Review of the Week: 10th-16th November 2005


The week at a glance:

Grey-cheeked Thrush: Northraw Great Wood CP, Herts (photo: Graham Catley). Grey-cheeked Thrush: Northraw Great Wood CP, Herts (photo: Graham Catley).
Grey-cheeked Thrush: Northraw Great Wood CP, Herts (photo: Mark Reeder). Grey-cheeked Thrush: Northraw Great Wood CP, Herts (photo: Alan Gilbertson).
Grey-cheeked Thrush: Northraw Great Wood CP, Herts (photo: Alan Gilbertson). Grey-cheeked Thrush: Northraw Great Wood CP, Herts (photo: Alan Gilbertson).

Last week's prediction of Nearctic landbirds in suburban settings delivered quite quickly, even if the bird was not quite in a suburban garden! A Grey-cheeked Thrush was a surprise find at Northraw Great Wood CP in deepest Hertfordshire on Sunday 13th. Present throughout the rest of the week it often shows well and is yet another example of the unexpected – the number of rarities that pass through the British and Irish countryside must be enough to turn patch-watchers everywhere green with envy at what is missed! This year's record follows hot-on-the-heels of last year's inland bird trapped at Thetford (Norfolk) on 10th November; fortunately this year's bird has been much more obliging. These two represent the first and second inland records of this attractive thrush, though one found dead at Slimbridge (Glos) in October 1990 was also notable (Accepted Grey-cheeked Thrush records).

Little Swift: Cromer, Norfolk (photo: Tony Mills). Little Swift: Cromer, Norfolk (photo: Kevin P Elsby).

The first Little Swift for Norfolk was found between Overstrand and Cromer late in the afternoon on Saturday 12th and was seen to go to roost on the cliff-face at Cromer. The expectant crowd that gathered the following morning were not to be disappointed as they were able to watch the bird on its roosting site until just after 8am when it left the cliff and headed off never to be seen again. A small isolated peak of November records is emerging from a lack of other late-autumn sightings and this is the third to have been recorded in that month (Accepted Little Swift records). This represents the 5th swift species to have been seen in Britain during the past 2 weeks.

Upland Sandpiper: Kingston Seymour, Somerset (photo: Kit Day). Upland Sandpiper: Kingston Seymour, Somerset (photo: Rich Andrews).
Upland Sandpiper: Kingston Seymour, Somerset (photo: Paul Bowerman). Upland Sandpiper: Kingston Seymour, Somerset (photo: Rich Andrews).

An Upland Sandpiper at Kingston Seymour (Somerset) from Saturday 12th onwards was the second county record, following one in the 19th century (Accepted Upland Sandpiper records). It could possibly have been the bird seen in Cornwall earlier during the autumn, but its obliging nature (unlike the Cornish bird) guaranteed it was a popular draw for birders from near and far. Still present at the time of writing, access to the site via a private track will continue until Friday 18th.

Desert Wheatear: Hayling Island, Hants (photo: George Spraggs). Desert Wheatear: Hayling Island, Hants (photo: Richard Ford).
Green Heron: Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey (photo: Sue Tranter). Green Heron: Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey (photo: Stuart Elsom).
Green Heron: Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey (photo: Anthony Griffiths). Green Heron: Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey (photo: Dean Eades).

A 1st-winter male Desert Wheatear at Hayling Island (Hants) on 13th was the 2nd county record; another was at Chouet, Guernsey from 13th-14th and the female was last seen on Holy Island (Northumbs) on 13th. A female Pine Bunting reported from Carinish, North Uist (Outer Hebrides) on Wednesday 16th will, if accepted, be a first for the Outer Hebrides. In Kent a Dusky Warbler was at Dungeness on 12th-13th and a Penduline Tit at Dungeness RSPB on 14th. A Snowy Owl was again on Lewis (Outer Hebrides) on 13th and in Yorkshire a white-morph Gyr Falcon of unknown origin was reported from Port Mulgrave on 14th. On Anglesey the 1st-winter Green Heron continued to entertain visitors to Red Wharf Bay and in East Yorkshire the two Northern Long-tailed Tits were still present in Easington, though elusive.

Green Heron: Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey (photo: Stephen Menzies). Green Heron: Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey (photo: Darren Chapman).
Rose-coloured Starling: Porth-y-waen, Shropshire (photo: Sue Bryant). Rose-coloured Starling: Porth-y-waen, Shropshire (photo: Kev Joynes).
Richard's Pipit: Huntspill, Somerset (photo: James Packer). Richard's Pipit: Musselburgh, Lothian (photo: Ian Fulton).

Waxwing: Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire (photo: Lindsay Cargill).

Waxwing: Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire (photo: Lindsay Cargill). Waxwing: Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire (photo: Lindsay Cargill).

Golden Oriole: Leighton Moss, Lancs (photo: Mark Breaks).

