Review of the Week: 2-8 August 2021


It began to feel like autumn this week, with the first drift migrants appearing in the Northern Isles, a good spread of seabirds in the South-West Approaches and increasing numbers of waders being reported. However, the week's major rarity proved to be a re-sighting of a long-staying raptor that was first seen almost two months ago …

In Co Mayo, the Egyptian Vulture was photographed near Céide Fields Visitors Centre, Ballycastle, on 4th, raising hopes of another twitchable performance sometime in the coming weeks.

Still present at Formby Point, Lancashire, early on 1st, the Elegant Tern relocated a short distance to Hightown until 6th. The Least Tern held on at Portrane Point, Co Dublin, throughout, while a short distance away a returning Forster's Tern was at Soldier's Point, Co Louth, on 3-4th. The previous day, a brief Caspian Tern visited Dungeness RSPB, Kent.

Elegant Tern, Hightown, Lancashire (Ron Jackson).

Forster's Tern, Soldier's Point, Louth (Sean Geeney).

In East Yorkshire's famous Black-browed Albatross again proved reliable at Bempton Cliffs RSPB, despite a couple of days away from the site.

Black-browed Albatross, Bempton Cliffs RSPB, East Yorkshire (Samuel Levy).

Two Bonaparte's Gulls remained in situ – at Grove Ferry, Kent, and Norwick, Unst, Shetland.

Bonaparte's Gull, Grove Ferry NNR, Kent (Chris Dighton).

A juvenile Black Stork was a great inland find over Beeley Moor, Derbyshire, on 5th. Heading north-east to Flamborough Head, East Yorkshire, on 7th, it loafed around the headland before drifting south along the coast the following day, picked up over a multitude of sites between Grimston and Easington.

Black Stork, Out Newton, East Yorkshire (Dave Tucker).

At Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincolnshire, the Pacific Golden Plover count increased to two from 5th, both moulting adults remaining until the week's end. In Norfolk, another adult continued at North Point Pools.

Pacific Golden Plovers, Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincolnshire (Ian Bollen).

Cheshire's Long-billed Dowitcher relocated to Frodsham Marsh with Black-tailed Godwits from 3rd, the same day the Western Sandpiper departed Ballincamper, Co Waterford.

Western Sandpiper, Ballinclamper, Waterford (Tom Murphy).

Three potential Booted Eagles were reported – all pale morphs – over Chepstow, Gwent, on 4th and in Suffolk at Carlton Marshes on 3rd and Martlesham on 7th. A possible dark-morph Eleonora's Falcon flew through at Morfa Bychan dunes, Gwynedd, on 2nd.

Tiring of Scilly after 30th, the immature male Walrus made Co Waterford its next port of call, noted between Ballinclamper and Ardmore from 2-5th – where it made for a notable double act with the Western Sandpiper – before moving to Courtmacsherry, Co Cork, on 8th. The Striped Dolphin was off Hound Point, Lothian, on 3rd, while the Sei Whale reappeared in St Andrews Bay, Fife.

Walrus, Ardmore, Waterford (Tom Kennedy).


Scottish mainland

A male Red-backed Shrike at Girdle Ness, Aberdeenshire, was popular from 7th, while two drake Surf Scoter were off Kinnaber, Angus & Dundee. Rosy Starlings were at Applecross, Highland, on 5-6th and Carnoustie, Angus & Dundee, on 7-8th.

Red-backed Shrike, Girdle Ness, Aberdeenshire (Andrew Whitehouse).

Montrose Basin, Angus & Dundee, held a Eurasian Spoonbill on 3rd alongside a lingering Ruddy Shelduck. Another Spoonbill was at Ythan Estuary, Aberdeenshire, on 8th, with a further two Ruddy Shelduck remaining at Tullibody Inch, Forth.

Three Pomarine Skuas headed past Fife Ness during the week, with another off Balcomie, Fife, on 7th; Long-tailed Skuas flew north past Collieston, Aberdeenshire, on 5th and west off Dornoch, Highland, on 7th, with another from the Uig-Lochmaddy ferry, Highland, on 2nd. In Caithness, a Leach's Storm Petrel was trapped and ringed at Noss Head on 4th and two Red-necked Grebe continued offshore at Ferny Ness, Lothian.

