Review of the Week: 15th-21st May 2008


The week at a glance

After the soaring temperatures of the past fortnight, the wind rigidly stuck in a northeasterly direction for much of the week, bringing a decidedly chilly air to some parts of the country, with the odd frost or two to prove just how much the weather had changed from the warm days experienced recently. East-coast birders must have hoped for something to pop out of the top drawer, but it was the south coast that won the cup this week.

An Eastern Olivaceous Warbler was discovered at Portland Bill (Dorset) on the morning of 17th and, after careful processing ensured the correct identification, the bird showed for a while in the small quarry adjacent to the Observatory before taking flight. Several hours later the bird was reported again in the Hut Fields and, late in the day on 18th, it was there reported there again. This was the third Eastern Olivaceous Warbler for the site; all three birds were trapped, and it is just the second record of the species in the first half of the year (the other being on Fair Isle in June 1995). A White-crowned Sparrow seen (and photographed) in a garden at St. Michael's near Leuchars (Fife) on 17th plainly invited the thought that the Cley superstar of the winter may not have ventured as far north as some would have thought. It is, of course, total guesswork as to whether the same bird is involved—and May is the prime month for the species to be found around these shores: the birds on Fair Isle and at Hornsea Mere in 1977 were both May arrivals, as was the bird in 2003 on Dursey Island across in County Cork.

There were two summer-plumaged adult White-billed Divers to report this week: one was seen from the Harris to Berneray ferry in the Sound of Harris (Outer Hebrides) on 17th, and another was at Uyea, north Mainland (Shetland) on 18th–20th. A young White-billed Diver was seen in Dunnet Bay (Highland) on 20th.Following two decent weeks of Pomarine Skua passage along the south coast in particular, this week was rather poor by comparison: numbers just made it in to double figures, with birds reported from seven counties, including three birds past Kessingland (Suffolk) on 16th. Two Balearic Shearwaters were seen off Seaton (Devon) and a single bird was off Hengistbury Head (Dorset), all on 21st.

After last week where not a single Cattle Egret was reported from Sancreed, this week was the first week since 18th November last year that not a single Cattle Egret was reported from Cornwall. In Devon, two birds were at West Charleton Marsh NR on 18th, and in Dorset, singles were at Lytchett Bay on 15th–18th and at Radipole village on 17th. In East Sussex, a Cattle Egret was seen at Lewes Brooks RSPB on 16th, while around the Slimbridge WWT and Frampton areas of Gloucestershire, two birds remained to 21st. The Cattle Egret at Wigan Flashes LNR (Greater Manchester) remained between 15th and 20th and in Norfolk, singles were seen over Titchwell village on 17th and on the grazing marsh at Holkham on 18th and 21st. Also on 21st, a Cattle Egret was seen at Pagham Harbour LNR (West Sussex).

Great White Egret
Great White Egret, Cantref Reservoir, Powys (Photo: Kev Joynes)

Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis, Keyhaven Marshes, Hampshire (Photo: Keith Simpson)

Night Heron
Night Heron, Catton Moor, North Yorkshire (Photo: Steven Fryer)

Little Bittern
Little Bittern, Lodmoor RSPB, Dorset (Photo: Lee Fuller)

