Review of the Week: 19-25 August 2020


A brief mystery falcon, slightly larger than a Eurasian Hobby but otherwise unfamiliar, was thankfully expertly photographed by Mick Davis over his patch of Winterton Dunes NNR, Norfolk, on 20th and posted on Twitter that afternoon. With a tweet simply stating "Hobbys", it wasn't until the evening that it began to pick up traction, and when the dust settled a pale-morph Eleonora's Falcon was left at the end of it! Arguably one of the biggest birds of the year, it is just the eighth British record, although was nowhere to be found the following day. Just one previous individual has lingered overnight, that being Britain's first at Formby Point, Lancashire, in August 1977, while Norfolk has one other record from 6 July 1987. Read more about this latest individual here. Another possible dark morph was reported south offshore past Chapel St Leonards, Lincolnshire, on 21st.

Eleonora's Falcon, Winterton Dunes NNR, Norfolk (Mick Davis).

After an early autumn start which rather favoured the east coast of England, the Northern Isles didn't take long to hit back with an adult female Turkestan Shrike on North Ronaldsay, Orkney. Found late morning on 23rd and advertised as an 'Isabelline Shrike', it wasn't until it was trapped and ringed later that afternoon that the specific identity of this tricky species pair became clear. Unfortunately doing a bunk the following day, this is only the second Turk since the IOC adopted a split of this and Isabelline Shrike, with another at Levenwick, Shetland, in September 2019.

Turkestan Shrike, North Ronaldsay, Orkney (Dante Shepherd).

Beginning to moult in its tail feathers – one of the more fabled features of this magnificent species – the Bearded Vulture remained in the general area of Crowden, Derbyshire, giving a number of lucky birders the eyeball along the Pennine Way. We hope to see the bird sporting its magnificent diamond-shaped tail very soon.

Bearded Vulture, Crowden, Derbyshire (Craig Bell).

A sprightly red Two-barred Crossbill was a smart find at a holiday cottage at Dervaig on Mull, Argyll, from 24th. A new Western Bonelli's Warbler was on Fair Isle on 23-24th. Remaining stubbornly silent, biometrics and overall appearance suggested the more regular of the two options – a DNA sample should be conclusive either way.

Western Bonelli's Warbler, Fair Isle, Shetland (Daniel Gornall).

Two-barred Crossbill, Dervaig, Mull, Argyll (Pam Brown).

A Band-rumped Storm Petrel – now split into Cape Verde, Band-rumped and Monteiro's Storm Petrels by the IOC – became the latest in a long line of rare seabirds in this record-breaking year when one flew close past Pendeen, Cornwall, on 22nd. At the same site, an intriguing report of a Black-browed Albatross was received on 19th.

This week saw no fewer than six Fea's-type Petrels logged past British and Irish headlands. Devon's Berry Head produced the pick of the bunch, with one on 25th increasing the members of the elite Devon listers' "Fea's club" from seven to 14. Elsewhere, one flew past Galley Head, Co Cork, on 20th, while four were off Cornwall: Killigerran Head on 19th, Porthgwarra on 19th and 25th, and Pendeen on 20th.

The Argyll Bonaparte's Gull was back on the Add Estuary from 19th, with the Kentish adult remaining steadfast at Oare Marshes NR. In Lincolnshire, Gibraltar Point NNR's Gull-billed Tern remained in the roost early morning of 19th, although was nowhere to be found thereafter. New in to Co Cork, another was at The Gearagh from 21st. A brief Caspian Tern was at Gwithian, Cornwall, on 20th.

Bonaparte's Gull, Add Estuary, Argyll (Jim Dickson).

Myroe Levels, Co Derry, saw a visit from a Semipalmated Sandpiper on 23rd. Much more mobile this week, Northumberland's Pacific Golden Plover rocked up among European Golden Plovers at East Chevington NWT on 19th, moving to Newbiggin-by-the-Sea on 21st. Back at East Chev on 22nd, it unfortunately wasn't reported thereafter. Two Kentish Plovers were at Pegwell Bay, Kent, on 24th, while the Long-billed Dowitcher was still at Anthorn, Cumbria, until 20th. In Cornwall, Drift Reservoir's Spotted Sandpiper was last reported on 22nd, likewise the individual at Castle Espie WWT, Co Down.

