Review of the Week: 24-30 January 2022


The close of January had a few surprises in store, not least in Lancashire, where the Belted Kingfisher was back at Roach Bridge from 29th. The undoubted star of winter 2021-22, it is sure to attract admirers to its adopted corner of the River Darwen for the foreseeable, should it stay put. While it's hard to predict exactly when it will depart these shores, previous records from across the Western Palearctic can yield some clues, with the majority lingering into March at least – last year, Ireland's young male lasted until 25 April.

Belted Kingfisher, Samlesbury, Lancashire (Jon Worthington).

With settled birds in both northern and southern England, the first few weeks of 2022 have provided some of the best chances ever to catch up with Baikal Teal in Britain. So it remained as January drew to a close, with drakes sticking around at Greylake RSPB, Somerset, and Tophill Low, East Yorkshire.

Baikal Teal, Greylake RSPB, Somerset (Tom Hibbert).

On Islay, Argyll, a throng of Barnacle Geese at Lyrabus on 30th contained both a Red-breasted Goose and Richardson's Cackling Goose. At Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire, the county's wintering Red-breasted would provide excellent views from 27th, with both Essex individuals also recorded – at Wallasea Island RSPB and Blue House Farm. The latter was accompanied by two Black Brant; other brant were at Snettisham RSPB, Norfolk, and Poole Harbour and Wyke Regis, Dorset. Adult Grey-bellied Brant were at Tornagrain, Highland, and Donaghmede, Dublin.

Red-breasted Goose (right), Gibraltar Point NNR, Lincolnshire (Paul Neale).

Black Brant, Marsh Farm CP, Essex (Paul Chamberlain).

Monday saw the appearance of an adult Ross's Goose with Pink-footed Geese near Millichen Flood, Clyde – it must surely be the same bird last seen down the road at Hunterston Sands, Ayrshire, on 17 December.

Ross's Goose, Millichen Flood, Clyde (Douglas Hosie).

Three Richardson's Cackling Geese were again in Ireland – two at Ballygilgan NR, Co Sligo, and one at Cross Lough, Co Mayo – with a lone example still at Ribble Marshes, Lancashire. Todd's Canada Geese were again well-represented, with individuals in Lancashire, Gloucestershire, Argyll (two), and Co Mayo.

On 30th, an impressive three King Eider graced Bluemull Sound, Shetland, with a drake again off Nairn, Moray & Nairn. Northumberland's Black Scoter was still off Ross Back Sands on 24th, with the White-winged Scoter ever-present at Musselburgh, Lothian. Just eight Surf Scoter were reported this week, with multiples off Mornington, Co Meath, and Musselburgh, Lothian.

Surf Scoter, Tresco, Isles of Scilly (Joe Pender).

Lesser Scaup were largely split between Ireland and Scotland, with the lingering first-winter drake on Tresco, Scilly, the only exception. Co Cork added one more to its tally for the winter – a female at Ballynacarriga Lough on 30th. No fewer than 33 sites hosted Ring-necked Duck, including an impressive nine at Lough Gara, Co Sligo, and four at Dozmary Pool, Cornwall. The female Ferruginous Duck was back at Aqualate Park, Staffordshire, on 30th, while the drake at Thorpe Park, Surrey, proved elusive.

Ring-necked Duck, Langford Lowfields RSPB, Nottinghamshire (Paul Coombes).

Green-winged Teal graced nine British and five Irish sites, including new birds at Crook of Baldoon, Dumfries & Galloway, Shapinsay, Orkney, Cahore, Co Wexford, Rahasane Turlough, Co Galway, and Castle Espie WWT, Co Down. Four American Wigeon were logged – at Idle Valley, Nottinghamshire, Big Waters, Northumberland, Crook of Baldoon, Dumfries & Galloway, and Ballyallia Lake, Co Clare.

Green-winged Teal, Inganess Bay, Mainland, Orkney (Steven J Charlton).

All three of last week's American Coot remained in situ (at Lough Gill and Lough Yganavan, Co Kerry, and Tacumshin, Co Wexford), while the resident Pied-billed Grebe at Loch Feorlin, Argyll, was reported for the first time in 2022.

Pacific Divers at both Eglwys Nunydd Reservoir, Glamorgan, and Crookhaven, Co Cork, lasted another week. A notable White-billed Diver record heralded from Stag Rocks, Northumberland, on 28th, while Shetland's bird at Skaw, Unst, remained.

Pacific Diver, Eglwys Nunydd Reservoir (no general access), Glamorgan (Pierre Montieth).

The discovery of two European Serins – singletons at Axmouth, Devon, and Maple Cross, Hertfordshire – went down well, with both proving popular. Hertfordshire's was particularly well received, being the first county record in 20 years!

Hoopoes hung on at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, and Bulkington, Warwickshire, the Red-flanked Bluetail impressed at Middleton-in-Teesdale, Durham and the American Buff-bellied Pipit was still at East Prawle, Devon. The Rosy Starling at Pendeen, Cornwall, was the only report of the week.

Hoopoe, Duxford, Cambridgeshire (Matthew Mellor).

Red-flanked Bluetail, Middleton-in-Teesdale, Durham (Paul Coombes).

A Lesser Whitethroat at Hams Hall, Warwickshire, on 30th looks all but certain to be of eastern origin, with photographs demonstrating its small size, overall pallid appearance and sandy-brown colouration across the upperparts bleeding onto the nape all features indicative of the blythi or halimondendri subspecies. No fewer than four others recorded during the week are also of likely eastern origin, split between gardens at Highbury, London, Peel, Isle of Man, Efford, Devon, and Holyhead, Anglesey.

