The week at a glance
The final full week of the first month of 2009 drifted along nicely as far as final weeks in January go. There were a few new arrivals to add to the mix of decent rarities that remained in place from recent days, recent weeks and even recent months.
Top billing this week goes to the female Canvasback that reappeared in at Loch Skerrols on Islay (along with a female Lesser Scaup) on 22nd. The bird was originally seen on Loch Indaal (also on Islay) on 7th–8th of this month but has been missing since then. To the north of Islay, up on North Uist (Outer Hebrides), the stunning adult Ivory Gull stayed at Clachan-a-Luib until 22nd. In Kent, a probable Pied-billed Grebe was seen at Stodmarsh NNR on 24th. It was looked for (in poor weather) on 25th, but all may not be lost. A "probable Pied-billed Grebe" was seen at nearby Seaton earlier in the month, so fingers crossed that it settles down before the winter is out (it would be a county "second" and would be the first anywhere since one in Wexford in November 2003).
An adult White-billed Diver was still being seen in the waters around Kirkabister, Shetland to 24th, while down on Orkney, the long-staying adult was still being reported at the turn of the week. Up to 30 Balearic Shearwaters were seen in the waters off Cornwall, Devon and Dorset this week, with peak counts of five from Sennen Cove (Cornwall) on 23rd and six off Portland Bill (Dorset) on 25th. One was also reported from the North Sea this week, off Sheringham (Norfolk) on 23rd. A dozen Grey Phalaropes (mainly leftovers from last week's gales) lingered in western counties of England and Wales, including two still at Aberystwyth (Ceredigion) on 22nd and three off Cot Valley (Cornwall) on 25th, with two still there on 28th. One was seen in Highland, at Caol, on 22nd, when one was also again off the beach at Clahane (Co. Clare). Three Pomarine Skuas were seen during the week (in Cornwall, Dorset and Lincolnshire) and a Little Auk was noted off Traught (Co. Galway) on 25th.
On Scilly, the Cattle Egret continued its stay on St. Mary's to 28th. In Cornwall up to nine birds were at Newtown-in-St. Martin, near the Helford River, on 24th (with five there the following day); three were at Brew Pool on 25th, while on 26th three were seen again roosting along the Gannel Estuary, two birds were at St. Breock's Down and a single Cattle Egret was seen near Polzeath. In Devon, at least four birds were still around the Kingsbridge Estuary to 24th and three birds remained around Powderham to 28th. On 24th, a lone bird was at Lee Mill near Ivybridge (this bird having been present for some eight days or so) and three birds were seen at Axmouth on 27th (two were seen the previous day around Seaton and Colyton). In Somerset, single Cattle Egrets were at Walton Heath from 22nd–28th and at Stretcholt on 25th. The same day also saw a lone bird reported near Yarmouth (Isle of Wight) — a huge rarity for the island (potentially the first there since 1996). In the Irish Republic, County Cork held up to 16 Cattle Egrets this week: two were still at Boonagh on 22nd–26th, with six still at Beamish's Pool, Inchydoney Island on the same dates. On 24th, five birds were seen again at Timoleague and two remained at Rossleague, with a third bird there on 27th. Also on 27th, a Cattle Egret was seen at Rossmore. Two birds were seen at Ballycrompane (Co. Waterford) on 27th and four birds were at Dungarvan (Co. Waterford) on the same date.
It has been another busyish week for Great White Egrets. Last week's bird at Sheepy Parva (Leicestershire) remained until 23rd and there is the inevitable thought that this bird then relocated to, firstly, Kingsbury Water Park (Warwickshire) on 24th, then to nearby Fisher's Mill on 25th before heading to Staffordshire later the same day, arriving at Drayton Bassett Pits in the afternoon. On 24th–25th, a Great White Egret was seen at Rippingale (Lincolnshire) and (presumably) this bird then relocated to Dunsby Fen on 26th. In Essex, a Great White Egret was seen on private land at Feering on 25th and was followed by one was at Felixstowe Ferry (Suffolk) on 26th; on 27th, another appeared at Holkham Freshmarsh (Norfolk). Birds that pretty much stayed put from last week were at Pymoor (Cambridgeshire), with a second bird appearing on 28th; at Shapwick Heath (Somerset) (this bird did pop in to Ham Walls from time to time); and, as usual, at Blashford Lakes (Hampshire). Single Spoonbills lingered on Scilly and in Carmarthenshire, Devon and Dorset this week, with three birds in Poole Harbour on 22nd. On 24th, a Spoonbill was seen at Castlemaine (Co. Kerry) and on 26th one was at Westcliff-on-Sea (Essex). The largest group of the week was the Isley Marsh six, still present to 25th. In Kent, the adult Night Heron was still along the Royal Military Canal at Hythe until 24th. Away from the Norfolk Broads, the only Common Cranes reported this week were the now familiar pairs at Eldernell (Cambridgeshire) and Lakenheath (Suffolk), both to 27th at least.