Pomarine Skua, Hound Point, Lothian (Lukasz Pulawski).

Tiree, Argyll, scored a smart Pectoral Sandpiper at the start of the week. Nine Wood Sandpipers were spread between six sites, with Little Stints at Udale Bay, Highland, and Findhorn Bay, Moray & Nairn. Common Quail sang from five locations, while three sites held Garganey.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Tiree, Argyll (John Bowler).


Northern Isles and the Hebrides

Autumn got its foot through the door this week, with the first classic drift migrants putting in an appearance. Barred Warblers were on the Isle of Noss on 6th and at Scatness, Mainland, on 7th, a Marsh Warbler at Swinister Burn, Mainland, on 6th and a Common Rosefinch was at Valyie, Unst, on 8th. A Wood Sandpiper frequented Pool of Virkie, Mainland, between 6-7th.

Pomarine Skua, at sea, Shetland (David Cooper).

A juvenile Black Tern briefly touched down at Spiggie Beach before continuing north towards Rerwick. The adult Long-tailed Skua continued visit Dalsetter, Boddam, while an adult was seen from the Good Shepherd 10km south of Sumburgh Head on 3rd. Meanwhile, a boat trip from Sullom Voe on 3rd produced a pale-morph Pomarine Skua, Leach's Storm Petrel and three Sooty Shearwaters.

Fair Isle also cranked into gear with a scaly Red-backed Shrike on 6th. The male Rosy Starling lingered throughout, while 7th produced a Wood Sandpiper and a juvenile Fieldfare – from who knows where? The 8th saw a Wood Warbler trapped and ringed.

Red-backed Shrike, Fair Isle, Shetland (Daniel Gornall).

Icterine Warblers made their way to Orkney, with a fresh juvenile on Stronsay on 7th and two on Papa Westray the following day. Two Little Stints were at North Taking, Stronsay, on 4th and two Rosy Starlings lingered at Stromness and Warebeth, Mainland, throughout.

Icterine Warbler, Papa Westray, Orkney (David Roche).

The Rosy Starling was still on North Ronaldsay early in the week at least, alongside the Common Quail and a Curlew Sandpiper. The first Barred Warbler of the season arrived on 8th, when there was a Wood Sandpiper on the island.

Rosy Starling, Stromness, Mainland, Orkney (Steven J Charlton).

The Outer Hebrides was largely quiet this week and seawatching took centre stage. A Cory's Shearwater flew south past Brevig, Barra, on 5th, as did a Sooty Shearwater. The first-summer Glaucous Gull was again at Loch Sandary, North Uist, on 7th.

Dan Owen


North-East England

A few seabirds were still moving past Northumberland, albeit in smaller numbers than last week. A possible Great Shearwater past Cullernose Point on 7th was the only scarcity. Pomarine Skuas were seen from four localities, with Seaton Sluice producing three, and a single Sooty Shearwater was seen from St Mary's Island. Roseate Terns were well distributed along the coast with 23 at Low Newton-by-the-Sea on Friday being the highest count. A juvenile Caspian Gull put in an appearance in the Long Nanny gull roost on Saturday morning, with the Polish-ringed adult still in place at Amble in the middle of the week. St Mary's Island scored a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull on Wednesday. 

Caspian Gull, Amble, Northumberland (Michael Jepson).

Passage waders included two Spotted Redshanks at Castle Island, a Little Stint at Cresswell Pond NWT and Wood Sandpipers at Gosforth Park NR and Grindon Lough. A drake Greater Scaup was at Haughton Strother GP and a Great Egret visited Hemscott Hill. A Common Quail at Aln Estuary on 7th was the only record of the species during the week. 

Highlights at Whitburnk, Durham, included a Balearic Shearwater on Saturday, two Pomarine Skuas and a Black Tern. Six European Storm Petrels were trapped and ringed there. The Spotted Redshank remained in place at Boldon Flats NR, being joined by three Wood Sandpipers from Friday. Other lingering birds included the six Ruddy Shelduck at Bishop Middleham and at Hurworth Burn Reservoir, with a Great Egret also still at the latter. A Ruddy Shelduck at Derwent Reservoir and a Wood Sandpiper near Wheatley Hill were new arrivals.

