There has been little to report on the weather front and as a result it has been a relatively quiet week. Many of the wintering species seem to be present, though Shore Larks and Lapland Buntings seem in pretty short supply. However, there is still plenty of interest around the country and a good number of long-stayers remain, whilst white-winged gulls are starting to appear at a few locations, both inland and on the coast.
The whereabouts of a 1st-winter Squacco Heron in Norfolk finally came to light during the week, though at present it can only be observed coming into or leaving its roost site at Horsey Mere. Most records of this exquisite heron occur in May and June, whilst winter records are exceedingly rare and there has only been one previous November record which occurred as long ago as 1881. There have been several records of Penduline Tit this year but none have lingered, thus two this week at Dungeness RSPB and Pagham Harbour followed suit and were only seen briefly. Other new arrivals this week include a White-rumped Sandpiper in Down, a Cattle Egret in Dorset and a possible Hume's Warbler in Epping Forest.
Long-stayers include the Snowy Owl and Baikal Teal in Suffolk, Redhead in Glamorgan, Lesser Scaup in Dorset, and Lesser Yellowlegs at Tacumshin. The Gull-billed Tern in Norfolk remained for much of the week, but has not been reported for a day or so. The Snowy Egret seems to have departed Argyll and there has to be a strong possibility that it might be relocated much further south, much to the annoyance, no doubt, of those that made the long pilgrimage north to see it a few weeks ago. The Ivory Gull has again been seen north of Lerwick, Shetland and the American Golden Plover likewise on Orkney. Several Dusky Warblers have over-wintered in southern England over the last few years and the individual in Cornwall appears to be in no hurry to leave its favoured patch of sallows, and could possibly remain to winter.
Several Richard's Pipits were seen during the week, including birds in Greater Manchester, Gloucestershire and Cornwall - how many pass through inland sites undetected? A Red-backed Shrike in Suffolk was unseasonable, as was a Whinchat in Berkshire. Talking of unseasonable, the Barred Warbler at Spurn once again revealed itself for a day, whilst the Rose-coloured Starling was still present in Aberdeenshire during the early part of the week. In Dorset the Pectoral Sandpiper remains at Stanpit Marsh. A Dotterel was a late find amongst Golden Plovers in Cambridgeshire and a Temminck's Stint was an unseasonable record in Kerry.
Now is a good time of year to acquaint yourself with your local gull roost, whilst your local sewage works might just be harbouring a 'Siberian' tristis race Chiffchaff. Wandering flocks of tits and crests are always worth sifting through at this time of year for Firecrests, whilst a late Yellow-browed or Hume's Warbler could be an excellent prize for the diligent (and fortunate!).
For those not wishing to experience the thrill of finding their own birds, good numbers of Black Brants, American Wigeons, and Green-winged Teals are present around the country, as are Canada Geese of various forms. For those wishing for slightly more visual stimulation, Rough-legged Buzzards are performing relatively well in both Norfolk and North Yorkshire, but patience is a virtue to ensure success with this wonderful raptor.
If none of the above appeals, it is a good time of year to get all those field notes and descriptions nicely prepared to send to your local, and county, recorders. The prompt submission of records makes their lives so much easier.