The week at a glance
The main rarities of the week were on islands, although the third Collared Flycatcher of the spring, seen on Foula (Shetland) on 14th, may not have worried too many listers. Rather more tempting was the singing male Trumpeter Finch on Lundy (Devon) from 14th. Most records are from the southeast; this was the first for Devon, and in fact for the southwest as a whole. As with other spring overshoots, this species does seem to be increasingly occurring in recent years, so this pattern of records is sure to change.
Elsewhere, there was no further sign of the Oxfordshire Oriental Turtle Dove, but the House Crow remained in Cobh (Co Cork) all week. One intriguing report was of a possible Short-toed Eagle on Rousay (Orkney) on 14th, though the bird couldn't be relocated.
Ignoring a Snow Goose of suspect origin at Conwy RSPB on 13th, the only goose of note was the Ross's Goose back at Loch Leven (Perth & Kinross) on 15th, having been missing since 3rd. Vane Farm also saw its Ring-necked Duck remaining to 12th, with others still at Oxford Island (Armagh) and Carrowmore Loch (Mayo) to 17th. New birds were then a drake at Stoke Marshes (Wilts) on 17th and a female at Wilstone Reservoir (Herts) on 18th. There were no reports of Green-winged Teal, and the only Lesser Scaup was a new drake at Cuckney (Notts) on 17th–18th. The only American Wigeon were a pair at Loch Sandary, North Uist (Outer Hebrides) on 12th–15th.
The first-summer drake Surf Scoter remained at Drumbeg (Highland) to 18th, and the King Eider was on the Ythan estuary (Aberdeenshire) to at least 16th. The only Northern Eider was also in Scotland, at Loch Fleet (Highland) on 18th. In Ireland, the only White-billed Diver of the week was reported off Tacumshin (Wexford) to 18th.
After a spell in the northwest, the Sacred Ibis may have headed back south, as one was reported from Ogston Reservoir (Derbys) on 16th. There were four new Purple Herons over the week, although all were rather brief: one-day birds at Lower Sheering (Essex) on 13th, Wicken Fen (Cambs) on 15th, Minsmere (Suffolk) on 16th and Lisburn (Antrim) on 17th. In Somerset, Shapwick Heath's incredible run of waterbirds this spring continued with a Night Heron there briefly on 14th. Rather longer-staying was one at Earlswood Lakes (Warks) on 15th–18th, the first in the county for 10 years, and a third bird was seen over Bempton Cliffs (East Yorks) on 15th. May is the best time of year to see Little Bitterns, although there have been surprisingly few this month: the first of 2011 was a male on St Martin's (Scilly) on 18th, though it has not been seen since.
Two long-staying Great White Egrets remained into the week, at Marazion Marsh (Cornwall) to 12th and at Leighton Moss (Lancs) to 16th, with the only new arrival being one at Gibraltar Point (Lincs) on 12th.
There was a decidedly eastwards shift in Spoonbills this week, the only western bird remaining at Killongford (Waterford) to 12th. Most others were along the south and east coast, though inland singletons were at Amwell GP (Herts), Upton Warren (Worcs), over Melbourne (Derbys) and over Budby (Notts).
The only Black Stork of the week was at Weedon Bec and Nether Heyford (Northants) on 14th–15th, just the second record for the county following the first in 1990. Interestingly, the only White Storks were one reported in Londonderry on 12th and possibly the same metal-ringed escapee at Downpatrick (Down) on 14th–16th.
As spring progresses, records of Rough-legged Buzzards continued to decline, with the only birds being over Capel le Ferne (Kent) on 14th and at Ramsholt and Reydon Marshes (Suffolk) on 15th. The juvenile White-tailed Eagle stayed put at Ruckland (Lincs) until 13th, and was presumably then the same bird as seen heading south over Hornsea Mere, Aldbrough and Sammy's Point (East Yorks) on 15th, before turning up back at Ruckland on 16th and nearby Oxcombe on 17th.