Small numbers of scarce migrants were still present in the mild conditions that persisted through much of the week. A male Golden Oriole at Leighton Moss (Lancs) on 13th was something of a surprise, as were late Corncrakes at Portland (Dorset) on 12th and at Walney Island (Cumbria) on 16th. More expected were five Little Buntings, with one at Land's End (Cornwall) on 10th, an inland bird at Ambaston GPs (Derbys) on 12th, a probable over Durlston CP (Dorset) on 12th and one on Fair Isle (Shetland) on 13th, whilst the Morston (Norfolk) bird was still present on 11th. Seven Richard's Pipits were reported, including two still at Huntspill (Somerset), and half-a-dozen Yellow-browed Warblers was a poor showing considering the bumper numbers earlier in the autumn. A Red-backed Shrike was a late find at Wonwell Beach (Devon) from 12th-14th and also in Devon a Short-toed Lark was at Dawlish Warren from 11th-14th. A Serin passed south over Spurn (E. Yorks) on 12th, with one at Portland (Dorset) the same day, a late Hoopoe was at Sandy Point (Hants) on 14th and a Rose-coloured Starling in a garden at Porth-y-waen (Shropshire) from 11th to at least 12th. Winter fare remained scarce with just 8 Great Grey Shrikes reported, nine Shore Larks (including 6 at Holkham (Norfolk)) and nearly 25 Lapland Buntings. Waxwing numbers remained steady, the largest flock still present in Aberdeen where 108 were seen on 15th, though relatively few had penetrated further south.

Franklin's Gull: Rossaveal, Co. Galway (photo: Derek Charles). Franklin's Gull: Rossaveal, Co. Galway (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly).
Laughing Gull: Gosport, Hants (photo: Simon Stirrup). Laughing Gull: Waterside, Co. Galway (photo: Derek Charles).
Laughing Gull: Bideford, Devon (photo: Mike Lockyear). Laughing Gull: Swansea, Glamorgan (photo: Barry Stewart).
Laughing Gull: Pembroke, Pembrokes (photo: David Astins). Laughing Gull: Newquay, Cornwall (photo: Gary Thoburn).

Over 30 Laughing Gulls were still at large/found, though duplication makes a thorough assessment difficult. The majority are still in the southwest, with Cornwall, Devon and Scilly bagging the majority, though others were in Pembrokeshire (which has claimed its 1st-3rd records during the influx), Glamorgan and Gwynedd in Wales, one reached along the English Channel to Kent, and in Ireland birds were seen in Co. Cork and Co. Galway. In Scotland birds were on the Outer Hebrides and Argyll, and in West Yorkshire the 2nd-winter was still present early in the week. A 1st-winter Franklin's Gull was at Rossaveal (Co. Galway) from 10th onwards, and adults were at Ruan Lanihorne (Cornwall) on 10th and reported from Sennen Cove (Cornwall) on 11th, whilst the 2nd-winter continued its stay at Cubert (Cornwall). A 1st-winter Bonaparte's Gull flew west past Weybourne (Norfolk) on 16th. Over a dozen Ring-billed Gulls were reported, there were eight each of Glaucous Gulls and Iceland Gulls, and Caspian Gulls just failed to reach double figures.

Ring-billed Gull: Nimmo's Pier, Co. Galway (photo: Derek Charles).

Grey Phalarope: Bristol, Somerset (photo: Gary Thoburn). Grey Phalarope: Bristol, Somerset (photo: Oliver Smart).
Grey Phalarope: Holy Island, Northumbs (photo: Alan Gilbertson). Grey Phalarope: Stanpit Marsh, Dorset (photo: Stephen North).
Grey Phalarope: Covenham Res, Lincs (photo: Graham Catley). Grey Phalarope: Covenham Res, Lincs (photo: Russell Hayes).

An American Golden Plover was at Tyninghame Bay (Lothian) from 12th onwards and one remained on The Mullet (Co. Mayo). A White-rumped Sandpiper was at Salthouse/Kelling (Norfolk) from 13th-15th and long-staying Long-billed Dowitchers remained in Cornwall and Co. Mayo. The ever-popular Lesser Yellowlegs was present at North Killingholme Pits (Lincs) to at least 13th and nearly 50 Grey Phalaropes were noted, including several popular inland birds. A Temminck's Stint was reported from Blithfield Reservoir (Staffs) on 13th. A Great Bustard over Maiden Castle (Dorset) on 12th was presumably from the re-introduction scheme, whilst other 'big birds' included a White Stork in Nottinghamshire then over Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, the long-staying Great White Egret at Cossington GPs (Leics) (with another reported from Summer Leys (Northants)), and 6 Spoonbills on the south coast with three together in Dorset. The escaped Cattle Egret remains at large in Norfolk.

Great White Egret: Cossington GPs, Leics (photo: Bob Hazell).

A burst of seawatching activity during the week included a surprise movement of 27 Great Shearwaters past Brandon Head (Co. Kerry) on 11th, with a Balearic Shearwater there the same day. A handful of Sabine's Gulls included two past the Norfolk coast, two in Hampshire and one passing Fair Isle. Five Long-tailed Skuas included one over Brinkworth (Wilts) on 11th, a modest Pomarine Skua passage included 17 past Brandon Head (Co. Kerry) on 11th and on 16th in Norfolk 13 past Cley and 21 past Holme. Cold northerlies late in the week brought small numbers of Little Auks, with 14 passing Kinnaird Head (Aberdeenshire) on 13th the peak count. Of a handful of Leach's Storm-petrels the most notable was one over Grove Ferry (Kent) on 13th. On Shetland the White-billed Diver remains at Kirkabister.

