Review of the Week: 25th-31st August 2005

The week at a glance:
Least Sandpiper: South Milton Ley, Devon (photo: Mike Barker).

Least Sandpiper: South Milton Ley, Devon (photo: John Lee). Least Sandpiper: South Milton Ley, Devon (photo: John Lee).
Semipalmated Sandpiper: Belfast Harbour, Co. Antrim (photo: Derek Charles). Semipalmated Sandpiper: Belfast Harbour, Co. Antrim (photo: Derek Charles).
Semipalmated Sandpiper: Belfast Harbour, Co. Antrim (photo: Derek Charles).

Wader-watching and seawatching were the pursuits of the week and those in the right place at the right time were not to be disappointed on either count, though nearly all of the seawatching 'action' took place in Irish waters.

A Least Sandpiper at South Milton Ley (Devon) on Sunday 28th was the pick of a good spread of Nearctic waders on offer. Originally identified as a Temminck's Stint, the re-identification as the county's 6th Least came in time for a number of observers to view the bird the same evening - the first in the county since 1966. It was then relocated at nearby South Thurlestone Marsh on Monday 29th and was present there through the rest of the week. A Pacific Golden Plover at Levington Creek (Suffolk) from Friday 26th onwards was a long-overdue county first. A supporting cast of quality Nearctic species included a Semipalmated Sandpiper at Belfast Harbour RSPB (Co. Antrim) from Wednesday 31st, a Baird's Sandpiper at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) from Friday 26th-27th and Lady's Island Lake (Co. Wexford) on Monday 29th and a Spotted Sandpiper at Doonbeg (Co. Clare) from Saturday 27th onwards.

Wilson's Phalarope: Farlington Marshes, Hants (photo: Bob Hazell). Wilson's Phalarope: Bann Estuary, Londonderry (photo: Derek Charles).
Lesser Yellowlegs: Tophill Low NR, E. Yorks (photo: Darren AP Ward). Lesser Yellowlegs: Tophill Low NR, E. Yorks (photo: Martin Hodges).

In Hampshire the Wilson's Phalarope remained at Farlington Marshes to 25th and in Co. Londonderry the Wilson's Phalarope remained on the Bann Estuary to the 29th. Lesser Yellowlegs were present during the week at Tophill Low NR (E. Yorks), Broad Lough (Co. Wicklow) and at Loch Bee, South Uist (Outer Hebrides). The American Golden Plover was again on the Rogerstown Estuary (Co. Dublin), as was the 1st-summer bird at Anthorn (Cumbria).

American Golden Plover: Rogerstown Estuary, Dublin (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly). American Golden Plover: Rogerstown Estuary, Dublin (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly).
American Golden Plover: Anthorn, Cumbria (photo: Craig Shaw). American Golden Plover: Anthorn, Cumbria (photo: Craig Shaw).
Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Tyninghame, Lothian (photo: John Anderson). Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Tyninghame, Lothian (photo: John Anderson).
Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Tyninghame, Lothian (photo: Ray Wilson). Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Tyninghame, Lothian (photo: Ray Wilson).

An influx of Buff-breasted Sandpipers totalled 13 birds over the review period. Three were at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford), and others included 2 on St. Kilda (Outer Hebrides), and singletons at Tyninghame (Lothian), North Ronaldsay (Orkney), Dungeness (Kent), Snettisham (Norfolk), Tresco (Scilly), South Uist (Outer Hebrides), Ballycotton (Co. Cork) and Wicklow (Co. Wicklow); doubtless more will follow. Just under 20 Pectoral Sandpipers were reported and Dotterel included two at Snettisham from 28th-29th and one at Carmel Head (Anglesey). A Temminck's Stint was at Holland Haven (Essex) from 31st and two were reported at St. Mary's Island (Northumberland) on 30th. A Red-necked Phalarope was off Uisaed Point (Argyll) on 27th and Grey Phalaropes were noted off many west-coast and Irish seawatch points, including 45 passing the Bridges of Ross (Co. Clare) on 25th and 25+ noted on 26th; most popular was a confiding individual at Newton (Lancs) during the week.