The Black Kite remained on Shetland and was last seen at Burrafirth, Unst on 12th. There was then another Irish bird, at Lough Boora Parklands (Offaly) on 18th, with a further eight records in England, including inland birds at Ketton (Leics) on 12th and over Hertford on 14th, and Spurn's third record on 12th.
The run of Red-footed Falcons came to an abrupt end, with just a possible male briefly over Orpington (London) on 16th. A female reported at Exminster Marshes (Devon) on 14th turned out to be a Hobby.
In Kent, Pegwell Bay's run of Kentish Plover records continued, with yet another (or the same?) bird there on 14th, their third of the spring. The American Golden Plover was reported again from Tacumshin (Wexford) to 17th, where the Buff-breasted Sandpiper was joined by a second bird on 13th–18th. After several reports last week, the only other Buff-breast this week was a singleton at Frodsham Marsh (Cheshire) on 15th–18th. There were further records of Pectoral Sandpipers, with one remaining on Holy Island (Northumberland) to 16th, and new singletons at Loch of Strathbeg (Aberdeenshire) on 12th–17th and Trimley Marshes (Suffolk) on 15th–17th. Two birds appeared together on Skokholm (Pembrokeshire) on 13th–14th, with one remaining to 15th.
Other rare waders included the Great Snipe at Cley Marshes (Norfolk), which remained to 17th though proved extremely elusive and hard to connect with. Some compensation for those dipping the bird came in the form of the year's second Lesser Yellowlegs on the marshes on 12th–17th. Interestingly, another Great Snipe was reported from Rainton Meadows (Durham) briefly on the evening of 15th before heading off north. The highlight of the week for locals was Buckinghamshire's first, and long-overdue, Spotted Sandpiper, present for the whole day at Caldecotte Lake on 12th. Also of note were Broad-billed Sandpipers at Bowness-on-Solway (Cumbria) on 12th–13th and Hoylake (Cheshire) on 15th–18th, although May is the month to catch up with this species. Added interest was also provided by a possible American Dunlin at Cley Marshes (Norfolk) on 16th.
Great Snipe displaying, Cley Marshes (video: Norfolkvidiscope).
The male Red-necked Phalarope remained at Frampton Marsh (Lincs) to 13th; a far better-looking female was at Burnham Norton (Norfolk) on 15th and then at Titchwell on 17th.
The only southern Glaucous Gulls were the regular juvenile at Dungeness (Kent) to 15th and another at Seaton Common (Cleveland) on 12th–13th, with birds at four sites in Scotland. The only Irish bird was a second-summer at Nimmo's Pier and nearby Galway to 17th. The pattern of Iceland Gull records was similar, with birds at six sites in Scotland, a long-stayer still at Lowestoft (Suffolk) and a single Irish bird, at Kilbaha (Clare) on 16th.
Bonaparte's Gulls were down to just three records now: first-summers remained around Exmouth and Dawlish Warren (Devon) all week and Hayle estuary (Cornwall) to at least 17th, and one was again at Siadar, Lewis (Outer Hebrides) on 12th. Unexpected mid-summer arrivals included a probable adult Laughing Gull at Martin Mere (Lancs) on 17th and a first-summer Franklin's Gull at Drumbeg (Argyll) on 17th (just the second for the region following one on Canna in July 1981, which was later found dead).
The adult White-winged Black Tern remained at Cresswell Pond (Northumberland) to 12th, in the company of an Osprey. There were two Gull-billed Terns, birds at Stanpit Marsh (Dorset) briefly on the morning of 17th and another west over Kelling (Norfolk) on 18th, which was later seen at Titchwell and Thornham. The only other tern of note was a Forster's Tern at Tacumshin (Wexford) on 12th–16th. Aird an Rùnair on North Uist (Outer Hebrides) is one of the prime sites to see Long-tailed Skuas, and this week saw heavy passage, peaking at 76 birds past on 16th, along with 191 Pomarine Skuas, although there had been an incredible 300 past there on 14th!
