Review of the Week: 13th-19th July 2006


The week at a glance:

A week of extremely hot July weather led to typically thin pickings with little new. The only notable new rarity was a tern found at Lady's Island Lake in Co. Wexford on Sunday 16th, which is considered to be an American Black Tern (Chlidonias niger surinamensis). This race of Black Tern is distinguishable from the European form in all plumages, and is considered by some to be a separate species. The 1st-summer Stilt Sandpiper remained at Conwy RSPB (Conwy) until the evening of Thursday 13th, but has not been reported since.

American Black Tern: Lady Island's Lake, Wexford (photo: Derek Charles).

Stilt Sandpiper: Conwy RSPB, Conwy (photo: Adrian Foster).

On Thursday 13th, it emerged that the Pine Grosbeak at Chipping Ongar in Essex had relocated several days before to Gilston Park in Hertfordshire, some 9 miles to the northwest. With more observers now able to study and photograph it, the provenance of this bird has provoked controversy since. Although none of the evidence is incontrovertible, a combination of alleged signs of disease and deformity, the bird's sometimes unusual behaviour (even for this habitually fearless species), the unprecedented midsummer date and unusual location and habitat must surely cast doubt on this bird's credentials as a wild bird.

Pine Grosbeak: Gilston Park, Herts (photo: Sean Cole).

Caspian Terns were seen at Breydon Water (Norfolk) on Saturday 15th and the London Wetland Centre on Monday 17th. Another at Hickling Broad (Norfolk) on Wednesday 19th may have been the same individual as at Breydon. The 1st-summer Laughing Gull found last week at Arlington Reservoir (East Sussex) remained until Wednesday 19th at least. Also in Sussex, a Black Stork was reported from Amberley Wild Brooks SWT reserve on Tuesday 18th but was not seen subsequently. The Borders bird continued to frequent the Grantshouse/Houndwood area to 19th at least. White Storks were reported from Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and Staffordshire during the week, and new Great White Egrets were reported from Alderholt (Dorset) on Friday 14th and in the Rainham Marshes (Gtr London) area from Monday 17th. The long-staying birds remained in Hampshire and Dorset. The Squacco Heron at Shapwick Heath NNR (Somerset) was last reported on Tuesday 18th, but could still be in the area, given its intermittent appearances to date.

Black Stork: Houndwood, Borders (photo: Keith Hoey).

There was a smattering of records to interest raptor fans. Honey Buzzards flew over sites in Somerset, Cornwall and the Scillies, plus birds were reported from the Great Ryburgh watchpoint in Norfolk; a Montagu's Harrier was seen at Titchwell (Norfolk) on Monday 17th and the 1st-summer male at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) has now been present for over a month. Red-footed Falcons were found at Moor Green Lakes (Berkshire), Otmoor (Oxon) and Abberton Reservoir (Essex).

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Red-footed Falcon: Moor Green Lakes, Berks (photo: Phil Stidwill).

Apart from the Stilt Sandpiper, sightings of scarce waders were virtually non-existent this week: a Temminck's Stint at Hickling Broad (Norfolk) on Saturday 15th and the male Red-necked Phalarope still on Loch na Muilne (Lewis, Outer Hebrides) were the only exceptions.

It was also a quiet week for seawatchers. A Cory's Shearwater was reported off North Ronaldsay on Friday 14th, Wilson's Storm-petrels were picked up on Scilly pelagics on 13th, 17th and 18th, and three adult Long-tailed Skuas were seen from Cape Clear (Co. Cork) on Monday 17th. A White-winged Black Tern flew out to sea at Minster on the Isle of Sheppey (Kent) on Friday 14th, and the inland Sabine's Gull was still present at Llandegfedd Reservoir (Gwent) to Thursday 13th (though it has not been reported since). Ring-billed Gulls were reported from Greater London, Lancashire and Co. Galway.

Alpine Swifts were reported from Strangford Lough (Co. Down) and Harrogate (N. Yorks), both on Thursday 19th. A Melodious Warbler was seen at Waltham Brooks reserve in West Sussex on Sunday 16th, and the Marsh Warbler was again seen at Haverton Hole (Cleveland) on Friday 14th. A Rose-coloured Starling was seen briefly at Haroldswick on Unst (Shetland) on Thursday 13th and a Bee-eater flew west over Pitcox (Lothian) late in the afternoon of Wednesday 18th.

Reports of Ruddy Shelducks of unknown origin came in from Co. Wexford (5 birds at North Slob), Derbyshire and Staffordshire. The long-staying Ring-necked Ducks remain at Avonmouth (Somerset) and on Loch Gelly (Fife), where a drake Ferruginous Duck was also present from Sunday 16th.The drake King Eider, now in eclipse plumage, was seen at Blackdog (Aberdeenshire) on 10th, and another drake was seen around the fish cages at Wester Quarff (Shetland).

Ruddy Shelducks: North Slob, Wexford (photo: Tom Shevlin).

Ring-necked Duck: Loch Gelly, Fife (photo: Keith Hoey). Arctic Tern: Cemlyn, Anglesey (photo: Matt Latham).

Woodpigeon: Stourport, Worcs (photo: John Robinson).

Bullfinch: Spital, Cheshire (photo: Steve Round).

Grey Heron: Cassiobury Park, Herts (photo: Anon).

Tree Sparrow: Blacktoft Sands, E. Yorks (photo: Sue Tranter).

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
Mike Atkinson: http://mikeatkinson.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/
Dean Eades: http://www.pbase.com/dean_eades/root
Andrew Easton: http://home.clara.net/ammodytes/
Graham Eaton: http://www.eatonphotography.co.uk
Stuart Elsom: http://www.stuartelsom.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
David Hatton: http://www.kowapower.com
Josh Jones: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
John Judge: http://www.draycotebirding.co.uk
Paul and Andrea Kelly: http://www.irishbirdimages.com/
Matt Latham: http://www.pbase.com/latho/root
Jack Levene: http://www.birdingimages.com
Micky Maher: http://www.aardfoto.co.uk/
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
Ken Plows: http://www.kenswildlifepics.co.uk
Ray Purser: http://www.pbase.com/02purser/images
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: Dave Dunford