Review of the Week: 19th-25th February 2004

Rufous Turtle Dove: Ham, Highland. Presumably the popular bird from early December 2003 is the same bird that was relocated this week? (Photo: Jack Levene)

In Highland a Rufous Turtle Dove (western form meena) was at St. John's Loch on Monday 23rd. This was presumably the bird seen earlier in the winter at Ham between 5th and 9th December 2003, which was only the second to be seen by large numbers of birders in Britain. This illustrates how even quite 'conspicuous' rarities can go missing for prolonged periods of time.

Northern Long-tailed Tit: Westleton Heath, Suffolk. Another bird was found during the week, this time in Essex. (Photo: Bill Baston)

Northern Long-tailed Tit: Westleton Heath, Suffolk. (Photo: Kit Day) Northern Long-tailed Tit: Westleton Heath, Suffolk. (Photo: Mike Lawrence)

Little Bunting: Newborough Warren, Anglesey. This long-stayer has proved extremely popular for birders and digiscopers alike. (Photo: Ron Moat) Great Grey Shrike: Cow Down, Berks. An increase in numbers has been evident over the past few weeks. (Photo: Stephen Burch)

Another Northern Long-tailed Tit was found during the week, this time at Warley (Essex) from Monday 23rd onwards, and at least 4 birds remain on Westleton Heath (Suffolk). Seven Yellow-browed Warblers were reported during the week, with two in Cornwall representing 'new' birds – it has certainly been an amazing winter for this endearing sprite. Great Grey Shrikes appear to be more conspicuous recently, with up to 16 were reported during the week and there was news of a Black-bellied Dipper at Letheringsett (Norfolk) from before Christmas and last seen on Wednesday 18th February. Most of the long-staying rarities are still present and showing well. These include Hume's Warblers in London and Co. Wexford, Pallas's Warbler in Kent, Dusky Warbler and the Dutch-ringed Penduline Tit in Devon, Richard's Pipit in Glamorgan, Little Bunting on Anglesey and the ever-popular and photogenic American Robin in Lincolnshire. Despite the arctic conditions across much of the country during the week a few migrants were reported, including an early Willow Warbler on Bryher (Scilly) on Thursday 19th and 2 Wheatears at Cardiff (Glamorgan) the same day. Two Swallows were reported during the week and 5 House Martins were still present at Marazion (Cornwall).

Harlequin Duck: Lewis, Outer Hebrides. This bird was, at times, rather confiding - providing great views for those who travelled to see it. (Photo: Paul Hackett) Harlequin Duck: Lewis, Outer Hebrides. (Photo: Martin Scott)

Green-winged Teal: Woodhorn Flash, Northumbs. (Photo: Alan Gilbertson) Green-winged Teal: Dorney Wetlands, Berks. (Photo: Jerry O'Brien)

Tundra Bean Goose: Bolden Flats, Durham. A small arrival was noted along the east coast during the week. (Photo: Carl Hind) Lesser Snow Goose: Islay, Argyll. This striking bird is the highlight for many of a recent winter trip to Islay. (Photo: Paul Derbyshire)

On the Outer Hebrides the obliging Harlequin Duck was last seen on Saturday 21st. Also remaining were the Redhead on Barra and American Coot on South Uist, with the long-staying bird still on Shetland. Other highlights included three Bonaparte's Gulls during the week, with the adult still at Cobh (Co. Cork) and a second bird there on Thursday 19th and a 1st-winter on the Hayle Estuary (Cornwall) on Wednesday 25th. A White-billed Diver was in Gruinard Bay (Highland) on Friday 20th and a grey Gyr Falcon was reported from Mounthcharles (Co. Donegal) the same day. A blue Lesser Snow Goose was on the Ythan Estuary (Aberdeenshire) on Sunday 22nd, and long-staying Snow Geese remain in Co. Wexford and on North Uist. Rare ducks included 11 American Wigeon, 12 Green-winged Teals, 4 Ring-necked Ducks, 5 Ferruginous Ducks and 3 Lesser Scaup. There were slightly more Iceland Gulls, with around 50 reported, along with several Kumlien's Gulls and around 40 Glaucous Gulls. In addition, there were half-a-dozen American Herring Gulls. The Lesser Yellowlegs remains on the Hayle Estuary, as does the Glossy Ibis on the Exe Estuary in Devon and a Grey Phalarope was at St. Mary's (Scilly) on Saturday 21st.

Mediterranean Gull: Southsea, Hants. The late winter/early spring period is a good time to sift through your local gulls for passage Med Gulls. (Photo: Marcus Ward) Mediterranean Gull: Heysham, Lancs. (Photo: Sue Tranter)

Smew: Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Hen Harrier: Parkgate, Cheshire. (Photo: Steve Round)
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Written by: Russell Slack