Review of the Week: 12th-18th September 2002


The exciting easterly airflow of last week persisted into the early part of the week until a less inspiring high pressure system became resident over the country. However, the eastern flank of the high pressure produced gusty northerlies along the western part of the North Sea resulting in some interesting seabird passage between Norfolk and northeast Scotland.

A Solitary Sandpiper in Hertfordshire stole the rarities honour for the week and it was nice that such a rarity should occur on the mainland rather than one of our many far-flung islands! There have been only 30 previous records, and this was the first since one on the Isles of Scilly in 2000 and the first on the mainland since a bird in Hertfordshire in 1989. Amazingly there have been three others in Hertfordshire (1967, 1984, and 1989) over the years! With previous records in London and Essex, it would appear probable that others are occurring undetected on local gravel pits and puddles elsewhere!

Not surprisingly there was an easterly element to proceedings throughout the week. A male Isabelline Shrike on Fetlar was considered to belong to the form isabellinus, known as Daurian Shrike. Although early, September records are not without precedent, nor indeed are August ones. Several of last week's Greenish Warblers hung around, indicating that these birds had perhaps originated from the more easterly part of their range. An Arctic Warbler was on Holy Island (Northumberland), Booted Warblers were on St. Kilda and in Cornwall, whilst a Yellow-breasted Bunting was on Shetland, as were a probable Black-headed Bunting and a Citrine Wagtail. A Thrush Nightingale was trapped in Norfolk and yet more Great Snipe were located, this time on Blakeney Point and in Suffolk. Wrynecks, Red-backed Shrikes and Barred Warblers could still be found at many east coast locations, and more Red-breasted Flycatchers were detected. The first arrival of Yellow-browed Warblers involved a handful of birds, including one in Pembrokeshire. Aquatic Warblers were found in Devon and Cornwall and a Woodchat Shrike was on Scilly.

It was not all passerines though. Nearctic waders were found at a number of sites. A Semipalmated Sandpiper was in Dorset, with others in Kerry and Donegal. An American Golden Plover was in Cornwall, White-rumped Sandpiper in Cork, Lesser Yellowlegs in Lancashire and Buff-breasted Sandpipers in Lincolnshire, Dublin and Wexford. A Pacific Golden Plover was found at Whitburn (Durham), whilst a Red-necked Phalarope lingered all week in Staffordshire, with others on seawatches in Cleveland and Lincolnshire. East-coast seawatchers were able to enjoy a good passage of Sooty Shearwaters over the weekend, with Long-tailed Skuas noted at many watchpoints and Sabine's Gulls evident from Cleveland northwards. A summer-plumaged White-billed Diver was seen at three sites between Cleveland and Northumberland, and further south the probable Elegant Tern was again seen in Essex.

Written by: Russell Slack