The female King Eider was again off Dornoch, Highland, on 21st, while the Strontian American Black Duck was still in situ.

A mega in the Lepidoptera world, a Short-tailed Blue butterfly was photographed in Rotherhithe, London, at Lavender Pond Nature Reserve on 18th.

Pacific Golden Plover, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland (Tom Hines).


Scottish mainland

Ayrshire's Spotted Crake proved popular and was well reported between 19th and 24th. Other notable sightings in the western half of Scotland in the week were limited to an adult Sabine's Gull in Brighouse Bay, Dumfries & Galloway, on 22nd, a Long-tailed Skua off Ballintrae, Ayrshire, on 23rd and a Wryneck on Iona, Argyll, on 19th.

Spotted Crake, Doonfoot, Ayrshire (Sam Northwood).

Further north and east, most of the action was offshore, a first-summer Sabine's Gull lingered at Ullapool, Highland, between 21st and 25th and the drake Surf Scoter was noted off Blackdog, Aberdeenshire, on 23rd. The recent run of large shearwater sightings continued with Tarbat Ness, Highland, scoring both Cory's Shearwater on 19th and Great Shearwater on 25th, another Cory's was noted at Brora, Highland on 25th and a Cory's was reported again on 19th in Firth of Forth from both Hound Point, Lothian, and Dalgety Bay, Fife.

Singles of Long-tailed Skua were noted from Hound Point, Lothian, on 19th and Collieston, Aberdeenshire, on 20th, before conditions following Storm Francis brought 15 juveniles into the Firth of Forth passing South Queensferry, Lothian, on 25th. A juvenile Black Tern was in the Carnoustie area on 20th. 

In Aberdeenshire, last week's Icterine Warbler at Sands of Forvie remained between 19th and 20th, as did the Greenish Warbler on Isle of May, Fife, the latter lingering on the island until 22nd. Another Greenish was in Lothian at Barns Ness between 22nd and 24th. Barred Warblers were on the Isle of May and at Inverberie, Aberdeenshire, on 19th, the latter hanging on until 22nd at least.

A first-winter Citrine Wagtail was briefly at the Loch of Strathbeg reserve in Aberdeenshire on 21st. Finally, Black-throated Divers may not be a huge rarity in Scotland but the sight of 46 adults together on Loch an Alltain Duibh, Highland, on 23rd must have been something to witness and well worth a mention in any weekly round-up.

Icterine Warbler, Sands of Forvie NNR, Aberdeenshire (Ron Macdonald).


Northern Isles and the Hebrides

An adult male Red-breasted Flycatcher dropped into garden mistnets at Askernish, South Uist, and was the highlight of an otherwise unremarkable week in the Outer Hebrides. Small numbers of Sooty Shearwaters passing offshore peaked at 19th at Brevig, Barra, on 20th, and odd singles of Curlew Sandpiper were recorded at four sites, Spotted Redshank at two, and a lone Little Stint at Loch Paible, North Uist.

Aside from the celebrity shrike, Orkney's fire fizzled but didn't really spark fully into autumn this week. North Ronaldsay as ever dominated with a Melodious Warbler, up to three Barred Warblers, single Red-backed Shrike and Common Rosefinch. Papa Westray offered an Icterine Warbler on 23rd and a Barred Warbler, while Sanday served up Red-backed Shrike and Barred Warbler. Stronsay also featured a Barred Warbler this week.

