Review of the Week: 13th-19th October 2005

The week at a glance:

It was a great week for those who like to see birds on the move, with a superb east-coast fall involving huge numbers of thrushes and Goldcrests. Associated rarities were a bit thin on the ground, the rarest choosing inaccessible offshore islands to make landfall and as such they were difficult to catch up with.

Paddyfield Warbler: Torness, Lothian (photo: Peter Macdonald). Paddyfield Warbler: Torness, Lothian (photo: Peter Macdonald).
Paddyfield Warbler: Torness, Lothian (photo: Steve Evans). Paddyfield Warbler: Torness, Lothian (photo: Steve Evans).
Paddyfield Warbler: St. Mary's, Scilly (photo: Jon Hall). Paddyfield Warbler: St. Mary's, Scilly (photo: Jon Hall).

A Blyth's Pipit on Bardsey (Gwynedd) from Sunday 16th-17th will, if accepted, be the first for Wales. With just 13 previous records, long-stayers are popular (such as the Nottinghamshire bird late in 2002 into 2003) and had this bird been more accessible no doubt many would have travelled to view it (Accepted Blyth's Pipit records). The beautiful island of Lundy accommodated Devon's first Red-flanked Bluetail on Friday 14th, but this was equally inaccessible due to weather conditions, so it would be with great relief that many southwest birders were able to watch the 2nd Devon Red-flanked Bluetail shortly afterwards at Berry Head from Tuesday 18th-19th. Perhaps not quite the enigmatic rarity it once was, with several birds giving themselves up for the masses since the famous Dorset bird in 1993, long-stayers are still guaranteed crowd-pullers (Accepted Red-flanked Bluetail records). A Paddyfield Warbler was found at Torness Power Station (Lothian) on Thursday 13th and remained throughout the week; being the first mainland Scottish record and accessible to the masses, this showy mainland bird proved deservedly popular during its stay. Another Paddyfield Warbler was found on St. Mary's (Scilly) on Saturday 15th, and was the 3rd for the islands in the last 5 years (Accepted Paddyfield Warbler records). A possible Siberian Thrush was seen briefly at Bamburgh (Northumbs) on Saturday 15th, but unfortunately eluded confirmation. This species is still high on the wanted list of most birders, though twitchable birds were seen on Scilly and North Ronaldsay (Orkney) in the 1990s, along with a one-day bird in Norfolk. A long-staying mainland bird would be hugely popular though. During the week a number of exceptionally rare species claimed from the Isles of Scilly eluded confirmation, whilst a Cliff Swallow and Booted Warbler were belatedly reported from Trevose Head (Cornwall) 'recently'.

Sardinian Warbler: Fife Ness, Fife (photo: Graeme Stephen). Black-headed Bunting: Loch of Strathbeg, Aberdeenshire (photo: Tony Jackson).
Northern Long-tailed Tit: Easington, E. Yorks (photo: Stephen Tomlinson). Blackpoll Warbler: St. Agnes, Scilly (photo: Steve Morgan).
Lanceolated Warbler: Fair Isle, Shetland (photo: Deryk Shaw). Lanceolated Warbler: Fair Isle, Shetland (photo: Deryk Shaw).

As befits the time of year, a diverse array of rare passerines were on offer during the week. In Scotland a Sardinian Warbler at Fife Ness (Fife) from Saturday 15th onwards was the first for mainland Scotland, there was a Desert Wheatear on Out Skerries (Shetland) on Wednesday 19th and a Black-headed Bunting was at Loch of Strathbeg (Aberdeenshire) from Thursday 13th to at least 18th. On Fair Isle (Shetland) Lanceolated Warblers were present from 13th-14th and 17th. A Blyth's Reed Warbler was at St. Mary's Island (Northumbs) from 17th-18th. Two Northern Long-tailed Tits were a popular attraction at Spurn then Easington (E. Yorks) from 18th onwards. Four Olive-backed Pipits included inaccessible birds on Fair Isle on 13th and Isle of May (Fife) on 16th, with a brief bird at Flamborough Head (E. Yorks) also on 16th; a more obliging bird was at Thorpeness (Suffolk) from 16th-17th (and on 20th). The Subalpine Warbler remained at Nanquidno (Cornwall) to 13th, the Blackpoll Warbler remained on St. Mary's (Scilly) through the week and the Red-eyed Vireo was still on Lundy (Devon) early in the week. A Parrot Crossbill was at Swining (Shetland) on 19th and an exillipes-race Arctic Redpoll (Coues's Redpoll) was on North Ronaldsay on 18th.

