Review of the Week: 18th–25th August 2004


Another productive week, autumnal in feel for both the weather and birds. There was something for everyone, seawatching off the Southwest and Ireland, more scarce migrants and rarities in Scotland and plenty of movement through inland sites.

Fea's Petrel: (Photo: Ashley Fisher) Cory's Shearwater: (Photo: Bob Flood)

Wilson's Storm-petrel: (Photo: Steve Nuttall) Leach's Storm-petrel: (Photo: Roy Harvey)

At last seawatchers had plenty to keep them on their toes and a keen eye on the weather charts paid off for those able to take a few days off work midweek. A run of northerlies along the North Sea produced a few bits of interest over the weekend, but the bulk of the action was from Irish and Cornish watchpoints. A Little Shearwater, was reported from Ramore Head (Co. Antrim) on Wednesday 25th and a 'possible' observed from the Scillonian crossing on Friday 20th. Seeing one is one thing, but unless it is mass-observed or digiscoped, convincing the relevant rarities committee is another thing - how long before digital telescopes will put the doubters in their place? The former Holy Grail of the seawatcher also put in an appearance this week, but despite an increasing number of reports each year it still remains one of the ultimate prizes for those who regularly brave the elements. Presumed Fea's Petrels were seen off the Bridges of Ross (Co. Clare) on Wednesday 25th and Galmpton (Devon) on Wednesday 18th. Around 100 Cory's Shearwaters were reported, 50 of which passed Pendeen (Cornwall) on Friday 20th along with 15 of the 23 Great Shearwaters noted during the week on the same day. Balearic Shearwaters were more conspicuous too, with 18 passing Pendeen on Tuesday 24th and the first sizeable movement of Sooty Shearwaters this autumn was seen from Bridges of Ross, where 250+ passed on Wednesday 25th; North Sea numbers were still small, the max being 31 skirting Flamborough Head (E. Yorks) on 22nd. The weather forecasts ensured that the Bridges of Ross offered the opportunity for land-based Wilson's Storm-petrels and they did not disappoint, with 3+ on Thursday 19th and singles on 20th, 24th and 25th, whilst another land-based sighting was one passing Cape Clear (Co. Cork) on 22nd. Singletons from the Scilly pelagic on 23rd and 25th were to be expected given the good recent run of records from these pelagic trips. A dozen Leach's Storm-petrels were reported and half-a-dozen Sabine's Gulls added interest to seawatches in Irish waters. At least 50 Long-tailed Skuas were logged, 13 of which passed the Bridges of Ross on the 25th.

Long-tailed Skua: (Photo: Bob Flood) Sooty Shearwater: (Photo: Russell Wynn)

A 1st-winter Black-headed Bunting on the Farne Islands (Northumberland) on Monday 23rd was the 3rd for the islands and the 4th for the county. Nationally, the majority of records are late spring/early summer, though there are plenty of occurrences in autumn. A Lesser Grey Shrike was on South Ronaldsay (Orkney) on Monday 23rd, plus last week's bird at Gulberwick (Shetland) was presumably present through the week (it was reported for the second time on Thursday 26th, after it was first seen on 17th). The first Citrine Wagtails of the autumn made their appearance though surprisingly, in light of events over the past couple of weeks, neither was in Scotland. A juvenile was at Nanjizal (Cornwall) on Sunday 22nd and another on Skomer (Pembrokes) on Tuesday 24th. The 3rd Thrush Nightingale of the autumn was at Sumburgh Head (Shetland) on Wednesday 25th.

Barred Warbler: Barrhead, Clyde. (Photo: Hugh Addlesee)

Wryneck: Marsden Quarry, Durham. (Photo: Tristan Reid) Red-backed Shrike: Newbiggin, Northumberland. (Photo: Tristan Reid)