Shetland began to crank up the gears this week. An Arctic Warbler on Foula on 23rd stood out in a healthy smattering of scarce warblers spread around the archipelago. A single Melodious Warbler was on Fetlar as was one of three Icterine Warblers, the other two were both found on Fair Isle. Unst offered up a Blyth's Reed Warbler at Skaw and Foula provided a Marsh Warbler on 24th. Up to eight Greenish Warblers were seen across four sites on Unst and two on Whalsay, with singles at Boddam, Mainland, and Otterswick, Yell, in the week. Perhaps 12 Barred Warblers were found; Fair Isle held two, Unst had individuals at four sites as did the mainland, with singles at Skaw, Whalsay, and Otterswick, Yell. Red-backed Shrike numbers also appeared to reach double figures with up to 10 located; Fair Isle held three between 20th and 23rd, two were on Fetlar on 22nd with singles at five other sites. Wrynecks were in shorter supply with just two in the week at West Voe and Pool of Virkie. A Citrine Wagtail was on Unst at Baltasound on 21st and a Common Rosefinch on Whalsay at Isbister. Non-passerine sightings included a Sabine's Gull at Esha Ness on 23rd and a Pectoral Sandpiper at Scatness on 24th.

Greenish Warbler, Otterswick, Yell, Shetland (David Cooper).


North-East England

Last week's moulting adult White-winged Tern continued to entertain Northumberland's birders commuting between Druridge Bay Country Park and East Chevington NWT until 22nd. Weather conditions brought a reprise of the decent seawatching conditions: another Great Shearwater was off Newbiggin on 25th and small numbers of Long-tailed Skua off Boulmer, with two on 24th and four on 25th. An Icterine Warbler was briefly at the entrance to Cresswell Pond NWT on 19th and another probable was at Newbiggin on 24th. Holy Island's ever productive Vicar's Garden chipped in a Greenish Warbler on 19th while further south at St Mary's Island a prompt Barred Warbler occupied the wetland brambles. A smart juvenile Caspian Gull hung around too, for good measure.

White-winged Tern, Druridge Bay CP, Northumberland (Alan Jack).

The Cleveland Western Cattle Egret remained on Cowpen Marsh until 21st and three Great Egrets were also present. Five Great Egrets were recorded in flight over Port Clarence on 24th and another was further inland at Bowesfield Marsh in the week. An adult Long-tailed Skua – a rarity in this summer of juveniles and immatures – moved past Hartlepool Headland on 25th; earlier in the week Balearic Shearwaters were noted off the headland on 21st and 24th. Up to four juvenile Curlew Sandpipers were at Greatham Creek and up to seven Roseate Terns were at in the favoured South Gare area in the period.

Blackhall Rocks in Durham hosted a superb adult male Red-backed Shrike between 22nd and 24th. Whitburn Coastal Park continued to dominate offshore reports with Long-tailed Skua, Pomarine Skua and European Storm Petrel noted during the week. Elsewhere a Great Egret was at Bishop Middleham on 19th, a juvenile Little Stint at Rainton Meadows for several days and Curlew Sandpipers at Boldon Flats NR and Whitburn Steel.

Red-backed Shrike, Blackhall Rocks, Durham (Brian Martin).


North-West England

Perhaps the most exciting sighting in Cumbria this week was a report of two European Turtle Doves at Rockliffe Marsh on 22nd, sadly a very rare bird for the county (and region) these days. Elsewhere, the adult Spotted Redshank remained at Arnside Marsh. Over the sea, a Sabine's Gull flew south past Workington on 22nd.

Lancashire's action remained largely offshore this week, juvenile Long-tailed Skuas were logged past Starr Gate on 22nd and 23rd, where an adult Sabine's Gull flew south on the former date. A Grey Phalarope flew south past Morecambe on 22nd and a juvenile Pomarine Skua was off Blackpool briefly on the 25th. Black Terns also had a good week, being recorded at four sites with a peak count of 11 at Banks Marsh on 23rd. Three Eurasian Spoonbills were at Lytham Quays on 19-20th. The Ribble Estuary held onto its usual throng of Little Stints plus Curlew and Wood Sandpipers, while more Wood Sandpipers were reported from Conder Green and Martin Mere WWT. Another Curlew Sandpiper was at Cockerham on 24th.