The Snowy Owl remained at Greinetobht, North Uist (Outer Hebrides) on 12th, and a female was on Mull Head (Orkney) on 17th.
Records of Bee-eaters continued to come in, including singletons at Dunkirk (Kent) on 14th and over Lodmoor (Dorset) and Lawling Creek (Essex) on 15th. There was then a mobile bird between Sammy's Point, Easington and Spurn (East Yorks) on 15th–17th.
The only Wryneck of the week was one on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 12th. Shore Larks remained at just two sites: there were just two at Cley Marshes (Norfolk) to 18th and one was at Seaton Carew (Cleveland) on 15th, with one also at nearby North Gare to 17th. Bizarrely more numerous were Short-toed Larks; three remained on the airfield on St Mary's (Scilly) on 12th, with two there on 13th and one to 18th. The only other was a single in Winterton dunes (Norfolk) briefly on 13th.
Hoopoes were reported from five sites, four of them inland: Stratton (Glos), Aldbourne (Wilts), Beacon's Bottom (Bucks) and Little Chalfont (Bucks). The coastal bird was at Cuckmere Haven (East Sussex) on 16th.
The only Tawny Pipits were at Easington (East Yorks) on 15th–17th (ringed on 17th) and at Sumburgh (Shetland) on 15th. There was also just one report of Red-throated Pipit, only the second of the year, at Lower Hauxley (Northumberland) on 18th.
On the wagtail front, Grey-headed Wagtails were reported from West Runton and Titchwell (Norfolk) and St Agnes (Scilly), and a Channel Wagtail was at Fiskerton Fen (Lincs) on 13th. More noteworthy, though, were two Citrine Wagtails, a fine male at Conwy RSPB on 15th–16th and then another or the same at Cemlyn Bay (Anglesey) on 17th, hot on the heels of the Black-headed Wagtail there earlier in the month. The male white-spotted Bluethroat remained at Welney (Norfolk) to at least 15th.
Once again there were plenty of reports of Red-rumped Swallows, with birds at 15 sites. There were clusters of records in Kent, Suffolk/Essex and East Yorkshire: Spurn continued its amazing spring with three birds south on 14th.
There were no reports of Waxwings this week; the last was a belated report from Northampton on 11th.
The Northern Isles saw the only remaining Eastern Subalpine Warbler, the male remaining on Fair Isle to 18th.
The only Iberian Chiffchaff singing this week was the bird at Rame Head (Cornwall), present to at least 15th. There was also just one record of Savi's Warbler, a singing bird at Lodmoor RPSB (Dorset) all week (the first in the county for nearly 15 years).
Several male Woodchat Shrikes were reported, including new birds at Haverfordwest (Pembrokeshire) on 14th (and possibly the same at the nearby Gann estuary on 15th–18th), and at Sandwich Bay (Kent) on 17th–18th. Other birds remained at Ilston (Glamorgan) to 12th and on St Martin's (Scilly) to 16th.
The only Serin was a typical coastal fly-by, at Spurn (East Yorks) on 13th.
There were no reports of Lapland Bunting over the week, though other bunting quality came in the form of a female Rustic Bunting at Halligarth, Unst (Shetland) on 15th and a belated, and unconfirmed, report of three Ortolan Buntings at Dungeness (Kent) on 8th.
Photo of the Week: 12th-18th May
For the last month or two, visitors to the Welney WWT reserve in Norfolk have been enjoying the sight of a stunning male (white-spotted) Bluethroat. In the last week, we've had some great uploads of this bird, but our pick has to be this well-posed frame-filler from John Turner. John's photo nicely places the bird in a natural reedbed setting, with low morning sunlight picking out plumage details and colours, as well as providing a strong catch-light in the eye. To really elevate this shot, though, John has caught the bird in full song, with bill wide open. The result is an image that conveys what the bird is doing, not just what it looks like, and hence adds an extra dimension compared to a basic portrait shot.
Eleonora's Falcon, Greece (Photo: Rob Smith)
Blue Rock Thrush, Greece (Photo: Tom Melton)