Review of the Week: 20th December 2006-3rd January 2007


The week at a glance:

Ross's Gull: Ormsary, Argyll (photo: Fraser Simpson).

Ross's Gull: Ormsary, Argyll (photo: Fraser Simpson).

Ross's Gull: Ormsary, Argyll (photo: Jim Duncan).

Ross's Gull: Ormsary, Argyll (photo: Dave Pullan).

News of the week concerned the report of an apparent 3rd-winter Glaucous-winged Gull seen at Gloucester Landfill (Gloucestershire) on 15th December and then trapped and ringed at the site the following day. If the identification is accepted it will be the first record for Britain and the 3rd for the Western Palearctic: previous records involve birds on El Hierro, Canary Islands in February 1992 and Morocco in January 1995. There was also a Canadian-ringed bird found dead in Switzerland found under dubious circumstances. The species is an abundant resident along the northwestern coast of North America and is also found along the coast of northeast Asia. That this large gull of the North Pacific has reached the eastern Atlantic for perhaps the third time is possibly surprising. However, assuming that the plumage is consistent with the species and we are not dealing with some lookalike hybrid, could it have perhaps followed the same route as the Long-billed Murrelet? Many will be hoping that this distinctive bird is relocated in the same way!

Ivory Gull: Troon, Ayrshire (photo: Fraser Simpson).

Ivory Gull: Irvine, Ayrshire (photo: Brian Orr).

Ivory Gull: Irvine, Ayrshire (photo: Brian Orr).

Ivory Gull: Troon, Ayrshire (photo: Brian Orr). Ivory Gull: Troon, Ayrshire (photo: Fraser Simpson).

Bonaparte's Gull: St. Mary's, Scilly (photo: Martin Goodey).

There were a number of festive highlights for gull watchers on offer. In Ayrshire the juvenile Ivory Gull was again relocated at Troon on 24th and then at Irvine on the 3rd (where it was present for its 4th day); sadly though it was taken into care later in the day. In Argyll the obliging Ross's Gull continued to delight visitors to Ormsary into the new year with another reported past Landguard NR (Suffolk) on the 1st. Bonaparte's Gulls were still present on St. Mary's (Scilly) and Ferryden (Angus/Dundee) and another was at Cobh (Co. Cork). White-winged gulls were present in reasonable numbers and 3rd-winter Kumlien's Gulls were seen at Nimmo's Pier (Co. Galway) and Culmore Dump (L'derry) and an adult was on Benbecula (Outer Hebrides).

Iceland Gull: Ayr, Ayrshire (photo: Fraser Simpson).

Iceland Gull: Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire (photo: Euan Ferguson).

Red-throated Pipit: Rogerstown Estuary, Co. Dublin (photo: Owen Foley).

Red-throated Pipit: Rogerstown Estuary, Co. Dublin (photo: Owen Foley). Red-throated Pipit: Rogerstown Estuary, Co. Dublin (photo: Owen Foley).
Red-throated Pipit: Rogerstown Estuary, Co. Dublin (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly). Red-throated Pipit: Rogerstown Estuary, Co. Dublin (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly).

A Red-throated Pipit at Rogerstown Estuary (Co. Dublin) from 24th-2nd was an unexpected find; less so but more widely admired was the Pallas's Warbler at Hightown (Lancashire) from 19th-27th. A Penduline Tit was at Rainham Marshes (London) from 27th onwards. The Hume's Warbler remained at Donmouth (Aberdeenshire) to at least the 30th and a dozen Yellow-browed Warblers were primarily located between Dorset and Cornwall, though one was in Suffolk and another remained in Glamorgan. There were several cautious claims of Siberian Chiffchaffs, one of which was trapped at Kempsey southwest (Worcestershire). A Little Bunting was a surprise visitor to a garden in Swindon (Wiltshire) on the 1st though a Richard's Pipit over Heswall (Cheshire) on 20th and another at Tanybwlch (Ceredigion) were less unusual. A Hoopoe was at New Deer (Aberdeenshire) from 26th-28th, whilst small numbers of Waxwings were mainly spread between Aberdeenshire and Norfolk. The only Great Grey Shrikes on offer were two in Hampshire and another in Norfolk, though there was a much better showing of Shore Lark with nearly 50 reported, including an inland bird near Halifax (W. Yorkshire) and small parties in Aberdeenshire and Kent, though most were in Norfolk where up to 17 were seen at Holkham Gap. Lapland Buntings on the other hand were scarce with just half-a-dozen reports, nearly all in Lincolnshire.

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Pallas's Warbler: Hightown, Lancs (photo: Bill Aspin).

Shore Lark: Holmfield, W. Yorks (photo: Sean Gray).

A number of Nearctic waders remained from the late autumn period, including the Spotted Sandpiper on the Hayle Estuary (Cornwall) and Lesser Yellowlegs at Rosscarbery (Co. Cork). The White-rumped Sandpiper again put in an appearance at Salthouse (Norfolk) with another at Freiston Shore (Lincs) on the 23rd and a long-staying bird still at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford). An American Golden Plover was at Blennerville (Co. Kerry) on 21st and the Long-billed Dowitcher remained at the Oare Marshes (Kent), with others still on the Alaw Estuary (Anglesey) to 21st and a Dowitcher species at Lough Beg (L'derry) was presumably one of the birds from last autumn. Grey Phalaropes crept into double figures, with most in the south and west.

Long-billed Dowitcher: Oare Marshes, Kent (photo: Steve Ashton).