A probable Citrine Wagtail flew over Hoylake, Cheshire, on 19th but sadly wasn't relocated. The Spotted Crakes continued to perform at Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB despite the inclement weather, where a Wood Sandpiper was also present on 20th. Windswept birds included a Pomarine Skua that was noted giving the gulls a hard time off Pickerings Pasture on 21st and two Black Terns off Hoylake the same day. Curlew Sandpipers were reported from Burton Marsh, Meols, Hoylake and Hilbre Island this week with the last two sites also scoring Little Stints. The redhead Smew was back at Newchurch Common for another winter, fresh in from who knows where …

Greater Manchester was kept sweet with the first-summer Caspian Gull at Hollingworth Lake CP and Wood Sandpipers at Chat and Little Woolden Mosses. Arctic Terns flew through Audenshaw Reservoir on 23rd, Pennington Flash CP on 23rd and 25th and Elton Reservoir on 24th, the latter site also hosting an adult and juvenile Sandwich Terns on the morning of 25th.


Lincolnshire and Yorkshire

It wasn't quite as productive a week as the previous in Lincolnshire, but Gibraltar Point still produced a decent scattering of migrants, including at least one Barred Warbler. An influx of juvenile Curlew Sandpipers saw six sites score, including 11 at Frampton Marsh RSPB. A group of 12 Pink-footed Geese was an early surprise at Toft Newton Reservoir on 24th. Inland highlights included a Black Tern at Boultham Mere and a juvenile Caspian Gull at Trent Port Wetlands.

As usual, the Spurn and Flamborough areas hogged the limelight for Yorkshire. The former hosted lingering Icterine and Greenish Warblers until 20th, with one or two Red-backed Shrikes hanging around for longer. The change in weather saw focus switch to the sea, with 16 Long-tailed Skuas noted in the recording area on 25th; an adult Pectoral Sandpiper was tracked down the peninsula on 20th and a Knepp White Stork floated over on 24th. A Cory's Shearwater was off Flamborough on 25th, where a Red-backed Shrike remained early in the week and a Clifden Nonpareil moth was trapped on 21st.

A Spotted Crake was photographed running across a road at Seamer Carr on 25th and a Common Crane visited Watton NR on 23-24th. St Aidan’s RSPB had a brilliant week, with an adult Pectoral Sandpiper on 19th and then a cracking group of up to a dozen Curlew Sandpipers from 22nd. Four Garganey at Gorple Reservoirs on 22nd was a great local record. There was otherwise a scattering of waders, terns and gulls on offer.

Curlew Sandpipers, St Aidan's RSPB (Swillington Ings), West Yorkshire (Rob Parsons).


West Midlands

Staffordshire scored in a big way this week, with a Greenish Warbler picked out of a mixed tit flock at Cuckoo Bank on 23rd, although it proved frustrating for many due to its elusive nature. Meanwhile, another terrific county bird came in the form of a Wryneck at Middleton Lakes RSPB on 19th, initially not playing ball but it was eventually re-found on 23rd and showed well on occasion until the evening of 24th. Belvide Reservoir joined in on this week's arrival of Curlew Sandpipers, with one on 25th. The Wood Sandpiper was logged at Essington throughout the week, and two were at Middleton Lakes RPB on 21st, a juvenile Black-necked Grebe was at Belvide Reservoir on 23rd. It was the standard wind-blown affair elsewhere in the county, with Arctic and Black Terns at Belvide and Blithfield Reservoirs and an adult Kittiwake at Gailey Reservoirs on 25th.

Shropshire remained quieter this week, however a juvenile Caspian Gull roosted at Chelmarsh Reservoir on 19th and Arctic Terns moved through here on 21st and Venus Pool NR the following day. Over in West Midlands county, a juvenile Little Gull was at Bartley Reservoir on 21st, and a juvenile Black Tern on 25th.

Wryneck, Middleton Lakes RSPB, Warwickshire (Alan Wallace).

