Review of the Week: 10th–16th July 2003

Redhead: Cape Clear, Co. Cork. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Redhead: Cape Clear, Co. Cork. (Photo: Steve Wing)

July is not noted for quality ducks, but an eclipse drake Redhead on Lough Errul, Cape Clear (Co. Cork) from 12th-15th was an unexpected find at an unlikely location perhaps for vagrant ducks. This is the third British and Irish record and follows the first in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire in 1996/97 and the second in Glamorgan for the past two winters. With the range of this Nearctic duck expanding along the northeastern seaboard of the USA we can expect more birds in the years to come.

Laughing Gull: Port Clarence, Cleveland. (Photo: Tom Francis) Laughing Gull: Port Clarence, Cleveland. (Photo: Brian Clasper)

A 2nd-summer Laughing Gull at Port Clarence (Cleveland) on 16th (to at least 17th) was only the second record of the year (following a brief adult in Angus in late April) and was the first to 'linger' since a 1st-winter in Wiltshire and then Bedfordshire in January and early February 2001. An examination of the monthly occurrence patterns for all Laughing Gull records reveals a rectangular distribution: summer records are as likely as any other month, with the fewest records occurring in February and March. This is only the 2nd record for this well-watched county, the last coming in late June 1981.

Caspian Tern: Stanwick GPs, Northants. (Photo: Andy Warr) Caspian Tern: Stanwick GPs, Northants. (Photo: Steve Nuttall)

White-winged Black Tern: Draycote Water, Warks. (Photo: John Judge) White-winged Black Tern: Welland Bank Pits, Lincs. (Photo: Andy Brett)

A Caspian Tern at Stanwick GPs (Northants) from 16th (to 17th) was the first of the year and will have been gratefully received by year-listers. This is a typical vagrant of the midsummer period, with the majority of records falling in July, and inland waters such as gravel pits and reservoirs offer a chance of finding this superb Sterna tern. Typically highly mobile, this bird visited the site intermittently during its stay – where will it surface next? The settled weather over the week produced White-winged Black Terns. One was at Welland Bank Pits (Lincs) on 12th, and presumably the same bird was relocated at Belvide Reservoir (Staffs) on 13th. A different bird was at Draycote Water (Warks) on 15th. A bird at Hoylake (Cheshire) on 13th was presumably the same bird at Hilbre (Cheshire) on 14th (also seen on 9th) and at Seaforth NR (Lancs) later the same day and again on 16th. Presumably this was the bird seen at Gronant (Clwyd) earlier in the month. In Northumberland the adult at East Chevington continues to find conditions much to its liking.

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Black-headed Bunting: Sidlesham, W. Sussex. (Photo: Richard Prior) Black-headed Bunting: Sidlesham, W. Sussex. (Photo: Paul Norris)

A superb male Black–headed Bunting was at Sidlesham (W. Sussex) from 14th onwards, and was reported to have been present for a couple of weeks. The third record of this attractive overshoot this year, it has been the most accommodating, often showing well in the mornings and evenings. A male Sardinian Warbler at Dunwich Heath NT (Suffolk) for the morning of 12th perhaps arrived in the spring, and avoided detection. Elsewhere, a Short-toed Lark was at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) from 12th-14th, a Tawny Pipit was at Cape Cornwall on 11th and a Serin at Keyhaven Marshes (Hants) on 11th. Rose-coloured Starlings included birds at Halcro (Highland) from 12th-13th, Southampton (Hants) on 12th and recently at Carloway, Lewis (Outer Hebrides). A male Red-backed Shrike was at Stithians Reservoir (Cornwall) on 11th and a Common Rosefinch at Hastings (E. Sussex) on 12th. Bee-eaters were reported from Norfolk, Surrey and Northumberland during the week.

Short-toed Lark: Tacumshin, Co. Wexford. (Photo: Tom Shevlin) Common Crane: Campfield Marsh RSPB, Cumbria. This bird was first seen in Cumbria in late May, and has been summering at this site since 2nd June. (Photo: Phil Briggs)

Seabirds have been in short supply during the settled weather, the only highlight being Wilson's Storm-petrels from pelagic trips to the south of the Isles of Scilly on 12th and 14th. Rare ducks included a Black Duck at Stithians Reservoir (Cornwall) on 16th, with the drake still on Tresco, and a drake Ferruginous Duck at Pitsford Reservoir (Northants) from 13th onwards. A Great White Egret at Scotney GPs (Kent) from 12th was the colour-ringed bird seen last week in Cambridgeshire. This bird was ringed as a nestling at Lake Grand-Lieu, Loire-Atlantique, France on 30th April 2003. The original movement to Cambridgeshire was 582km, and Cam Washes to Scotney GPs is 158km – the bird seems to be heading back! On the subject of colour rings, remember to submit any sightings through the BTO website at www.bto.org/ringing/ringinfo/foundring.htm. Other Great White Egrets, part of the usual late summer dispersal, included one at Saltholme Pools (Cleveland) on 11th, again at Chew Valley Lake (Somerset) on 11th and 12th (first seen on 20th June), and at Holliwell Point (Essex) on 12th. Rare waders have been in short supply, but include a Temminck's Stint at Blacktoft Sands (E. Yorks) on 10th and six Pectoral Sandpipers during the week with birds in Donegal, Orkney, Outer Hebrides, Dublin, Aberdeenshire and Kent. A Spotted Crake at Baron's Haugh RSPB (Clyde) on 14th was a sign that autumn is just around the corner.

With a Grey-tailed Tattler in Sweden on the 12th, it is about time a rare wader put in an appearance, plus it is 'peak' time for a Red-necked Stint...

European Storm-petrel: Hartlepool, Cleveland. Attending organised tape-luring sessions offer the best chance for many birders to see this species away from breeding areas.(Photo: Michael Watson) European Storm-petrel: Hartlepool, Cleveland. Alternatively, pelagic trips from the Isles of Scilly provide good numbers of birds, plus the a chance of a Wilson's Storm-petrel. (Photo: Michael Watson)

Spotted Redshank: A stunning sight in summer plumage, up to 47 birds have been at Minsmere during the week, with 20 at Titchwell RSPB and Elmley Marshes RSPB and 12 at Blacktoft Sands RSPB. (Photo: Sue and Andy Tranter) Curlew Sandpiper: Small numbers of adults have been passing through in the last week, most along the east coast. (Photo: Jerry O'Brien)
Written by: Russell Slack