Review of the Week: 21st–27th September 2006


The week at a glance:

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler: Cape Clear, Co. Cork (photo: Michael O'Keefe).

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler: Cape Clear, Co. Cork (photo: Tom Shevlin).

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler: Cape Clear, Co. Cork (photo: Michael O'Keefe). Eastern Olivaceous Warbler: Cape Clear, Co. Cork (photo: Michael O'Keefe).

For the first time in quite a few weeks the rarity pendulum swung away from waders as a southeasterly airflow delivered some quality rares to our shores. Pick of the bunch was an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler on Cape Clear (Co. Cork) from 24th-26th. There have been two previously accepted records for Ireland, the last of which was at the same site in 1999. With just 11 additional British records this was, numerically at least, the rarest species on offer this week, though several of the recent records have been of long-stayers. The Cape Clear bird was obliging and was well photographed, with these images no doubt scrutinized very carefully following the re-identification of an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler earlier in the autumn. An 'Olivaceous warbler' species was belatedly reported from Tresco (Scilly) on the 25th.

Pallid Harrier: Winterton, Norfolk (photo: Mark Breaks).

Pallid Harrier: Winterton, Norfolk (photo: Mark Breaks). Pallid Harrier: Winterton, Norfolk (photo: R. McIntyre).

This week was most definitely not a 'one bird week'. Back-up came in the shape of a superb juvenile Pallid Harrier at Winterton (Norfolk) from 23rd onwards. Although juveniles have been a feature of autumn on Shetland in recent years, it was a bonus for birders on the mainland to be able to catch up with one of these gorgeous birds in such plumage. This is the 3rd county record; it will be interesting to see how many more cross the North Sea before the autumn is out.

Isabelline Wheatear: Carmel Head, Anglesey (photo: Stephen Menzie).

Isabelline Wheatear: Carmel Head, Anglesey (photo: Rob Smallwood).

Isabelline Wheatear: Carmel Head, Anglesey (photo: Steve Culley). Isabelline Wheatear: Carmel Head, Anglesey (photo: Matt Latham).
Isabelline Wheatear: Carmel Head, Anglesey (photo: Gary Waddington). Isabelline Wheatear: Carmel Head, Anglesey (photo: Marc Hughes).

At the opposite side of Britain an Isabelline Wheatear at Carmel Head (Anglesey) was an equally popular attraction from 23rd-25th. A true 'birder's bird', this subtle species never seems to stay long and a weekend opportunity was no doubt greatly appreciated by those who travelled to see it.

Marbled Duck: Stanpit Marsh, Dorset (photo: Robin Edwards).

Marbled Duck: Stanpit Marsh, Dorset (photo: David Ryves).

It would be pretty dull if there wasn't something contentious to discuss and after pelicans what better family to concentrate on than ducks! The appearance of a juvenile Marbled Duck at Stanpit Marsh (Dorset) from 23rd to at least 27th and another bird at Rye Harbour (E. Sussex) from 25th-26th certainly got folk talking about weather patterns, timing, age and associated species. For a while at least, it looked like the credentials of these birds could have brought about an upgrade in status on the British list to Category A. This may still be the case, but both birds have been described as approachable and general interest has waned. Approachability in wildfowl is, of course, well known; perhaps more relevant to these birds is whether further records appear in northwest Europe. Without backup, it seems likely that these birds will also fall short for most regarding the criteria necessary to ascend to Category A of the British list.

Olive-backed Pipit: Out Skerries, Shetland (photo: Michael McKee).

Black-headed Bunting: Fetlar, Shetland (photo: Michael McKee).

Far less contentious was an Isabelline Shrike (of the form phoenicuroides, more often referred to as Turkestan Shrike) at Bru, Lewis (Outer Hebrides) from 22nd onwards, yet another pointer towards the potential of these islands for would-be finders of rare birds. A mainland Pechora Pipit at Flamborough Head (E. Yorks) was a rare find away from the Northern Isles, and brought back memories of the Filey (N. Yorks) bird of 1994, but it had sadly departed by the time most birders got to the site. More predictable in location, Pechora Pipits lingered on Fetlar (Shetland) to 23rd and Fair Isle (Shetland) to 23rd. There were Citrine Wagtails at Scatness (Shetland) on 23rd and Out Skerries (Shetland) on 24th and at Derrymore (Co. Kerry) from 25th-26th. An Olive-backed Pipit was also on Out Skerries on 27th. A Blyth's Reed Warbler was on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) from 23rd-25th, and Western Bonelli's Warblers were on St. Agnes (Scilly) from 22nd-25th and St. Abb's Head (Borders) from 25th-26th, with unassigned birds on Bardsey (Gwynedd) on 24th and St. Mary's (Scilly) on 26th. The Booted Warbler remained on Fetlar to the 22nd and the Siberian Stonechat on Whalsay (Shetland) to the 21st. A Black-headed Bunting remained at Toab (Shetland) to 21st and another was on Fetlar from 21st-24th. There were Arctic Warblers at Geosetter (Shetland) from 21st-27th, with others reported on St. Mary's (Scilly) on 23rd and Coll (Argyll) on 26th.