In Cleveland, an adult Pectoral Sandpiper was found at Saltholme RSPB on Friday and lingered the following day. A Little Stint, two Wood Sandpipers and two Great Egrets were also seen there. A further Wood Sandpiper was at Greatham Creek. A Pomarine Skua flew past Hartlepool Headland on Saturday, and an adult Caspian Gull was seen on the beach at Saltburn the same day.

Jonathan Farooqi


North-West England

A Cory's Shearwater south past Silecroft on 8th headlined Cumbria's week, while a Pomarine Skua flew past the day before. 

A first-summer American Golden Plover made a brief touch-down at Seaforth LWT, Lancashire, on 7th, a very welcome 269th addition to the site's species list. Photos determined it was the bird seen around the Ribble Estuary earlier in the season. As attention was turned to the large, annual, tern roosts in the Formby/Hightown area this week it was no surprise that Roseate Terns, Little Terns and a handful of Little Gulls were unearthed.

American Golden Plover, Hoylake, Cheshire (Mark Woodhead).

The aforementioned American Golden Plover later found its way to Hoylake, Cheshire, on 7th. It remained until 8th before flying west that afternoon, showed well during its stay and was the third Nearctic wader to be found in Cheshire within a week. A Pectoral Sandpiper was at Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB from 6th, where the Ruddy Shelduck was still present on 5th. Up to four Ruddy Shelduck were along the Mersey between Runcorn and Hale.

In Greater Manchester, a juvenile Caspian Gull was at Blackstone Edge Reservoir on 5th before flying west and a juvenile Black-necked Grebe was at Audenshaw Reservoirs the same day.

Dan Owen


Lincolnshire and Yorkshire

Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincolnshire, is really starting to come into its own as wader numbers build, with Pectoral Sandpiper (7th), Temminck's Stint and around 20 Eurasian Spoonbills along with the more expected species. The Glossy Ibis was still at Alkborough Flats and Common Cranes were noted at two localities; Western Cattle Egret and Black-necked Grebe remained at Baston and Langtoft Pits.

Wood Sandpiper, Baston Fen, Lincolnshire (Josh Jones).

In South Yorkshire, an Isle of Wight White-tailed Eagle lingered in the Broomhead Moor area. Two Ruddy Shelduck were brief visitors to St Aidan's RSPB, West Yorkshire, on 8th and were perhaps the birds seen at Southfield Reservoir to 5th. An assortment of Wood Sandpipers and Common Quail were seen at several sites across interior Yorkshire, while signs of the changing season on the North Yorkshire coast included Balearic Shearwaters past Long Nab and Filey, with the latter locality also netting a Wood Warbler on 6th.

The Cory's Shearwater was again off Flamborough Head, East Yorkshire, on 2nd, with Balearic and Sooty Shearwaters also noted between there and Bempton. Hornsea Mere's Little Gull count peaked at 1,060 on 8th, while 3,202 Common Swifts south at Spurn on 8th was a decent count by this summer's standards. Nearby Kilnsea Wetlands held Curlew and Wood Sandpipers, plus the odd Caspian Gull.

Josh Jones


West Midlands

Staffordshire produced an adult Black Tern at Blithfield Reservoir from 6-8th. Belvide Reservoir hosted the juvenile Wood Sandpiper and drake Garganey for another week, with further Wood Sandpipers at Branston GPs and Middleton Lakes RSPB.

Garganey, Belvide Reservoir, Staffordshire (Steve Nuttall).

Worcestershire's bird news was livened up by a possible Black-winged Stilt at Clifton Pits on 7th, although the bird was flighty and not seen again. A Wood Sandpiper was there the same day, while the John Bennett Wetland bird remained until 4th. A Ruddy Shelduck was at Draycote Water, Warwickshire, from 4th and a Garganey was at Alvecote Pools on 3rd.

