Review of the Week: 16th-22nd September 2004

Leach's Storm-petrel: Leasowe, Cheshire. (Photo: Steve Round)

Leach's Storm-petrel: Leasowe, Cheshire. (Photo: Steve Round) Leach's Storm-petrel: New Brighton, Cheshire. (Photo: John Malloy)

Despite a quiet September on the Northern Isles the islands illustrated that there is often something decent to be found by the persistent even in the face of constant westerlies. Britain's 4th (and Shetland's 3rd) Brown Shrike was found at Skaw, Whalsay on Sunday 19th and was present until at least the 22nd. Trapped and ringed on the 20th, it is an adult male of the nominate race cristatus, which breeds to the northwest of the species' range, in northeast Asia and Mongolia and winters from the Indian subcontinent to Thailand. It is the fourth for Britain following singles in Shetland, at Sumburgh in September 1985 and on Fair Isle in October 2000, and another on Bryher (Scilly) in September and October 2001. There is also a record from Ireland where one was in Co. Kerry from November-December 1999.

Common Swift: Filey, N. Yorks. This bird was originally reported as a Pallid Swift, but is now considered to be a juvenile Common Swift. (Photo: Tony Collinson)

Interest elsewhere was stifled by an incessant westerly airflow, but a mini 'influx' of Pallid Swifts commenced with one over Southwold (Suffolk) on Tuesday 21st, another over Filey (N. Yorks) from Wednesday 22nd onwards* and what was almost certainly another over Flamborough Head (E. Yorks) the same day. Autumn arrivals of this tricky species have become almost the norm during recent years, but Pallid and Common Swift remain amongst one of the most difficult species pairs to identify and good prolonged views are essential to confirm an identification. Any swift from now on will no doubt be accorded more than just a cursory glance and a "that's late" comment by the observer! (*The Filey bird, originally reported as a Pallid Swift, is now considered to have been a juvenile Common Swift - Eds.)

Common Rosefinch: Lewis, Outer Hebrides. (Photo: Martin Scott)

Barred Warbler: Flamborough Head, E. Yorks. (Photo: Tony Dixon) Red-backed Shrike: Dungeness, Kent. (Photo: Pete Young)

Island watchers at far flung outposts and 'bush-bashers' at our coastal locations are having a lean time of it at present and there has not been a whiff of an easterly airflow for what seems an eternity, ensuring passerine highlights from points east were relatively few and far between. Surprisingly, there have been no new landbird arrivals from North America during the present run of westerlies either. A Yellow-breasted Bunting was at Spey Bay (Moray/Nairn) on Monday 20th and a Booted Warbler on Unst (Shetland) from Monday 20th-21st. A Citrine Wagtail was at Symbister, Whalsay (Shetland) from Tuesday 21st-22nd; the long-staying 1st-winter at Marazion (Cornwall) was last reported on the 16th. A Yellow-browed Warbler was at Scatness (Shetland) from Friday 17th-19th, with support elsewhere from just five Red-backed Shrikes, seven Barred Warblers and a Red-breasted Flycatcher on South Ronaldsay (Orkney) on Tuesday 21st and 2 Bluethroats on Unst on 20th. The Greenish Warbler at Bawdsey (Suffolk) from last week was last reported on the 16th. Around 15 Wrynecks were noted, mostly in the southwest, 15 Common Rosefinches were well scattered and there were Melodious Warblers at Nanquidno (Cornwall) and St. Mary's (Scilly) still. New juvenile Rose-coloured Starlings were on Bressay (Shetland) and at Fort Saumarez (Guernsey) on Sunday 18th and the Dawlish Warren (Devon) bird remained to the 18th too. The Hoopoe remained at Nanquidno (Cornwall) until the 17th and another was reported at St. Albans (Herts) the same day.

Semipalmated Sandpiper: Drift Res, Cornwall. (Photo: Steve Valentine) Semipalmated Sandpiper: Drift Res, Cornwall. (Photo: Steve Valentine)

Spotted Sandpiper: Listowel, Co. Kerry. (Photo: Michael O'Keeffe) Spotted Sandpiper: Listowel, Co. Kerry. (Photo: Michael O'Keeffe)

The westerlies have ensured that wader-watchers have not been disappointed, with an exciting selection of Nearctic waders on offer. Pick of the bunch were juvenile Semipalmated Sandpipers at Drift Reservoir (Cornwall) from Friday 17th onwards and at Annagh Head (Co. Mayo) on Sunday 19th and 21st. A juvenile Spotted Sandpiper was at Listowel (Co. Kerry) from Saturday 18th onwards and White-rumped Sandpipers were at Minsmere (Suffolk) from Saturday 18th-19th (in the company of a Baird's Sandpiper), and on Harris (Outer Hebrides) and at Salthouse/Cley (Norfolk) on Monday 20th. Four American Golden Plovers were reported: Kicoole (Co. Wexford) on 18th; Coll (Argyll) from 20th-21st; Sanna Bay (Highland) on 20th; and Fetlar (Shetland) on 20th. The glut of Baird's Sandpipers continues, with birds at Marazion (Cornwall), Davidstow (Cornwall) and Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) from last week still present until the early part of the week, and the juvenile was again seen at Titchwell (Norfolk). Newly found birds were noted at: Minsmere (Suffolk) from 19th-22nd; Bardsey (Gwynedd) on 20th; Coll (Argyll) on 21st; and Buckenham Marshes (Norfolk) from 21st-22nd.