The Red-breasted Goose switched back to Pennington Marshes (Hampshire) on 24th. The popular Cackling Canada Goose at Caerlaverock (Dumfries & Galloway) was still present from 22nd–26th at least, while a presumed Todd's Canada Goose remained on Tiree (Argyll), at Loch Bhasapol to 26th. The Ross's Goose remained along the north Norfolk coast this week, as often as not being seen between Holkham and Burnham Overy, from 22nd–25th at least. In Aberdeenshire, two Snow Geese were seen during the week: the white morph was still at Loch of Strathbeg on 22nd–23rd and a blue morph (presumably last week's bird heading north from Moray) was near Blackhill on 23rd and at Rattray Head on 24th. Elsewhere in Scotland, white Snow Geese were at Marscalloch Hill (Dumfries & Galloway) and Craobh Haven (Argyll) on 23rd and at Loans (Ayrshire) on 24th. Up to three Black Brants were seen in Norfolk this week, including one at Cley Marshes on 23rd (with the hybrids around Wells and Holkham still presenting some problems). Devon's second Brant of the decade was seen on the Exe Estuary on 24th–27th, with further singles still present this week at the Fleet (Dorset), Gosport (Hampshire) and Pagham Harbour (West Sussex) between 24th and 26th, moving to East Head (West Sussex) on 27th.
Along with the already mentioned female Lesser Scaup on Tiree, other individuals noted this week included two drakes on Loch Leven (Perth & Kinross) on 26th–27th, the long-staying adult drake still at Holme Pierrepoint (Nottinghamshire) throughout the week, and the week's fourth adult drake found at Loch Sheelin (Co. Westmeath) on 25th. Westmeath also scored with a drake Ring-necked Duck on Lough Ennell on 24th. The only others reported this week were two females still on The Gearagh (Co. Cork) on 27th, along with the drake at Foxcote Reservoir (Buckinghamshire) and the female still on Martnaham Loch (Ayrshire). The female Ferruginous Duck seen last week at Wistow Pool (Leicestershire) remained until 23rd (a shooting party on site on this date doubtless helped it along the way) while the drake was still being seen at Oxford Island (Co. Armagh) to 25th at least. In Lincolnshire, the drake Ferruginous Duck was seen again around Whisby Pits on 26th. The drake American Wigeon lingered at Lower Farm GP (Berkshire) to 27th (and the hybrid drake remained in Lancashire this week, having been present for a fortnight or so). Nine drake Green-winged Teal were seen during the week, with two in Lancashire, two in Scotland (lingering in Ayrshire and Forth), two in Ireland (in Clare and Wexford), two in Yorkshire (one for the South and one for the East) while one reappeared in Suffolk (at Minsmere) on 25th–26th. There were familiar faces on the Surf Scoter front during the week: females remained off Dawlish Warren (Devon), in Hough Bay, Tiree (Argyll) and at Silver Strand, Galway (Co. Galway) while a drake was off Ruddon's Point (Fife). A new drake Surf Scoter was seen off Deerness, Mainland (Orkney) on 27th. The two King Eiders (the first-winter male and female) were still in Drumcliffe Bay near Lissadell (Co. Sligo) to 22nd at least, while the second-winter drake was still off Kincraig Point (Fife) to 28th. Another drake, an adult, was seen in the sound off Mousa (Shetland) on 23rd and 26th. The drake Hooded Merganser was still being seen around Radipole Lake (Dorset) to 27th at least.
A belated report this week came from County Galway, where a Gyrfalcon was seen at Tuam on 20th. In Cornwall, the young male Snowy Owl was seen again near Zennor on 24th. Two Rough-legged Buzzards were still in the Sleddale area (Cleveland/North Yorkshire) throughout the week and two were seen at Capel Fleet, Sheppey (Kent) on 24th (with three reported on the nearby Harty Marshes on the same date; two were there on 27th). Single wintering Rough-legged Buzzards remained at Farforth (Lincolnshire) and Coveney (Cambridgeshire).