Scarce migrants continue to be very much in evidence, the majority in Scotland. Greenish Warblers continued to arrive, with nine noted during the week, following on from the double-figure collection of last week. There is still some way to go before eclipsing the record-breaking total of 31 in 1995, but continued arrivals will no doubt challenge this statistic. Birds were at: Girdle Ness (Aberdeenshire) on Thursday 19th; Cruden Bay (Aberdeenshire) on Saturday 21st; North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on Monday 23rd; Fife Ness (Fife) 2 from Tuesday 24th-25th; Holy Island (Northumberland) on Tuesday 24th; Hauxley (Northumberland) 2 on Tuesday 24th, at least one from 25th; and, Rattray Head (Aberdeenshire) on Tuesday 24th. Three Aquatic Warblers this week were in more usual locations, at Stanpit Marsh and Durlston CP (Dorset) on Saturday 21st and Kenfig Pool (Glamorgan) on Monday 23rd. An adult Rose-coloured Starling was at East Prawle (Devon) on Saturday 21st and a juvenile on Unst (Shetland) on Wednesday 25th. Three Melodious Warblers included singletons on St. Mary's (Scilly) on Thursday 19th, Bardsey (Gwynedd) on Friday 20th and Nanjizal on Saturday 21st. There were a paltry 5 Common Rosefinches, all on Shetland, with one on Fetlar on 19th, three there on 24th, one on Fair Isle from 23rd-24th and Unst on 25th. A supporting cast came in the shape of nearly 40 Wrynecks, 6 of which were on Fair Isle and 9 on North Ronaldsay on Wednesday 25th, there were over a dozen Red-backed Shrikes, and a similar number of Icterine Warblers. Of the seven Barred Warblers, one was in a back garden at Barrhead (Clyde) from Sunday 22nd-25th - an unexpected bonus for making the evening meal for one lucky birder and a county first to boot! In the same county a Hoopoe was at Auchentibber from Friday 20th-21st, with singles at Portland (Dorset) from Monday 23rd-25th and Rye Harbour (E. Sussex) on Wednesday 25th more expected in terms of location.

Red-necked Phalarope: Old Hall Marshes, Essexe. (Photo: Sean Nixon)

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Tacumshin, Co. Wexford. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Tacumshin, Co. Wexford. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly)

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Tacumshin, Co. Wexford. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Tacumshin, Co. Wexford. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly)

In Lancashire the Great Knot was last reported from the Wyre Estuary on Thursday 19th - has it gone for good or will it return? A Hudsonian Whimbrel was reported over Pendeen on Friday 20th. An obliging Buff-breasted Sandpiper was at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) on Saturday 21st and 25th, and a White-rumped Sandpiper at Ballycotton (Co. Cork) on Sunday 22nd and 24th. There were five Pectoral Sandpipers and seven Temminck's Stints noted during the week along with nine single Dotterel. Four Red-necked Phalaropes included one at Nosterfield NR (N. Yorks) on Wednesday 18th, one at Farlington Marshes (Hants) on Sunday 22nd, Blithfield Res (Staffs) from Monday 23rd and Old Hall Marshes (Essex) from Tuesday 24th. The first Grey Phalarope of the autumn was at Eglwys Nunydd Res (Glamorgan) from Thursday 19th-24th, another was at Hengistbury Head (Dorset) on Wednesday 25th and one passed Bridges of Ross on 20th and five there on 24th. In Norfolk the Broad-billed Sandpiper was last seen at Titchwell RSPB on Friday 20th, but the Long-billed Dowitchers remain at Gibraltar Point (Lincs) and Blennerville (Co. Kerry).

Broad-billed Sandpiper: Titchwell, Norfolk. (Photo: Sean Nixon) Broad-billed Sandpiper: Titchwell, Norfolk. (Photo: R.J.P)

Night Heron: Sheepwash UP, W. Mids. (Photo: Bob Hazell) Laughing Gull: Hayle Estuary, Cornwall. (Photo: Nigel Voadin)

An adult Laughing Gull was on the Hayle Estuary (Cornwall) from Monday 23rd. On Wednesday 18th White-winged Black Terns were at Instow (Devon) and Dungeness (Kent), and the juvenile was again at Abberton Res (Essex) on Thursday 19th. In Essex the mobile juvenile Black Stork remains in residence, but can be elusive, whilst the Glossy Ibis and Purple Heron are still at Breydon Water (Norfolk). The Night Heron at Sheepwash Urban Park (W. Mids) was last reported on 21st, and Great White Egrets were again seen in Glamorgan and Carmarthen. Finally, a King Eider was at Scalloway (Shetland) on Monday 23rd, a Blue-winged Teal at Chew Valley Lake (Somerset) on Friday 20th and a Red-footed Falcon reported at Hintlesham Great Wood (Suffolk) on Sunday 22nd.

Black Stork: Fingringhoe Wick EWT, Essex. (Photo: Nick Smith) Black Stork: Fingringhoe Wick EWT, Essex. (Photo: John Dickenson)
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.geocities.com/christophe_41/
Lee Dingain: http://www.leedingain.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
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