Siberian Stonechat: Whitburn, Durham (photo: Mark Newsome). Siberian Stonechat: Porthgwarra, Cornwall (photo: Matt Slaymaker).
Rustic Bunting: Bempton Cliffs, Yorks (photo: Dave Mansell). Rustic Bunting: Spurn, Yorks (photo: Stephen Tomlinson).
Radde's Warbler: Baltimore, Co. Cork (photo: Mike O'Keefe). Dusky Warbler: Unst, Shetland (photo: Mike Pennington).
Greenish Warbler: Marsden Quarry, Durham (photo: Mark Newsome). Bluethroat: Foula, Shetland (photo: Russell Wynn).

A Siberian Stonechat was at Whitburn (Durham) from 19th, and the Siberian Stonechat at Porthgwarra (Cornwall) was last reported on 14th. Three Rustic Buntings included (at times) obliging birds at Spurn (E. Yorks) from 15th-18th and Bempton Cliffs (E. Yorks) from 15th-17th, and another was on Shirkin Island (Co. Cork) on 18th. There were 8 Radde's Warblers during the week (plus two 'possibles'). Several of these were along the east coast, with birds at Isle of May (Fife), Mire Loch (Borders), Hawthorn Dene (Durham) and South Gare (Cleveland); others were on Scilly (St. May's and St. Agnes, though the latter succumbed to a cat) and two were in Co. Cork (at Baltimore and Galley Head). These numbers were matched by Dusky Warbler, which also yielded 8 records plus two unconfirmed records. The majority were along the east coast, with singles at Voe (Shetland), Mire Loch (Borders), Farne Islands (Northumbs), Boulby Cliffs (Cleveland), Spurn (E. Yorks), Wells (Norfolk) and Southwold (Suffolk), plus one at Start Point (Devon). A late Greenish Warbler was at Marsden Quarry (Durham) from 15th-16th whilst the Wester Quarff (Shetland) bird was last seen on 13th.

Little Bunting: Spurn, Yorks (photo: Darren Chapman). Little Bunting: Foula, Shetland (photo: Russell Wynn).
Red-breasted Flycatcher: Filey, Yorks (photo: Rob Smallwood). Red-backed Shrike: Bryher, Scilly (photo: Harry Dennant).
Hoopoe: Boulmer, Northumbs (photo: Alan Gilbertson). Hoopoe: Happisburgh, Norfolk (photo: Mark Hows).
Yellow-browed Warbler: Unst, Shetland (photo: Mike Pennington). Yellow-browed Warbler: Unst, Shetland (photo: Mike Pennington).
Yellow-browed Warbler: Robin Hood's Bay, Yorks (photo: Sean Gray). Yellow-browed Warbler: Bempton Cliffs, Yorks (photo: Dave Mansell).

Another deluge of Yellow-browed Warblers hit the east coast during the weekend fall, with double-figure counts reported from several locations, ensuring it was quite difficult to go to certain locations on the east coast and not connect with the species! Well-watched localities weighed in with some of the larger counts, with double-figure counts at Spurn and Flamborough Head, 16 between South Shields and Sunderland (Durham) on 15th, 11 at St Abb's Head (Borders) on 15th, 11 on Holy Island (Northumbs) on 16th. Even underwatched locations had multiple records, with Whitby (N. Yorks) hosting 14 birds on 15th, clearly illustrating that birders were only seeing the peak of what must have been a massive arrival of this delightful sprite. Just under 30 Pallas's Warblers were noted during the week. Around 40 Richard's Pipits were reported, 10 Wrynecks, 20 Red-breasted Flycatchers and over a dozen Barred Warblers. Of four Red-throated Pipits the only one to linger was on St. Mary's (Scilly) from 13th-16th, and a Tawny Pipit was on St. Martin's (Scilly) from 16th-17th. Ten Little Buntings were mostly along the east coast, and Ortolan Buntings were on St. Martin's and the Farne Islands. A Melodious Warbler was on Cape Clear (Co. Cork) on 15th and last week's Icterine Warbler remained at Galley Head (Co. Cork) to 19th. A Marsh Warbler was at South Gare (Cleveland). There were 5 Common Rosefinches, all in the southwest or southern Ireland; 4 Bluethroats were all on the Northern Isles except for one in Dorset. A respectable mid-October tally of 8 Red-backed Shrikes was logged and around 20 Great Grey Shrikes included several on winter territories. Half-a-dozen Hoopoes were mostly along the east coast though one was on the Scillies and one in Oxfordshire. Rose-coloured Starlings were at Sennen/Land's End (Cornwall) and Spurn and a Waxwing passed over Spurn on 15th. A Serin was over Nanjizal (Cornwall) on 16th.

