Review of the Week: 10th-16th July 2008


The week at a glance

Little change to be had this week in what has been a very quiet few days, with hardly any new arrivals to report as July drifts by. The most significant rarity of the week was still the adult Terek Sandpiper in Cleveland, which remained around Saltholme Pools to 13th, moving to nearby Seal Sands later the same day. In East Yorkshire, at Hornsea Mere, a probable drake Canvasback was seen in a private area during the early part of the evening of 13th, but further searches later that night were fruitless.

Pomarine Skua
Pomarine Skua, Old Head of Kinsale, Cork (Photo: Ronan Mclaughlin)

The summer-plumaged White-billed Diver was still to be seen around Cara and St. Margaret’s Hope, South Ronaldsay (Orkney) to 16th (and the bird was at nearby Burray on 15th). Also in Orkney waters this week was the only confirmed Cory's Shearwater of the past seven days, flying past North Ronaldsay on 13th (with a probable was reported from Sheringham in Norfolk on the same date). As a postscript to the bird caught last week out on the Skelligs, off the coast of County Kerry, it appears that (presumably) the same bird was first heard on the island in the summer of 2004 and it is thought likely that the bird has made landfall on Skellig in subsequent summers. It is also thought to be the first time a Cory’s Shearwater has been known to come to land anywhere north of the closest breeding colony (the Berlengas Islands, off the Portuguese coast). Single Sooty Shearwaters were seen from Lewis (Outer Hebrides) on 12th, and off the coasts of County Durham, Norfolk and Cornwall on 13th, with one off Scilly on 14th and another in Cornwall on 16th. Balearic Shearwaters were seen from seven English counties this week, mainly along the south coast, but two were seen in the North Sea. As is so often the case, it was Portland Bill (Dorset) that scored the most significant tallies of the week, with 16 birds on 10th and 11th, with 32 birds on 14th. Elsewhere, four flew by Hope’s Nose (Devon) on 11th with two singles off Splash Point, Seaford (East Sussex) on the same date. On 12th, a Balearic Shearwater flew past Hartlepool Headland (Cleveland) and on 13th one flew past Flamborough Head (East Yorkshire). Four birds were seen from Gorran Haven (Cornwall) on 14th with 10 birds passing Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 16th. Three Wilson's Storm-petrels were seen off Scilly on an evening pelagic on 10th, with another seen over the Jones Bank, 100 kms west of Scilly, on 12th. A Leach's Storm-petrel was seen off South Ronaldsay on 15th and another was trapped and ringed overnight on Fair Isle (Shetland) on 12th. Compared to some of the unusually high figures (for the time of year) off the south coast last week, this week has seen far fewer European Storm-petrels being noted. In West Sussex, 18 were seen off Selsey Bill on 10th, while the previously mentioned pelagic off Scilly on the same date saw at least 50 birds recorded. Top of the tree though was Dawlish Warren (Devon) which bagged a tally of 54 birds, again on 10th. Night-time tape-luring sessions along North Sea coasts produced eight birds at Whitburn Coastal Park (Co. Durham) on the night of 11th (including a bird ringed in Portugal). Overnight on 14th, five birds were caught at Filey Brigg (North Yorkshire) and another was lured to nets at Spurn (East Yorkshire). A few Pomarine Skua were reported this week; an adult was at Seaton (Devon) on 10th, when two birds were also seen off Porthgwarra (Cornwall). Out at sea, one was seen over the Jones Bank, west of Scilly on 12th and on 13th, two birds flew past Galley Head (Co. Cork). The only Long-tailed Skua of the week was seen on the Scilly evening pelagic of 10th.