In Ireland, the Great White Egret seen near Garretstown (Co. Cork) last week remained to 19th at least. On 16th, one was seen over the Carlton Marshes (Suffolk), while other reports from the East Anglian county came from Brampton and Minsmere RSPB, both on 17th. Also on 17th, a Great White Egret was found at Blithfield Reservoir (Staffordshire) and another was at Radipole Lake RSPB (Dorset). The final Great Whites of the week were seen in Powys, at Cantref Reservoir, on 18th–20th, then at Farmoor Reservoir (Oxfordshire) on 21st, with one also arriving at Horse Eye level (East Sussex) on the latter date. At least fourteen Spoonbills this week included three birds at Leighton Moss RSPB (Lancashire) on 16th–18th (and again on 21st) while six remained at Middlebere (Dorset) to 18th at least. A Glossy Ibis arrived at Shapwick Heath NNR (Somerset) on 16th and, after taking in a brief call to nearby Ham Wall RSPB, reappeared at Ferrybridge (Dorset) the following day for just a few minutes, before heading off again and, making its second reappearance in a day, arriving at Keyhaven Marshes (Hampshire) were it remained to 18th. The bird in Lancashire, at Marshside RSPB, was still present to 19th. Common Cranes this week included a first-summer again Flamborough Head (East Yorkshire) on 15th. Two birds were at Horsey (Norfolk) on 16th, and another double act were at Holm (Orkney) on 17th (and were then seen over North Ronaldsay on 20th). Also on 17th, three Cranes were seen over Great Ryburgh (Norfolk) with two more "threes" at Pulborough Brooks RSPB (West Sussex) on 18th and Wicken Fen NT (Cambridgeshire) on 19th. A lone Crane was at Bowness-on-Solway (Cumbria) on 18th–19th while further singles were at Old Moor RSPB (South Yorkshire) on 19th and Thorpe Marshes (Norfolk) on 20th. Six White Storks were reported this week: one was around the Shapwick Heath NNR/Meare Heath area (Somerset) on 17th–18th and a ringed bird was at Chorley (Lancashire) on 18th–19th. Single birds were seen over Harrogate (North Yorkshire), Kidlington (Oxfordshire) and the New Forest (Hampshire) on 20th, and Ranworth Broad (Norfolk) on 21st. On 18th, a Black Stork drifted over the Cuckmere Valley (East Sussex) for almost an hour, seen from Arlington Reservoir. Two Purple Herons were seen this week—one was at Lodmoor RSPB (Dorset) on 17th, and one arrived the same day at Rutland Water (Leicestershire) and remained to 18th. A Night Heron was at Catton Moor (North Yorkshire) on 18th–21st, spending some of its time on the roof of a dog rescue centre! On 16th, a Little Bittern was reported as having been present in a garden near Haverfordwest, but had been found dead. More fortunate was the female Little Bittern that was present at Lodmoor RSPB (Dorset) on 17th–20th, completing a remarkable set of records from the handful of miles between Ferrybridge and Lodmoor this week—Glossy Ibis, Cattle Egret, Great White Egret, Purple Heron and Little Bittern. That must be some sort of record!

King Eider
King Eider, Fair Isle, Shetland (Photo: Micky Maher)

A Snow Goose was seen heading north at Loch of Strathbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire) on 15th, and on Orkney, three birds were seen over Burray Ness on 19th. In Wales, the female Black Duck was still at Marloes Mere (Pembrokeshire) on 19th, having last been reported there on 7th. Drake Green-winged Teal were seen near Freckleton (Lancashire) on 15th and on Loch of Melby, Mainland (Shetland) on 16th and a drake American Wigeon was seen at Loch a'Charra, North Uist (Outer Hebrides) on 21st. The drake Lesser Scaup remained at St. John's Loch (Highland) on 15th and the drake Ring-necked Duck remained on Loch Kinnabus, Islay (Argyll) to the same date. The handsome drake King Eider was still to be seen around Girvan (Ayrshire) from 15th–20th and a first-summer drake was seen in South Harbour, on Fair Isle (Shetland) on 18th–21st. Two days previously, a young male Surf Scoter had been seen in the very same spot, while at Murcar Golf Course (Aberdeenshire) the two drakes were still present between 16th and 18th. In Lothian, a drake Surf Scoter was off Joppa from 17th–21st. On 20th, a drake was seen in the Sound of Harris (Outer Hebrides). A drake Falcated Duck at Valley Lakes RSPB (Anglesey) on 17th–20th caused a few murmurs of interest, but coming a week after the "innocent until proven guilty" ringed Baikal Teal in Norfolk, murmurs were all that this bird was ever going to get...and a trio of the latter species (including a ringed male) at Scaling Dam Reservoir (Cleveland) on 21st won't have helped either.

This week was another week with a handful of unidentified eagles reported—in West Sussex, an eagle species was seen for two days (17th–18th) over Walderton Down. In Suffolk, two reports came on 18th; one over Brantham was thought possibly to be a White-tailed Eagle, while at Aldeburgh, a medium-sized dark brown eagle was seen for several minutes before drifting southwest. A definite adult White-tailed Eagle was seen over Braintree (Essex) on 20th—an odd location for the time of year for the species. A Rough-legged Buzzard was seen at Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk) on 18th, a pretty late record, but then so was the White-tailed Eagle! There were three reports of Black Kite in Somerset on 17th—over the County Ground, Taunton, at Steart and Yatton. Also on 17th, a Black Kite was reported in Hampshire, at Petersfield and on 18th, one was seen over Came Wood (Dorset). On 19th, a Black Kite flew over Wisley Common (Surrey) with one seen over Pevensey and Brighton (East Sussex) on 20th and at Priddy (Somerset) on 21st. On 18th, a hybrid Black Kite × Red Kite hybrid was identified in Northamptonshire, near Lings Wood.