A pair of juvenile Curlew Sandpipers at Upton Warren NR kicked off Worcestershire's week, present on 19-20th, with a single on 25th. A Western Cattle Egret remained at John Bennett Wetland on 19th, and other bits included two Wood Sandpipers at Upper Bittell Reservoir 19-25th and a juvenile Arctic Tern north through Camp Lane Pools on 23rd. Over in Warwickshire, the strong winds resulted in up to four juvenile European Shags pitching up at Draycote Water from 23rd. Arctic Terns were recorded through Earlswood Lakes, Ladywalk NR and Shustoke Reservoir. A juvenile Caspian Gull made its home at Draycote Water, meanwhile a Wood Sandpiper remained at Kingsbury Water Park.


East Midlands

Derbyshire had some decent birds during the turbulent weather this week, with a Northern Gannet at Pilsley on 23rd perhaps the stand-out. Ogston Reservoir fared well with two Ruddy Turnstones on 22nd and three Sandwich Terns on 25th, meanwhile Long Eaton GPs had a juvenile Little Gull the same day.

Over in Nottinghamshire, the juvenile Greater Scaup remained at Idle Valley NR until 23rd and a Western Cattle Egret pitched up at Hagg Lane Flash, Newington, from 19-22nd. Two Black Terns moved quickly though Holme Pierrepont on 19th; elsewhere up to two Wood Sandpipers were off Slaynes Lane, Misson, on 23-24th. The winds worked a treat down in Northants this week, with up to seven European Shags at Pitsford Reservoir, with a juvenile Caspian Gull and Arctic Tern here on 22nd and a juvenile Sandwich Tern the following day. A juvenile Black Tern was at Summer Leys LNR on 22nd and two Western Cattle Egrets lingered at Stanwick GPs.

Rutland Water remained on form this week, two European Shags arrived on 22nd and, by the evening of 25th, a minimum of 24 were counted – a truly astonishing congregation for an inland site. Other nice sightings included two Eurasian Spoonbills, Black Terns, Little Gull, Garganey, Eurasian Bittern, Wood Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone and Sanderling.


East of England

A Citrine Wagtail at Titchwell RSPB on 20th was the highlight of the week in Norfolk, although a new Icterine Warbler at Gramborough Hill on 23rd was also welcome. Hangers-on from the previous week’s fall included a Wryneck and Greenish Warbler at Holme, plus Icterine Warbler in Wells Woods. A Purple Heron flew over Ormesby Little Broad on 25th and the Isle of Wight White-tailed Eagle drifted over Dersingham Bog on 19th. A Camberwell Beauty butterfly was a rare find at Blickling Hall Lake on 24th.

Three different Red-backed Shrikes were noted in Suffolk, including the showy bird at Southwold. A Wryneck showed well at Thorpeness to 20th. Three sites scored European Honey Buzzard, including two over Ispwich on 24th.

Red-backed Shrike, Southwold, Suffolk (Nick Appleton).

A Wryneck was along the sea wall at Hamford Water, Essex, on 22nd, while 10 Eurasian Dotterel in a field at Dengie Marshes on 22nd was a great record of an ever-scarcer autumn species. A few Black Terns were seen in the Thames Estuary, but little more in the way of exciting seabirds, despite the winds.

Hertfordshire hosted multiple Pied Flycatchers and Wood Sandpipers, plus the continuing Black-necked Grebe at Wilstone Reservoir. Grovebury Sand Pit was again the place to be in Bedfordshire, with up to five Western Cattle Egrets, a Eurasian Spoonbill and the usual Caspian Gull, though a Wood Sandpiper was also at Broom GPs. In Cambridgeshire, two European Shags at Ferry Meadows CP on the evening of 25th reflected a wider influx into the Midlands, but there was little else of real significance other than the continuing Black Tern at Grafham Water.

Wryneck, Thorpeness, Suffolk (Andrew Moon).


