Review of the Week: 19th–25th June 2003

Southern Grey Shrike: Ballaghennie Ayre, Isle of Man. (Photo: Pete Hadfield) Southern Grey Shrike: Ballaghennie Ayre, Isle of Man. (Photo: Kevin Scott)

On the Isle of Man the Southern Grey Shrike, considered to be a Steppe Grey Shrike, remained at Ballaghennie Ayre all week. A number of superb photos have been taken to allow each feature of the bird to be analysed in detail. There is no doubt that grey shrikes can be a difficult group and this bird initially presented a tricky identification conundrum. There have been just 16 previous records of Southern Grey Shrike in Britain, all of which have been Steppe Grey Shrikes. Of these, 15 have been between mid-September and early December, with one in April. The last to remain for any length of time were birds in Essex in 1996 and Northants in 1997.

June falls within the range of occurrence dates for Fea's Petrel, so one past St. John's Point (Co. Down) on 22nd will perhaps be the first of another batch of records this year. Sightings are becoming more frequent, and although late August is traditionally 'Fea's time', they might be considered fair game for dedicated seawatchers any time between June and early September. Continuing with seabirds, an Albatross species was reported near Wolf Rock (Scilly), a Cory's Shearwater was off Flamborough Head (E. Yorks) on 22nd, on which day an adult Long-tailed Skua was seen in Essex and a 1st-summer in Northumberland. A Gull-billed Tern was reported past Cley (Norfolk) on 23rd.

White-rumped Sandpiper: The majority of late summer adults tend to be found at east coast wader hot-spots. (Photo: Nigel Blake) Pectoral Sandpiper: Adults are a regular find over the late summer period. (Photo: Bob Chapman)

During the last week a number of waders have been noted moving through, the pick of which was a White-rumped Sandpiper at Cley NWT (Norfolk) on 23rd. Elsewhere, a Pectoral Sandpiper was at Saltholme/Dorman's Pool (Cleveland) and Red-necked Phalaropes were seen at Kilnsea (E. Yorks) and Loch of Tankerness (Orkney) on 21st. June is a good month for rare herons, and Squacco Herons were seen at Lamby, Cardiff (Glamorgan) on 24th and reported again at Titchfield Haven (Hants) on 20th-21st. Purple Herons were noted over Sea Palling on 21st and over St, Martin's (Scilly) on 23rd whilst a Great White Egret was at Chew Valley lake (Somerset) from 20th-21st.

Woodchat Shrike: Seaford, E. Sussex. Present on 21st. (Photo: Mark Galtry) Great White Egret: Chew Valley Lake, Somerset. Present from 20th-21st. (Photo: Paul Bowerman)

Moving away from seabirds and herons, as would be expected for late June rare and scarce birds were at a premium. A Woodchat Shrike was at Seaford (E. Sussex) on 21st, a Serin flew over Pagham Harbour (W. Sussex) on 22nd and Bee-eaters were reported in Cornwall and Scilly. A male Common Rosefinch was at Portland (Dorset) on 21st and another was still on Canna (Highland). Just two Rose-coloured Starlings were reported with singles at St. David's (Pembrokeshire) on 19th and 21st and at Turriff (Aberdeenshire) from 22nd-23rd. Another Red-footed Falcon was added to this year's crop of records with a 1st-summer male over Langtoft (Lincs) on 25th. An exceptional report was of a Chough over Steps Hill in Bucks on 22nd!

Whiskered Tern: Hallcroft SSSI, Notts. This popular and showy bird remained to the 24th. (Photo: Pete Wragg) Whiskered Tern: Hallcroft SSSI, Notts. Only likely to be confused in this plumage with Common/Arctic Tern and easily told by the shallow tail-fork, grey tail and rump, plus the contrasting white cheek and underwing with the dark grey underparts. (Photo: Ray Wilson)

Sabine's Gull: Lowestoft, Suffolk. This confiding bird is as photogenic as ever. (Photo: Darren AP Ward) King Eider: Stevenston Point, Ayrshire. (Photo: Brian Orr)

Long-stayers included the Whiskered Tern at Hallcroft SSSI (Notts) to 24th, White-winged Black Tern at East Chevington (Northumberland) to at least 24th and the Sabine's Gull remains at Lowestoft (Suffolk). Drake King Eiders remain in Ayr and Argyll and in Devon the Iberian Chiffchaff was still at Kingswear on the 20th.

Spoonbill: Blacktoft Sands, E. Yorks. 1st-summers show distinctive black tips to the primaries, and paler bare part colour. (Photo: Brian Irvine) Hobby: Kiloughter, Wicklow. Always guaranteed to liven up a summer's day. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly)
Written by: Russell Slack