Grey Phalarope: Newton, Lancs (photo: Sue Tranter). Grey Phalarope: Newton, Lancs (photo: Sean Gray).

Grey Phalarope: Newton, Lancs (photo: Tom Gradwell).

Grey Phalarope: Newton, Lancs (photo: Chris Galvin). Grey Phalarope: Newton, Lancs (photo: Geoff Pain).
Pectoral Sandpiper: Eyebrook Res, Leics (photo: Steve Evans). Dotterel: Snettisham, Norfolk (photo: Marc Read).

On the Outer Hebrides a Black-browed Albatross was reported to be present in the gannetry at Sula Sgeir on Wednesday 31st. If confirmed this would be another welcome opportunity for birders to see this fantastic species in British waters. Seawatch records are exceptionally rare and it is has been a long time since the famous 'Albert' was a resident in the gannetry at Hermaness (Shetland) from the early 1970s to his last sighting in July 1995.

Great Shearwater: Lewis, Outer Hebrides (photo: Martin Scott). Great Shearwater: Lewis, Outer Hebrides (photo: Martin Scott).
Sabine's Gull: Gormanstown, Co. Meath (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly). Sabine's Gull: Kilcummin, Co. Mayo (photo: Will Woodrow).

Well-placed seawatchers enjoyed a bonanza of rarities including 3 Little Shearwaters, with singles passing Brandon Head (Co. Kerry) on Friday 26th, Galley Head (Co. Cork) on Sunday 28th and Bridges of Ross (Co. Clare) on Wednesday 31st. The almost-obligatory Fea's Petrels included singles passing Brandon Head and Bridges of Ross on Thursday 25th, one passing Carnsore Point (Co. Wexford) on Sunday 28th and likewise at Galley Head (Co. Cork) on Tuesday 30th. The excellent run of Wilson's Storm-petrel sightings continued with two past Brandon Head on Thursday 25th, one from the Scilly pelagic on Saturday 27th and 2 past Bridges of Ross on Monday 29th. Large shearwater numbers were down on recent events, but 300 Great Shearwaters passed the Bridges of Ross on 29th and 107 Cory's Shearwaters were noted from the Rosslare ferry the same day. Small numbers of Long-tailed Skuas were reported and the peak count of Sabine's Gulls was 11 past Brandon Head and 12 past Bridges of Ross on 25th. An inland Sabine's Gull was at Farmoor Reservoir (Oxon) from 29th-30th. Could this perhaps have been the bird seen recently at Grafham Water (Cambs) and, who knows, quite possibly the same bird in West Yorkshire in early July? An Audouin's Gull was at Queens Valley Reservoir (Jersey) on Monday 29th and the Laughing Gull remained in Co. Galway. A ridge of hot high pressure on Wednesday 31st facilitated the arrival of good numbers of Black Terns to many waters in the Midlands, but the best count was 200 past Strumble Head (Pembrokeshire). White-winged Black Terns included juveniles at Rutland Water (Leics) from 28th and Wilstone Res (Herts) on 31st, plus the long-staying bird at Abberton Reservoir (Essex).

Laughing Gull: Waterside, Co. Galway (photo: Michael Davis). White-winged Black Tern: Rutland Water, Leics (photo: Bob Hazell).
Black Tern: Ringstone Res, W. Yorks (photo: Sean Gray). Black Tern: St. Mary's Island, Northumberland (photo: John Malloy).