Grey Phalarope: West Bexington, Dorset (photo: G. Bullivant).

The Black-eared Kite frequented the Cley and Blakeney area of Norfolk from 26th-1st, before returning to Snettisham on the 3rd. In the Outer Hebrides the Snowy Owl was still on Lewis, though the only Rough-legged Buzzard on offer remained the wintering bird at Capel Fleet on the Isle of Sheppey (Kent). A dashing white-morph Gyr Falcon at Funzie, Fetlar (Shetland) from 27th-28th was sadly out of reach for most. The Great White Egret remained at Blashford Lakes (Hants), as did the Cattle Egret in Devon and another was at Hengistbury Head (Dorset). The Great Bustard from Salisbury Plain remained in Somerset and 20 Spoonbills included ten in Dorset and six in Devon, plus one still in Co. Kerry. Good numbers of Balearic Shearwaters were seen off the Isles of Scilly with 20 off St. Agnes on 24th and 12 off St. Mary's on the 2nd; seven passed St. Ives (Cornwall) on 1st. Five Leach's Storm-petrels included three picked up dead, two of which were in Yorkshire. A White-billed Diver was at Melvaig (Highland) on the 21st and one at Blair's Cove (Co. Cork) on 1st.

Barrow's Goldeneye: Callander, Forth (photo: Fraser Simpson).

Barrow's Goldeneye: Callander, Forth (photo: Fraser Simpson).

Ring-necked Duck: Gibraltar Point, Lincs (photo: Russell Hayes).

Ring-necked Duck: Gibraltar Point, Lincs (photo: Russell Hayes).

Surf Scoter: Beer, Devon (photo: Paul Bowyer). Ferruginous Duck: Craigavon, Co. Armagh (photo: Derek Charles).

Black Brant: Holkham, Norfolk (photo: Jim Almond).

Many of the rarer ducks remained in residence, with the drake Barrow's Goldeneyes remaining in Forth and Co. Down, and also the Black Scoter off Conwy, though the drake Bufflehead was last reported from Loch of Snarravoe, Unst (Shetland) on the 20th December. Drake Falcated Duck remained at Exminster Marshes RSPB (Devon) and Higham Marshes/Bight (Kent). The drake King Eider was again off Peterhead (Aberdeenshire) with others on Shetland off Whalsay on 1st and Mousa Sound on 2nd. In Co. Dublin the female Blue-winged Teal was again at Bull Island from 26th onwards, and there were eight well scattered Green-winged Teal and seven American Wigeon. Lesser Scaup remained on the Outer Hebrides and in Co. Down, and around 20 Ring-necked Ducks was a good showing. Four Ferruginous Duck included the long-stayer at New Hythe (Kent) and the returning drake to Craigavon Balancing Lakes (Co. Armagh), with others at Threipmuir Reservoir (Lothian) and Abbotsbury (Dorset). Five Surf Scoter, including the long-staying bird at Beer (Devon), completed the ducks on offer throughout the country. Six Snow Geese included a blue- and white-morph bird in Co. Wexford, with white birds in Orkney, Moray and Nairn and Norfolk, where the intermediate-morph bird remained. Red-breasted Geese continued in Lincolnshire and Dorset, and a number of Black Brant were present between Lincolnshire and Dorset, plus one in Co. Waterford. Richardson's Canada Geese were in Argyll and Northumberland and a Taverner's Canada Goose at Caerlaverock (Dumfries and Galloway).

Red-necked Grebe: Fen Drayton, Cambs (photo: Garth Peacock).

Black-necked Grebe: Blackmoorfoot, W. Yorks (photo: Sean Gray).

Great Northern Diver: Audenshaw Reservoirs, Manchester (photo: Sean Gray).

Firecrest: Bingley, W. Yorks (photo: Sean Gray).

Mandarin: Smestow Valley, W. Mids (photo: Martin Garner).

Bar-tailed Godwit: Titchwell, Norfolk (photo: Peter Simpson).

Goldfinch: Spital, Cheshire (photo: Steve Round).

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
Mike Atkinson: http://mikeatkinson.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://www.severnsidebirds.co.uk
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/
John Coveney: http://www.clarebirdwatching.com/index.php
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/
Dean Eades: http://www.pbase.com/dean_eades/root
Andrew Easton: http://home.clara.net/ammodytes/
Graham Eaton: http://www.eatonphotography.co.uk
Stuart Elsom: http://www.stuartelsom.co.uk
Steve Evans: http://www.powow.com/birds2004/
Katie Fuller: http://bogbumper.blogspot.com
Ian Fulton: http://www.pbase.com/ianfulton
Sean Gray: http://www.grayimages.co.uk
Peter Hadfield: http://www.manxbirdphotography.co.uk
David Hatton: http://www.kowapower.com
Josh Jones: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
John Judge: http://www.draycotebirding.co.uk
Paul and Andrea Kelly: http://www.irishbirdimages.com/
Matt Latham: http://www.pbase.com/latho/root
Jack Levene: http://www.birdingimages.com
Micky Maher: http://www.aardfoto.co.uk/
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
Ken Plows: http://www.kenswildlifepics.co.uk
Ray Purser: http://www.pbase.com/02purser/images
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/
Peter Simpson: http://www.blueskybirds.co.uk
Matt Slaymaker: http://www.mattslaymaker.co.uk
Oliver Smart: http://www.smartimages.co.uk
George Spraggs: http://www.bird-watching.co.uk
Simon Stirrup: http://www.simonstirrup.co.uk/
Garry Taylor: http://www.spurnbirdobservatory.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