Lesser Whitethroat, Hams Hall, Warwickshire (Dave Hutton).

In Oxfordshire, the Abingdon Pallas's Warbler afforded some excellent views around the confines of the town's sewage works. Hume's Leaf Warblers, meanwhile, remained at St Margaret's at Cliffe, Kent, and Eastbourne, East Sussex; a lone Dusky Warbler hung on at Fordwich, Kent.

Dusky Warbler, Fordwich, Kent (Jonathan Dodds).

The Greater Short-toed Lark was again at West Runton, Norfolk, and Richard's Pipits lingered at Newnham, Hampshire, and Filey, North Yorkshire. No fewer than 60 Lapland Buntings formed a bumper flock at Buckton, East Yorkshire. Shore Lark continued to be widely spread in small numbers on the English east coast, with high counts of seven at Leysdown-on-Sea, Kent, and four at Holkham Gap, Norfolk.

Richard's Pipit, Newnham, Hampshire (Lee Fuller).

It continues to be a paltry winter for Great Grey Shrike, with just six noted during the week. Current maxima this winter tops out at a mere 12 birds, with BirdGuides data suggesting a drop of approximately 56% since last year, when a minimum of 25 wintering individuals were present. One at Comberton, Cambridgeshire, remains popular.

Great Grey Shrike, Comberton, Cambridgeshire (Matthew Mellor).

Little Buntings emerged in Cornwall at Skewjack and Goss Moor, with one still at Bexley, London. Waxwing remained thin on the ground, reported from just six sites across England and Scotland – and with no further sign of last week's bumper flock. In Somerset, three Eurasian Penduline Tits at Weston-super-Mare again proved a popular draw.

Eurasian Penduline Tit, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset (Jonathan Smithies).

A short distance away, the German-ringed Kentish Plover continued to prove reliable, if a little distant, at Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset. Lincolnshire's White-tailed Lapwing held on at Halton Marshes, too.

Kentish Plover, Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset (Wayne Tucker).

Suffolk birders a rub of the green with a Lesser Yellowlegs on Lucky Pool at Minsmere RSPB, with singletons remaining at opposite ends of Ireland at Tacumshin, Co Wexford, and Rahasane Turlough, Co Galway.

Glossy Ibis remained widely spread across Britain and Ireland, with no fewer than 36 sites hosting sightings, reaching as far north as Benbecula, Outer Hebrides. In Kent, the unringed White Stork was still around Sandwich Bay.

Glossy Ibis, Catcott Lows NR, Somerset (Mike Trew).

In Oxfordshire, a probable Rough-legged Buzzard was reported at Shiplake on 29th; a possible was at Dilham, Norfolk, on 25th. Ireland's young Northern Harrier remained at Lough Boora Parklands, Co Offaly.

After a largely quiet winter for Bonaparte's Gull, two were logged on 29th, with a brief adult at Pettycur, Fife, followed by one in the Cardiff Bay, Glamorgan, roost. Ring-billed Gull totals continued to creep further into double figures; a new adult at Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, saw Lothian's tally increase to two, with other new birds including adults at Rosscarbery and Cork City, Co Cork.

Ring-billed Gull, Edinburgh, Lothian (Lukasz Pulawski).

Just three Kumlien's Gulls made the airwaves this week. This included new adults at Pendeen, Cornwall, and Blennerville, Co Kerry, alongside a lingering juvenile on Barra, Outer Hebrides. Away from the Scottish Isles, counts of other white-wingers saw a similar decline, with just seven Glaucous and 15 Iceland Gulls at new sites.

Glaucous Gull, Newlyn, Cornwall (Martin Webb).

Off the East Yorkshire coastline, a large shearwater species tracked northwards past Kilnsea on 28th was rather out-of-place in bitterly cold January seas.


Western Palearctic

A Lesser Moorhen photographed on Tenerife, Canary Islands, during the month is just the third for the Canary Islands and tenth for the region. Elsewhere, a Hudsonian Whimbrel was at Buenavista, the Semipalmated Plover was again at Playa de las Américas and a juvenile Allen's Gallinule continued at Tías, Lanzarote.

Semipalmated Plover, Costa Adeje, Tenerife (Nick Turner).

In mainland Spain, one of the male Snowy Owls made an appearance at Santoña on 30th. At least three Sociable Lapwings were noted – at La Puebla del Rio, Ebro Delta NP and Evora. A female Hooded Merganser was new-in at Achada das Furnas, São Miguel, Azores, on 30th. On Terceira, meanwhile, the Belted Kingfisher, two Snowy Egrets and Lesser Scaup all remained around Praia da Vitória.

Belgium bagged a new Baikal Teal – a drake – at Turnhouts Vennengebied from 25-28th, with the Dutch individual at Zevenhoven throughout. On 24th, the drake Falcated Duck relocated north to Lichtaart, Belgium, and the first-winter Ross's Gull was at Nieuwpoort. In The Netherlands, the Western Swamphen and Pygmy Cormorant continued.

Last noted at Heylor, Mainland Shetland, on 7th, the immature female Walrus – coined 'Freya' during her European excursions – resurfaced at Hvide Sande from 25-27th. Elsewhere, the nation's rare scoter pair lingered – a Black Scoter at Tisvilde Hegn and Stejneger's Scoter at Veddinge – with the long-staying White-winged Scoter also still at Keflavík, Iceland.

Algeria's first Lesser Scaup – a drake – was photographed in Oran Province. Black-throated Thrushes were at Helsinki, Finland, and Steinkjer, Norway, while the Siberian Rubythroat held on at Vargön, Sweden.

Siberian Rubythroat, Vargön, Västra Götalands län (Morten Scheller Jensen).

Written by: Sam Viles