Red-footed Falcon
Red-footed Falcon, Fen Drayton GPs, Cambridgeshire (Photo: Mike Lawrence)

Red-footed Falcon
Red-footed Falcon, Fen Drayton GPs, Cambridgeshire (Photo: Sean Nixon)

After at least 24 birds last week, the mini-invasion of Red-footed Falcons continued this week, with up to 18 new birds reported (although there may, of course, be some duplication from last week's arrivals). Leftovers from the first wave were the adult male and female at Lakenheath Fen RSPB (Suffolk) from 15th–18th, the first-summer male at Stewartby (Bedfordshire) from 15th–21st, single females at Shapwick Heath NNR (Somerset) to 17th and Fen Drayton (Cambridgeshire) to 21st, while in South Yorkshire, the adult and first-summer females remained at Thorne Moors NNR to 21st. New sightings this week included three birds on 15th—a first-summer female at Lee Valley CP (Essex) (staying to 21st, when an adult male flew over too) and brief females at Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk) and Dublin (Co. Dublin). On 17th, females were seen near Camelford (Cornwall) and at West Sedgemoor (Somerset), while a first-summer male was near Orwell (Cambridgeshire). In the same county, single females on 18th were seen at Paxton Pits and Ely, while two more single females were seen at Oxted (Surrey) and Dagenham Chase LNR (London) on the same date. On 19th, a male Red-footed Falcon was seen at Titchmarsh LNR (Northamptonshire), and another male was at Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk) with a female in Derbyshire, at Barrow-upon-Trent. On 20th, two birds were seen in Cornwall, a male was at Croft Pascoe Pool and a female (most likely the bird from 17th?) was near Boscastle, while Essex racked up another—a first-summer male seen flying over Abbot's Hall Farm EWT. The 21st saw an adult female appear over Thorpe Marshes (Norfolk), while the female in north Cornwall moved to Hendrabunick Down.

American Golden Plover
American Golden Plover, Exminster Marshes RSPB, Devon (Photo: Joe Ray)

Temminck's Stint
Temminck's Stint, Toft Newton Reservoir, Lincolnshire (Photo: Zoe Shreeve)

It was a relatively poor week as far as new arrivals on the shorebird front. A summer-plumaged Spotted Sandpiper was at Broad Lough (Co. Wicklow) on 18th and was the pick of the wader bunch this week. A Pectoral Sandpiper at Martin Mere WWT (Lancashire) on 21st collected the runner's up medal, while a Broad-billed Sandpiper was reported from Alkborough Flats (Lincolnshire) on 18th–19th. On Shetland, a Red-necked Phalarope was seen at Haub of Scatsta on 21st. The pair of Black-winged Stilts at Neumann's Flash (Cheshire) remained throughout the week, while Dotterels just about made it through to double figures, including two birds at South Stack RSPB (Anglesey) on The Range on 15th–16th, and eight birds on Hoy (Orkney) on 15th. On 19th, five Dotterels were seen at West Carlton (East Yorkshire). The Lesser Yellowlegs at Druridge Pools (Northumberland) remained to 15th and the first-summer American Golden Plover remained at Exminster Marshes RSPB (Devon) between 15th and 18th. There was another decent showing of Temminck's Stint this week, with over 45 birds noted. Five were seen at Grove Ferry (Kent) on 16th, when four birds were seen at Rainham Marshes RSPB (London). Four birds were also seen at Cley Marshes NWT (Norfolk) on 17th. The single Temminck's Stint on Holy Island (Northumberland) remained to 16th.

Sad news this week from Lancashire, where the popular adult Ross's Gull was found dead at Fairhaven Lakes on 16th. In Devon, a first-summer Bonaparte's Gull was at Bowling Green Marsh RSPB on 20th–21st. A first-summer Caspian Gull was at Beddington SF (London) on 16th and another first-summer was at Ditchford GPs (Northamptonshire) on 19th. A colour-ringed second-summer cachinnans was at Dungeness (Kent) on 19th. Adult Glaucous Gulls in Highland, at Kingairloch on 16th and at Sandside Bay, were the only records this week. Around 10 Iceland Gulls lingered to mid-month, including three birds still on St. Mary's (Scilly) to 18th. An adult Forster's Tern was at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) on 15th–17th and was then seen at nearby Lady's Island Lake on 18th, before returning to Tacumshin on 21st. Rather more typical for the time of year was the Whiskered Tern that remained at Inner Marsh Farm RSPB (Cheshire) from 15th–19th.

