The week at a glance:
- Roller in Cleveland.
- Eastern Olivaceous Warbler in Shetland (now reidentified as an Olive-tree Warbler - 1st British record).
- Little Shearwater in Cornwall.
- A classic east-coast fall, involving Greenish Warblers and other typical scarce migrants.
Roller: South Gare, Cleveland (photo: Ian Boustead).
|Roller: South Gare, Cleveland (photo: Barry Byatt).||Roller: South Gare, Cleveland (photo: Mark Whiffin).|
Very few of the mega-rarities seen during the week were on offer for the masses. An Eastern Olivaceous Warbler at Boddam (Shetland) will be the 12th British record, if accepted, but unfortunately it did not linger long; it will be the 3rd record for the islands (this bird has now been reidentified as an Olive-tree Warbler). Even more desired, the near-mythical Little Shearwater was again seen in our waters, but this time it was a multi-observed individual passing Pendeen (Cornwall) on the 20th. Another mega seabird, a possible South Polar Skua, was claimed off Loop Head (Co. Clare) on 18th, one to add to the growing list of claims of these complicated birds over the years. More obliging, though not in the same league, a juvenile Roller spent most of the day at South Gare (Cleveland) on 18th, before departing out to sea; this is the first to be collectable, if you were quick, since a long-staying bird in Durham in July 2000.
Greenish Warbler: Flamborough Head, E. Yorks (photo: Stuart).
|Aquatic Warbler: Slimbridge, Glos (photo: Paul Bowden).||Aquatic Warbler: Seasalter, Kent (photo: Mark Hows).|
|Woodchat Shrike: Friskney, Lincs (photo: Russell Hayes).||Woodchat Shrike: Fair Isle, Shetland (photo: Deryk Shaw).|
It was an early east-coast fall that was most appreciated by birders, especially as the bulk of the action took place over the weekend for a change - rather than midweek as is often the case with such mouth-watering events! Although too early to expect many major rarities, the numbers of scarce and common species made for entertaining birding along the east coast, with the bulk of the action spread between the Northern Isles and Cleveland. No fewer than a dozen Greenish Warblers were found, including two each on Holy Island and the Farne Islands (Northumberland) and four in Aberdeenshire. The only Greenish Warbler away from the east coast was one at Start Point (Devon) on 20th. A Thrush Nightingale was typically elusive at Spurn (E. Yorks) on 18th and 21st, and half-a-dozen Aquatic Warblers included welcome long-stayers at Seasalter (Kent) from 17th-21st and Slimbridge (Glos) from 18th-21st.
Red-backed Shrike: Whitburn, Durham (photo: Mark Newsome).
|Wryneck: Torness, Lothian (photo: Mike Thrower).|
|Icterine Warbler: Torness, Lothian (photo: Peter M Macdonald). |
The Woodchat Shrike remained at Friskney (Lincs) and a niloticus 'Eastern' race bird on Fair Isle (Shetland) from 18th-19th was the first record of the species on the island since 1992. Around 15 Red-backed Shrikes featured, including three on the Farne Islands, with 35 Wrynecks for accompaniment, including six on the Farne Islands, though the only birds away from the east coast were in Exeter (Devon) and Portland (Dorset). Around 17 Icterine Warblers were reported and four Melodious Warblers included the 6th of the autumn at Portland and one at Orford Ness (Suffolk) from 20th-21st. Nearly 40 Barred Warblers included five on Fair Isle, though in short supply were just two Bluethroats, with singles on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 16th and Tresco (Scilly) from 20th-23rd. A Red-breasted Flycatcher was on Fair Isle on 19th and six Common Rosefinch comprised five on Shetland and one at Flamborough Head (E. Yorks). More exotic amongst the typical drift migrants were Hoopoes at Newbiggin (Northumbs) on 18th and Church Norton (W. Sussex) on 21st, a male Golden Oriole at Tregonbris (Cornwall) on 21st and Rose-coloured Starling still on Unst (Shetland). The only Ortolan Bunting was at Benacre (Suffolk) on 23rd and a Bee-eater was reported over Blackpool (Lancs) on 23rd. There was an unconfirmed report of a Booted Warbler on St. Agnes (Scilly) on 19th.
