Review of the Week: 24th-30th November 2005


The week at a glance:

Brünnich's Guillemot: Lerwick, Shetland (photo: Justin Taylor).

A quiet week was enlivened with news of a Brünnich's Guillemot found swimming close inshore off the Bressay pier in Lerwick Harbour (Shetland) on Wednesday 30th, the first live record of this species in British waters since 1997. The bird remained for the rest of the day and if it survives long enough will no doubt prove an enticing proposition for birders from the mainland. Although there have been over 35 British records (see Accepted Brünnich's Guillemot records) many have been tideline corpses. A Scottish speciality, most have come from the Northern Isles and this will be the 12th record for Shetland. Brünnich's Guillemot is a circumpolar breeder found in the Arctic and sub-Arctic. North Atlantic birds are thought to spend the winter off southwest Greenland, though some remain in northern waters. There are just two English records and one Irish record of this northern auk, so avoiding that long haul north is not really an option should you wish to see this species in British or Irish waters.

Grey-cheeked Thrush: Northaw Great Wood CP, Herts (photo: Ian Hardy).
Grey-cheeked Thrush: Northaw Great Wood CP, Herts (photo: Mike Lawrence). Grey-cheeked Thrush: Northaw Great Wood CP, Herts (photo: Mike Lawrence).

A Hume's Leaf Warbler at Seaton Hole (Devon) from Saturday 26th was only the second record of the autumn so far, and is only the 3rd county record of this subtle rarity, with the last as long ago as early 1992. A Desert Wheatear was an uncharacteristically brief visitor to the South Gare (Cleveland) on Tuesday 29th and another was at Pulias Headland (Guernsey) from 25th onwards. An adult Forster's Tern at Nimmo's Pier (Co. Galway) from Saturday 26th-27th was presumably the returning bird from last winter. Last week's trio of mega-rarities had reduced to a singleton by the end of the week. The Grey-cheeked Thrush last performed at Northaw Great Wood CP (Herts) on 25th and the Upland Sandpiper last entertained at Kingston Seymour (Somerset) on 26th. However, the fine drake Barrow's Goldeneye continued his residence at Quoile Pondage (Co. Down) throughout the week, as did the two Northern Long-tailed Tits at Easington (E. Yorks).

Richard's Pipit: West Kirby, Cheshire (photo: Steve Round). Richard's Pipit: Musselburgh, Lothian (photo: Peter Macdonald).
Great Grey Shrike: Montreathmont Forest, Angus and Dundee (photo: Peter Macdonald ). Shore Lark: Holkham, Norfolk (photo: Sean Nixon).
Lapland Bunting: Werfa, Glamorgan (photo: Dave Brassey). Lapland Bunting: Werfa, Glamorgan (photo: Dave Brassey).
Waxwing: Grimsby, Lincs (photo: Dean Eades). Waxwing: Grimsby, Lincs (photo: Dean Eades).
Waxwing: Grimsby, Lincs (photo: Dean Eades). Waxwing: Grimsby, Lincs (photo: Russell Hayes).

A Rose-coloured Starling was reported from a Starling roost in Beverley (E. Yorks) on 25th and in Dorset a late Serin was at Portland on 27th and another over Durlston CP on 28th. The distribution of three Yellow-browed Warblers conformed to the norm for this time of year with singletons in Dorset, Somerset and Cornwall. Lingering Richard's Pipits included three still at Huntspill (Somerset), two at West Kirby (Cheshire) and one at Musselburgh (Lothian). Great Grey Shrikes remained in short supply with just seven reported, and Shore Larks comprised just seven at Holkham (Norfolk) and one at Minsmere (Suffolk). Over 20 Lapland Buntings included 10 at Rimac (Lincs) and two inland birds at Barbrook Reservoir (Derbyshire) on 27th. Waxwings dispersed further, though the aggregate number of birds remained comparable to previous weeks, with the greatest gathering still in Aberdeen where 60 were present on 30th.

Laughing Gull: Sandy Water Park, Carmarthen (photo: Barry Stewart). Laughing Gull: Sandy Water Park, Carmarthen (photo: Barry Stewart).
Laughing Gull: Brixham, Devon (photo: Phil Stidwill). Laughing Gull: Glaslyn Marshes, Gwynedd (photo: Peter Latham).
Laughing Gull: Plym Estuary, Devon (photo: Phil Edmonds). Laughing Gull: Plym Estuary, Devon (photo: Sebastian Baverstock).

