Review of the Week: 11th-17th November 2004


American Coots might not be the most inspiring of rarities, but they are exceptionally rare! One was found at Loch of Benston (Shetland) on Saturday 13th and was still present on the 16th. Prior to last winter there were only two previous British records (Kent in April 1996 and Cumbria in April 1999) and one in Ireland (Co. Cork from February to April 1981). Last November a 1st-winter bird arrived at Loch of Clickimin (Shetland) and remained until April this year and there were other records from the Western Isles and Dumfries and Galloway. There is of course the possibility that the present Shetland bird is the returning individual from last winter and it will be interesting to see if it moves back to Loch of Clickimin.

A large pipit at Land's End (Cornwall) from 15th was subsequently identified as a Blyth's Pipit, which if accepted will be the 13th British record. This will be the 2nd record for the county, the first of which at Skewjack between 22nd October and 1st November 1990 was the first to be twitchable, though of course a greater awareness of the identification criteria has delivered several well-watched birds since then.

Little Crake: Marazion, Cornwall. (Photo: Marc Read) Little Crake: Marazion, Cornwall. (Photo: Steve Valentine)

Masked Shrike: Kilrenny, Fife. (Photo: John Molloy) Masked Shrike: Kilrenny, Fife. (Photo: Tom Tams)

Two of our long-staying and popular rarities were last reported during the week. In Fife the Masked Shrike was last reported on Sunday 14th and in Cornwall the Little Crake was last reported on Saturday 13th. 'New' rarities were at a premium, but a 1st-winter Ivory Gull at Bettyhill (Highland) from Monday 15th-17th would no doubt have been exceptionally popular had it been a tad more accessible to the masses. A Cattle Egret was at Firsdown (Wilts) from Tuesday 16th onwards, but had probably been present for several days and a Wilson's Phalarope was a brief visitor to St. John's Lake (Cornwall) on Sunday 14th. A Hume's Leaf Warbler was at Helston Sewage Works (Cornwall) on Saturday 13th and 15th, the Western Bonelli's Warbler was again seen on South Ronaldsay (Orkney) on Monday 15th, and a Penduline Tit was at Leighton Moss (Lancs) on Thursday 11th and 14th. An 'orange-billed tern' was reported from Titchfield Haven (Hants) on Saturday 13th.

Cattle Egret: Firsdown, Wiltshire. (Photo: Marc Read) Cattle Egret: Firsdown, Wiltshire. (Photo: Steve Dettmar)

Shore Lark: Holkham, Norfolk. (Photo: Kevin P Elsby) Shore Lark: Holkham, Norfolk. (Photo: Kevin P Elsby)

A few scarce migrants continued to be found. On Saturday 13th two Pallas's Warblers were found in Kent with birds at Bishopstone Gulley and Ramsgate, whilst Yellow-browed Warblers were in Essex, Lincolnshire, Devon, Cornwall and Scilly. A red-spotted male Bluethroat at Sullom (Shetland) from 13th-14th was the latest for the islands and a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling there on 13th had probably been present since 5th November. Continuing with late scarce migrants, an Ortolan Bunting was reported from Ballycotton (Co. Cork) on 17th, a Little Bunting the same day on St. Agnes (Scilly) and Wrynecks were noted at Pendeen (Cornwall) on 14th and St. Mary's (Scilly) on 17th. Less unusual were Richard's Pipits at Loch of Spiggie (Shetland) on 13th, Whale Chine (Isle of Wight) from 13th-14th, and Whitburn (Durham) on 17th. Great Grey Shrikes crept into the low double figures and around 40 Shore Larks were to be found in East Anglia and the Southeast, including at least 28 at Holkham (Norfolk). The exceptional numbers of Waxwings continue to delight birdwatchers and the general public alike as they head southwards. 'Northern' Bullfinch reports have dwindled significantly, but many keen birders are keeping an eye on the near-continent as Pine Grosbeaks have started to arrive in The Netherlands - it will certainly be an exciting winter if we do, as seems likely, share in the Pine Grosbeak invasion!