Ferruginous Duck: Radipole, Dorset (photo: David Brassey). Ferruginous Duck: Radipole, Dorset (photo: David Brassey).
Ring-necked Duck: Yelland, Devon (photo: Dave Stone). Lesser Scaup: Drift Reservoir, Cornwall (photo: Gary Thoburn).

A Lesser Scaup was at Drift Reservoir (Conrwall) and another was at Hornsea Mere (E. Yorks), whilst, the bird at Myerscough Quarry (Lancs) was last reported early in the week. Ferruginous Ducks were at Radipole (Dorset) and the regular female again at Elstow GPs (Beds), and nine Ring-necked Ducks were reported. An American Wigeon was at Angle Bay (Pembrokeshire) and the long-staying bird remained in Co. Mayo, as did the Blue-winged Teal in Co. Dublin. Seven Green-winged Teals were reported and 11 Surf Scoters, including 6 together in Burghead Bay (Moray/Nairn) and 2 in The Wash (Norfolk). The drake Black Scoter remained off Llanfairfechan (Conway). A juvenile Snow Goose was reported on 13th at Burnham Overy (Norfolk), 4 Black Brants were reported along the south coast and Rough-legged Buzzards totalled a paltry two, including the regular bird at Capel Fleet (Kent) and one still on Fetlar (Shetland).

Many of the images that appear in our weekly reviews can be purchased from the photographers, some of whom have their own websites:

Bill Aspin: http://www.eastlancashirebirding.net
Ian Barnard: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/sussex.birder
Bill Baston: http://billbaston.com
Richard Bedford: http://www.richardbedford.co.uk
Steve Blain: http://www.steveblain.co.uk
Nigel Blake: http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/birdphotos/index.htm
Paul Boulden: http://southdevonbirds.mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/
Will Bowell: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
Paul Bowerman: http://mysite.freeserve.com/severnsidebirds
Paul Bowyer: http://www.ukbirds.net
Andy Brett: http://www.freewebs.com/andybrett/
Andy Bright: http://www.Digiscoped.com
Martin Cade: http://www.portlandbirdobs.btinternet.co.uk
Graham Catley: http://pewit.blogspot.com/
Mark Caunt: http://angusbirding.homestead.com/
Kit Day: http://www.kitday-uk.com/
Eric Dempsey: http://www.birdsireland.com/
Lee Dingain: http://www.leedingain.co.uk
Jon Dunn: http://www.surfbirds.com/blogs/Stercorarius/
Andrew Easton: http://home.clara.net/ammodytes/
Graham Eaton: http://www.eatonphotography.co.uk
Steve Evans: http://www.powow.com/birds2004/
Katie Fuller: http://bogbumper.blogspot.com
Sean Gray: http://www.grayimages.co.uk
Peter Hadfield: http://www.manxbirdphotography.co.uk
Josh Jones: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
John Judge: http://www.draycotebirding.co.uk
Paul and Andrea Kelly: http://www.irishbirdimages.com/
Jack Levene: http://www.birdingimages.com
John Malloy: http://mysite.freeserve.com/JohnMalloyBirdPhotos
Brian Mcgeough: http://www.pbase.com/bmcgeough/british_birds
Tony Mills: http://www.notjustbirds.com
Jerry O'Brien: http://www.BirdsofBerkshire.co.uk
Charlie Moores: http://www.charliesbirdblog.com
Mark Newsome: http://www.whitburnbirding.co.uk
James Packer: http://www.somersetbirder.co.uk
Mike Pennington: http://www.nature.shetland.co.uk
Marc Read: http://www.marcread-pix.com
Tristan Reid: http://www.solwaybirder.org.uk
Steve Round: http://stevenround-birdphotography.com
Gerald Segelbacher: http://www.digiscoping.uk.md
Deryk Shaw/FIBO: http://www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk
Tom Shevlin: http://wildlifesnaps.com/
Peter Simpson: http://www.blueskybirds.co.uk
Matt Slaymaker: http://www.mattslaymaker.co.uk
Oliver Smart: http://www.smartimages.co.uk
George Spraggs: http://www.bird-watching.co.uk
Simon Stirrup: http://www.simonstirrup.co.uk/
Garry Taylor: http://www.spurnbirdobservatory.co.uk/
Glen Tepke: http://www.pbase.com/gtepke
Phillip Tomkinson: http://www.philliptomkinson.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk
Stephen Tomlinson: http://www.digitalbirds.co.uk
Sue Tranter: http://www.suesbirdphotos.co.uk/
Steve Williams: http://www.hilbrebirdobs.co.uk
Simon Wilson: http://www.bakewellbirder.co.uk/
Chris Wormwell: http://www.iombirding.co.uk
Dylan Wrathall: http://www.planetthanet.org
Written by: Russell Slack