Review of the Week: 24th–30th July 2003

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper: Ballycotton, Co. Cork. (Photo: Paul Moore) Sharp-tailed Sandpiper: Ballycotton, Co. Cork. (Photo: Paul Moore)

Rare waders were the theme last week and this week was no different, as yet another rare wader put in an appearance. A Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was found at Ardnahinch, Ballycotton (Co. Cork) on the morning of the 27th and is still present at the time of writing. With just 26 previously accepted records, this ultra-rare Siberian globetrotter is a highly prized find. The last record was in Kent in August 2001, and there have been just two previous Irish records, both from the wader hotspot of Tacumshin, where adults were seen in 1994 and 1997.

Eurasian Scops Owl: Fair Isle, Shetland. (Photo: Deryk Shaw) Eurasian Scops Owl: Fair Isle, Shetland. (Photo: Deryk Shaw)

On the Northern Isles an adult Eurasian Scops Owl was a surprise find on Fair Isle (Shetland) on 30th. A July record is not without precedent, but is highly unusual; most Scops Owls occur in the spring period as overshoots. Amazingly this is the first record of this diminutive owl for the famous island and plugs a surprising gap in the mouthwatering systematic list for this premier league site. There have been 9 previous records for Shetland and earlier this year a bird was on Unst in late May – could this have been the rediscovery of the same bird?

Lesser Sand Plover: Keyhaven Marshes, Hants. (Photo: Andy Farr) Lesser Sand Plover: Keyhaven Marshes, Hants. (Photo: Andy Farr)

From last week the mongolus Lesser Sand Plover remained at Keyhaven Marshes (Hants) until late afternoon on the 26th, after which there were no further sightings. Could this individual prove to be a potential armchair tick for birders in the future? In East Yorkshire the juvenile Great Spotted Cuckoo continues to delight visitors to Spurn and is still present at the time of writing. The Solitary Sandpiper on St. Marys (Scilly) was present to the 26th, with presumably the same bird on Tresco on the 27th.

Great Spotted Cuckoo: Spurn, E. Yorks. (Photo: Garry Taylor) Red-footed Falcon: Barrow upon Humber, Lincs. 1st-summer male, easily aged as such by the rufous patch on the upper chest and pale cheek patch. (Photo: Graham Catley)

Red-footed Falcon: Barrow upon Humber, Lincs. Based on plumage features it is thought likely that this is the same individual present at Pingewood GPs, Berkshire, from 4th-9th July. (Photo: Graham Catley) Red-footed Falcon: Barrow upon Humber, Lincs. The tail shows retained juvenile feathers on both sides, another feature of a 1st-summer bird. (Photo: Graham Catley)

Apart from the major rarities it was relatively quiet elsewhere. A Fea's Petrel passed Galley Head (Co. Cork) on 28th for the second time in 10 days and is the third report of the late summer. Pelagic trips from Scilly notched up two Wilson's Petrels on 25th and singles on 26th and 27th, whilst one passed the Bridges of Ross (Co. Clare) on 26th. There were few large shearwater reports, but good numbers of Balearic Shearwaters included 43 past Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 26th. A White-rumped Sandpiper was at Kilnsea/Spurn (E. Yorks) on 27th, and the adult remained at Hickling Broad (Norfolk) to 27th. Elsewhere, a Buff-breasted Sandpiper was at Kilcoole on 25th, 27th and 30th and as many as nine Pectoral Sandpipers were reported during the week, plus a Red-necked Phalarope was at Elmley Marshes RSPB (Kent) on 30th.

Great White Egret: Minsmere, Suffolk. No longer a rarity, it is still an eyecatching bird to have on your patch. The increase in records continues – nationally there had only been 50 records by 1990, which had increased to over 150 by 2001. (Photo: Andrew Easton) Pectoral Sandpiper: Blacktoft Sands RSPB, E. Yorks. Over 20 birds were reported during July, most, as would be expected, along the east coast. (Photo: Richard Jackson)

The colour-ringed Great White Egret from Denaby Ings (S. Yorks) was relocated at Abberton Reservoir (Essex) on the 26th. Others were seen at Minsmere (Suffolk) and Oakthorpe Flash (Leics) on 24th, Old Hall Marshes RSPB (Essex) on 27th and again at Ham Wall RSPB (Somerset) on 30th. A Night Heron was at Lissagriffin (Co. Cork) on 25th and a Caspian Tern was reported through Ampton Water (Suffolk) on 30th. Bee-eaters included birds in Suffolk and Aberdeenshire. A 1st-summer male Red-footed Falcon at Barrow-upon-Humber (Lincs) proved popular on the 25th and 26th, with the other 1st-summer bird remaining in southern Lincs. In Co. Cork a 1st-summer Bonaparte's Gull was at Mallow Sugar Factory Lagoon from 30th onwards.

Marbled Duck: Rodley NR, W. Yorks. Often a query over origin, this obvious escapee caused no such problems. (Photo: John Hirschfield) Yellow-legged Gull: Lynn Tip, Isle of Wight. The late-summer build-up brought good numbers to various southern sites, including 145+ at Holes Bay, Dorset. (Photo: Kris Gillam)

Long-staying rarities include the Glossy Ibis in Devon and the White-winged Black Tern in Northumberland, with another adult at Earl's Barton Gravel Pits (Northants) from 27th onwards. The Black Duck on Scilly now appears to have moved to St. Mary's. Finally, the Short-toed Lark is still present at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) and the Gull-billed Tern again present on South Uist (Outer Hebrides).

Black-tailed Godwit: Inner Marsh Farm, Cheshire. Birds were on the move over the weekend with reports from a large number of sites. (Photo: Steve Round) Wood Sandpiper: Oare Marshes, Kent. Around 40 were reported during the week, including 6 at Cley, Norfolk, on 24th. (Photo: Mike Buckland)
Written by: Russell Slack