20/05/2004
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Review of the Week: 13th-19th May 2004

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A singing male Iberian Chiffchaff was trapped at Kilnsea (E. Yorks) on Monday 17th. Unfortunately, following release it was extremely elusive and was only seen on a couple of occasions. This is the first for Yorkshire and the second of the spring on the east coast, following one in Northumberland on 19th April. In addition, the bird considered by many to be an Iberian Chiffchaff remained in residence at Spital (Cheshire) until at least Saturday 15th.

A Great Reed Warbler was at Abberton Reservoir (Essex) from Tuesday 18th onwards, with another at Dawlish Warren (Devon) on the 18th only. On Scilly a Rustic Bunting was on Bryher on 13th and a Woodchat Shrike on St. Mary's on 19th. A male Subalpine Warbler was on Holy Island (Northumbs) on Monday 17th and a female was trapped on Calf of Man (Isle of Man) on Sunday 16th. In Cornwall a Citrine Wagtail was reported from Mullion Cliffs on Sunday 16th. Red-rumped Swallows continued to supplement their record spring presence with further appearances. In Kent 2 were at Abbot's Cliff on Thursday 13th, and one at Kingsdown on Saturday 15th. Also on 15th, singles were seen at Bempton Cliffs (E. Yorks), Sumburgh (Shetland) and Scarlett Point (Isle of Man).

On the Calf of Man a Little Bunting was trapped on Thursday 13th and two were present on Friday 14th, there was a Richard's Pipit at Gibraltar Point (Lincs) from Tuesday 18th-19th and a Red-breasted Flycatcher was at Blakeney Point (Norfolk) on Monday 17th. There were Short-toed Larks at Tyninghame (Lothian) and Kilchoan (Highland) on Sunday 16th and one from last week remained on Tresco (Scilly) until Thursday 13th.

Bee-eater: Tresco, Scilly. (Photo: Ben Lascelles)

Bluethroat: South Stack, Anglesey. (Photo: Steve Round) Grey-headed Wagtail: Waxham, Norfolk. ()

Under blue skies and settled warm weather, scarce passerines were not surprisingly in short supply. A Hoopoe was at Edgmond (Shropshire) on Thursday 13th, there was a Wryneck on Shetland, Marsh Warbler in Dorset, 3 Bluethroats, 4 Serin, and 11 Red-backed Shrikes were noted and 4 Grey-headed Wagtails were seen in Norfolk. A welcome splash of colour was provided by 14 overshooting Bee-eaters, the majority arriving on Sunday 16th. These comprised 3 mobile birds along the north Norfolk coast, 3 on Bryher and Tresco and 5 over two Kent locations. Further singles were in Kent on 18th, Sennen (Cornwall) on 19th and Southwold (Suffolk) the same day.

Purple Heron: Elmley Marshes, Kent. (Photo: Eoin Jennings) Great White Egret: Loch of Strathbeg, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: Tim Marshall)

Red-footed Falcon: Waxham, Norfolk. (Photo: Kit Day) White-winged Black Tern: Hickling Broad, Norfolk. (Photo: Kit Day)

Marsh terns quite often feature with high pressure overshoots, but a flock of 4 Whiskered Terns in South Yorkshire at Doncaster Lakeside and then nearby Potteric Carr on Sunday 16th were notable, but sadly all too brief. Likewise, a Gull-billed Tern was a brief visitor to Covenham Reservoir (Lincs) on the same day. Two White-winged Black Terns were noted at Hickling Broad from Tuesday 18th onwards. A Black Stork was reported over Pen-clawdd (Glamorgan) on Tuesday 18th, though a number of White Storks were still widely reported throughout England. Several Great White Egrets included two in Scotland and three Purple Herons included an obliging bird at Elmley Marshes (Kent) from Friday 14th-15th, whilst the Glossy Ibis was last reported in Oxon on Sunday 16th – wonder where it is now? Of half-a-dozen Black Kites none lingered, the Red-footed Falcon was last seen at Waxham (Norfolk) on Thursday 13th, then Hickling Broad on Friday 14th and one was seen at Carsington Water (Derbys) on Wednesday 19th. The Snowy Owl was relocated, this time at Sands of Forvie (Aberdeenshire) on Saturday 15th.