Spoonbill, Exminster Marshes RSPB, Devon (Photo: Charlie Fleming)

Last week’s Cattle Egret was again at Goldcliff Pools, Newport Wetlands (Gwent) on 11th, and another was seen in Dorset, at West Bexington, on 12th. A third Cattle Egret was seen at Siblyback Reservoir (Cornwall) on 16th. A Great White Egret was a brief visitor to Coombe Hill Meadows (Gloucestershire) on 14th and another was reported from Pennington Marshes (Hampshire) on 16th. In Norfolk, the total of Spoonbills on Cley Marshes NWT rose to a splendid nine on 11th, with six birds still present to 16th. Seven birds were in Dorset, in Poole Harbour, on 12th-15th and four were at Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk) on 15th. Two birds remained at Kinneil Lagoon (Forth) to 11th, with one there to 14th, before both birds were seen again on 16th, while three sites in Lancashire boasted single birds this week - Martin Mere WWT, Marshside RSPB and Leighton Moss RSPB. Other singles were seen in Cheshire, South Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire and Devon (where there were two singles, one of which is a colour-ringed juvenile - a bird seen last week in Wales). The thought-to-be resident Glossy Ibis remained at Marshside RSPB between 10th-13th before moving to Cheshire, and Inner Marsh Farm RSPB, on 16th. In Scotland, the Common Crane was still at Caerlaverock WWT (Dumfries & Galloway) to 13th. In Shropshire, the pair of Common Cranes were still present near Crudgington on 15th, with at least one there on 16th. One or two escaped White Storks were seen in South and North Yorkshire this week, and one was reported in Oxfordshire, at Coleshill, on 13th and again on 15th. The Night Heron at Earith (Cambridgeshire) was seen again on the evening of 10th, having last been reported in the area on 23rd June.

The first-summer drake Hooded Merganser was still to be seen at Radipole Lake RSPB (Dorset) between 10th-16th. A drake Ferruginous Duck was seen near Clophill (Bedfordshire) on 15th, but wasn’t seen the following day. On Shetland, a drake Surf Scoter was off Delting, Mainland on 10th and 14th, while, something of a surprise, was the reappearance of the first-summer drake King Eider at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) on 12th, with the bird still present there to 16th. Having initially appeared in north Devon during the tail end of the winter, the bird then appeared, for half a day or so, at Tacumshin in late May before disappearing again, seemingly for good. Where did it go in the seven weeks or so from late May to mid July?

Very little in the way of interesting new raptor arrivals this week, save for a single Black Kite, seen near Ewhurst Park (Hampshire) on 14th. Honey Buzzards still attracted birders to Swanton Novers (Norfolk) and Wykeham Forest (North Yorkshire), with both sites having three birds showing during the week (the Norfolk birds will doubtless have moved from Great Ryburgh). Another “HB” was seen at Ibsley Water, Blashford Water HWT (Hampshire) on 12th with further singles seen on Fair Isle (Shetland) on 13th and near Norwich (Norfolk) on 16th. A female Montagu's Harrier was seen at Gibraltar Point (Lincolnshire) on 12th and 16th, with a “ringtail” seen at Elmley RSPB (Kent) on 16th.

White-rumped Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper, Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk (Photo: Sean Nixon)

White-rumped Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper, Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk (Photo: Sean Nixon)

A Lesser Yellowlegs was again seen in Suffolk this week, present at Southwold on 12th-13th. Also in Suffolk, a White-rumped Sandpiper was found at Minsmere RSPB on 13th and was still present to 16th, with a second bird arriving at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) on 16th. Also at Tacumshin, a Pectoral Sandpiper was present on 12th- 16th with another at Elmley Marshes RSPB (Kent) on 13th, while a Buff-breasted Sandpiper paid a brief early evening visit to Alkborough Flats (Lincolnshire) on 15th.

The adult American-type Herring Gull was seen again at Chew Valley Lake (Somerset) on 10th. An Iceland Gull was at Barvas, Lewis (Outer Hebrides) on 12th, along with a Glaucous Gull. Another Glaucous Gull was seen at Siadar, also on Lewis on the same date, while the young bird at Pensarn (Conwy) was also still present to 15th, while an adult was at Fraserburgh (Aberdeenshire) on 16th. A probable second-summer Caspian Gull was seen at Stubber’s Green, Walsall (West Midlands) on 14th, while a Sabine's Gull in the North Sea, off South Gare on 12th, near the mouth of the Tees, was certainly of note. The adult Forster's Tern was still at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) on 12th. An adult White-winged Black Tern spent bits and pieces of 14th at Rye Harbour NR (East Sussex) and was seen again on the afternoon of 15th and also on 16th too. In South Yorkshire, a Caspian Tern flew west over Old Moor RSPB on 15th in what is another poor year for this monster species. A little more teasing in the identification stakes on 14th, was a “yellow-billed” tern which spent an hour at Gronant (Clwyd) before flying off. Could it have been the possible/probable/potential/putative “Cayenne Tern” that spent some time, in the summer of 2006, at Cemlyn Bay on Anglesey? Or is it yet another Sterna horror?!?!?!

