Review of the Week: 20th-26th October 2005

The week at a glance:
Siberian Rubythroat: Fair Isle, Shetland (photo: W Plumb).

Siberian Rubythroat: Fair Isle, Shetland (photo: Rebecca Nason). Siberian Rubythroat: Fair Isle, Shetland (photo: Rebecca Nason).

In many respects it was a quieter week than of late, but the rarities were still there to be found, even if most of them seemed to be on Fair Isle (Shetland)! This magical island once again delivered quality with a 1st-winter female Siberian Rubythroat from Sunday 23rd onwards, even if it was often extremely elusive. This is the 5th British record of this highly desired sibe (Accepted Siberian Rubythroat records). Had there not been one on the same island in mid-October 2003 there would doubtless have been a huge clamour amongst keener birders to make the expensive trip north. As it was, most were comfortable in the fact that they had seen this enigmatic species before and that they could see the pictures on the FIBO website. The island also produced the first British record in October 1975, and another was found dead on Shetland in 2001. The only opportunity for birders on the mainland to see this lovely species came in 1997 when one was present in Dorset for the afternoon of 19th October. Many will hope for a more accessible bird soon.

Black-throated Thrush: Fair Isle, Shetland (photo: Deryk Shaw). Black-throated Thrush: Fair Isle, Shetland (photo: Deryk Shaw).
Black-throated Thrush: Fair Isle, Shetland (photo: Deryk Shaw). Black-throated Thrush: Fair Isle, Shetland (photo: Deryk Shaw).

Blackpoll Warbler: St. Mary's, Scilly (photo: Martin Goodey).

Fair Isle also weighed in with a female Black-throated Thrush from Friday 21st-22nd and this was outdone by a resplendent male there on Sunday 23rd. A 1st-winter Black-throated Thrush was also reported from Portland (Dorset) early in the week. Back on the Northern Isles, the 2nd Isabelline Wheatear of the autumn made landfall on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on Sunday 23rd, and remained for the rest of the week. A 1st-winter Isabelline Shrike at the Montrose Basin (Angus and Dundee) from Saturday 22nd onwards was the first record of the species this year. It is of the race isabellinus, colloquially known as Daurian Shrike, as indeed the majority of records would appear to be. A Hume's Warbler at Skateraw (Lothian) was also the first record so far this year; surprising perhaps, as good Yellow-browed Warbler years appear to produce good numbers of Hume's. It's still early for this subtle sprite though, so this may the first of several. Long-staying rarities through the week included the popular and obliging Paddyfield Warbler at Torness (Lothian), the elusive Sardinian Warbler at Fife Ness (Fife) and the Blackpoll Warbler on St. Mary's (Scilly).

Isabelline Shrike: Montrose Basin, Angus and Dundee (photo: Mark Caunt). Isabelline Shrike: Montrose Basin, Angus and Dundee (photo: Mark Caunt).
Isabelline Shrike: Montrose Basin, Angus and Dundee (photo: Chris Jones). Isabelline Shrike: Montrose Basin, Angus and Dundee (photo: Chris Jones).
Isabelline Shrike: Montrose Basin, Angus and Dundee (photo: Chris Jones).

Arctic Redpoll: Fair Isle, Shetland (photo: Deryk Shaw). Arctic Redpoll: Fair Isle, Shetland (photo: Deryk Shaw).

On Fair Isle two (Coues's) Arctic Redpolls were present on 20th, one remaining to 24th. The Olive-backed Pipit was at Thorpeness (Suffolk) to the 20th, and others were seen at Fair Isle on 23rd, Wormiston (Fife) on 25th and Sumbugh (Shetland) on 26th. The Siberian Stonechat remained at Whitburn (Durham) to 21st and another was at Hengistbury Head (Dorset) on 24th. A Penduline Tit was at Dungeness (Kent) on 26th and another was heard at Cley (Norfolk) on 23rd. A Subalpine Warbler was at Quendale mill (Shetland) on 20th and a Rustic Bunting at Hoswick (Shetland) on 24th. Red-throated Pipits were present on Bardsey (Gwynedd) to 21st and St. Mary's (Scilly) from 25th-26th and Tresco (Scilly) on 26th. Dusky Warblers continued to arrive, with new birds at Boulby (Cleveland) from 19th-21st, Norwick, Unst (Shetland) on 20th and Scoughall (Lothian) from 23rd, plus birds remained on the Farne Islands (Northumbs) and Wells (Norfolk) to 23rd. A Greenish Warbler was reported near Wellington (Somerset) on 21st. The Northern Long-tailed Tits were reported from Easington (E. Yorks) to the 23rd.