In County Cork, a potential Azorean Yellow-legged Gull, a third-winter, was seen at Castletown Bearhaven on two or three dates this week (to 26th at least). Along the road in Galway, the adult American Herring Gull was seen again at Nimmo's Pier on 25th. Fewer than 20 Caspian Gulls were reported during the week, with four different birds at Dungeness (Kent), two different birds in Northamptonshire and three birds in Buckinghamshire, including two at Calvert Lakes on 25th. Numbers of white-winged gulls took a significant leap during the past seven days: Iceland Gulls nudged towards around 135 birds, with just under 90 in Britain and over 45 in Ireland, including perhaps as many in 25 in County Cork alone; 11 of those were at Castletown Bearhaven on 23rd. Six were seen on the Mullet (Co. Mayo) on the same day, with five in Dingle (Co. Kerry) on 22nd and five at Nimmo's Pier (Co. Galway) on 24th. Several birds were still around Troon (Ayrshire) during the week and at least five were on Lewis (Outer Hebrides) between 24th and 26th. Three or four birds were seen on Scilly on 26th. A juvenile Kumlien's Gull remained on St. Mary's (Scilly) from 22nd–27th, with another bird of the year — a strikingly dark individual — at Clifden (Co. Galway) on 22nd–26th. The third juvenile of the week was at Kirriemuir (Angus) on 23rd, with another Angus record coming (again) from Forfar Loch on 24th and 26th–27th. The second-winter Kumlien's Gull was seen again on the Ugie Estuary (Aberdeenshire) on 22nd. A third-winter bird was still at Newtownards (Co. Down) to 25th at least, and new birds of the same age were at Rossaveal (Co. Galway) and Clifden (joining the juvenile) on 24th (the latter two at Clifden remained to 27th). An adult Kumlien's Gull was a decent find on the south coast at Church Norton (West Sussex) on 27th. Glaucous Gull numbers leapt comfortably to a winter high this week, with some 110 birds noted, split between around 70 in Britain and 40 or so in Ireland. Again, Cork bagged the lion's share, with perhaps as many as 20 birds in the county. Six Glaucous Gulls were on the Mullet on 23rd and perhaps as many as seven birds were seen around County Sligo during the week. Several birds were seen on the Outer Hebrides and on 26th five were recorded on Scilly. Top billing goes to Tiree (Argyll) where as many as 12 Glaucous Gulls were seen on 28th (including five together at Balephetrish Bay). A dozen Ring-billed Gulls were dotted around County Cork, including five around Cobh (all adults) on 24th, with three still at Clonakilty on the same day. Other Irish Ring-billed Gulls were seen in Sligo, Wicklow, Mayo and Galway, while in Britain just three birds were reported: adults at Westcliff-on-Sea (Essex), Gosport (Hampshire) and Dundee (Angus). A first-winter Ring-billed Gull was on Guernsey, at St. Saviour's Reservoir from 23rd–26th at least. The adult Forster's Tern was back off Nimmo's Pier on 24th–25th.
The often-elusive Black-bellied Dipper popped up again along the River Glaven (Norfolk) on 25th (seen at Little Thornage and nearby Letheringsett) and again around the Natural Surroundings reserve at Glandford on 27th. The Great Grey Shrike found last week at Cirencester (Gloucestershire) remained until 28th, with a second bird in the county at New Fancy View on 24th. New single birds were seen at Ashcott Corner (Somerset) on 25th and Congerstone (Leicestershire) on 26th, while wintering birds lingered at Wykeham Forest (North Yorkshire), Dersingham Bog (Norfolk), Lakenheath (Suffolk), Pannel Valley NR (East Sussex) and Beaulieu Road Station (Hampshire); another made a brief appearance in Clocaenog Forest (Clwyd) on 25th (one was seen here twice in December last year).
The largest flocks of Waxwings this week were noted at Ilkeston (Derbyshire): at least 212 birds were seen on 26th (with 140+ at Brownhills (West Midlands) on the same date); 150+ were in Leeds (West Yorkshire) on 23rd, with groups of 100+ in Nottingham and Haddington (Lothian), also on 23rd.
The only confirmed report of Siberian Chiffchaff this week came from Endon (Staffordshire), while two tristis-types were seen at Lodmoor (Dorset) on 24th–27th.
A male Penduline Tit was an excellent find at Lakenheath (Suffolk) on 26th–27th (the first inland record for the county) and the male at Clennon Valley, Paignton (Devon) remained throughout the week to 28th. The wintering juvenile Rose-coloured Starling was still in place around Newquay (Cornwall) to 25th.
Photo of the Week
This week's winner is just one of those rare shots that makes you say "No way!" Trying to eat a huge fish it dragged up from the bottom of a canal, this Goosander has its bill open so wide its eyes are almost popping out. The bird eventually gave up on this impossible task, but not before photographer Brian Harper had grabbed a great action shot.