Review of the Week: 22nd–28th January 2004

'Northern' Long-tailed Tit: Westleton Heath, Suffolk. Few would argue that this race is not the most striking of all Long-tailed Tit races. (Photo: Jack Levene)

The 2nd American Coot of the winter was found on Sunday 25th at West Loch Ollay on South Uist (Outer Hebrides) and was still present on at least Tuesday 27th. This will be the 5th for Britain and Ireland, following the 4th at Lerwick (Shetland) which was found on 30th November 2003 and is still present. Of the previous records, one was present for one day at South Walney (Cumbria) in April 1999, another at Stodmarsh (Kent) in April 1996 and the first was at Ballycotton (Co. Cork) from February-April 1981. Whether the South Uist bird arrived at a similar time to the Shetland bird and escaped detection over the winter or is a fairly recent arrival from elsewhere in northwest Europe we will never know. But if two have been found this winter, now could be the time to start checking your local Coot flock for a third.

Little Bunting: Newborough Warren, Anglesey. Winter birds are annual and always prove popular. (Photo: Steve Round) Little Bunting: Newborough Warren, Anglesey. This particular bird is tail-less. (Photo: Steve Round)

Little Bunting: Newborough Warren, Anglesey. (Photo: Steve Williams) Little Bunting: Newborough Warren, Anglesey. (Photo: Steve Williams)

Rose-coloured Starling: Penzance, Cornwall. (Photo: M. Lockyear) Penduline Tit: Slapton Ley, Devon.

Despite a much trumpeted Arctic blast later in the week, it was all pretty much 'as you were' with a few new additions to the weekly bird log. Quite clearly 'cracker of the week', a white-headed 'Northern' Long-tailed Tit was reported with a group of Long-tailed Tits at Westleton Heath (Suffolk) on Sunday 25th and was quite quickly followed by 2, then 3, then 4, then 5 birds with the same flock. Three were also reported at Lewes (E. Sussex) on Monday 26th. Birds of this race are extremely rare in Britain with just a small number of records (for example, one previous record in Suffolk, 7 records in Norfolk), so 5 or possibly 8 birds is quite exceptional. A rare mid-winter Pallas's Warbler was at Dover (Kent) on Wednesday 28th, there were still five Yellow-browed Warblers (W. Sussex, Kent, Devon, Somerset and Dorset), Hume's Warblers were still at Fairlop Waters CP (London) and Hook Head (Co. Wexford) and Dusky Warblers were still in Somerset and Devon. A Richard's Pipit was at Welwick (E. Yorks) on Thursday 22nd and a 'possible' reported at Point of Ayr (Clwyd) the same day, whilst the long-stayer at Llanilid (Glamorgan) was again reported. The Penduline Tit remained at Slapton Ley (Devon) and a late report of 4 at Ham Wall (Somerset) from late last week was noteworthy. The tail-less Little Bunting has shown well through the week at Newborough Warren (Anglesey) and the American Robins in Cornwall and Lincolnshire continue to perform well. Three Rose-coloured Starlings remained during the week with 1st-winters still at Penzance (Cornwall), Cobh (Co. Cork) and on St. Agnes (Scilly).

Forster's Tern: Nimmo's Pier, Galway. This adult was first seen in late November 2003. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Forster's Tern: Nimmo's Pier, Galway. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly)

Ring-billed Gull: Nimmo's Pier, Galway. Two adults were seen here during the week. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Iceland Gull: Nimmo's Pier, Galway. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly)

Rare gulls comprised a 1st-winter Bonaparte's Gull at Falmouth (Cornwall) on Saturday 24th and a 1st-winter American Herring Gull was at Nimmo's Pier (Co. Galway) on Thursday 22nd and Wednesday 28th. Scarce gulls were still in short supply with around a dozen each of Ring-billed Gulls and Caspian Gulls, at least 30 Glaucous Gulls and at least 33 Iceland Gulls. The Forster's Tern remained at Nimmo's Pier and the Lesser Yellowlegs was still on the Hayle Estuary, as was the Glossy Ibis in Devon. Possible Whistling Swans were reported in Suffolk and Norfolk, and small numbers of Tundra Bean Geese and Taiga Bean Geese were noted, some providing a bit of an identification headache for their admirers; Taigas are rare birds away from their wintering haunts in Norfolk and Clyde. Female King Eiders remain at Methil (Fife) and Bluemull Sound (Shetland) and the drake is still at large in Loch Ryan (Dumfries and Galloway). There were 8 American Wigeons, 15 Green-winged Teals, 5 Ring-necked Ducks, 4 Ferruginous Ducks, 3 Lesser Scaup and 4 Surf Scoters to keep wildfowl enthusiasts happy. A Quail reported on the Taw Estuary (Devon) on Saturday 24th was intriguing, but as always with birds reported outside the summer period escapes should be considered.

Tundra Bean Goose: Myroe Levels, L'derry. The 2nd record for Ireland of this race. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Red-breasted Goose: Martin Mere WWT, Lancs. (Photo: Phillip Tomkinson)

Ferruginous Duck: Martin Mere WWT, Lancs. (Photo: Sue Tranter) Ferruginous Duck: Martin Mere WWT, Lancs. (Photo: Nick Smith)

Ferruginous Duck: Welney WWT, Norfolk. (Photo: Nigel Blake) Ferruginous Duck: Elstow GPs, Beds. (Photo: Barry Byatt)
Written by: Russell Slack