Any serious seawatcher knows that the Bridges of Ross (Co. Clare) offers the best chance for rare seabirds at this time of year and observers there were not to be disappointed with Fea's Petrels passing on 21st and 23rd, with another passing Galley Head (Co. Cork) on 22nd. Pelagic trips from the Isles of Scilly continued to bag Wilson's Storm-petrels in good number, with two on 18th, four on 19th, five on 20th and three on 21st. Great Shearwaters put in a showing on 23rd with 178 past Annagh Head (Co. Mayo) and 150 passing the Bridges of Ross, with 74 passing Cape Clear (Co. Cork) on 22nd. Just a handful of Sabine's Gulls were noted, with birds passing the Bridges of Ross on three dates, with other 'Larid interest' supplied by a Franklin's Gull on the Ythan Estuary (Aberdeenshire) from 21st, a Laughing Gull at Stodday (Lancs) on 19th and half-a-dozen Ring-billed Gulls. Caspian Gulls continue to put in a good showing, with around 20 reported, including five at Paglesham Lagoon (Essex) and the first for Devon at Broadsands. An orange-billed tern was seen passing Orford Ness (Suffolk) on 21st and a Gull-billed Tern likewise at Salthouse (Norfolk) on 16th, whilst White-winged Black Terns were at Shapwick Heath (Somerset) and Lady's Island Lake (Co. Wexford).
There was significantly more wader interest during the week than for some time. Pick of the bunch goes to a Pacific Golden Plover at Snettisham (Norfolk) from 17th-18th with a juvenile Broad-billed Sandpiper a good runner-up at Aberlady Bay (Lothian) from 19th-20th. A juvenile Baird's Sandpiper was at Baltasound, Unst (Shetland) on 17th and the White-rumped Sandpiper remained in residence at East Chevington (Northumbs). Eight Pectoral Sandpipers were reported, plus three Temminck's Stints with singletons at North Cave (E. Yorks), Cley (Norfolk) and Livermere Lake (Suffolk). A Kentish Plover was at Ynyslas (Ceredigion) from 22nd onwards and Buff-breasted Sandpipers were at Ormiclate, South Uist (Outer Hebrides) on 17th and 19th; another, presumably involving the same individual, was seen in Norfolk at Holme, Titchwell, Warham Greens and Great Yarmouth between 17th and 23rd. Long-billed Dowitchers remained at Shannon Airport (Co. Clare) and Gibraltar Point (Lincs), with the Lesser Yellowlegs still at the latter site and another remaining at Dundrum Bay (Co. Down) to the 16th. The Stilt Sandpiper remained at Brownsea Island (Dorset) to the 21st and a pratincole sp. passed over Holme NOA (Norfolk) on 19th. An unprecedented autumn influx of Dotterel brought sizeable flocks to Norfolk, including 51 at Terrington Marsh and 36+ at Choseley Drying Barns; other flocks were seen in East Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire and birds stopped off at traditional spring sites in Lancashire and Worcestershire. The cumulative total of 156 birds was quite exceptional.
|Spoonbill: Blacktoft Sands, E. Yorks (photo: Mark Ranner).|
|Great White Pelican: Preston, Lancs (photo: Mark Breaks). |
A Black Stork passed over Luccombe Down (Isle of Wight) on 22nd and a White Stork of unknown origin was at Watton (E. Yorks). The first Purple Heron for Portland (Dorset) was present for a short period on 16th and another was reported from Muston (N. Yorks) on 21st. The Great White Egret was again at Blashford Lakes (Hants) on 20th. Five Spotted Crakes included birds at Marazion (Cornwall), Grove Ferry (Kent), Udimore (E. Sussex), Spurn and Blacktoft Sands (E. Yorks). A Great White Pelican passing over numerous Norfolk sites on 16th generated much interest as it soon became clear it was the bird seen recently in Germany and The Netherlands. It then reappeared in Lancashire where it rather gave itself up by being rather confiding! The presumed escape Great White Pelican was reported at Bough Beech Reservoir (Kent) to at least 19th - clearly somewhere in Europe is a few pelicans short based on recent evidence! On the Outer Hebrides the Snowy Owl continues to present itself as a popular distraction for birders on the islands, and a Red-footed Falcon was seen at Orford Ness (Suffolk). A nice collection of rare ducks included a Blue-winged Teal at Hanningfield Reservoir (Essex), Ferruginous Ducks at Blithfield Reservoir (Staffs), Loch Gelly (Fife) and Chew Valley Lake (Somerset), plus Ring-necked Ducks at Over Fen (Cambs), Barrow Gurney Reservoir (Somerset) and Loch Gelly. The American Wigeon remains at Cardiff Bay (Glamorgan) and Surf Scoters included 2 off Lunan Bay (Angus/Dundee) and off Blackdog (Aberdeenshire).
|Manx Shearwater: Eigg, Highland (photo: Steve Round).|
|Green Sandpiper: Summer Leys, Northants (photo: Richard Bedford).|