Review of the Week: 16th-22nd November 2006


The week at a glance:

Barrow's Goldeneye: Callander, Forth (photo: Nick Franklin).

Barrow's Goldeneye: Callander, Forth (photo: Keith Hoey).

Barrow's Goldeneye: Callander, Forth (photo: Alan Gilbertson).

Proceedings seem to be getting a bit quieter as we meander into the winter, and, as befits the season, rare wildfowl tend to be dominating the news headlines and discussion. A drake Barrow's Goldeneye was found on the River Eas Gobhain at Callander (Forth) from 19th onwards, whilst the drake remained at Quoile Pondage (Co. Down). As always the origin of these birds is difficult to assess and unless proven otherwise then the benefit of doubt tends to carry most species through to acceptance nowadays. Perhaps more should be made of the apparent 1st-winter drake Falcated Duck consorting with Wigeon on the Exe Estuary at Exmouth (Devon)? It was first seen around the 22nd October and was again reported this week on 18th and 21st. All British records have been placed in Category D and E of the British list, as the species is popular with wildfowl collectors and assessing the origins of such birds is complex. Should a 1st-winter drake, rather than the usual pristine drake, be treated differently and considered a possible vagrant? Unless someone can get hold of some of the moulted feathers for isotope analysis then we will never knows its origins for sure, but stranger things have happened, such as the Baikal Teal shot in Denmark earlier this autumn and found to be a genuine vagrant through the same process. Other rare wildfowl included the reappearance of the drake Bufflehead on Loch of Snarravoe, Unst (Shetland) from 22nd onwards whilst the putative female Redhead remained at Loch of Spiggie (Shetland) to at least the 22nd.

Falcated Duck: Exe Estuary, Devon (photo: M. Lockyear).

Purple Heron: Little Chalfont, Bucks (photo: Stephen Menzie).

Glossy Ibis: Fluke Hall, Lancashire (photo: Cliff).

In Lincolnshire the Black-eared Kite continued to show in the Holbeach Marsh area throughout the week to at least the 21st, attracting good numbers of admirers during its stay, though many will hope it doesn't linger on for too long! A dashing white-morph Gyr Falcon was on St. Kilda (Outer Hebrides) on 16th-17th and another bird was reported from Hermaness, Unst (Shetland) on 22nd. There were conflicting reports of the Long-billed Murrelet again in the Exe Estuary (Devon) on 17th, but there does not appear to be any evidence to support the claim by way of photographs and there has been no further sign since. The Cattle Egret remained at the Otter Estuary NR (Devon) as did the Great White Egret at Blashford Lakes (Hants), and there was an adult Night Heron reported from Dovedale (Derbyshire) on the 16th and an immature at North Slob (Co. Wexford) on the 18th. The Glossy Ibis was at Fluke Hall (Lancs) to the 21st, with the late Purple Heron at Little Chalfont (Bucks) to the 20th. Spoonbills remained into double figures, with 8 still on Brownsea Island (Dorset).

Woodchat Shrike: Soar, Devon (photo: Phil Stidwill).

Woodchat Shrike: Soar, Devon (photo: Phil Stidwill).

Shore Lark: Snettisham, Norfolk (photo: Russell Hayes).

Shore Lark: Snettisham, Norfolk (photo: Russell Hayes).

Snow Bunting: Snettisham, Norfolk (photo: Garth Peacock).

Red-rumped Swallow: Norbury Junction, Staffs (photo: Steve Nuttall).

Passerine interest was starting to wane, though a female Siberian Stonechat was at Goonhilly Downs (Cornwall) from 18th-19th, and a Dusky Warbler was at Sladesbridge (Cornwall) on 18th with the long-staying bird still at Spurn (E. Yorks) to at least the 20th. Seven Yellow-browed Warblers were, as would be expected, all in the southwest with the exception of one in Norwich (Norfolk). The Little Bunting was again at Benacre (Suffolk) on 18th and 19th. Richard's Pipits on 19th at Great Orme (Conwy) and over Carmel Head and Amlwch (Anglesey) may have related to just one bird. The long-staying Woodchat Shrike remained at Soar (Devon), a Hoopoe was belatedly reported from Foxton (Cambs) and the only Great Grey Shrike was at Clocaenog Forest (Conwy). A Red-rumped Swallow at Norbury Junction (Staffs) on the 21st was a late find and a Rose-coloured Starling was on St. Mary's (Scilly) to the 17th, on which day one was at Seaton Common (Cleveland). Good numbers of Shore Lark were in Norfolk, with 13 at Cley, 8 at Snettisham and 7 at Caister, with a handful of scattered singletons between Durham and Suffolk. By way of contrast there were just 14 Lapland Buntings reported, 6 of which were at Filey (N. Yorks), and the only Waxwings were three at Wark (Northumberland) and four at Scalloway (Shetland).