South-East England

In a week when westerlies dominated, it was fitting that the South-East's first Pectoral Sandpiper of the autumn was logged – an individual at Sandy Point on Hayling Island, Hampshire, which was present from 24th until the following day when it flew out to sea. Also in Hants on 24th, a dedicated vis-migger at Casbrook Common was rewarded with an epic fly-by record of four Eurasian Dotterels.

Other Hampshire bits included a Pomarine Skua past Hill Head on 20th, a scattering of coastal Curlew Sandpipers, a mega inland record of a Northern Gannet over Tweseldown Hill on 23rd, a Roseate Tern on Hayling Island on the same date, the continuing Martin Down Common Quail and Pied Flycatchers at six sites. On the Isle of Wight, a Hoopoe spent four days at Niton from 20th but was eclipsed by a Cory’s Shearwater past Ventnor on 19th – always a huge score on the south coast.

Waders headlined in West Sussex, with Curlew Sandpipers logged on the Adur Estuary on 25th and at Pagham Harbour throughout, including three on 25th, when a Little Stint was also noted. Other bits in the harbour included a site record 43 Western Cattle Egrets and a European Honey Buzzard over on 22nd. Three Wood Sandpipers were still at Pulborough Brooks on 19th, two Balearic Shearwaters flew past Selsey Bill on 21st and some of the Knepp White Storks got itchy feet on 24th – some 22 were tracked as they flew around the Littlehampton area. Six sites scored Pied Fly.

Things were quieter in East Sussex – only three sites, between Seaford and Beachy Head scored Pied Flycatcher, Weir Wood Reservoir enjoyed both European Honey Buzzard and Black Tern and, on 22nd, Arlington Reservoir scored a Wood Sandpiper and Sanderling brace.

A Purple Heron on the North Kent Marshes, found at Swale NNR on the Isle of Sheppey on 23rd, was a nice find and lingered until the end of this review period. Wader highlights included a Temminck's Stint at Cliffe Pools on 25th and a peak of 10 Curlew Sandpipers at Oare Marshes on 22nd. The Dungeness Glossy Ibis lingered and a European Honey Buzzard flew over Uplees on 24th.

Some decent seawatching was had in the county, not least on 25th when an astonishing 4,248 or more Bar-tailed Godwits flew past Dungeness – a decent percentage of the West African wintering population. The best shearwater passage at Dunge came on 21st, when 46 Balearics were tallied, along with a couple of Sooty Shears. On 25th, five east Kent sites logged Long-tailed Skua, with at least two birds involved.

Black-crowned Night Heron, Dinton Pastures CP, Berkshire (Roger Stansfield).

In London, Staines Reservoirs enjoyed a good week, with two Sandwich Terns on 25th, up to six Sanderlings, Common Scoter and a couple of Ruddy Turnstones. Another Sandwich Tern was a surprising record at Morden Hall Park on 22nd. Up to four Western Cattle Egrets were at Rainham Marshes. Passerine activity continued to focus around Pied Flycatchers – no fewer than 13 sites hosted birds. A Wood Warbler was at Walthamstow Reservoirs on 19th.

The Tice's Meadow/Badshot Lea Ponds Great Egret continued in Surrey, with a Black Tern also using both sites from 23rd. Another Black Tern was at Walton Reservoir and the adult Caspian Gull was seen nearby on the Thames. In Berkshire, the juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron reappeared on 19th at Dinton Pastures and showed erratically until 24th.

Buckinghamshire highlights included a juvenile Caspian Gull at Little Marlow GPs, two Wood Sandpipers at Floodplain Forest NR and a Garganey at College Lake. In Oxfordshire, Cassington GPs enjoyed Ruddy Turnstone, four Garganey and three Great Egrets, Otmoor RSPB hosted Pied Flycatcher and Spotted Redshank, and six Arctic Terns and a Red Knot visited Farmoor on 25th. A Common Quail was at Letcombe Bassett on 22nd.