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Temminck's Stint: Aughton, E. Yorks. (Photo: Russell Slack) Temminck's Stint: Aughton, E. Yorks. (Photo: Russell Slack)

Dotterel: Danby Beacon, N. Yorks. (Photo: Ian Boustead) Dotterel: Bury Down, Berks. (Photo: Jerry O'Brien)

Waders featured heavily in this weeks reports, particularly a superb movement of Temminck's Stints. The spring alone has already exceeded the annual count for 2001 (which was the 2nd-best year for these delightful waders) and continued arrivals will no doubt push the total close to the exceptional invasion of 1987 when an annual total of around 176 were recorded. During the last week a minimum of 125 birds have been reported from nearly 60 sites, mostly from locations between East Anglia and Northumberland. Notable gatherings have included 7 at Hickling Broad (Norfolk), 6 at Filey (N. Yorks) and 6 at Wicken Fen (Cambs), with multiple counts from many areas. Rare spring Baird's Sandpipers in West Sussex and Norfolk were both found to be Sanderlings, always a pitfall for a number of species at this time of year. A Broad-billed Sandpiper was at Hickling Broad on Friday 14th. There were at least 6 Pectoral Sandpipers, the most obliging of which was one at Doxey Marshes (Staffs) from Friday 14th-15th. Nearly 140 Dotterel were located, this total largely made up of 51 on Cairn Gorm (Highland) and 30 at St. Combs (Aberdeenshire). A Stone Curlew was a notable find on Foula (Shetland) on Friday 14th.

Pectoral Sandpiper: Doxey Marshes, Staffs. (Photo: Steve Nuttall) Pectoral Sandpiper: Doxey Marshes, Staffs. (Photo: Steve Nuttall)

A drake Cinnamon Teal at Loch Thuaimistear, Lewis (Outer Hebrides) will have caused quite a bit of head-scratching. Geographical location will perhaps be a pro-feature for a genuine vagrant, especially given the recent track record of rare ducks and associated species on the islands, but there is no doubt that this is a popular species in collections and even liberated wildfowl are capable of moving substantial distances. One to pend for the time being until further research and future patterns to emerge perhaps? Other rare ducks included the Harlequin Duck still present on Lewis, a King Eider at Bressay (Shetland) on Sunday 15th, with 3 Surf Scoters, 4 Ring-necked Ducks, 8 Green-winged Teals and an American Wigeon elsewhere.

Pomarine Skua: off Whitby, N. Yorks. (Photo: JR Rochester)

Large numbers of Manx Shearwaters off Cornwall accommodated 2 Cory's Shearwaters off Clodgy Point (Cornwall) on Sunday 16th and a White-billed Diver was at Big Sand (Highland) on Thursday 13th. Skua-watchers at Balranald, N. Uist (Outer Hebrides) notched up 203 Long-tailed Skuas on Tuesday 18th, with 75 on Wednesday 19th, and 50 Pomarine Skuas passed there on Friday 14th. Numbers of both species from elsewhere were relatively low, but a Long-tailed Skua over Rother Valley CP (S. Yorks) was a notable inland sighting.

Grey Plover: Holme, Norfolk. Few waders can match a summer-plumaged Grey for looks. (Photo: Ron McIntyre) Ruff: Druridge Pools, Northumbs. And few can match a male Ruff for variability! (Photo: Alan Gilbertson)

Snow Bunting: Sizewell, Suffolk. (Photo: Kit Day) Snow Bunting: Sizewell, Suffolk. (Photo: Sean Nixon)
Written by: Russell Slack