White-rumped Sandpiper: Grafham Water, Cambs (photo: Ray Roche). White-rumped Sandpiper: Grafham Water, Cambs (photo: Nic Hallam).
White-rumped Sandpiper: Grafham Water, Cambs (photo: Garth Peacock). White-rumped Sandpiper: Grafham Water, Cambs (photo: Stuart Elsom).
Long-billed Dowitcher: Inner Marsh Farm, Cheshire (photo: Steve Round). Long-billed Dowitcher: Inner Marsh Farm, Cheshire (photo: Steve Round).
Long-billed Dowitcher: Drift Reservoir, Cornwall (photo: Josh Jones). Long-billed Dowitcher: Drift Reservoir, Cornwall (photo: Jon Lowes).

Nearctic waders kept on coming, most noticeably White-rumped Sandpipers. An exceptional 6 were on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 13th with 3 still present on 19th, 3 were on South Uist (Outer Hebrides) on 16th, there was one at Fleck (Shetland) on 16th and the obliging long-stayer at Grafham Water (Cambs) remained through the week. Baird's Sandpipers remained at Keyhaven Marshes (Hants) to 16th and Dungeness (Kent) to 17th and a new bird was on Barra (Outer Hebrides) on 16th-17th. Five Pectoral Sandpipers were reported; the American Golden Plover was still on Lewis (Outer Hebrides), with others seen briefly in Co. Kerry and one at Fleck (Shetland) from 16th-18th. Five Long-billed Dowitchers were at large, though the only new bird was one at Blennerville (Co. Kerry) on 15th and 17th; long-stayers remained in Co. Kerry, Essex and Cheshire and the Drift Reservoir (Cornwall) bird relocated to the Hayle Estuary. Seven Lesser Yellowlegs were noted, most in Ireland, though one at Killingholme Pits (Lincs) was the first to remain in the county for longer than a day since 1976. The Red-necked Phalarope was still at Slimbridge (Glos) and a Grey Phalarope was at Chew Valley Lake (Somerset). The Cornish Upland Sandpiper again put in an appearance, passing over Nanjizal on 16th, and the Lissagriffin (Co. Cork) Spotted Sandpiper remained to 13th.

Lesser Yellowlegs: North Killinghome, Lincs (photo: Russell Hayes). Lesser Yellowlegs: North Killinghome, Lincs (photo: Russell Hayes).
Laughing Gull: Featherstone, Yorks (photo: Darren AP Ward). Laughing Gull: Featherstone, Yorks (photo: Dave Mansell).

The Green Heron was last seen at Schull (Co. Cork) on 13th, and the Squacco Heron would appear to have departed Newton Abbot (Devon) on 13th. The Sora remains on St. Mary's (Scilly) as does the Cattle Egret at Elmley Marshes (Kent). Four Great White Egrets were at Elmley Marshes on 17th with presumably 3 of these passing over Dungeness (Kent) on 18th and one at Grove Ferry (Kent) on 20th. The Blashford Lakes (Hants) bird was still present on 16th and one was at Pett Levels (E Sussex) on 14th. In West Yorkshire the Laughing Gull remains, though it can be difficult to catch up with at times.

American Kestrel: Hunstanton, Norfolk (photo: Kevin Waddison). American Kestrel: Hunstanton, Norfolk (photo: Kevin Waddison).

Escape of the week accolade goes to the American Kestrel at Old Hunstanton (Norfolk) from 15th-17th. When news broke it would appear that the recent Atlantic weather systems had at last delivered one of the great 'blockers' on the British list to the masses, but unfortunately it was found to be sporting a rather nice ring which confirmed it as an escape. This highlights that escapees can occur at the 'right time of year' and doubtless this record would have had little difficulty sailing through onto the national list had it only passed through briefly and been well documented, but the ring not noted!

Blue-winged Teal: Bull Island, Dublin (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly). Sora: St. Mary's, Scilly (photo: Steve Morgan).

Less interesting for most was the continued residence of the Black Scoter off Llanfairfechan (Conwy). The Blue-winged Teal remained on Bull Island (Co. Dublin), an American Wigeon was on the Hayle Estuary (presumably the returning bird), and a Green-winged Teal was also present there along with another at Inner Marsh Farm (Cheshire). Ring-necked Ducks remained on Tresco (Scilly) and Avonmouth (Somerset), though a new bird was on North Uist (Outer Hebrides). A drake Lesser Scaup was at Myerscough Quarry (Lancs) and several Surf Scoters remained off northeastern coastlines.

Parrot Crossbill: Aberdeenshire (photo: Lindsay Cargill). Parrot Crossbill: Aberdeenshire (photo: Lindsay Cargill).
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
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/
Andrew Easton: http://home.clara.net/ammodytes/
Graham Eaton: http://www.eatonphotography.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
Josh Jones: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
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
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
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/
Matt Slaymaker: http://www.freewebs.com/slaymaker
Oliver Smart: http://www.smartimages.co.uk
George Spraggs: http://www.bird-watching.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: Russell Slack