Barred Warbler: Unst, Shetland (photo: Peter Stronach).

Rustic Bunting: Foula, Shetland (photo: Russell Wynn). Ortolan Bunting: Rame, Cornwall (photo: Phil Stidwill).

A Subalpine Warbler was on St. Agnes (Scilly) from 26th onwards and a Greenish Warbler at Whitburn (Durham) on 24th and 25th. On Fair Isle the Aquatic Warbler was retrapped on 21st, the first sighting of the bird since it was first trapped there on 16th! Around 80 Yellow-browed Warblers were reported, though relatively few penetrated south or west, and a Rustic Bunting was on Foula (Shetland) on 27th. Most of the 25 Barred Warblers were confined to Shetland, though one at East India Dock (London) on 25th and 26th was notable. There were 4 Marsh Warblers reported, with similar numbers of Icterine Warblers and Melodious Warblers. Little Buntings were at Dale of Walls (Shetland) and Fair Isle, and 20 Common Rosefinches included 4 on Fair Isle. Bluethroats remain in short supply, with just 3 reported on the Northern Isles, though a dozen Hoopoes, mostly in southern Ireland and the southwest, was a good showing.

Rose-coloured Starling: Cape Clear, Co. Cork (photo: Tom Shevlin).

Red-rumped Swallow: Hoswick, Shetland (photo: Michael McKee).

Red-backed Shrike: Fife Ness, Fife (photo: John Anderson).

Wryneck: Solihull, W. Midlands (photo: Steve Valentine).

Rose-coloured Starling: Benacre, Suffolk (photo: Mike Parker). Tawny Pipit: Cemlyn, Anglesey (photo: Marc Hughes).
Red-backed Shrike: Cloughton, N. Yorks (photo: Dave Mansell). Red-backed Shrike: Unst, Shetland (photo: Mike Pennington).

There were Golden Orioles in Devon and Shetland, and five Woodchat Shrikes included one on Unst (Shetland). Around 20 Red-backed Shrikes were found and a 'grey shrike species' flew over the London Wetland Centre (London) on 23rd. Seven Tawny Pipits were noteworthy and 6 brief Richard's Pipits were well spread. There were Short-toed Larks on Bardsey and Fair Isle, and 7 Ortolan Buntings were largely confined to the southwest. Seven Rose-coloured Starlings were typically obliging, including birds in the southwest, East Anglia and Co. Cork. Red-breasted Flycatchers reached into double figures, the Red-rumped Swallow remained at Hoswick (Shetland) and a Pallid Swift was over Portland (Dorset) on 23rd. At least 50 Wrynecks were logged, including a popular and obliging bird at Solihull (W. Midlands), though most were in the southwest.

Lesser Yellowlegs: Meikle Loch, Aberdeenshire (photo: Ian Fulton).

Lesser Yellowlegs: Meikle Loch, Aberdeenshire (photo: John Anderson).

There was still a fine array of waders on offer. A Black-winged Stilt at Tacumshin/Lady's Island Lake (Co. Wexford) from 22nd-23rd was relocated across the Irish Sea at Coedbach Marsh (Carmarthen) from 24th-26th; another was reported on Bryher (Scilly) on 26th. The Least Sandpiper on the Hayle Estuary (Cornwall) remained to 24th and the Wilson's Phalarope at Stithians Reservoir (Cornwall) was present to 25th and another was at Ross Bay (Co. Clare) on 23rd. A juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher at Upper Bittell Reservoir (Worcs) from 25th was only the second county record, whilst the adult remained at Gibraltar Point (Lincs). Half a dozen Lesser Yellowlegs included the obliging bird at Meikle Loch (Aberdeenshire) and the most popular, and accessible, of several Semipalmated Sandpipers was one at Slimbridge (Glos) from 22nd-24th, during part of a period when the reserve resembled something of a Nearctic wader hotspot!