Scarce gulls were more in evidence this week. Laughing Gulls are still conspicuous by their presence and the first of the recent influx to penetrate inland did so to provide Worcestershire with its 2nd-ever record with an adult at Throckmorton Tip and Westwood Pool on 25th, 26th and 28th. Perhaps as many as 20 were still at large, mostly still in the southwest, four were in Ireland and one still in North Wales. A 2nd-winter Kumlien's Gull was in Worcestershire, 10 Iceland Gulls were reported and 15 Glaucous Gulls, though there were just 7 Ring-billed Gulls. An influx of Caspian Gulls seemed apparent, with around 25 detected including four at Dungeness RSPB (Kent) and four at Hollowell Reservoir (Northants). An inland Sabine's Gull at Draycote Water (Warks) was a nice find on 26th, but didn't remain for long. Several late Long-tailed Skuas were logged on 26th with singles at Filey (N. Yorks) and Huttoft (Lincs) and one at Dorman's Pool (Cleveland). Around 30 Pomarine Skuas were reported, all single-figure reports from the North Sea, and peak Little Auk counts were 40 past Lossiemouth (Moray/Nairn) and 26 past Spurn (E. Yorks). Leach's Storm-petrels passed Llandulas (Conwy) on 25th and Sheringham (Norfolk) on 26th and European Storm-petrels were seen off three east-coast watchpoints. A possible White-billed Diver passed Hartlepool (Cleveland) on 27th and the long-staying Kirkabister (Shetland) individual remained.

Caspian Gull: Throckmorton Tip, Worcs (photo: Mark Priest).

Grey Phalarope: Cheddar Reservoir, Somerset (photo: James Packer). White-billed Diver: Kirkabister, Shetland (photo: Dougie Preston).
Surf Scoter: Rerwick Head, Orkney(photo: Keith Hague). Surf Scoter: Rerwick Head, Orkney(photo: Keith Hague).

The juvenile American Golden Plover was again reported from Lewis (Outer Hebrides) as was the Long-billed Dowitcher from the Hayle Estuary (Cornwall). A Dotterel was at Over Fen (Cambs) from 26th-28th and a handful of Grey Phalaropes were largely confined to the North Sea, with the exception of one in Cornwall and three inland birds. The Great White Egret faithfully returned to Blashford Lakes (Hants) on 26th and 27th and a Cattle Egret was reported from Merriott (Somerset) on 28th. An adult Night Heron was at Adlington and near Preston (Lancs) on 27th and 28th, a White Stork was seen in Hampshire on 26th and a Common Crane in Lincolnshire. Over a dozen Spoonbills included four at Sonner (Cornwall) and trios in Dorset and Devon. A report of two Quail from Frampton Marsh (Lincs) on 28th was unusual, and the only Rough-legged Buzzards were in Kent on the Isle of Sheppey and at Faseny Bridge (Lothian) on 28th and 29th.

Black Brant: Holkham, Norfolk (photo: Sean Nixon).

Ring-necked Duck: Craigavon, Co. Armagh (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly). Ring-necked Duck: Craigavon, Co. Armagh (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly).

It was a quiet for geese watchers. Two Taiga Bean Geese at Mountnorrs (Co. Armagh) were notable, another was on North Uist (Outer Hebrides) and three Tundra Bean Geese were reported from Frampton Marsh (Lincs). Richardson's Canada Geese were at Caerlaverock (Dumfries and Galloway) and Formby (Lancs) and the white-morph Snow Goose again put in an appearance at Meikle Loch (Aberdeenshire). Dark-bellied Brent Geese flocks continued to accommodate several Black Brants on the Norfolk and south coasts and another was with Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Dungarven (Co. Waterford). A Lesser White-fronted Goose of unknown origin was at Martham (Norfolk) on 29th and 30th. A Wood Duck at Drift Reservoir (Cornwall) will have tempted many to speculate as to its origin, but frozen ponds throughout much of Britain will no doubt have caused some British-based birds to escape the freezing conditions to confuse the debate. More straightforward was a new Lesser Scaup at Kilbirnie Loch (Ayrshire) with others still at large in Cornwall and East Yorkshire. The Black Scoter remained distantly off the North Wales coastline, and the King Eider was still in Mousa Sound (Shetland). Seven Surf Scoters included two off Newgale (Pembrokeshire) and a Nearctic Eider was at Scrabster (Highland) on 26th. Eleven Ring-necked Ducks comprised mostly familiar long-stayers, and Ferruginous Ducks were still in Staffordshire and Bedfordshire and another was in Co. Galway. Seven Green-winged Teal, three American Wigeon and the long-staying Bull Island (Co. Dublin) Blue-winged Teal were the sum total of the rarer dabblers.

