Review of the Week: 23rd–29th January 2003


A variable week weatherwise with an exceptionally mild spell followed by gales and a cold blast of northerlies and a reminder that it is still winter after all.

Bird of the week was a male Two-barred Crossbill at Hedgerley (Buckinghamshire) on the 27th and 28th. Somewhat surprisingly, after the superb late-summer influx last year, this is only the third to be found on the mainland following birds in South Yorkshire and Norfolk. How many more must be out there consorting with Crossbill flocks across the land?

In Cheshire a Long-billed Dowitcher was at Inner Marsh Farm and is perhaps the bird seen there in November 2002. Elsewhere, new rarities have been a bit thin on the ground, with just a Great White Egret in Dorset. A number of 'traditional' sites have now accommodated white-winged gulls, with Whinney Hill Tip and Fishmoor Reservoir in Lancashire providing regular sightings of both Iceland Gulls and Glaucous Gulls. However, it has been a quiet winter so far for 'white-wingers', reflected by only around 20 individuals of each during the last week, with 6 of the Glaucous Gulls on Unst. Seawatching was similarly quiet, the highlights being Balearic Shearwaters past Pembrokeshire and Scilly. A Chough in Dorset was a good county bird.

The Black Kite in Hampshire has continued to be seen during the week, frequently in the company of a Red Kite. The list of long-staying rarities remained pretty constant, with the Pallid Harrier in Norfolk still drawing the crowds. The Richard's Pipit in South Yorkshire remains faithful to its chosen trio of fields. Those other 'sibes', the Little Bunting in Gloucestershire and Yellow-browed Warbler in Norfolk continue their residence in their wintering spots. Rose-coloured Starlings in Cornwall and Lincolnshire continue to show well and the Glossy Ibis continues its stay in Devon – will it ever leave, or will it linger for years like the Kent birds of the late 1970s and 1980s? Waxwings continue to show well in a number of areas, though the majority remain in the east of Britain.

Written by: Russell Slack