28/04/2005
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Review of the Week: 21st-27th April 2005

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Black-winged Stilt: Bowcombe Creek, Devon. (Photo: Perry Sanders)

Black-winged Stilt: Pulborough Brooks, W. Sussex. (Photo: Ian Barnard) Black-winged Stilt: Pulborough Brooks, W. Sussex. (Photo: Kevin Tubb)

Proceedings are still on the slow side, but as we near May it can only get better. Summer visitors are patchily distributed, some described as abundant in some areas but scarce in many others, and many of the expected species are present in below-average numbers.

There can be few interested birders in Britain who have not seen a Black-winged Stilt. The ever-present 'Sammy' at Titchwell RSPB in Norfolk has plugged the box on many a life-list over the last decade. In real terms though this still remains a rare species, with just a handful of records in the past few years, so 'new' arrivals are often quite popular with county listers. One was at Bowcombe Creek (Devon) on Thursday 21st, then Pulborough Brooks RSPB (W. Sussex) from Saturday 23rd onwards.

Subalpine Warblers are regular spring migrants, but in keeping with several other regular scarcities it has been surprising that we have had to wait until late April for the first record. The first Subalpine Warbler of the spring made landfall at Windwick on South Ronaldsay (Orkney) on Monday 25th. The first Red-rumped Swallow of the spring was at Corsham Park (Wilts) on Monday 25th and was quickly followed by another passing south at Spurn (E. Yorks) on Wednesday 27th. A Tawny Pipit was at Pleinmont (Guernsey) on Saturday 23rd and another on St. Agnes (Scilly) on Sunday 24th, with reports of a Red-throated Pipit at Holkham Gap (Norfolk) on Monday 25th and a Grey-headed Wagtail at Gronant (Clwyd) the same day. In Conwy the Richard's Pipit was present to at least 21st.

Great Grey Shrike: East Chevington, Northumberland. (Photo: Alan Gilbertson) Great Grey Shrike: East Chevington, Northumberland. (Photo: John Malloy)

Half-a-dozen Hoopoes were noted, with two in Co. Cork and singles in Norfolk, Scilly, Cornwall and Hampshire. Four Wrynecks included the long-staying bird in Cornwall, and one at Kelling from last week, with new birds at Snettisham (Norfolk) from 21st-22nd and at Ilketshall St. Margaret (Suffolk) on 25th. A handful of Serins included singles on St. Mary's (Scilly) on 23rd and 27th, Christchurch Harbour (Dorset) on 23rd, Rye Harbour (E. Sussex) on 24th, Hayling Island (Hants) on 25th and two on Lundy (Devon) on 26th. Nine Great Grey Shrikes included a number of coastal passage migrants, a Siberian Chiffchaff was at Landguard NR (Suffolk) on 27th and Northern Bullfinches were on Fair Isle and North Ronaldsay on 27th. Waxwings started to thin out a bit towards the end of the week (at last), but early in the period there were still three-figure flocks in Essex, Dublin, Aberdeenshire, Leicestershire and South Yorkshire.

Waxwing: Biggleswade, Beds. (Photo: Nigel Blake)

A Snowy Owl was at Balranald, North Uist (Outer Hebrides) on Tuesday 26th. Plentiful Black Kite reports are a feature of spring nowadays: two were at St. Levan (Cornwall) on Thursday 21st, one was over Stithians Reservoir (Cornwall) on Saturday 23rd, two passed over Margate (Kent) on Monday 26th and on Tuesday 27th singles were over Hailsham (E. Sussex), Great Cornward (Suffolk) and Land's End (Cornwall). Rough-legged Buzzards were at West Runton (Norfolk) on 22nd and Winterton Dunes (Norfolk) on 25th. There were just three Montagu's Harrier reports with singles in East Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Essex. A Dark-breasted Barn Owl at Veensgarth (Shetland) was later found dead.