Red-throated Pipit: St. Mary's, Scilly (photo: Rob Laughton).

Dusky Warbler: Boulby, Cleveland (photo: Damian Money). Dusky Warbler: Boulby, Cleveland (photo: Damian Money).
Dusky Warbler: Voe, Shetland (photo: Tony Mills). Dusky Warbler: Unst, Shetland (photo: Mike Pennington).
Little Bunting: Swining, Shetland (photo: Tony Mills). Little Bunting: Swining, Shetland (photo: Tony Mills).
Yellow-browed Warbler: Lerwick, Shetland (photo: Tony Mills). Yellow-browed Warbler: Holme, Norfolk (photo: Sue Bryan).

Around 20 Pallas's Warblers were noted, the majority on the Scottish islands and southwards along the east coast to Northumberland. Others were in Dorset, Cornwall and Gwynedd. Yellow-browed Warblers were still present in reasonable numbers and notable inland finds included two in Staffordshire, one in Leicestershire and a late report from Derbyshire, as well as the long-staying bird in Wiltshire - will there be good numbers of wintering birds detected this year following the bumper influx? Of six Little Buntings, three were on Shetland, one in the Scillies and others in East Yorkshire and Northumberland. Both Icterine Warbler and Melodious Warbler were reported on Cape Clear (Co. Cork) on 22nd, and half-a-dozen Barred Warblers betrayed their presence. Nine Red-breasted Flycatchers were well scattered, most on offshore islands, two Bluethroats were on Shetland still, 7 Wrynecks were mostly in the southwest and Rose-coloured Starlings were briefly in Northumberland, Devon and on Guernsey. A Golden Oriole was a late find at Mizen Head (Co. Cork) on 24th and the Hoopoe remained in the Boulmer (Northumbs) area with another at Hornsea (E. Yorks) on 25th. Over a dozen Great Grey Shrikes were reported, most from wintering areas, and Red-backed Shrikes lingered on Bryher (Scilly) and St. David's (Pembrokeshire) to 23rd. A Tawny Pipit was on St. Mary's (Scilly) on 23rd and around 20 Richard's Pipits were reported. A Serin was on St. Mary's on 22nd and two on Bryher from 25th. Common Rosefinches were logged on Scilly, Co. Cork and Orkney and a Black-bellied Dipper was on Fair Isle on 26th.

Great Bustard: Portland, Dorset (photo: Martin Cade).
Cattle Egret: Listowel, Co. Kerry (photo: Mike O'Keefe).

A female Great Bustard at Portland (Dorset) on 22nd must have caused a huge initial panic, but unfortunately it was found to be sporting yellow wing-tags and had originated from the Salisbury Plain reintroduction project. However, as the bird had not been seen since her release onto Salisbury Plain at the end of August, one can only wonder where she had been hiding - and where she is now! The Snowy Owl was again reported from Lewis (Outer Hebrides) on 22nd, and the Sora remains on St. Mary's (Scilly). Two Spotted Crakes were on Scilly and another at Holme Fen (Cambs). A Cattle Egret was an Irish rarity at Listowel (Co. Kerry), and the long-staying bird was still at Elmley Marshes (Kent). A Great White Egret passed over Grove Ferry (Kent) on 20th, and one was at Arne (Dorset) on 24th. A juvenile Night Heron was at Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 21st.

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Long-billed Dowitcher: Inner Marsh Farm, Cheshire (photo: Chris Galvin). Long-billed Dowitcher: Inner Marsh Farm, Cheshire (photo: Sean Gray).
Lesser Yellowlegs: North Killinghome, Lincs (photo: Dean Eades). American Golden Plover: Warham Greens, Norfolk (photo: Josh Jones).
Pectoral Sandpiper: Kingussie, Highland (photo: Dave Pullan). Pectoral Sandpiper: Kingussie, Highland (photo: Dave Pullan).