Dan Owen


East Midlands

New arrivals into Nottinghamshire were limited this week, although two juvenile Black-necked Grebes were at Kilvington Lakes on 2nd and a single juvenile was at Kingsmill Reservoir from 5-7th. An impressive 11 Wood Sandpipers were in a flooded field near Hadsock on 8th, with one at Idle Valley NR on 7th and a lingering bird still at Slaynes Lane, Idle Washlands, until at least 5th. Other continuing birds included the juvenile Black Tern at Idle Valley NR until 4th, while a drake Greater Scaup found Holme Pierrepont to his liking for another week and up to three European Honey Buzzards were still on show from Welbeck watchpoint. 

Black-necked Grebe, Kingsmill Reservoir, Nottinghamshire (Robin Brace).

Caspian Gulls were on offer at three sites in Northants this week, notably up to three at Stanwick GPs. This included a juvenile ringed in the Czech Republic. Meanwhile, the Garganey remained present and correct. 

Three Ruddy Shelduck were at Rutland Water from 4-7th and could easily be the trio reported previously at Sandbach Flashes, Cheshire, and Belvide Reservoir, Staffordshire. The site also hosted up to three immature Black Terns, Caspian Gull and a Grey Plover. A second Garganey appeared at Eyebrook Reservoir from 5th and an adult Wood Sandpiper was at Cossington Meadows on 8th.

Dan Owen


East of England

A Purple Heron flew over Hunstanton, Norfolk, on 5th, with a White-tailed Eagle over nearby Flitcham that day. The White-rumped Sandpiper was still at Snettisham RSPB early in the week and the Common Crane continued in the North Point Pools area. A Ruddy Shelduck flew past Cley on 8th, with a Balearic Shearwater off Weybourne on 2nd. At least a couple of Caspian Gulls were in the Cromer area. A Rosy Starling was at Gorleston on 2nd.

Wood Sandpiper, Cley Marshes NWT, Norfolk (Nick Clayton).

A Red-necked Phalarope was at Havergate Island, Suffolk, on 4th, while both White-rumped and Pectoral Sandpipers continued at Minsmere RSPB, where Roseate and Black Terns were also seen. The Purple Heron was again at Carlton Marshes SWT on 3rd. In Essex, a Wood Warbler was at The Naze on 5th and a Pectoral Sandpiper dropped in at Blue House Farm EWT on 8th.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk (Andrew Moon).

A smart juvenile Black Tern visited Amwell NR, Herts, on 4th, while Caspian Gulls were at three Bedfordshire sites. The moulting drake American Wigeon at Ouse Fen RSPB, Cambridgeshire, on 5th is almost certainly the bird seen on the nearby Ouse Washes in late June. Three Ruddy Shelduck visited Etton Pits on 8th. A concoction of Wood Sandpipers, Garganey, Caspian Gulls and a couple of Black Terns (at Grafham Water) made up the rest of the county's news.

Josh Jones


South-East England

There were a few bits and pieces in Kent, with a twitchable and at times showy Sooty Shearwater proving popular off The Patch at Dungeness from 7th. 'Dunge' also enjoyed a light passage of Balearic Shearwaters during the rather windy week. A Hoopoe graced Oare Marshes on 4th, a Black-crowned Night Heron flew over New Hythe GPs on 2nd and Northdown Park hosted a Wood Warbler on 4th. A flock of 15 Western Cattle Egrets at Halstow Marshes contained eight juveniles, seemingly confirming another successful breeding season for the species on the Hoo.

Sooty Shearwater, Dungeness NNR, Kent (Steven Ashton).

In Sussex, a Black Kite flew west over Cuckmere Haven on 4th. Up to two Roseate Terns were still at Church Norton throughout, Common Quail were recorded at Firle Beacon, Steep Down and Steyning and a Pied Flycatcher was at Pulborough Brooks on 6th. A European Shag at Arlington Reservoir was a good inland record.

A Balearic Shearwater flew past Taddiford Gap, Hampshire, on 6th during a quiet week for the county. On the Isle of Wight, a Pied Flycatcher was at St Catherine's Point on 3rd.

Purple Sandpiper, Farmoor Reservoir, Oxfordshire (Jon Mercer).

