Review of the Week: 21st-27th July 2005

Bee-eater: Hampton Bishop, Herefs. (Photo: Steve Evans) Bee-eater: Hampton Bishop, Herefs. (Photo: David Slater)

Persistent pelagic birders from the Isles of Scilly deservedly bagged the rarity of the week, when a Swinhoe's Storm-petrel was watched 7 miles south of St. Mary's on Tuesday 21st. With just 4 previous British records and 2 Irish records, this all dark medium-sized storm-petrel is highly desired by many birders. A famous sequence of records came from Northumberland in 1989 and 1990 when 3 birds were trapped during tape-luring sessions at Tynemouth. Detailed research at the time led to the conclusive identification of these birds, one of which returned for consecutive summers and was last reported in 1994. The Tynemouth individual has offered birders the only opportunity to see this species in our waters. Although the breeding range is from the coastal islands of the western Pacific from south-east Russia, Honshu (Japan) and Korea south to Taiwan, it has recently been discovered at a number of localities in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean and might be more frequent in our waters than the occasional records suggest. The Scilly sighting recalls the controversial 'Chalice petrel' seen from the MV Chalice southwest of Scilly on 3rd August 1988. The identity of this bird has been hotly debated over the years, though a recent paper proclaimed that it was a Swinhoe's Storm-petrel and the features noted on the bird last week rightly support the conclusion drawn on the 'Chalice petrel'.

Equally elusive (some might say more so!) in British and Irish waters, the mystical Little Shearwater featured twice this week with one reported passing Uisaed Point (Argyll) on Thursday 21st and another passing Corsewall Point (Dumfries and Galloway) on Tuesday 26th. Small numbers of Cory's Shearwaters were noted during the week, including 24 past Prawle Point (Devon) on 21st, though all others reported were single-figure counts in the Southwest, with the exception of a couple in the North Sea and one in Co. Kerry. Good numbers of Balearic Shearwaters were seen in the English Channel, the maximum count of this endangered species 50 passing Berry Head (Devon) on 24th. The cumulative total of Long-tailed Skuas crept into low double figures, all of which were along the east coast except for one in Argyllshire. Two Little Auks passing Scarborough (N. Yorks) on Friday 22nd were out of season. A Wilson's Storm-petrel was noted from the Scilly pelagic on 22nd, with another on 25th, and 3 passed Bridges of Ross (Co. Kerry) on 23rd. Those reported surely the tip of the iceberg for the numbers of this former mega-rarity in the Southwest Approaches.

Sooty Tern: Cemlyn, Anglesey. (Photo: Ian Butler) Sooty Tern: Cemlyn, Anglesey. (Photo: Vince Garvey)
Sooty Tern: Cemlyn, Anglesey. (Photo: Will Bowell) Sooty Tern: Cemlyn, Anglesey. (Photo: Steve Round)

The Sooty Tern continued to entertain visitors to Cemlyn (Anglesey) with superb views throughout much of the week, though patience was sometimes required. In Suffolk the Lesser Crested Tern seen previously in Switzerland and Norfolk was at Minsmere early on 21st and then at Bawdsey late on 22nd. A Gull-billed Tern was at Portrane (Dublin) on Tuesday 26th with another reported off Sizewell (Suffolk) on Wednesday 27th. A 1st-summer Laughing Gull was at Scalby Lodge Pond (N. Yorks) all too briefly for Yorkshire birders on Friday 22nd and the adult was again at Echna Loch, Burray (Orkney) through the week. An adult Bonaparte's Gull was at Luskentyre, Harris (Outer Hebrides) on Friday 22nd. Ring-billed Gulls included birds in Norfolk, Lancs, Co. Kerry and Co. Galway and two Caspian Gulls were in Leics. In Orkney the 2nd-summer White-billed Diver remained at Graemeshall (Orkney) through the week.

White-billed Diver: Graemeshall, Orkney. (Photo: Stuart Williams)

Bee-eater: Hampton Bishop, Herefs. (Photo: Steve Evans) Bee-eater: Hampton Bishop, Herefs. (Photo: Will Bowell)

News of the week was the public release of information on a breeding pair of Bee-eaters at Hampton Bishop (Herefs) by the RSPB. This is only the 4th occasion this species has been known to breed in Britain – before this, the most recent was in 2002 in Co. Durham. A possible Marsh Warbler was at Arne (Dorset) on 24th. The Black-headed Wagtail remained at South Huish Marsh (Devon) through the week, as did the Rose-coloured Starling at Freswick (Highland) and another was on Coll (Argyll) on 26th. A Woodchat Shrike was at Raffin (Highland) from 21st-26th.

Bittern: Lincs. (Photo: Dean Eades)

Spoonbill: Blacktoft Sands, E. Yorks. (Photo: Keith Pickering) Spoonbill: Blacktoft Sands, E. Yorks.

In Co. Donegal there was a report of a Gyr Falcon on Doagh Isle. A Cattle Egret was over Ocknell Plain (Hants) on 21st, and a juvenile was at St. Leonard's on Sea (E. Sussex) to at least 23rd (present since 10th). A colour-ringed Cattle Egret at Attlebridge (Norfolk) had originated from Pensthorpe (Norfolk) where apparently 5 escaped last week, two of which have now been recaptured. Great White Egrets were at Lepe Beach (Hants) on 23rd, Sturminster Marshall (Dorset) from 24th-25th and Wimborne Marsh (Dorset) on 25th. A juvenile Purple Heron was at Thursley Common (Surrey) on 27th and several White Storks of unknown origin were reported.

Roseate Tern: Cemlyn, Anglesey. (Photo: Tony Mills) Roseate Tern: Cemlyn, Anglesey. (Photo: Will Bowell)

White-rumped Sandpipers were on the Wyre Estuary (Lancs) from 26th onwards and at Farlington Marshes (Hants) on 27th. A Kentish Plover was on Hickling Broad (Norfolk) on 27th and a Red-necked Phalarope at Elmley Marshes (Kent) from 24th onwards. A Pectoral Sandpiper was at East Chevington (Northumberland) from 26th-27th. In Suffolk the juvenile Marsh Sandpiper relocated from Minsmere to North Warren from 21st-25th. A King Eider was at Wester Quarff (Shetland) on 23rd, a Lesser Scaup at Stapleton/Cleasby GPs (N. Yorks) from 21st-23rd and the Ferruginous Duck at Fen Drayton (Cambs) through the week. A number of Ruddy Shelduck included long-staying singles in Cheshire, Aberdeenshire, North Yorkshire, 3 on Harris (Outer Hebrides), 3 in Buckinghamshire and 4 in Leicestershire.

Snipe: Earsdon, Northumberland. Leucistic bird. (Photo: Gary Smith) Sanderling: Cemlyn, Anglesey. (Photo: Steve Round)
Arctic Skua: Gormanstown, Co. Meath. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Shag: Hayling Island, Hants. (Photo: George Spraggs)
Bearded Tit: Titchwell, Norfolk. (Photo: Sean Gray) Chough: Point of Ayre, Isle of Man. (Photo: Sean Gray)
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
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/
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/
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
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
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
Simon Wilson: http://www.bakewellbirder.co.uk/
Chris Wormwell: http://www.iombirding.co.uk
Dylan Wrathall: http://www.planetthanet.org
Written by: Russell Slack