ellis, P., Heubeck, M. 2004. The Birds of Shetland Helm, London.
Piotrowski, S. 2003. The Birds of Suffolk Helm, London.
Hagemeijer, W.J.M., and Blair, M., J. 1997. The EBCC Atlas of European Breeding Birds: Their Distribution and Abundance T and AD Poyser, London.
Cramp, S., and Simmons, K. E. L. (eds.) 1983. The Birds of the Western Palearctic. Vol.3. OUP. Oxford.
Fraser, P.A., and Rogers, M.J. 2003. Report on scarce migrant birds in Britain in 2003. British Birds 96: 626-649.
Wernham, C., et al. 2002. The Migration Atlas: Movements of the birds of Britain and Ireland. T and AD Poyser, London.

Written by: Russell Slack