A flock of 34 Sanderling over Tuesley, Surrey, on 7th was a brilliant inland count. In the capital, a Pied Flycatcher was at Dagenham Chase on 8th and a Ruddy Turnstone was recorded at Staines Reservoirs on 7th. Farmoor, Oxfordshire, also enjoyed Sanderling and Ruddy Turnstone but both were eclipsed by a juvenile Purple Sandpiper there on 3-4th – always a fine inland record, let alone in early August. A Kittiwake was present at the same time. Aston hosted a Common Quail and Western Cattle Egret was confirmed as breeding in the county for the first time, too.

Hoopoe, Oare Marshes NR, Kent (Terry Laws).

Ed Stubbs


South-West England

It was another good week for Wilson's Storm Petrels from the Scilly pelagics. Seen daily, the count peaked with no fewer than 10 on Saturday. Thursday's trip produced 19 Cory's Shearwaters, with smaller numbers a couple of days later, Great Shearwaters were seen on four trips, and a single Balearic Shearwater put in an appearance at the end of the week. Otherwise, it was a quiet week on the islands, with Wood Sandpipers on Bryher and Tresco the best of the rest. 

Wilson's Storm Petrel, Scilly pelagic, Isles of Scilly (Joe Pender).

In Cornwall, Cory's Shearwaters were seen past five locations, with nine from Lizard Point on Thursday evening the highest count. Great Shearwaters included 31 past Pendeen on Friday. The same site also produced three Sabine's Gulls on Saturday.

Away from the sea, a Bluethroat at Nanjizal Valley on Tuesday and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Dinham Flats the following day were highlights. Wood Sandpipers were at three localities, a Hooded Crow was at Newlyn and a Garganey was seen at Maer Lake NR. Trevescan produced a juvenile Iceland Gull on Tuesday and a drake Greater Scaup spent a couple of days at Swanpool.

Devon's Black-winged Stilt remained at Velator NR, Wrafton, until 4th. Three sites held Wood Sandpipers, with a peak count of four at Seaton Marshes. Fifty-seven Balearic Shearwaters past Start Point was the highest count of the week and a single Roseate Tern flew past Berry Head.

A Melodious Warbler at Durlston CP at the start of week was Dorset's highlight. Wader passage was in evidence, with five Wood Sandpipers and two Spotted Redshanks at Stanpit Marsh, Wood Sandpiper at Lodmoor RSPB and a Curlew Sandpiper at Lytchett Fields RSPB. A Black Tern flew past Hengistbury Head on Sunday and Western Cattle Egrets were at two localities. A group of Eurasian Spoonbills at Middlebere increased to five by the week's end.

In Gloucestershire, Slimbridge WWT held onto its Spotted Redshank throughout the week with four Garganey, a Eurasian Spoonbill, and Curlew and Wood Sandpipers also there. Further Wood Sandpipers were at Coombe Hill Meadows, Northwick Warth (three) and Cotswold Water Park. The male Blue-headed Wagtail lingered at Northwick Warth and Common Quail sang at three sites.

Eurasian Spoonbill, Slimbridge WWT, Gloucestershire (Jonathan Bull).

A Black-winged Stilt arrived at Steart WWT, Somerset, on Friday and was joined by a Little Stint at the week's end. A Wood Sandpiper was also there on Wednesday. Two Balearic Shearwaters flew past Sand Point on Friday morning with another past Weston-super-Mare and a European Storm Petrel off Minehead two days later. Garganey were at Sutton Bingham Reservoir and Chew Valley Lake. 

The stand-out highlight in Wiltshire came in the form of a juvenile Purple Heron at Britford Water Meadows on 4-5th. A lone Western Cattle Egret flew over Cotswold Water Park on 2nd.

Jonathan Farooqi



A possible Wilson's Storm Petrel past Strumble Head, Pembrokeshire, on 8th would have been a notable Welsh record if confirmed. In a strong week of seawatching for the site, other sightings included two Great Shearwaters, Cory's Shearwater, Grey Phalarope and two Balearic Shearwaters. A pelagic off the Pembrokeshire coast scored a Great Shearwater of its own on 3rd, while other Balearic Shearwaters headed past Lavernock Point, Glamorgan, and Skokholm, Pembrokeshire (two).

