Review of the Week: 18th–24th August 2011


The week at a glance

With winds in the east and southeast over the end of the week, there was plenty of passage migrant interest, but nothing to seriously set the pulse racing for most (unless you bird Tacumshin of course). The only new megas were Little Shearwaters past Bridges of Ross (Co Clare) on both 21st and 22nd, though whether this relates to a single bird (unlikely?) or not is unknown. Elsewhere, the drake Black Scoter was again off Murcar and Blackdog (Aberdeenshire) to at least 22nd and the House Crow was at Cobh (Cork) on 20th.

The adult Snow Goose was again with Greylags at Craobh Haven (Argyll) on 19th and there was also an unusual report of four birds at Lodmoor (Dorset) on 21st. Ruddy Shelducks were at Hickling Broad (Norfolk) at Abberton Reservoir (Essex).

Ruddy Shelduck
Ruddy Shelduck, Abberton Reservoir, Essex (Photo: Mark Bicknell)

At Saltholme (Cleveland), the moulting drake Blue-winged Teal remained to 22nd; at Blagdon Lake (Somerset), the drake Ferruginous Duck remained all week and was joined by a female on 18th, and the eclipse drake Ring-necked Duck also remained there to 20th. On the sea, up to four drake Surf Scoters remained off Murcar and Blackdog (Aberdeenshire) during the week and other drakes were again in Lunan Bay (Angus & Dundee) on 21st and off Blackhall Rocks (Durham) on 24th. There were also two females in Brandon Bay (Co Kerry) on 18th. Also of note was the drake American Eider again in Ballyhiernan Bay (Donegal) on 20th–21st, last reported in late June.

Blue-winged Teal
Blue-winged Teal, Thursley Common, Surrey (Photo: C Barnes)

The core of seawatching activity seemed to be in Ireland this week, with a great run of records of Great Shearwaters. The peak was an impressive 98 past Bridges of Ross (Clare) on 20th with 38 the next day. Seven were seen from the Scilly pelagic and two off Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 20th, and on 21st there were 22 from a pelagic off Union Hall (Cork), six past Annagh Head (Mayo), five off Clogher Head (Kerry) and two past Galley Head (Cork). Later in the week, five were seen from a Scilly pelagic on 22nd and four were off Bundoran (Donegal) on 23rd. There were far fewer Cory's Shearwaters: just singletons off Lundy (Devon) on 18th and Strumble Head (Pembrokeshire) on 21st, and two past Kilcummin Head (Mayo) on 21st. Wilson's Storm-petrels were again regular from the Scilly pelagic; one was encountered on 20th and four on 21st.

Great Shearwater
Great Shearwater, Scilly pelagic, Isles of Scilly (Photo: Joe Pender)

Wilson's Storm-petrel
Wilson's Storm-petrel, Scilly pelagic, Isles of Scilly (Photo: Joe Pender)

The immature Purple Heron was on Elmley Marshes (Kent) to 18th, and another was reported from Ynys-Hir (Ceredigion) on 19th, while in Dorset one or the same eluded observers at Hengistbury Head and Hurn on 21st. Great White Egrets were more obliging and remained at Dungeness (Kent), Blashford Lakes (Hants) and Shapwick and Meare Heaths (Somerset), with others on Parkgate Marsh (Cheshire) on 18th and between Llangennech (Carmarthenshire) and Waungron (Glamorgan). In the east, singletons were at Cattawade (Suffolk) on 21st and Hickling Broad (Norfolk) on 22nd. Just one Cattle Egret remained at Two Tree Island (Essex) to 19th and others were also still at Thorney Island (West Sussex) to 23rd and St Ouen's Pond (Jersey) to 18th. New birds were at Hurn (Dorset) on 20th–22nd, Rutland Water on 20th–21st, Christchurch Harbour (Dorset) on 22nd–23rd and on the beach at Seaview (Isle of Wight) on 23rd. Up to 12 Spoonbills were in the Cley/Stiffkey (Norfolk) area, but the peak count came from Alkborough Flats (Lincs), where there were 15 on 20th. In the north, three were reported from Montrose Basin (Angus & Dundee).