Red-rumped Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow, Leasowe Lighthouse, Cheshire (Photo: Stephen Tomlinson)

Hoopoe, Burnham Overy, Norfolk (Photo: Craig Shaw)

A Snowy Owl was seen at Crowlista, Lewis (Outer Hebrides) on 15th and the male remained at Greinetobht (North Uist) to 20th. Six Red-rumped Swallows were seen this week, including lingering birds from last week out on Great Saltee Island (Co. Wexford) to 15th and on St. Agnes (Scilly) to 20th. On 17th (and again on 19th) one was at Lodmoor RSPB (Dorset) and on 18th, a Red-rumped Swallow spent the morning and early afternoon around Leasowe Lighthouse (Cheshire). At Sandwich Bay (Kent), one flew north on 19th, with the final bird of the week being seen over Maldon (Essex) on 21st. There were only five Hoopoes to report this week, including a popular bird in and around the dunes at Burnham Overy (Norfolk) from 15th–18th. On 15th, a Hoopoe was seen at Gremista, Lewis (Outer Hebrides) and on 17th, one was found at St. Dogmaels (Pembrokeshire), where it remained to 19th. In Lincolnshire, a Hoopoe was seen at Gibraltar Point NNR on 18th and on 19th, one was seen at Botallack (Cornwall). After almost 40 Bee-eaters last week, just seven birds were seen this week, with one heard too. The heard-only bird was at Southgate (London) on 15th, while birds that showed themselves were on St. Agnes (Scilly), the lingering bird still present to 16th, over Holkham Pines (Norfolk) on 17th, at Portland Bill (Dorset) on 18th, at Elgol, Skye (Highland) on the same date, at Steart (Somerset) on 20th, with lone birds at Prawle Point (Devon) and Dingle Marshes (Suffolk) on 21st.

Bluethroat, Girdle Ness, Aberdeenshire (Photo: Mark Caunt)

Short-toed Lark
Short-toed Lark, Filey, North Yorkshire (Photo: Tony Dixon)

A singing male Thrush Nightingale was an excellent find (the second record for the site) at Portland Bill (Dorset) on 18th—a superb spring find in the southwest and yet another top-quality bird in a real red-letter weekend for the Portland and Weymouth area. Nine Bluethroats were seen this week, four of them in Scotland. On 15th, a female was seen on the Isle of May (Fife) and another was on Foula (Shetland) on the same date. These were followed by two males on 16th, at Girdle Ness (Aberdeenshire) and Evie, Mainland (Orkney), the former bird remaining to 17th. On Scilly, the male Red-spotted Bluethroat relocated to Porth Hellick Pool on 16th and a male was on Calf of Man (Isle of Man) on 19th. The final Bluethroats of the week were a first-summer male at Hilbre Island (Cheshire), a female on Inner Farne (Northumberland) and one on far-flung St. Kilda, all on 21st. Just four Wrynecks were seen over the past seven days: one at Filey (North Yorkshire) on 15th was followed by two birds on 17th, at Nailsea (Somerset) and Blakeney Point (Norfolk), the latter still present to 19th. On 20th, a singing Wryneck was an entertaining dawn chorus addition in Northampton. A Tawny Pipit was around Sennen (Cornwall) from 15th–18th, while a Red-throated Pipit was seen in the dunes at Gun Hill (Norfolk) on 15th. After an impressive showing last week, there were three Short-toed Larks noted this week—the bird on St. Mary's (Scilly) remaining to 16th was followed by one on Lundy (Devon) on 19th and one at Filey (North Yorkshire) on 20th–21st.

