Review of the Week: 21st-27th February 2008


The week at a glance

White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow, Cley next the Sea, Norfolk (Photo: Jamie Macarthur)

The cool, chilly frosty weather came and went quicker than you could say "cold snap" and a run of milder Atlantic air trundled in across the country this week. As may be expected at this time of year, there seemed to be little change in the birds given top billing in this week's roll of honour. The adult male White-crowned Sparrow remained at Cley (Norfolk) to the 27th, still performing well (if a little more erratic in its appearances) as it expands its territory a little further as every week passes. Another milestone was reached over the weekend of 23rd-24th: the £6000 mark was reached in the collection being made for the village church. On St. Mary's (Scilly) a Wilson's Snipe was again being seen almost daily at Lower Moors to 27th, and the first-winter American Buff-bellied Pipit was still to be found at Red Barn Strand, near Youghal (Co. Cork) to the same date. In the north of Ireland, the drake Barrow's Goldeneye was still at Quoile Pondage (Co. Down) to 21st. Last week, the taxing and teasing Thayer's Gull (or hybrid) appeared in Derbyshire after being "missing in action" for over a month. This week, it took just a few days, rather than a few weeks or so, for the bird to be found again - an evening roost appearance at Wheldrake Ings YWT (North Yorkshire) on 23rd charting the bird's northbound departure nicely.

There was very little of note in the seabird line this week. A White-billed Diver was seen in the traditional late-winter/early-spring stop-off between Port Nis and Skigersta, off the coast of Lewis (Outer Hebrides) on 27th. A lone Pomarine Skua flew out of Heysham harbour (Lancashire) on 22nd, with further singles in Kent and Dumfries & Galloway on 26th. Two Little Auks were seen off North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 23rd.

This week saw a handful of Cattle Egrets moving around the country and appearing in some central English counties for the first time during this historic invasion. Cornwall was still the centre of things in terms of "highest counts" and this week the flock present around Treganhoe Farm, Sancreed, mustered at least 18 birds on 27th. A flock of six was at St. Breock's Down on 23rd (with four there the following day), three were seen near Wadebridge on 26th, two remained near Looe to 25th, while singles were at Stithians Reservoir on 22nd-25th and at Kingsmill Lake near Landulph Marsh in the southeast of the county on 24th-25th. In Devon, two birds were seen at Dawlish Warren NNR on 22nd (with one there the following day), and these may have been the birds seen again at Powderham on 25th. A single bird was at Colaton Raleigh on 25th and at Otterton on 26th. In the north of the county, five birds were again seen near Bideford on 24th, and at the opposite end of the county, four birds remained on the Kingsbridge Estuary; also to 24th. In Somerset, five birds remained near the M5 motorway, at Thurloxton, to 21st, with four birds still there on 27th. Six sites in Dorset hosted Cattle Egrets this week, though there is a chance of a little duplication here and there. Singles were at Abbotsbury Swannery on 21st and 26th, at East Holme from 22nd-26th, at Portesham on 23rd-25th and around Lytchett Bay on 24th, while three were seen at Radipole Lake RSPB on 21st and at nearby Upwey the following day. The long-staying bird at Harbridge (Hampshire) remained until 27th, while in Wiltshire, one remained at Britford Water Meadows to 21st. Two birds lingered at East Lavant (West Sussex) to 27th, while in East Sussex, one remained at Piddinghoe to 23rd. The bird at Higher Poynton (Cheshire) was present to 27th, with a (presumed) second bird in the county, at Ness, on 24th. In Lancashire, a Cattle Egret was found at Martin Mere WWT on 23rd. On the same date, one flew over Elton (Cambridgeshire) and another was found at Fotheringhay (Northamptonshire), though neither stayed too long for respective county admirers. In Ireland, the only records of the week were of a single bird at Cork City Lough (Co. Cork) on 21st and four birds at nearby Cobh on 24th, and at Timoleague on 25th.