Firecrest: Bristol, Somerset (photo: Chris Jones). Snow Bunting: Landguard, Suffolk (photo: Chris Mayne).
Stonechat: Tetney Marshes, Lincs (photo: Dave Bradbeer). Common Crossbill: Quoile Pondage, Co. Down (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly).
Red Kite: Gigrin, Powys (photo: Sue Tranter). Red Kite: Gigrin, Powys (photo: Sue Tranter).
Kestrel: Red Rocks, Cheshire (photo: Steve Round). Jay: Necton, Norfolk (photo: Peter Simpson).
Many of the images that appear in our weekly reviews can be purchased from the photographers, some of whom have their own websites:

Bill Aspin: http://www.eastlancashirebirding.net
Mike Atkinson: http://mikeatkinson.net
Ian Barnard: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/sussex.birder
Bill Baston: http://billbaston.com
Richard Bedford: http://www.richardbedford.co.uk
Steve Blain: http://www.steveblain.co.uk
Nigel Blake: http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/birdphotos/index.htm
Paul Boulden: http://southdevonbirds.mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/
Will Bowell: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
Paul Bowerman: http://mysite.freeserve.com/severnsidebirds
Paul Bowyer: http://www.ukbirds.net
Andy Brett: http://www.freewebs.com/andybrett/
Andy Bright: http://www.Digiscoped.com
Martin Cade: http://www.portlandbirdobs.btinternet.co.uk
Graham Catley: http://pewit.blogspot.com/
Mark Caunt: http://angusbirding.homestead.com/
Kit Day: http://www.kitday-uk.com/
Eric Dempsey: http://www.birdsireland.com/
Lee Dingain: http://www.leedingain.co.uk
Jon Dunn: http://www.surfbirds.com/blogs/Stercorarius/
Andrew Easton: http://home.clara.net/ammodytes/
Graham Eaton: http://www.eatonphotography.co.uk
Steve Evans: http://www.powow.com/birds2004/
Katie Fuller: http://bogbumper.blogspot.com
Sean Gray: http://www.grayimages.co.uk
Peter Hadfield: http://www.manxbirdphotography.co.uk
Josh Jones: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
John Judge: http://www.draycotebirding.co.uk
Paul and Andrea Kelly: http://www.irishbirdimages.com/
Jack Levene: http://www.birdingimages.com
John Malloy: http://mysite.freeserve.com/JohnMalloyBirdPhotos
Brian Mcgeough: http://www.pbase.com/bmcgeough/british_birds
Tony Mills: http://www.notjustbirds.com
Jerry O'Brien: http://www.BirdsofBerkshire.co.uk
Charlie Moores: http://www.charliesbirdblog.com
Mark Newsome: http://www.whitburnbirding.co.uk
James Packer: http://www.somersetbirder.co.uk
Mike Pennington: http://www.nature.shetland.co.uk
Marc Read: http://www.marcread-pix.com
Tristan Reid: http://www.solwaybirder.org.uk
Steve Round: http://stevenround-birdphotography.com
Gerald Segelbacher: http://www.digiscoping.uk.md
Deryk Shaw/FIBO: http://www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk
Tom Shevlin: http://wildlifesnaps.com/
Peter Simpson: http://www.blueskybirds.co.uk
Matt Slaymaker: http://www.mattslaymaker.co.uk
Oliver Smart: http://www.smartimages.co.uk
George Spraggs: http://www.bird-watching.co.uk
Simon Stirrup: http://www.simonstirrup.co.uk/
Garry Taylor: http://www.spurnbirdobservatory.co.uk/
Glen Tepke: http://www.pbase.com/gtepke
Phillip Tomkinson: http://www.philliptomkinson.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk
Stephen Tomlinson: http://www.digitalbirds.co.uk
Sue Tranter: http://www.suesbirdphotos.co.uk/
Steve Williams: http://www.hilbrebirdobs.co.uk
Simon Wilson: http://www.bakewellbirder.co.uk/
Chris Wormwell: http://www.iombirding.co.uk
Dylan Wrathall: http://www.planetthanet.org
Written by: Russell Slack