Pectoral Sandpiper: Northwick Warth, Glos (photo: Paul Bowerman).

Semipalmated Sandpiper: Slimbridge, Glos (photo: Paul Masters). Semipalmated Sandpiper: Slimbridge, Glos (photo: Mark Trott).
Black-winged Stilt: Lady's Island Lake, Co. Wexford (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly). American Golden Plover: Tacumshin, Co. Wexford (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly).
Kentish Plover: Severn Beach, Glos (photo: John Martin). Pectoral Sandpiper: Frampton, Glos (photo: Mark Trott).

Three American Golden Plovers included the long-staying adult on Lewis (Outer Hebrides), a juvenile on nearby South Uist (Outer Hebrides) and a juvenile was at Tacumshin. The latter site also accommodated White-rumped Sandpiper and Baird's Sandpiper, and further Baird's were at Cross Lough (Co. Mayo) and Carrahane (Co. Kerry). Over 20 Buff-breasted Sandpipers included up to 6 at Tacumshin and at least 50 Pectoral Sandpipers were on offer, including 4 at both Slimbridge and Stithians Reservoir. Temminck's Stints were at Meare Heath (Somerset), Rye Harbour (E. Sussex) and Martin Mere (Lancs) and a Kentish Plover was at Severn Beach (Glos) on 22nd. A Grey Phalarope passed Titchwell (Norfolk) on 26th and at least 5 Dotterel were reported.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Slimbridge, Glos (photo: Terry Fenton).

Bonaparte's Gull: Castlegregory, Co. Kerry (photo: Michael O'Keefe).

An Azorean Yellow-legged Gull was at Carrahane Strand (Co. Kerry) on 25th, the bird was first seen on 6th September. More expected were 7 Ring-billed Gulls, but Sabine's Gulls at Rother Valley (S. Yorks) on 22nd and Blithfield Reservoir (Staffs) on 24th were notable inland finds. Long-staying Bonaparte's Gulls remained in Northumberland, at Newbiggin, and Co. Kerry, the latter relocated at Castlegregory and then back at Inch. The White-winged Black Tern remained at Whittle Dene Reservoirs (Northumbs) to 25th, with others at William Girling (London) on 23rd and Newbiggin on 27th.

Long-tailed Skua: The Wash, Lincs (photo: Dean Eades).

Seabird of the week was a superb Little Shearwater passing Mousehole (Cornwall) on 21st, though few seabirds of note made it to the news page for the rest of the week. A White-billed Diver off Newbiggin on 27th completed a decent period for the site. Another Eleonora's Falcon was reported, this time over Plymstock (Devon) on 23rd. The Snowy Owl remained in Co. Mayo, as did the bird on the Outer Hebrides, and a Black Kite passed over Brading Marsh (Isle of Wight) on 22nd, plus a Red-footed Falcon was reported at Glencolmkille (Co. Donegal) on 25th. A Purple Heron was reported over Meare Heath on 23rd, the Night Heron remained in East Sussex and the Great White Egret returned to Blashford Lakes (Hants) on 23rd and 26th, but the Humberston Fitties (Lincs) bird was last seen on 21st. In Dorset the Cattle Egret remained at Stanpit Marsh, and a Great White Pelican, presumably of captive origin, was in North Wales. The long-staying Spotted Crake remained at Dawlish Warren (Devon) and another was seen at Inner Marsh Farm (Cheshire) on 26th. Off Conwy the drake Black Scoter again returned to Llanfairfechan from 24th onwards, though it was pretty much 'as you were' for the Lesser Scaup at Pine Lake (Lancs), Ring-necked Ducks at Avonmouth (Somerset) and Loch Leven (Perth/Kinross) and Ferruginous Duck at Chew Valley Lake (Somerset). The King Eider remained at Blackdog (Aberdeenshire) and 4 Surf Scoters were off the Scottish coast, and the drake American Wigeon was again at Needingworth Quarry Lakes (Cambs).

Hobby: Inner Marsh Farm, Cheshire (photo: Steve Round).

Turtle Dove: Leasowe, Cheshire (photo: Steve Round).
Black-tailed Godwit: Summer Leys, Northants (photo: Richard Bedford).
Little Stint: Salthouse, Norfolk (photo: Peter Simpson).
Osprey: Brandon Marsh, Warks (photo: Steve Valentine).

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://mysite.freeserve.com/severnsidebirds
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/
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
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