South-West England

Pendeen saw Wilson's Storm Petrels on 22nd, 23rd (two) and 25th (two), while two were off Trevose Head on 22nd and one was off Lizard Point on 24th. Two flew past Porthgwarra on 24th, while another was seen from a pelagic in Mount's Bay on the same date. Cory's and Great Shearwaters past a number of sites. St Ives saw a brief Iceland Gull on 23rd; Stithians Reservoir hosted two Wood Sandpipers until 22nd, while two Curlew Sandpipers were at Marazion on 20-21st. A mobile Hoopoe was a brief visitor to Coverack on 22nd, with an elusive Wryneck at Porthgwarra on 23-24th.

Wilson's Storm Petrel, Pendeen, Cornwall (Garry Taylor).

The Scilly pelagics saw another week full of highlights, with a high count of at least 14 Wilson's Storm Petrels on 23rd and no fewer than 37 different individuals over four trips. An uncommon bird off the isle, a Leach's Storm Petrel joined in the fun on 22nd, with throngs of Sabine's Gulls, Great, Cory's, Balearic and Sooty Shearwaters, and Long-tailed and Pomarine Skuas recorded throughout.

Strong south-westerly blows delivered the goods west to Dorset, including a Leach's Storm Petrel off Cogden Beach on 25th, Great Shearwaters west past Wyke Regis, Chesil Cove and Portland on 20th and a Grey Phalarope at Ferrybridge on 21st. A Hoopoe was on private land near Poole on 25th and a European Honey Buzzard flew over Wareham on 20th, while an all-too-brief Black-crowned Night Heron was at Charminster on 20th. Portland saw a continuing Rosy Starling at Weston until 19th, with at least two lingering Long-tailed Skuas between here and Chesil Cove from 19-22nd. Another was off Hengistbury Head on 21st.

Great Shearwaters were stars of the show in Devon, with double figures passing Start Point on both 21st and 25th. Others passed Berry Head on 19th and 25th, with singles off Otterton and Froward Point on 25th. A Leach's Storm Petrel flew past Otterton on 25th, with an adult Sabine's Gull past Hartland Point on 22nd. The county Balearic Shearwater count peaked at 78 past Berry Head on 19th. Away from the sea, the one-eyed Melodious Warbler continued at Dawlish Warren NNR until 23rd. A Little Stint was a brief visitor to South Huish Marsh on 24th, while a juvenile remained at Seaton Marshes until 20th. A Wood Sandpiper was at Otter Estuary NR on 25th; Northam Burrows CP hosted a Curlew Sandpiper on 23-24th. The Slavonian Grebe remained on the Exe Estuary.

Exciting news out of Somerset this week saw three juvenile Black-winged Stilts successfully fledge at Steart WWT, with all five individuals still there until 24th at least. The popular Purple Heron remained at Durleigh Reservoir throughout, while an inland European Storm Petrel was an exciting find at Cheddar Reservoir early on 23rd. Wood Sandpipers were reported from Cheddar Reservoir, Chew Valley Lake and Ham Wall RSPB. On the sea, a Long-tailed Skua flew west past Minehead on 22nd and two Grey Phalaropes flew past Ladye Bay later that morning.

An early juvenile Rosy Starling proved an interesting attraction at Northwick Warth, Gloucestershire, among the assembled Common Starling throngs from 23rd. The week saw Curlew Sandpipers at Northwick Warth, Slimbridge WWT, Oldbury Power Station and Purton, Little Stints at three sites, and Wood Sandpipers at Saul Warth and Slimbridge WWT. Grey Phalaropes flew past Saul Warth on 22nd and Severn Beach on 25th, while European Storm Petrels flew past the latter site on three dates. Three Common Cranes were at Eysey, Wiltshire, on 20th, with a Common Quail there on 22nd.

Purple Heron, Durleigh Reservoir, Somerset & Bristol (Nick Truby).



Bardsey Island is starting to get into its autumn stride, with top bird going to a first-winter Citrine Wagtail, plus a decent supporting cast of Wryneck, Long-tailed Skua, multiple Grey Phalaropes, Sooty Shearwater, and Black and Roseate Terns.