Woodchat Shrike
Woodchat Shrike, Two Tree Island, Essex (Photo: Steve Arlow)

A Bee-eater was reported at Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk) on 11th, while in neighbouring Norfolk, the still-summering male Red-backed Shrike remained at Sea Palling to 16th, while another male was found at Grove ferry NR (Kent) on 15th (and the three males were reported as still being present on Dartmoor in Devon this week). A female Woodchat Shrike was discovered at Two-Tree Island NNR (Essex) on 13th, but had gone by the next morning. On Shetland, the Marsh Warbler was still on Fair Isle on 12th but aside from that, no other unusual warblers were reported this week (as may be expected given the time of year) but a Wood Warbler at Spurn (East Yorkshire) on 14th is worthy of a mention.

Rose-coloured Starling
Rose-coloured Starling, Portsoy, Aberdeenshire (Photo: Roy Clark)

Common Rosefinch
Common Rosefinch, Tyndrum, Forth (Photo: Mike Thrower)

An adult male Common Rosefinch was seen in gardens on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 10th, while the male at Tyndrum (Forth) was still present to 14th. A Rose-coloured Starling was in a private garden near Hayle (Cornwall) on 10th (having arrived on 8th) and several hundred miles to the north, another “Rosy Pastor” was on Mainland Orkney, at Mull Head, on 14th, another was seen in Highland, at Alness, on 15th, and the adult was seen again on Lewis (Outer Hebrides), at Barvas, on 16th. In Aberdeenshire, a Rose-coloured Starling was reported for two days (15th-16th) in a garden at Portsoy.

Photo of the Week

Puffin, Farne Islands, Northumberland (Photo: Marcus Conway)

When does a bird image class as art? One view would be when the emphasis is on the image, rather than the bird. The majority of bird photography is oriented towards capturing the birds either looking their best, doing something interesting or being somewhere they wouldn't normally be (rarity record shots). Aesthetic considerations are often applied, such as pose, composition and lighting, but only in a minority of cases is image design the dominant factor. Puffin photos are a perfect example: our 200+ photo uploads are almost all flight shots or full-body/head-and-shoulders portraits. Many of these are superb depictions of these delightful birds but, with his half-face close-up, Marcus Conway shows what can be achieved by applying a creative approach. This photograph doesn't follow any conventional rules and most of it isn't in focus, but the result is a striking and evocative image that shows bird photography can be as valid an art form as any other.

Other notable photos

Corncrake, Balranald RSPB, N.Uist, Outer Hebrides (Photo: Pauline Greenhalgh)

Common Kingfisher
Common Kingfisher, Far Ings NR, Lincolnshire (Photo: Don Davis)

Manx Shearwater
Manx Shearwater, Smalls Lighthouse, Pembrokeshire (Photo: Neil Triggs)

European Bee-eater
European Bee-eater, Italy (Photo: Paolo Caretta)

Green Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker, Venus Pool NR, Shropshire (Photo: Jim Almond)

Sand Martin
Sand Martin, undisclosed site, Pembrokeshire (Photo: Neil Triggs)

Gannet, Point of Ayre, Isle of Man (Photo: Sean Gray)

Long-tailed Tit
Long-tailed Tit, Spital, Cheshire (Photo: Steve Round)

Pied Flycatcher
Pied Flycatcher, Undisclosed site, Gwynedd (Photo: Richard Steel)

Long-eared Owl
Long-eared Owl, L'Islet, Guernsey (Photo: Paul Hillion)

Sedge Warbler
Sedge Warbler, Marsh Lane NR (PERMIT ONLY), West Midlands (Photo: Lee Johnson)

Hobby, Summer Leys LNR, Northamptonshire (Photo: Douglas Mcfarlane)

Written by: Mark Golley