Baird's Sandpiper: Davidstow, Cornwall. (Photo: Phil Stidwill) Baird's Sandpiper: Davidstow, Cornwall. (Photo: Colin Selway)

Baird's Sandpiper: Tacumshin, Co. Wexford. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Baird's Sandpiper: Minsmere, Suffolk. (Photo: Sean Nixon)

Terek Sandpiper: Blennerville, Co. Kerry. (Photo: Michael O'Keeffe) Terek Sandpiper: Blennerville, Co. Kerry. (Photo: Michael O'Keeffe)

In addition, Buff-breasted Sandpipers were just into double figures, including up to three at Tacumshin, and nearly 20 Pectoral Sandpipers were logged. From last week Red-necked Phalaropes remained until the 16th at both Rimac (Lincs) and Llandegfedd Reservoir (Gwent) and seawatchers accumulated over 50 Grey Phalaropes, 19 of which passed Brandon Head (Co. Kerry) on the 21st. There were seven single Dotterel scattered between Shetland and Scilly. In Co. Kerry the Terek Sandpiper is still at Blennerville, where the Long-billed Dowitcher also remains in residence, as does the long-staying Lincolnshire bird, and the Co. Cork bird was reported early in the week. Unidentified dowitchers were reported at Cresswell Pond (Northumbs) on 19th and a juvenile on the Ythan Estuary (Aberdeenshire) on 22nd. In Norfolk the Lesser Yellowlegs is still at Stiffkey Fen.

Pectoral Sandpiper: Tacumshin, Co. Wexford. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Pectoral Sandpiper: Tacumshin, Co. Wexford. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly)

Lesser Yellowlegs: Stiffkey, Norfolk. (Photo: Josh Jones) Long-billed Dowitcher: Gibraltar Point, Lincs. (Photo: Arthur Saunders)

Sabine's Gull: Leasowe, Cheshire. (Photo: Steve Round) Sabine's Gull: Peel, Isle of Man. (Photo: Pete Hadfield)

Strong westerlies provided some superb seawatching for seawatchers in the Northwest with excellent numbers of Leach's Storm-petrels noted moving between various watchpoints. Mixed in were Long-tailed Skuas and Sabine's Gulls, though actual numbers of birds involved are difficult to ascertain due to movement between the sites. In Cumbria, Wilson's Storm-petrels were reported off Workington on 18th and 22nd September. Small numbers of the larger shearwaters were noted, with three Cory's Shearwaters and four Great Shearwaters, along with small numbers of Balaearic Shearwaters and modest counts of Sooty Shearwaters. Just two Leach's Storm-petrels penetrated inland, with one at Ellesmere (Shropshire) on 21st and another at Farmoor Reservoir (Oxon) on 22nd, though more notable was a European Storm-petrel passing through Flitton (Beds) on 22nd. Other inland seabirds included Arctic Skuas in Cambridgeshire and East Yorkshire, a Great Skua in Berkshire, two Gannets in Somerset and another in Derbyshire and Manx Shearwaters in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Leicestershire, Cambridgeshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire. Finally, there were Red-throated Divers in Greater Manchester and North Yorkshire. This provided an interesting spell in some areas for coastal and inland watchers alike.

Great Skua: Leasowe, Cheshire. (Photo: Steve Round) Long-tailed Skua: New Brighton, Cheshire. (Photo: John Malloy)

Black-browed Albatross: Kilcumin Head, Co. Mayo. Seen on 11th September. (Photo: Will Woodrow) Fea's Petrel: Scilly pelagic, Scilly. Seen on 6th September. (Photo: Glen Tepke)

A grey morph Gyr Falcon was reported from 100 miles northeast of Aberdeen on Thursday 16th, a Black Stork was at Walland Marsh (Kent) from 16th-17th and then St. Margaret's at Cliffe (Kent) on 19th. A Purple Heron was at East Mersea (Essex) on Thursday 16th and a juvenile Night Heron was reported from Wilstone Reservoir (Herts) on Friday 17th. The Glossy Ibis remains in Norfolk, as do the Great White Egrets in South Yorkshire and Glamorgan, plus another in Pembrokeshire. In Highland the 2nd-winter Bonaparte's Gull is still present at Thurso.

Bonaparte's Gull: Thurso, Highland. (Photo: Stuart Williams) Bonaparte's Gull: Thurso, Highland. (Photo: Jim Middleton)

Great White Egret: Old Moor, S. Yorks. (Photo: Keith Pickering) Great White Egret: Old Moor, S. Yorks. (Photo: Keith Pickering)
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
Steve Blain: http://www.steveblain.co.uk
Nigel Blake: http://www.nigelblake.co.uk
Will Bowell: http://www.geocities.com/wbowell/
Paul Bowerman: http://mysite.freeserve.com/severnsidebirds
Paul Bowyer: http://www.ukbirds.net
Andy Brett: http://www.freewebs.com/andybrett/
Martin Cade: http://www.portlandbirdobs.btinternet.co.uk
Mark Caunt: http://angusbirding.homestead.com/
Kit Day: http://www.kitday-uk.com/
Lee Dingain: http://www.leedingain.co.uk
Sean Gray: http://www.grayimages.co.uk
Peter Hadfield: http://www.manxbirdphotography.co.uk
Josh Jones: http://www.geocities.com/blgp_birder
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
Jerry O'Brien: http://www.BirdsofBerkshire.co.uk
James Packer: http://www.somersetbirder.co.uk
Tristan Reid: http://www.solwaybirder.org.uk
Steve Round: http://stevenround-birdphotography.com
Tom Shevlin: http://wildlifesnaps.com/
Matt Slaymaker: http://www.freewebs.com/slaymaker
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
Chris Wormwell: http://www.iombirding.co.uk
Dylan Wrathall: http://www.planetthanet.org
Written by: Russell Slack