Wood Sandpiper, Llanelli Wetland Centre WWT, Carmarthen (Luke Gravett).

Skokholm, Pembrokeshire, was visited by a Rosy Starling towards the end of the week. A Common Quail sang near Salem, Carmarthen.

Along the English border, a Pectoral Sandpiper skirted both sides of the national boundary at Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB from 6th. Further afield, a Curlew Sandpiper was at Goldcliff Pools, Gwent, with a Wood Sandpiper at Llanelli Wetland Centre WWT, Carmarthen.



At last, there was some fine seawatching to be had over the long weekend – not least at Bridges of Ross, Co Clare, where three Cory's and 37 Great Shearwaters, as well as two Wilson's Storm Petrels and a juvenile Long-tailed Skua, passed on 6th, followed by a couple more Long-tailed Skuas the following day.

Eleven Cory's passed Cape Clear, Co Cork, on 5th, with an impressive six Wilson's past Brandon Point, Co Kerry, in three hours on 7th (another seen from the Skellig Islands ferry on 8th). Two further Wilson's (and a Long-tailed Skua) were seen from a pelagic off the Aran Islands, Co Galway, on 2nd. Both Sabine's Gull and a few Cory's Shearwaters were noted off Ram Head, Co Waterford, on 5-6th, with a Cory's noted as far east as Carnsore Point, Co Wexford, on 6th. Further north at Bloody Foreland, Co Donegal, a Sabine's Gull passed on 8th and a Cory's Shearwater passed Fanad Head on 7th.

Glaucous Gull, Coleraine, Londonderry (Garry Armstrong).

Tacumshin's White-rumped Sandpiper was last noted on 2nd, while another adult of that species gave good views at Swords Estuary, Co Dublin, for four days from 4th. Wood Sandpipers showed well at Booterstown Marsh, Co Dublin, and Annestown, Co Waterford.

A Common Quail sang at Myroe Levels, Co Derry, on 3rd, while the Glaucous Gull continued in Coleraine.

Josh Jones


Western Palearctic

Slovenia rarely graces these hallowed pages, yet the Slavic nation headlines this week with a Grey-headed Lapwing at Škocjanski Zatok NR on 5-6th. Just the fourth record for the Western Palearctic, remarkably the first came as recently as March 2018 – at Kızılırmak Delta, Turkey – followed by two in 2019. Quite a run of records in such a short space of time – is a British record on the cards in the near future?

Madeiran pelagic trips another big prize this week, with a Cape Verde Shearwater on 5th. A dark-morph Trindade Petrel from a pelagic off Graciosa is the 13th for the Azores and just the 16th for the wider region.

Cape Verde Shearwater, at sea, Madeira (Rob Williams).

In Cape Verde, a stunning adult Allen's Gallinule was at Santa Maria, Sal, on 5th, while the fourth Red-necked Nightjar for the Canaries was near Pajara, Fuerteventura, on 8th.

Norway's seventh Black-winged Pratincole – a juvenile – was at Storvika on 4th and the Sandhill Crane continued at Lakselv throughout. A first-summer Ross's Gull at Cape Põõsaspea was Estonia's fifth, while a Spotted Sandpiper at Mikoszewo was Poland's sixth. Two moulting drake Hooded Merganser were at Hvalfjörður, Iceland, from 3rd.

On 4th, an Eastern Imperial Eagle overflew Pesse, The Netherlands. Elsewhere, the Pygmy Cormorant and released Bearded Vulture both lingered; a Laughing Gull was at Koolkerke, Belgium. Two Lesser Flamingo remained at Les Cayrelles, France, with the Elegant Tern still at nearby Digue de Paulet.

In Israel, a ringed Northern Bald Ibis photographed at Urim on 8th perhaps originates from the reintroduction scheme at Birecik, Turkey, and represents the first national record since 2007.

Allen's Gallinule, Santa Maria, Sal (Uwe Thom).

Written by: Sam Viles & the BirdGuides team