Spotted Sandpiper: Hayle Estuary, Cornwall (photo: Mike Barker).

Grey Phalarope: Dunwich, Suffolk (photo: Mark Breaks).

Grey Phalarope: Snettisham, Norfolk (photo: Lee Johnson).

A number of rare waders seem to be settled for the early part of the winter at least, though there are clearly still birds to be found. An American Golden Plover was at Pymore (Cambs) from 18th-20th and another was at Northam Burrows (Devon) from 20th-21st, with a long-staying bird at Rosscarbery (Co. Cork), which also continued to accommodate the Lesser Yellowlegs. Spotted Sandpipers continued on the Hayle Estuary (Cornwall) and Tamar Lakes (Devon), as did the Long-billed Dowitcher on the Oare Marshes (Kent). A White-rumped Sandpiper was at Cantley Beet Factory (Norfolk) from 18th-20th and another at Belfast Lough (Co. Antrim) from 18th-20th, with others still at Cley (Norfolk), North Uist (Outer Hebrides) and Kilcoole (Co. Wicklow). At least nine Grey Phalaropes were between Northumberland and Kent and another passed St. Ives (Cornwall), where four Balearic Shearwaters were also logged on the 20th. Seven very late Leach's Storm-petrels passing Hilbre (Cheshire) on the 21st were noteworthy as was an inland bird at Westwood Pool (Worcs) on 19th. Small numbers of Little Auks were still present, the peak count being 12 in the Irish Sea at The Maidens (Co. Antrim) on 16th.

Grey Phalarope: Abberton, Suffolk (photo: Darren Frost).

An adult Laughing Gull at Grafham Water (Cambs) on 19th was the first for the county, but didn't linger, and another was at Sherkin Island (Co. Cork), with the only other rare gull of note an adult Bonaparte's Gull at Lunan Bay (Angus and Dundee) from 19th-20th. A possible American Herring Gull was reported from Derbyhaven (Isle of Man) on 16th. A dozen Ring-billed Gulls was largely made up of familiar wintering adults, and there were around 20 each of Glaucous Gulls and Iceland Gulls and slightly fewer Caspian Gulls. The Forster's Tern remained at Cruisetown (Co. Louth).

Black Brant: Carlingford Lough, Co. Louth (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly).

Richardson's Canada Goose: Woodhorn, Northumberland (photo: Alan Gilbertson). Red-breasted Goose: Saltfleet, Lincs (photo: Alan Gilbertson).

Osprey: Nayland, Suffolk (photo: Simon Bishop).

First-winter drake Lesser Scaup were present on Tiree (Argyll) and Loch Sandary, N. Uist (Outer Hebrides) and 10 Ring-necked Ducks were well spread. Ferruginous Ducks continued at Pine Lake (Lancs) and Chew Valley (Somerset) and a drake was again at Croxall GPs (Staffs). The King Eider remained off Peterhead (Aberdeenshire) and six Surf Scoters included Cornish birds at Sennen Cove and Charlestown briefly. Six drake American Wigeon included two each at Lochlea (Ayrshire) and Loch Bee (Outer Hebrides) and 7 Green-winged Teals included drakes from familiar locations. The two Red-breasted Geese continued on the Lincolnshire coast as did the bird in Dorset, whilst white-morph Snow Geese were at North Creake (Norfolk) and Balnakeil (Highland). There were Richardson's Canada Geese at Mersehead (Dumfries and Galloway) and one of more suspect origin at Woodhorn (Northumberland) and a Lesser Canada Goose was on Islay (Argyll). In Norfolk a Rough-legged Buzzard passed over Stiffkey on the 21st and a late Osprey remained at Nayland (Suffolk).

Curlew: Leasowe, Cheshire (photo: Richard Steel).

Purple Sandpiper and Turnstone: Balcomie, Fife (photo: John Anderson).

Shag: Wells, Norfolk (photo: Peter Simpson).

Red-throated Diver: Wells, Norfolk (photo: Peter Simpson).

Shoveler: Astbury Mere, Norfolk (photo: Mike Atkinson).

Pochard: Astbury Mere, Norfolk (photo: Mike Atkinson).

Long-tailed Duck: Herrington CP, Durham (photo: Mark Newsome).

Teal: Summer Leys, Northants (photo: Richard Bedford).

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/
John Coveney: http://www.clarebirdwatching.com/index.php
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: Russell Slack