Great White Egret
Great White Egret, Cotswold Water Park, Wiltshire (Photo: anon)

Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis, Howden's Pullover, Lincolnshire (Photo: Mark Ranner)

Several Great White Egrets seemed to be going walkabout this week, through there was a trio that seemed to be more than happy with their current lot, at Pymoor (Cambridgeshire), Cotswold Water Park (Wiltshire) and around Thorpeness and North Warren RSPB (Suffolk). In Lancashire, one was present on the Lune Estuary on 21st while in Essex, a Great White Egret appeared at Fingringhoe Wick EWT on the same date, remaining to 24th. On 22nd, one was seen over Portesham (Dorset) around midday, with perhaps the same bird then being seen roosting at Burleston later that day. The 23rd saw singles noted at Shapwick Heath NNR (Somerset) and on the Exe Estuary (Devon), while the 24th saw the reappearance of the bird seen last week near Caersws (Powys) and another bird paying a brief visit to Windsor Great Park (Berkshire). Nine Spoonbills were seen at Arne RSPB (Dorset) on 24th, while seven remained at Isley Marsh RSPB to 23rd. Three birds spent some time at Lodmoor RSPB (Dorset) from 21st-23rd (with two there on 24th-25th) while two were noted at Pennington Marshes (Hampshire) on 23rd. A single bird remained on Scilly to the start of the week. Two Glossy Ibises were again noted throughout the week: the obliging Spanish-ringed bird at Howden's Pullover (Lincolnshire) lingered to 27th while the bird at Warton Marsh (Lancashire) remained to 24th. The Common Cranes residing recently in Scotland seemed to become a little more restless this week as the group of what was 11 birds near Elgin (Moray) became, firstly, eight and then three over the course of the week. On 23rd, five birds flew south over Cruden Bay (Aberdeenshire), roosting at Slains Pool later the same day, leaving three birds in Moray. The three birds in Highland, at Hastigrow, were still in place to 23rd. Quite where the Scottish birds are heading is anyone's guess - out and across the North Sea, but which way will they turn? The group of semi-resident birds in the Norfolk Broads has seen a slight rise in the numbers of birds present this week, up to 25 present at Stubb Mill, Hickling NWT on 23rd while; also in Norfolk, one remained at Welney WWT to 25th at least. A group of three flying north over Horsham (West Sussex) on 21st were certainly of note, and may well be genuine continental stock too. A Spotted Crake was reported again at Shoreham-by-Sea (West Sussex) on 26th.

Black Duck
Black Duck, Blanket Nook, Lough Swilly, Donegal (Photo: Dermot Breen)

Lesser Scaup
Lesser Scaup, Clea Lakes, Down (Photo: Derek Charles)

King Eider
King Eider, Instow, Devon (Photo: Paul Bowyer)

Green-winged Teal
Green-winged Teal, Marshside RSPB, Lancashire (Photo: Philip Price)

American Wigeon
American Wigeon, Angle Bay, Pembrokeshire (Photo: Darren Pearce)

Two Ross's Geese and a white Snow Goose were on offer in east Norfolk during the early part of the week, with all three birds noted between Horsey and Waxham on the afternoon of 23rd. A white Snow Goose was still at Craobh Haven (Argyll) on 24th, while a blue Snow Goose was at Anstruther (Fife) on 23rd-27th. A "Lesser" Canada Goose (parvipes) was seen at Loch Leven (Perth & Kinross) on 22nd, in the company of Pink-footed and Barnacle Geese. A "Richardson's" Canada Goose (hutchinsii) was again at Ballintemple (Co. Sligo) on 23rd. Four or five Black Brants continued to be seen along the north Norfolk coast this week, with others noted in Dorset, West Sussex, Lincolnshire and County Down. Two drake American Wigeon were seen this week: at Angle Bay (Pembrokeshire) to 22nd, and at Poyllvaaish (Isle of Man) from 22nd-24th. In Ireland, the drake Black Duck was seen again at Lough Swilly (Co. Donegal) on 24th. Just five drake Green-winged Teal this week, in what has been a generally poor few days for wildfowl. One was still present at Marshside RSPB (Lancashire) to 27th, and the bird at Woodhorn Flash (Northumberland) remained to 25th. New birds appeared at Eyebrook Reservoir (Leicestershire) on 26th and at Sandbach Flashes (Cheshire) on 27th while in Ireland the drake remained at Bell Harbour (Co. Galway) until 25th. The presumed hybrid drake Green-winged Teal x Eurasian Teal was still at Salthouse (Norfolk) on 23rd. Two drake Garganeys made early landfall this week on 24th - at the London Wetland Centre WWT and the National Wetlands Centre (Carmarthenshire), and these were followed by a pair at North Cave Wetlands (North Yorkshire) on 26th. The drake Garganey was also still present in Dumfries & Galloway to 27th. Six Lesser Scaup were reported this week, all bar one of them a long-staying bird. The "newbie" was an adult drake at Castle Loch NR (Dumfries & Galloway) on 26th-27th, while other adult drakes on Coot Loch, Benbecula (Outer Hebrides), at Stourton NT (Wiltshire) and on Lough Arrow (Co. Sligo) all lingered to 23rd at least. The first-winter drake at Draycote Water (Warwickshire) remained to 27th. In Ireland, a female was still at Clea Lakes (Co. Down) to 24th. Only three Ring-necked Ducks were seen this week and again there was nothing new to play with. Adult drakes remained in Somerset (at Portbury) and Buckinghamshire (at Foxcote), while the female was still at Stithians Reservoir (Cornwall), to 23rd at least. The drake Ferruginous Duck was again present on Craigavon North Lake (Co. Armagh) on 27th and Devon's first King Eider continued to draw the crowds to the Taw/Torridge Estuary to the same date, while another first-winter drake was seen off Murcar golf course (Aberdeenshire) on 24th and prompted the question as to whether the youngster had finally set sail from Girdle Ness and started a northward drift. After a rise last week, there was a decided fall this week in numbers of Surf Scoters reported, down to just four, two of which were long-standing first-winter females. The wintering bird off Dawlish Warren (Devon) remained to 27th, while the bird at Silver Strand (Co. Galway) was in place to 27th (with a second bird alongside too). A drake remained off Dornoch (Highland) on 26th.

The juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard on the north Norfolk coast continued to frequent the area between Burnham Deepdale, Burnham Norton and Scolt Head Island to 27th. Also in Norfolk, a Rough-legged Buzzard was reported over Ridlington on 21st. Also on 21st, one was reported over Sherborne (Dorset). On the Isle of Sheppey (Kent) two birds remained until at least 23rd and on the same date, a "Rough-leg" was noted at Dolydd Hafren MWT (Powys).

Lesser Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs, Montrose Basin, Angus & Dundee (Photo: Pete & Sue Morrison)

The first-winter Spotted Sandpiper remained at Lisvane Reservoir (Glamorgan) to 24th and the Long-billed Dowitcher at Bowling Green Marsh RSPB (Devon) was present to 26th. The Lesser Yellowlegs on the Montrose Basin (Angus) was still present to 26th.

American Herring Gull
American Herring Gull, Galway, Galway (Photo: Tom Cuffe)

Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex (Photo: Steve Arlow)

Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull, Lamby, Glamorgan (Photo: Paul Roberts)

Caspian Gull
Caspian Gull, Hole Haven, Canvey Island, Essex (Photo: Steve Arlow)

Glaucous Gull
Glaucous Gull, Mallaig, Highland (Photo: Stephen Mac Donald)

The adult Bonaparte's Gull was again noted on the Ugie Estuary (Aberdeenshire) on 23rd, the first time the bird has been reported for over a month. After an impressive showing last week, Ring-billed Gull numbers dropped to just above double figures this week. The first-winter remained at Lamby Lake (Glamorgan) from 21st-27th and a second-winter bird was coming to bread at Penrhos CP (Anglesey) between 23rd and 27th. Elsewhere, notable singles were at Sandbach Flashes (Cheshire) on 23rd and 27th, again at Oban (Argyll) on 24th and at Boddington Reservoir (Northamptonshire) on 27th. Two birds were at Nimmo's Pier (Co. Galway) on 23rd. The juvenile American Herring Gull remained around Nimmo's Pier (Co. Galway) to 24th, when it was joined by the rather on-and-off adult. Both birds were present on 27th. A first-winter was also reported at Gramsdale, Benbecula (Outer Hebrides) on 27th. Around 20 Caspian Gulls were reported this week, including up to three birds in Cheshire, an adult in Lancashire (at Withnell Fold NR), a second-winter at Llandegfedd Reservoir (Gwent) on 23rd and 26th and a first-winter at Radipole Lake RSPB (Dorset) on 26th-27th. There was a drop in the number of Glaucous Gulls reported over the past week, down to just 50 birds. Five birds were at Killybegs (Co. Donegal) on 23rd, while four were at Ardivachar Point, South Uist (Outer Hebrides) on 22nd, and three birds roosted at Wheldrake Ings NR (North Yorkshire) on 24th-25th. Iceland Gulls also saw a drop in numbers this week, with some 100 birds recorded. Of these, 32 were at two sites in Ireland on 23rd, 15 at Nimmo's Pier (Co. Galway) and 17 at Killybegs (Co. Donegal), though 20 birds were at Nimmo's on 27th. Four or five birds were still to be seen in west Cornwall, and half a dozen were to be seen around the Outer Hebrides. The only Kumlien's Gulls were all in Ireland: an adult at Cork City Lough (Co. Cork) on 21st, one at Rossaveal (Co. Galway) on 23rd, a second-winter still at Greencastle (Co. Donegal) on 24th, an adult in Larne Harbour (Co. Antrim) and two at Nimoo's Pier (Co. Galway) on 27th. Two adult Forster's Terns were in Ireland on 24th, at Nimmo's Pier (Co. Galway) and at Killyleagh (Co. Down), with the former present to 27th, the latter to 26th.