Rare waders are at last starting to thin out after an exceptional autumn. A Spotted Sandpiper was at Easington (E. Yorks) on 23rd. Long-billed Dowitchers remain in Cornwall, Cheshire and Essex, the American Golden Plover was still at Fleck (Shetland) to 21st and another reported at Warham Greens (Norfolk) on 26th. A White-rumped Sandpiper was at Quilty's Pier (Co. Clare) on 20th, the popular Grafham Water (Cambs) bird was last seen on 22nd and one was at Coalhouse Fort (Essex) from 23rd. Another was reported from Cliffe (Kent) on 24th and on North Ronaldsay three were still present on 21st with one to 24th. Just four Pectoral Sandpipers were reported, and of five Lesser Yellowlegs one at Titchfield (Hants) from 23rd was 'new'; others were still present during the week at North Killinghome (Lincs), Swords (Dublin), Out Skerries (Shetland) and Clonakilty (Co. Cork). A Red-necked Phalarope was at Calvert Lakes (Bucks) on 26th and the Slimbridge (Glos) bird was still present on 23rd. A number of inland Grey Phalaropes were a bonus for inland birders, with birds reported from Chew Valley Lake and Cheddar Reservoir (Somerset), Angler's CP (W. Yorks), Wellington GPs (Herefs) and Eyebrook Reservoir (Leics). A Dotterel was on Cape Clear on 22nd with one over the Great Orme (Conwy) the same day.

Red-necked Phalarope: Slimbridge, Glos (photo: Bob Hazell).

White-rumped Sandpiper: Grafham Water, Cambs (photo: Matt Latham). White-rumped Sandpiper: Grafham Water, Cambs (photo: Matt Latham).
White-rumped Sandpiper: Grafham Water, Cambs (photo: Dean Eades). White-rumped Sandpiper: Grafham Water, Cambs (photo: Dean Eades).

A Fea's Petrel passing Flambrough Head (E. Yorks) on 23rd was late. A Cory's Shearwater passed East Runton (Norfolk) the same day and one was off Mundesley (Norfolk) on 25th. Good numbers of Little Auks across the North Sea in The Netherlands were reflected in a modest movement past British coasts. Most movement was restricted to Norfolk and Yorkshire, with 300 past Sea Palling (Norfolk) on 24th, though both Flamborough and Spurn (E. Yorks) had around 250 birds each on 23rd and 24th. Two were displaced inland with one at Tophill Low (E.Yorks) and another picked up dead at Kirkbymoorside (N. Yorks). Nine Sabine's Gulls were reported during the week, mostly along the English Channel. In West Yorkshire the Laughing Gull continues to frequent the Featherstone area, the number of Caspian Gulls reported was into double figures and four Ring-billed Gulls were noted. An American Herring Gull was at Sennen (Cornwall) and a White-billed Diver at Kirkabister (Shetland) on 25th.

Richardson's Canada Goose: Caerlaverock, Dumfries and Galloway (photo: Jim Woods). Richardson's Canada Goose: Caerlaverock, Dumfries and Galloway (photo: Jim Woods).
Ring-necked Duck: Westport Lake, Staffs (photo: Dave Kelsall). Ring-necked Duck: Westport Lake, Staffs (photo: Dave Kelsall).

Scarce geese reports began to increase, and doubtless closer scrutiny will be given to all vagrant Canada geese during the coming winter. Richardson's Canada Geese (hutchinsii) were at Lossiemouth (Moray), Caerlaverock WWT (Dumfries and Galloway) and Aberlady Bay (Lothian) and Lesser Canada Geese (parvipes) were at Lossiemouth and Meikle Loch (Aberdeenshire). The white-morph Snow Goose was still at Meikle Loch. A Black Brant was at Harty Ferry (Kent) and another in Langstone Harbour (Hants). Up to 260 Taiga Bean Geese were counted in the regular site at Fannyside Loch (Clyde), though there were no reports from elsewhere. The Black Scoter continued his residence off Conwy, as did the drake Lesser Scaup in Lancashire. King Eiders were at Boddam and Cruden Bay (Aberdeenshire) and Surf Scoters remained at large in Fife and Moray/Nairn. The Blue-winged Teal remained at Bull Island (Co. Dublin) and American Wigeon were in Highland and Co. Mayo. The Green-winged Teal remained in Cheshire and another returned to Nottinghamshire. A female Ferruginous Duck was at Brogborough Lake (Beds) and an influx of Ring-necked Ducks brought one to Westport Lake (Staffs) and three to Silverdale (Staffs), with long-staying drakes on Tresco (Scilly) and Avonmouth (Somerset).