Firecrest: Spital, Cheshire. (Photo: Steve Round)

Waxwing: Whitby, N. Yorks. (Photo: Bill Aspin) Waxwing: Whitby, N. Yorks. (Photo: Bill Aspin)

Little Auk: South Gare, Cleveland. (Photo: Ian Boustead) Little Auk: South Gare, Cleveland. (Photo: Ian Boustead)

A brisk blast of winds along the east coast over the weekend produced a noticeable movement of Little Auks, which was largely confined to the coast between Durham and the Borders, with 2,900 passing Whitburn (Durham) on Saturday 13th (with an intriguing report of a smaller, all dark, auk species), and the following day 3,500 passed the same location, 3,100 passed Hauxley (Northumberland) in two hours, 4,460 passed St. Abb's Head (Borders) and 9,000 likewise at Newbiggin (Northumberland). Further south numbers were much smaller, only Flamborough Head (E. Yorks) weighing-in with a notable count of 1,940 on 14th. An isolated movement of 7,700 was also noted off the Farne Islands (Northumberland) on 17th.

Ring-necked Duck: Porth Reservoir, Cornwall. (Photo: Derek Julian)

Ferruginous Duck: Marazion, Cornwall. (Photo: Mike Lockyear) Green-winged Teal: Kicoole, Co. Wicklow. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly)

A female Lesser Scaup was at Dozmary Pool (Cornwall) from Sunday 14th and a drake at Scotney GPs (E. Sussex) from Wednesday 17th. A female King Eider was off Ruddon's Point (Fife) on 11th and the immature drake was off Peterhead (Aberdeenshire) on 13th. Elsewhere there were four Ring-necked Ducks, around a dozen Green-winged Teals, an American Wigeon in Lincolnshire, Ferruginous Ducks in Bedforshire and Cornwall and the Redhead in Glamorgan. There were three Surf Scoters off eastern Scotland and half-a-dozen Black Brants were associated with Brent Geese flocks.

Lesser Yellowlegs: Stiffkey, Norfolk. (Photo: Kevin P. Elsby) Grey Phalarope: Marshside, Lancs. (Photo: Steve Round)

On the Outer Hebrides the Snowy Owl remains at Loch Bee, as does the 1st-winter Lesser Yellowlegs at Stiffkey (Norfolk), Squacco Heron at East Chevington (Northumberland) and Great White Egret in Hampshire. The 2nd-winter American Herring Gull is still at Nimmo's Pier (Co. Galway) and Sabine's Gulls were reported off Fife and Co. Cork. Ring-billed Gulls were nearly into double figures, as were Glaucous Gulls, there were 7 Iceland Gulls and 7 Caspian Gulls reported. A handful of Grey Phalaropes were noted, the most obliging of which was the bird at Marshside (Lancs) which remained to the 13th.

Great Northern Diver: Cheddar Reservoir, Somerset. (Photo: Oliver Smart) Great Northern Diver: Deeping High Bank, Lincs. (Photo: Will Bowell)

Black-throated Diver: Tynemouth, Northumberland. (Photo: Alan Gilbertson) Black-throated Diver: Tynemouth, Northumberland. (Photo: John Malloy)

Snow Bunting: Combe Hill, Berkshire. (Photo: Jerry O'Brien) Snow Bunting: Kessingland, Suffolk. (Photo: Jonathan Theobald)
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
Steve Blain: http://www.steveblain.co.uk
Nigel Blake: http://www.nigelblake.co.uk
Will Bowell: http://www.geocities.com/wbowell/
Paul Bowerman: http://mysite.freeserve.com/severnsidebirds
Paul Bowyer: http://www.ukbirds.net
Andy Brett: http://www.freewebs.com/andybrett/
Martin Cade: http://www.portlandbirdobs.btinternet.co.uk
Mark Caunt: http://angusbirding.homestead.com/
Kit Day: http://www.kitday-uk.com/
Lee Dingain: http://www.leedingain.co.uk
Jon Dunn: http://www.surfbirds.com/blogs/Stercorarius/
Sean Gray: http://www.grayimages.co.uk
Peter Hadfield: http://www.manxbirdphotography.co.uk
Josh Jones: http://www.geocities.com/blgp_birder
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
Jerry O'Brien: http://www.BirdsofBerkshire.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
Deryk Shaw/FIBO: http://www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk
Tom Shevlin: http://wildlifesnaps.com/
Matt Slaymaker: http://www.freewebs.com/slaymaker
Oliver Smart: http://www.smartimages.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
Chris Wormwell: http://www.iombirding.co.uk
Dylan Wrathall: http://www.planetthanet.org
Written by: Russell Slack