Great Reed Warbler
Great Reed Warbler, Amwell GPs, Hertfordshire (Photo: Roy Woodward)

Four of the week's Subalpine Warblers were seen on 15th. Last week's female on Fair Isle (Shetland) was still present (and remained to 16th), and one was on Dursey Island (Co. Cork). New birds on 15th were a first-summer male on Ramsey Island (Pembrokeshire) and a male seen in Burnham Overy dunes (Norfolk). On 19th, a Subalpine Warbler was found on Skomer Island (Pembrokeshire), while the long-staying (but barely reported) male at Gorran Haven (Cornwall) was still present on 20th. Shetland bagged two Icterine Warblers this week: a male was singing on Foula on 17th and another was trapped on Fair Isle on 20th and was still present on 21st. Singing male Great Reed Warblers spent 17th–18th in the reedbed at Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk) and 20th–21st at Amwell GPs (Hertfordshire). The third Great Reed of the week was at Cley Marshes NWT on 21st. A Marsh Warbler was trapped and ringed on Bardsey Island (Pembrokeshire) on 20th. The female Red-breasted Flycatcher remained at Spurn (East Yorkshire) to 15th and a male was seen on Calf Of Man (Isle of Man) on 19th.

Woodchat Shrike
Woodchat Shrike, Lizard Point, Cornwall (Photo: Len)

Red-backed Shrike
Red-backed Shrike, Formby Moss, Lancashire (Photo: Stephen Tomlinson)

Some 20 or more Golden Orioles included three birds around the Isles of Scilly, two birds in Cornwall, Kent and Dorset, along with single birds on Shetland, the Outer Hebrides (on South Uist), in Argyll (on Coll), Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) and a singing male at Martin Mere WWT (Lancashire) on 16th. Four Woodchat Shrikes were seen this week, with one at Bamburgh Castle (Northumberland) on 15th (it had been reportedly been present since May 9th). A male was on St. Mary's (Scilly) on 17th–18th, one was at East Holme (Dorset) on 18th and another male was seen at Caerthillian Cove, Lizard (Cornwall) on 19th–20th. A male Red-backed Shrike was seen at Formby Moss (Lancashire) on 18th and a female was at Dyce (Aberdeenshire) on 21st.

A single Serin was at Abbotsbury (Dorset) on 18th while one or two birds were seen at (where else!) Portland Bill on 18th, with another there on 20th. A female Common Rosefinch was on Shetland, at Virkie, on 16th and a male was on Orkney, at Deerness, on 21st. An Ortolan Bunting was seen on St. Kilda (Outer Hebrides) on 21st, while the week's round-up concludes with a late report of a male Rustic Bunting on Stronsay (Orkney) on 14th and a female on Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) on 19th.

Photo of the Week

Temminck's Stint
Temminck's Stint, Toft Newton Reservoir, Lincolnshire (Photo: Dean Eades)

Temminck's Stints are tiny waders—even smaller than Dunlin—seen as scarce passage migrants in the UK, mainly as they travel up the east coast to their Arctic breeding grounds. Most photos we receive of these small, scarce birds tend to be record shots, but an individual dropping into Toft Newton Reservoir in Lincolnshire this week gave several photographers the chance to grab some great close-ups. Pick of the bunch was a textbook portrait by Dean Eades, the soft light and gorgeous green-water background setting off every detail in this dainty bird.

Other notable photos

Ruff, Martin Mere WWT, Lancashire (Photo: Alan Saunders)

Bullfinch, Milnthorpe, Cumbria (Photo: Pauline Greenhalgh)

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl, undisclosed site, West Yorkshire (Photo: David Tattersley)

Sanderling, undisclosed site, Norfolk (Photo: Sue Tranter)

Gannet, Troup Head, Aberdeenshire (Photo: Alan Sinclair)

Arctic Tern
Arctic Tern, Farne Islands, Northumberland (Photo: Dean Eades)

Common Tern
Common Tern, Summer Leys LNR, Northamptonshire (Photo: Barry Boswell)

Common Redshank
Common Redshank, Summer Leys LNR, Northamptonshire (Photo: Richard Bedford)

Wood Warbler
Wood Warbler, Undisclosed site, Gwynedd (Photo: Steve Round)

Tree Pipit
Tree Pipit, Dartmoor, Devon (Photo: Chris Buckland)

Wood Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper, undisclosed site, Warwickshire (Photo: Dave Hutton)

Common Redstart
Common Redstart, private site, Clwyd (Photo: Steve Round)

Red-legged Partridge
Red-legged Partridge, Shustoke Reservoir, Warwickshire (Photo: Dave Hutton)

Hobby, Fen Drayton GPs, Cambridgeshire (Photo: Garth Peacock)

Cormorant, Summer Leys LNR, Northamptonshire (Photo: Neil Khandke)

Written by: Mark Golley