Black-bellied Dipper
Black-bellied Dipper, Watton, East Yorkshire (Photo: Russell Hayes)

The presumed eastern-race Yellow Wagtail remained at Trevollard (Cornwall) to 21st with the Richard's Pipit there lingering one day more, to 22nd. In Lincolnshire, the Richard's Pipit at Howden's Pullover (Lincolnshire) remained to 27th. A male Ring Ouzel, first seen on 6th February, was still to be seen at Ham Green (Somerset) on 26th. Just over 20 Waxwings were reported this week, 15 at Shibdon Pond (Co. Durham) on 24th the largest group. The Dark-breasted Barn Owl was still present on Wacton Common near Long Stratton (Norfolk) to 27th while the Black-bellied Dipper at Watton (East Yorkshire) remained to at least 24th. A Hoopoe discovered at Polgigga (Cornwall) on 25th (and still present on 27th) was doubtless an early migrant rather than a lingering wintering bird, and there was little doubting where the handful of Sand Martins and Northern Wheatears had travelled from.

Yellow-browed Warbler
Yellow-browed Warbler, Hereford, Herefordshire (Photo: George Ewart)

The three Hume's Yellow-browed Warblers continued their last-winter temporary residences into another week. In Cornwall, the bird at Cot Valley was present to 23rd, while the bird at Tehidy CP, near Camborne, was present to 27th. The bird at Stockton-on-Tees (Cleveland) also lingered to 27th. Yellow-browed Warblers this week included two birds in Devon (in Plymouth and near Bovey Tracey, on the edge of Dartmoor), along with others still at Helston (Cornwall), Chew Valley Lake (Somerset), Bartonsham (Herefordshire) and still in Jarrow (Co. Durham) to 26th. A rather unseasonable, stripy Phylloscopus hat-trick was concluded with the discovery of a Pallas's Warbler at Oakers Wood near Bere Regis (Dorset) on 24th, the bird still present to 27th.

Great Grey Shrike
Great Grey Shrike, Budby Common, Nottinghamshire (Photo: Ray Purser)

Great Grey Shrike
Great Grey Shrike, Speech House Woodland, Gloucestershire (Photo: Keith Simpson)

Lapland Bunting
Lapland Bunting, Salthouse, Norfolk (Photo: Neil Triggs)

The Chough at Warton Crag LWT (Lancashire) remained to 25th at least; the species is still desperately rare away from its Celtic breeding grounds. Two wintering Rose-coloured Starlings emerged from the woodwork this week: one at East Cowes (Isle of Wight) had been present since October last year, while a bird at Haverfordwest (Pembrokeshire) had been in the area for "several days" and was still present to 27th. An Arctic Redpoll reported at Crowdy Reservoir (Cornwall) on 25th will be an outstanding record for the county if deemed acceptable. Over 20 Great Grey Shrikes included up to three birds in Hampshire, two in Gloucestershire, Norfolk and in Devon, which included one cavorting around a traditional wintering spot in and around the moorland valleys near the Soussons plantation at Warren House Inn in the heart of Dartmoor.

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Photo of the Week

Lesser Kestrel
Lesser Kestrel, Turkey (Asian) (Photo: Selen Ediger)

Taken in bright Turkish sunlight, Selen Ediger's flight shot of a Lesser Kestrel is one of those vivid images that hits you between the eyes. The first thing you notice is the dynamic pose and rich colours, the fully lit red flanks contrasting with the deep blue sky. On further inspection, though, the hard lighting has been harnessed to render more subtle effects: highlighting the eye and head, backlighting the fanned tail and 'relief-lighting' the underwing, bringing out every textural detail in the feathers.

Other notable photos

Black-bellied Dipper
Black-bellied Dipper, Watton, East Yorkshire (Photo: Steve Race)

Red Kite
Red Kite, Gigrin Farm, Powys (Photo: Pauline Greenhalgh)

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret, Spain (Photo: Steve Fletcher)

Green Bee-eater
Green Bee-eater, India (Photo: Kit Day)

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl, North Gare, Cleveland (Photo: David Brown)

Common Buzzard
Common Buzzard, Gigrin Farm, Powys (Photo: David Cookson)

Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire (Photo: Lewis Thomson)

Siskin, Wyre Forest, Worcestershire (Photo: John Robinson)

Starling, undisclosed site, Hampshire (Photo: Lee Fuller)

Written by: Mark Golley