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White-billed Diver: Port Skigersta, Outer Hebrides. (Photo: Richard Stonier) White-billed Diver: Port Skigersta, Outer Hebrides. (Photo: Richard Stonier)

Great White Egret: Saltholme Pools, Cleveland. (Photo: MJ Watson) Great White Egret: Saltholme Pools, Cleveland. (Photo: MJ Watson)

Great White Egret: Saltholme Pools, Cleveland. (Photo: John Malloy) Great White Egret: Saltholme Pools, Cleveland. (Photo: Chris Bell)

White-billed Divers off Lewis (Outer Hebrides) numbered 5 at Port Skigersta and 2 at Tiumpan Head. Also off the island, two Northern (borealis) Eider were present. Presumably this race is very much under-recorded in British and Irish waters at present, but a better understanding of the identification features will doubtless change that in due course. Adult Bonaparte's Gulls were at Peninerine, South Uist (Outer Hebrides) and Dunnet Bay (Highland), and American Herring Gulls were in Co. Galway and Co. Kerry. A Great White Egret was in Cleveland from 24th onwards and a Night Heron was a late report from last week at Holsworthy (Devon). Several White Storks are still at large, mostly in the Southwest and Midlands, though one was in Cambridgeshire/Lincolnshire. A Temminck's Stint at Filey Dams (N. Yorks) on 26th is the earliest county record, and 6 Dotterel included one at Pendle Hill (Lancs) on 24th, 3 Newburgh (Aberdeenshire) on 25th, Great Orme (Conwy) on 26th and Dunsop Bridge (Lancs) on 27th. In Norfolk the Lesser Yellowlegs remains at Stiffkey.

Dotterel: Great Orme, Conwy. (Photo: Marc Hughes) Dotterel: Great Orme, Conwy. (Photo: Chris Jones)

Lesser Yellowlegs: Stiffkey, Norfolk. (Photo: Will Bowell) White Stork: Tadham Moor, Somerset. (Photo: Tom Raven)

A good movement of Arctic Terns was noted through a number of inland sites in the Midlands and Southeast and many of the same waters also hosted excellent numbers of Little Gulls, with good numbers as far north as South Yorkshire. An inland Roseate Tern was reported from Paxton Pits (Cambs) on 23rd. Modest numbers of Pomarine Skuas were reported from the usual watchpoints, peak counts 11 off Hurst (Hants) on 24th and 7 passing Portland (Dorset) on 24th. Inland skuas included 2 Arctic Skuas over Grafham Water (Cambs) on 24th, with one over Farmoor Reservoir (Oxon) the same day and one over Draycote Water (Warks) on 25th; even rarer was an inland Great Skua over Coventry (Warks) on 26th.

Blue-winged Teal: Malltraeth, Anglesey. (Photo: John Beaumont) Blue-winged Teal: Malltraeth, Anglesey. (Photo: John Beaumont)

American Wigeon: Chain Corner, Cambs. (Photo: David Bradnum) Arctic Tern: Old Moor, S. Yorks. (Photo: Keith Pickering)

A King Eider was in Ayrshire, and another in Aberdeenshire, the Black Scoter was still in Conwy and Black Duck on Scilly, as was the popular female Blue-winged Teal on Anglesey. Also present were 7 Green-winged Teal, drake American Wigeon in Cambridgeshire, 5 Ring-necked Duck and Surf Scoter in Fife with a possible in Norfolk.

Black-necked Grebe: Prescot Res, Lancs. (Photo: Stephen Tomlinson) Black-necked Grebe: Prescot Res, Lancs. (Photo: Stephen Tomlinson)

Black Redstart: Rattray Head, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: T Keith Bruce) Black Redstart: Rattray Head, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: T Keith Bruce)

Nightingale: Whisby Pits, Lincs. (Photo: Matt Latham) Nightingale: Whisby Pits, Lincs. (Photo: Russell Hayes)

Yellow-throated Bunting: Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. Certainly takes the award for most stunning escapee of the week. (Photo: Garry Taylor) Yellow-throated Bunting: Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. (Photo: Garry Taylor)
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
Steve Blain: http://www.steveblain.co.uk
Nigel Blake: http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/birdphotos/index.htm
Will Bowell: http://www.wanderingbirders.co.nr/
Paul Bowerman: http://mysite.freeserve.com/severnsidebirds
Paul Bowyer: http://www.ukbirds.net
Andy Brett: http://www.freewebs.com/andybrett/
Martin Cade: http://www.portlandbirdobs.btinternet.co.uk
Mark Caunt: http://angusbirding.homestead.com/
Kit Day: http://www.kitday-uk.com/
Lee Dingain: http://www.leedingain.co.uk
Jon Dunn: http://www.surfbirds.com/blogs/Stercorarius/
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.co.near/
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
Jerry O'Brien: http://www.BirdsofBerkshire.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
Deryk Shaw/FIBO: http://www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk
Tom Shevlin: http://wildlifesnaps.com/
Matt Slaymaker: http://www.freewebs.com/slaymaker
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
Chris Wormwell: http://www.iombirding.co.uk
Dylan Wrathall: http://www.planetthanet.org
Written by: Russell Slack