Decent seawatching was had from other parts of the coast, with Sabine's Gulls past two sites, Balearic Shearwaters from six and Sooty Shearwaters from four. Three Grey Phalaropes went past Strumble Head on 22nd, with a Pomarine Skua the next day. A Long-tailed Skua flew past Porth Ysgaden, Gwynedd, on the 23rd, and European Storm Petrels from multiple localities, including in the Bristol Channel at Goldcliff Point on 22nd.

As ever, the Glossy Ibis was still at Godcliff Pools, Gwent, where it was joined by a Pectoral Sandpiper on 20-22nd. Belated news of a Eurasian Dotterel came from Gwynedd, with one photographed along the coastal footpath by Uwchmynydd and subsequently identified days later, however the bird was relocated on 23rd. A Wood Sandpiper remained at Llanelli Wetland Centre, Carmarthen, on 20th and Curlew Sandpipers at Llanrhystud, Ceredigion (20-21st), two at Goldcliff Pools, Gwent (24th), and two at Rhos Point, Conwy (25th). A juvenile Little Stint was also at Llanrhystud, Ceredigion, on 21-23rd. Black Terns were logged at four localities and three Eurasian Spoonbills at the aforementioned Goldcliff Pools on 25th.

Citrine Wagtail, Bardsey Island, Gwynedd (Steven Stansfield).



A great week for seawatching produced some notable totals – not least the 222 Cory's and 174 Great Shearwaters past Galley Head, Co Cork, on 20th (Toe Head also produced 300 and 100 respectively). Four sites scored Wilson's Storm Petrels, with Bridges of Ross, Co Clare, tallying three on 25th and Brandon Point, Co Kerry, producing two on 22nd. Scattered among these were a modest number of Sabine's Gulls, Long-tailed Skuas and Leach's Storm Petrels, while a Great Shearwater was seen as far north as Fanad Head, Co Donegal.

A Pectoral Sandpiper moving in the Manx Shearwater line at Bridges of Ross on 22nd must've been eye-opening to see, while the Sabine's Gull flying over a birder's house inland at Castledermot apparently represents the first record of this species for Co Kildare.

Glossy Ibises remained in Cos Cork and Galway, while the influx of Curlew Sandpipers reached Northern Ireland, with juveniles noted at a few sites. The adult Rosy Starling hung on at Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal.

Gull-billed Tern, The Gearagh, Cork (Richard Mills).


Western Palearctic

Another seabird highlight to top this week's billings, a Swinhoe's Storm Petrel was photographed from a boat in the Gulf of Cádiz off Isla Cristina, Spain, on 22nd, near the Portuguese border.

At Falsterbo, Sweden, a female Paddyfield Warbler first caught twice in the autumn of 2018 was re-trapped on 19th, while a drake Black Scoter flew past Cape Põõsaspea, Estonia, on 22nd. In Germany, a Pygmy Cormorant remained at Markkleeberg until 22nd.

In France, a Pied-billed Grebe was at Rocheservière on 23rd, with an adult Lesser Crested Tern at Portvendres on 20th. A Pygmy Cormorant was reported from Rosières-aux-Salines from 17-21st. Elsewhere in the country the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper remained, with the Eastern Bonelli's Warbler last reported from Hoëdic Island on 23rd.

A female Black-headed Bunting was on Texel, The Netherlands, on 24th, while a juvenile Black-winged Kite was at Margraten from 21st. The Black-winged Pratincole was last reported from Camperduin on 20th, while the Amur Wagtail and Great White Pelican remained. Two flirty Black-winged Kites at Sourbrodt, Belgium, from 20th look set to become the country's first breeding record.

At opposite extremities of the region, a Yellow-throated Sparrow was trapped at Einot Tzukim in the Israel-Palestine West Bank on 25th, while the first juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper of the autumn season was on Pico, Azores, on 22nd.

Swinhoe's Storm Petrel, Isla Cristina, Andalucia (José Manuel Méndez).

Written by: Sam Viles & the BirdGuides team