Great White Egret
Great White Egret, Waungron, Glamorgan (Photo: Julian Evans)

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret, Thorney Island, West Sussex (Photo: Nick Bond)

Spoonbill, Cley Marshes NWT, Norfolk (Photo: Nick Appleton)

The Cornish Black Kite went wandering this week: it was seen around Drift Reservoir and Catchall to 19th and reported over Helston later that day. The only other raptors of note were a juvenile Pallid Harrier on Fair Isle on 24th and a juvenile Red-footed Falcon at Wisbech (Cambs) on 19th.

There were just three reports of Spotted Crake, at North Cave Wetlands (East Yorks) on 19th, Greylake RSPB (Somerset) on 20th and Meare Heath (Somerset) on 23rd–24th.

Spotted Crake
Spotted Crake, North Cave Wetlands, East Yorkshire (Photo: Martin Standley)

The first-summer American Golden Plover remained at Inveran (Galway) to 18th, an adult was at Shannon (Clare) on 18th and a first-summer briefly on Holy Island (Northumberland) on 20th. The only Kentish Plover was a juvenile at Rimac (Lincs) on 22nd–24th and just one Wilson's Phalarope remained, at Belfast Lough to 23rd. There were two Red-necked Phalaropes, both on 23rd: at Pennington and Keyhaven Marshes (Hants), and at Livermere Lake (Suffolk).

American Golden Plover
American Golden Plover, Inveran, Galway (Photo: Tom Cuffe)

Wilson's Phalarope
Wilson's Phalarope, Belfast Lough RSPB, Antrim (Photo: Derek Charles)

All the Semipalmated Sandpipers were in Ireland: a juvenile was at The Cunnigar (Waterford) on 20th–21st, and a juvenile at Tacumshin (Wexford) on 22nd–24th was joined by an adult on 24th. Incredibly, this scarce wader magnet also held a Buff-breasted Sandpiper on 24th and both White-rumped and Baird's Sandpipers during the week, an accolade also held by Loch of Strathbeg (Aberdeenshire). Other White-rumpeds were at Lady's Island Lake (Wexford) to 18th and Blennerville (Kerry) on 22nd–23rd. Oddly, there was just one Pectoral Sandpiper, also in Ireland, at Lough Beg (Londonderry) on 21st–23rd.

Semipalmated Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper, Tacumshin, Wexford (Photo: Paul Kelly)

White-rumped Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper, Tacumshin, Wexford (Photo: Paul Kelly)

Temminck's Stints were at Pulborough Brooks (West Sussex), briefly at Rye Harbour (East Sussex) and past Spurn (East Yorks), with a possible at Staines Reservoir (Surrey). A very obliging Buff-breasted Sandpiper entertained photographers in front of Parrinder Hide at Titchwell (Norfolk) on 18th–22nd, also seen briefly in fields at nearby Choseley Drying Barns on 23rd. The only other was one again on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) to 21st.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Titchwell RSPB, Norfolk (video: KimandSue1).

The two resident Glaucous Gulls were at Dungeness (Kent) and Budleigh Salterton (Devon), with just one other, an immature at Holland-on-Sea (Essex) on 24th. There were then two Iceland Gulls on 22nd, both third-years, at Tarbolton (Ayrshire) and Blue House Farm (Essex). The second-summer Ring-billed Gull remained at Ballycastle (Antrim) to at least 21st and there was an intriguing report of an adult Franklin's Gull at Helford (Cornwall) on 23rd. The adult Bonaparte's Gull remained on Lewis (Outer Hebrides), where it was seen at Mealabost on 18th–19th.

There were plenty of Sabine's Gulls, with first-summers at Stanpit Marsh (Dorset), Sopley (Hants) and Hurn (Dorset) proving most popular. Others were also seen at Staffin Bay, Skye (Outer Hebrides), Filey (North Yorks), Rubha Reidh (Highland) and off Penzance (Cornwall), with three adults from the Scilly pelagic on 20th.