Waxwing: Unst, Shetland (photo: Mike Pennington).

Ring Ouzel: Cleeve Hill, Glos (photo: Bob Hazell). Ring Ouzel: Cleeve Hill, Glos (photo: Bob Hazell).
Ring Ouzel: Elan Valley, Powys (photo: Kev Joynes). Ring Ouzel: North Hill, Worcs (photo: Oliver Wadsworth).

A feature of the week was the exceptional numbers of Ring Ouzels reported, including , 80 in Elan Village (Powys) on 22nd, 60 on Portland (Dorset) and 50+ in the Olchon Valley (Herefs) with sizeable double-figure counts from many locations. Presumably these birds were associated with the huge numbers of thrushes pouring into Britain recently. An early arrival of Waxwings comes just months after last winter's deluge had just departed - might we be in for yet another Waxwing winter?

Lapland Bunting: Great Orme, Conwy (photo: Sean Gray). Lapland Bunting: Great Orme, Conwy (photo: Sean Gray).
Black Redstart: Blackdog, Aberdeenshire (photo: Chris Jones). Pied Flycatcher: Gott, Shetland (photo: David H Hatton).
Slavonian Grebe: Baston and Langtoft Pits, Lincs (photo: Josh Jones). Red-necked Grebe: Draycote Water, Warks (photo: Mark Wils).
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
Richard Bedford: http://www.richardbedford.co.uk
Steve Blain: http://www.steveblain.co.uk
Nigel Blake: http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/birdphotos/index.htm
Paul Boulden: http://southdevonbirds.mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/
Will Bowell: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
Paul Bowerman: http://mysite.freeserve.com/severnsidebirds
Paul Bowyer: http://www.ukbirds.net
Andy Brett: http://www.freewebs.com/andybrett/
Andy Bright: http://www.Digiscoped.com
Martin Cade: http://www.portlandbirdobs.btinternet.co.uk
Graham Catley: http://pewit.blogspot.com/
Mark Caunt: http://angusbirding.homestead.com/
Kit Day: http://www.kitday-uk.com/
Eric Dempsey: http://www.birdsireland.com/
Lee Dingain: http://www.leedingain.co.uk
Jon Dunn: http://www.surfbirds.com/blogs/Stercorarius/
Andrew Easton: http://home.clara.net/ammodytes/
Graham Eaton: http://www.eatonphotography.co.uk
Steve Evans: http://www.powow.com/birds2004/
Katie Fuller: http://bogbumper.blogspot.com
Sean Gray: http://www.grayimages.co.uk
Peter Hadfield: http://www.manxbirdphotography.co.uk
Josh Jones: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
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
Brian Mcgeough: http://www.pbase.com/bmcgeough/british_birds
Tony Mills: http://www.notjustbirds.com
Jerry O'Brien: http://www.BirdsofBerkshire.co.uk
Charlie Moores: http://www.charliesbirdblog.com
Mark Newsome: http://www.whitburnbirding.co.uk
James Packer: http://www.somersetbirder.co.uk
Mike Pennington: http://www.nature.shetland.co.uk
Marc Read: http://www.marcread-pix.com
Tristan Reid: http://www.solwaybirder.org.uk
Steve Round: http://stevenround-birdphotography.com
Gerald Segelbacher: http://www.digiscoping.uk.md
Deryk Shaw/FIBO: http://www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk
Tom Shevlin: http://wildlifesnaps.com/
Matt Slaymaker: http://www.mattslaymaker.co.uk
Oliver Smart: http://www.smartimages.co.uk
George Spraggs: http://www.bird-watching.co.uk
Glen Tepke: http://www.pbase.com/gtepke
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
Simon Wilson: http://www.bakewellbirder.co.uk/
Chris Wormwell: http://www.iombirding.co.uk
Dylan Wrathall: http://www.planetthanet.org
Written by: Russell Slack