Review of the Week: 21st-27th August 2003


A switch to some autumnal weather across parts of the country brought some interesting seawatching and a scattering of rare and scarce migrants.

Citrine Wagtail: Kelling Water Meadows, Norfolk. (Photo: Jon Burrell) Citrine Wagtail: Kelling Water Meadows, Norfolk. (Photo: David H Hatton)

A Citrine Wagtail at Kelling Water Meadows (Norfolk) on 23rd was a good find and showed well to the 25th. Although numerically not particularly rare nowadays, sightings away from Shetland are unusual enough to attract a crowd. It is surprising to think that the first record of this super wagtail occurred as recently as 1954 when one was trapped on Fair Isle. There have been three previously accepted records for Norfolk, the last of which was also at Kelling in 1995.

Citrine Wagtail: Kelling Water Meadows, Norfolk. (Photo: Steve Blain) Citrine Wagtail: Kelling Water Meadows, Norfolk. (Photo: Mark Harper)

As would be expected in late August, rare warblers began to be found. An Arctic Warbler was at Kilnsea (E. Yorks) from 25th to at least 27th, but was elusive. Further Greenish Warblers included singles at Gunton (Suffolk) from 25th-26th and Reculver (Kent) from 26th-27th. Last week's individual on Fetlar (Shetland) remained to the 21st. A Western Bonelli's Warbler was seen briefly at Sandwich Bay (Kent) on the 24th. Four Melodious Warblers included birds on Dursey Island (Co. Cork) on 21st, and Cape Clear (Co. Cork) on 26th, with one at Reculver (Kent) on 27th. One trapped on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 24th was a notable record so far north. Four Icterine Warblers included one on Bardsey (Gwynedd) on 24th and a trio of birds on the Isles of Scilly: St. Agnes on 26th, St. Mary's on 27th and Bryher on 27th. Barred Warblers were scarce with just three singles, birds on Unst and Fair Isle (Shetland) on 25th and the Farne Islands (Northumberland) on 26th. At least 17 Wrynecks included 3 on St. Agnes on 26th with all, bar two in Yorkshire, between Kent and Cornwall. Four Red-backed Shrikes included singles at Sennen (Cornwall) and Foula (Shetland) on 25th, St. Agnes on 26th and Bryher on 27th. The first Red-breasted Flycatcher of the autumn was noted on Whalsay on 22nd. Typically scarce nowadays, just two Ortolan Buntings were seen with one on St. Mary's from 26th-27th and Portland (Dorset) on 27th. Common Rosefinches were restricted to Shetland, with two on Foula (Shetland) on 25th another at Whalsay the same day and one on Unst on 26th. The southwest hosted all three of the week's Tawny Pipits with singles on Bryher on 24th, St. Martin's on 25th and Nanjizal (Cornwall) on 26th. A Hoopoe was reported from Cynghordy (Carmarthen) on 25th. A Rose-coloured Starling was at California (Forth) from 26th-27th and is another addition to the healthy total for the summer.

Wryneck: Church Norton, W. Sussex. A good scattering of birds were noted along the south coast. (Photo: Paul Norris)

It was a good week for seawatchers with a spell of westerlies and northerlies to ensure action from most watchpoints at some time during the week. Highlights were Fea's Petrels past Bridges of Ross (Co. Clare) on 21st, with one past Flamborough Head (E. Yorks) on 24th and perhaps the same bird past Whitburn (Co. Durham) on 26th. A summer-plumaged White-billed Diver passed Lizard Point (Co. Durham) and then Newton Point (Northumberland) on 26th. A dozen Wilson's Storm-petrels were noted during the week with 6 past the Bridges of Ross on 22nd and singles past there on 21st and 25th, with another past Quilty on 22nd. Elsewhere, birds were seen from the pelagic south of St. Mary's on 22nd and 25th and another off Union Hall (Co. Cork) on 22nd. A smattering of Sabine's Gulls included 9 past Port Vasgo (Highland) on 22nd.

Pectoral Sandpiper: Gwithian, Cornwall. It's been a good autumn so far for Pecs, and at least 18 were present during the week. (Photo: Steve Marshall) Temminck's Stint: Farlington Marshes, Hants. (Photo: Bob Chapman)

Red-necked Phalarope: King's Lynn, Norfolk. (Photo: Steve Blain)

Relatively few rare waders were reported, the highlight a Baird's Sandpiper at Shannon Airport (Co. Clare) on 27th and a Lesser Yellowlegs on the Rogerstown Estuary (Dublin) from 21st-23rd. An excellent tally of Pectoral Sandpipers were noted, with up to 18 reported during the week, including two at Culmore Point (Co. Wexford) and two at Kilbaha Bay (Co. Clare). A Red-necked Phalarope was at South Huish Marsh (Devon) from 26th, with the bird at King's Lynn remaining to 24th. Grey Phalaropes were noted past the Bridges of Ross on 22nd. Temminck's Stints remained at Belvide Reservoir (Staffs) to 23rd and Farlington Marshes (Hants) to 25th with others reported at Cley (Norfolk) and Beddington SF (London). Juvenile Dotterels were at Pen-y-Fan (Powys) on 25th, Nanjizal on 26th and 27th and the Isle of Man on 27th.

Great White Egret: Mockbeggar Lake, Hants. Will there be a better year to find one on your patch? (Photo: Andy Farr) Blue-winged Teal: Chew Valley Lake, Somerset. The female continued to show well at Chew Valley Lake. (Photo: Paul Burrows)

Great White Egrets kept up their high profile. Singles were present through the week at Rutland Water and Drakelow WR (Derbyshire) with others reported from Rye Harbour (E. Sussex), Wimborne (Dorset), Titchwell RSPB (Norfolk) and Mockbeggar Lake (Hants). At this rate they will not be a BBRC rarity for much longer! A sub-adult Night Heron was at Bushey (Herts) on 26th and a Purple Heron flew over Pagham Harbour (W. Sussex) on 23rd. The week produced just one Spotted Crake with a bird at Hetton Bog (Co. Durham) on 24th. White-headed Ducks were present in Gloucestershire/Somerset, London and Oxfordshire.

Snowy Owl: North Uist, Outer Hebrides. (Photo: Paul Hackett) Snowy Owl: North Uist, Outer Hebrides (Photo: Paul Hackett)

A number of long-stayers continued to please. The Snowy Owl remained on North Uist (Outer Hebrides) throughout the week, as did the Gull-billed Tern in Co. Donegal. All three Red-footed Falcons continued to show well with 1st-summer males in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire and the female in Aberdeenshire.

Red-footed Falcon: Wicken Fen, Cambs. (Photo: Bill Baston) Red-footed Falcon: Ythan Estuary, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: John Malloy)
Written by: Russell Slack