Sabine's Gull
Sabine's Gull, Staffin Bay, Skye, Highland (Photo: Nick Davies)

The juvenile White-winged Black Tern remained at Grafham Water (Cambs) all week and another juvenile was briefly at Pegwell Bay (Kent) on 22nd. A much smarter bird was a moulting adult at Saltholme (Cleveland) on 19th–22nd.

White-winged Black Tern
White-winged Black Tern, Saltholme RSPB, Cleveland (Photo: Ian Forrest)

White-winged Black Tern, Saltholme RSPB, Cleveland (video: FoghornsBirdingVideo).

A popular Alpine Swift was at Bruton (Somerset) on 20th–22nd, with another briefly at Donaghadee (Down) on 20th. The Bee-eater continued to elude many, roaming widely over St Mary's, Tresco and St Agnes (Scilly), and there was a report of six over Ashbocking (Suffolk) on 21st. In London, the Hoopoe remained near Coulsdon to at least 20th and there was just one other, touring various gardens on Coll (Argyll) on 22nd–24th.

Hoopoe, Coulsdon, Greater London (Photo: Phil Wallace)

With the wind in the east during the week, there was a noticeable arrival of migrants. Wrynecks appeared at 19 sites along the coast from East Yorkshire to Scilly and at three sites in the Northern Isles, including three on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 24th. Other multiples included two at Gramborough Hill (Norfolk). The only western bird was at Horwich (Manchester) on 24th and inland birds were at Thetford (Norfolk) on 19th and Alexandra Park (London) on 20th–22nd. Numbers of commoner migrant were also notable, and a typical suite of species was at Hengistbury Head (Dorset) on 22nd, numbering 61 Tree Pipits, 69 Wheatears, 10 Redstarts, 530 Willow Warblers, 15 Spotted Flycatchers, seven Whinchats, 74 Yellow Wagtails and 175 Whitethroats.

Wryneck, Winterton Dunes NNR, Norfolk (Photo: Jonathan Theobald)

Fair Isle obviously didn't miss out, and recorded up to six Barred Warblers and six Common Rosefinches during the week, with a Short-toed Lark on 22nd and an Arctic Warbler and a possible Citrine Wagtail on 23rd. The Arctic Warbler weighed in at just 5.9 g, showing how 'on the edge' these migrants can be when arriving into the country. Another Citrine Wagtail was on Tresco (Scilly) on 21st–22nd and a possible was also seen in flight with Yellow Wagtails over Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 22nd.

Barred Warbler
Barred Warbler, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland (Photo: Alan Tilmouth)

There were surprisingly few Red-backed Shrikes during the week, most of them in East Anglia: at Lowestoft (Suffolk) on 23rd, Cley Marshes (Norfolk) on 24th–25th, Winterton Dunes (Norfolk) on 24th and two on Blakeney Point (Norfolk) on 23rd. Elsewhere, a juvenile was on Bryher (Scilly) on 19th. Woodchat Shrikes remained at Chipping Sodbury (Glos) to 20th and on Scilly to 24th, with new birds at Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 18th, Pipps Ford (Suffolk) on 20th and South Shields (Durham) on 21st.

Woodchat Shrike
Woodchat Shrike, The Leas, South Shields, Durham (Photo: D Johnson)

Woodchat Shrike, The Leas, South Shields, Durham (video: FoghornsBirdingVideo).

This week is peak Aquatic Warbler time and three first-years were ringed during the week. The first was at Lytchett Bay (Dorset) on 20th and the second and third, the first birds at the site for almost 10 years, were at the once-traditional site of Marazion (Cornwall) on 22nd and 23rd. The first Booted Warbler of the year was at Grutness (Shetland) on 24th.

Aquatic Warbler
Aquatic Warbler, Marazion, Cornwall (Photo: Ashley Hugo)

Melodious Warblers appeared at seven sites in the southwest over the week, from Hampshire to Scilly, including one on Skokholm (Pembrokeshire) on 19th–20th. As expected, several Icterine Warblers were mostly in the east, including birds at Whitburn Coastal Park (Durham), Flamborough Head (East Yorks), Waxham (Norfolk) and Minsmere (Suffolk), and two at Gibraltar Point (Lincs) on 24th. In the west, one on Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) on 21st was joined by a second from 22nd and three were there on 23rd.