A Black Stork over St. Mary's (Scilly) on Saturday 27th had an 'arrival' date that matched the last two of the islands' total of 5 previous records. Two Great White Egrets were over Abbotsbury (Dorset) on 27th and the long-staying bird remained at Blashford Lakes (Hants). Cattle Egrets were again in Dorset and Cambridgeshire and a known escapee was still at large in Norfolk. A Purple Heron was at Shapwick Heath (Somerset) on 29th. A Snowy Owl was at Kinlochewe (Highland) on Monday 29th. Eight Spotted Crakes revealed their presence, all but one between Kent and Devon.

Spotted Crake: Ambaston GPs, Derbys (photo: Darren Chapman). Spotted Crake: Ambaston GPs, Derbys (photo: Simon Wilson).
Great White Egret: Blashford Lakes, Hants (photo: Josh Jones). Great White Egret: Blashford Lakes, Hants (photo: Josh Jones).
Red-backed Shrike: Gunthorpe, Lincs (photo: Russell Hayes). Red-backed Shrike: Gunthorpe, Lincs (photo: Russell Hayes).

Passerine interest entertained, but little of it was immediately accessible to British mainland birders. A Booted Warbler trapped on Bardsey (Gwynedd) on Tuesday 30th will, if accepted, be the 4th Welsh record (all of which have been on offshore islands). A Western Bonelli's Warbler was on St. Mary's (Scilly) from Tuesday 30th, with a Bonelli's Warbler sp. on St. Agnes (Scilly) from Monday 29th. A Greenish Warbler was on Noss (Shetland) from Wednesday 31st. Nine Melodious Warblers arrived from 29th, two of which were on Bardsey, the rest in the southwest and one on Anglesey. An Icterine Warbler was on Dursey Island (Co. Cork) on 30th, the Marsh Warbler remained on Fair Isle (Shetland) to 27th and of nine Barred Warblers, three were on Shetland, one in East Yorkshire and 5 in Norfolk. The sole Common Rosefinch was on Fair Isle on 31st. A Tawny Pipit was at Luccombe (Isle of Wight) on 31st, a Serin at Dunkeswell (Devon) on 28th and a Hoopoe at St. Agnes Head (Cornwall) on 31st. A Woodchat Shrike was on St. Mary's (Scilly) from 29th-31st and a handful of Red-backed Shrikes included an inland bird in Lincolnshire. A Bee-eater was on the Douglas Estuary (Co. Cork) on 27th and one was at Toab (Shetland) on 28th and 30th. Two inland Wrynecks (in West Yorkshire and Somerset) were part of a total of 13, the majority of which were along the south coast. Two Ortolan Buntings were on Lundy (Devon) on 28th with 2 at Portland (Dorset) on 30th and one at Ottringham (E. Yorks) on 31st. In Devon the Black-headed Wagtail remained at South Huish Marsh.

Wryneck: Farlington Marshes, Hants (photo: Kevin Guest).

Wryneck: Farlington Marshes, Hants (photo: Richard Ford). Black-headed Wagtail: South Huish Marsh, Devon (photo: John Lee).
King Eider: Nairn, Moray and Nairn (photo: Dave Kelsall). Dotterel: Snettisham, Norfolk (photo: Mark Bibby).
Dotterel: Snettisham, Norfolk (photo: Katie Fuller). Dotterel: Snettisham, Norfolk (photo: Connor Rand).
Black-necked Grebe: Toft Newton Res, Lincs (photo: Russell Hayes). Black-necked Grebe: Pitsford Res, Northants (photo: Richard Bedford).
Red-necked Grebe: Benacre, Suffolk (photo: Mike Parker). Red-necked Grebe: Cresswell Pond, Northumberland (photo: Alan Gilbertson).
Barn Owl: Northants (photo: Richard Bedford). Kingfisher: Northants (photo: Richard Bedford).
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
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/
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
Deryk Shaw/FIBO: http://www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk
Tom Shevlin: http://wildlifesnaps.com/
Matt Slaymaker: http://www.freewebs.com/slaymaker
Oliver Smart: http://www.smartimages.co.uk
George Spraggs: http://www.bird-watching.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