Icterine Warbler
Icterine Warbler, Bardsey Island, Gwynedd (Photo: Ben Porter)

An arrival of Western Bonelli's Warblers into the southwest at the start of the week included one on St Mary's (Scilly) on 18th–21st and another at Polgigga (Cornwall) on 20th–23rd. The only other was one ringed at Dungeness (Kent) on 24th.

Western Bonelli's Warbler
Western Bonelli's Warbler, Dungeness BO, Kent (Photo: Martin Casemore)

Western Bonelli's Warbler, Polgigga, Cornwall (video: chippler01).

Western Bonelli's Warbler
Western Bonelli's Warbler, Polgigga, Cornwall (Photo: Samuel Williams)

It was also a good week for Greenish Warblers, with six birds along the east coast at Happisburgh and Blakeney Point (Norfolk), Flamborough Head (East Yorks), Whitburn Coastal Park (Durham) and Newbiggin-by-the-Sea (Northumberland). In addition to the aforementioned Barred Warblers, plenty more turned up along the coast: three were on the Isle of May (Fife) on 18th and singletons were at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea (Northumberland), Whitburn (Durham) and in Shetland, at Pool of Virkie, Boddam, Quarff and at two sites on Unst. Further south, the male Subalpine Warbler remained at Holland Haven (Essex) to 20th.

Greenish Warbler
Greenish Warbler, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland (Photo: Stef McElwee)

Shetland saw plenty of Common Rosefinches during the week, including four at Norwick, Unst on 24th. Others were at Quendale and Pool of Virkie and, further south, others were on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 19th and at Fife Ness (Fife) and on the Farne Islands (Northumberland) on 23rd.

Photo of the Week: 18th–24th August

Sooty Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater, Scilly pelagic, Isles of Scilly (Photo: Joe Pender)

In the UK, August can be a pretty bleak time for birding in general. As always, though, it is possible to find great birds and great photo opportunities. One option is to book on a pelagic trip to catch up with an array of seabirds in their home environment. Over the last few weeks, Joe Pender has uploaded photos of a mouthwatering range of species, including Wilson's Storm-petrel, Sabines's Gull and at least four shearwater species. Clicking on Joe's website link reveals that he actually runs pelagic trips around the Scilly Isles and has done so for over 15 years. This may give him more bites at the cherry than most but, for any one seabird flypast, he faces the same challenges as his passengers in overcoming the erratic movements of bird and boat. He certainly succeeded with his latest image of a Sooty Shearwater banking inches above the waves. Pelagic images with such perfect pose and framing are few and far between, but to get one with such good lighting and detail is very rare. We're certainly impressed enough to award Joe his first Photo of the Week.

Little Owl
Little Owl, undisclosed site, Lancashire (Photo: Austin Thomas)

Knot, undisclosed site, Devon (Photo: Rob Cross)

Grey Heron
Grey Heron, London Wetland Centre WWT, Greater London (Photo: Tom Hines)

Bar-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit, Kingsbarns, Fife (Photo: John Anderson)

Spotted Redshank
Spotted Redshank, Oare Marshes NR, Kent (Photo: Ian Curran)

Spotted Crake
Spotted Crake, North Cave Wetlands, East Yorkshire (Photo: Martin Standley)

Siskin, Bwlch Nant-yr-Arian, Ceredigion (Photo: Kev Joynes)

Green Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker, undisclosed site, Cheshire (Photo: Richard Steel)

Sand Martin
Sand Martin, Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk (Photo: Dave Martin)

Common Snipe
Common Snipe, Cley Marshes NWT, Norfolk (Photo: Chris Cook)

Red-necked Grebe
Red-necked Grebe, Gailey Reservoirs, Staffordshire (Photo: Carl Day)

Hoopoe, Coulsdon, Greater London (Photo: Phil Wallace)

Sabine's Gull
Sabine's Gull, Staffin Bay, Skye, Highland (Photo: Nick Davies)

Written by: Mark Grantham