Review of the Week: 25th November–1st December 2010


The week at a glance

With most of the Nearctic waifs now moved on, the only long-stayers still in place were the Green Heron at the Lost Gardens of Heligan (Cornwall) all week and the American Coot at Termoncarragh Loch (Co Mayo) to 28th at least. The only other mega was the House Crow, which was in Cobh (Co Cork) all week.

It was apt that there were a few Snow Geese this week, looking quite at home at Kintraw (Argyll) and The Mullet (Co Mayo) on 26th, over Lund (East Yorkshire) on 27th and at Craobh Haven (Argyll) on 28th–29th. The Cumbrian Ross's Goose was at Burgh Marsh on 27th, and in Norfolk one was on Holkham Freshmarsh on 28th; a 'white goose' went over Burgh St Peter on 27th. The only 'brown goose' of note was the Richardson's Canada Goose that remained at Loch Gruinart, Islay (Argyll) to 30th.

Ross's Goose
Ross's Goose, Burgh Marsh, Cumbria (Photo: Sam Northwood)

Single Black Brants were again at The Cunnigar (Co Waterford) on 26th and Carricklahan (Co Mayo) on 29th and one was at Wells-next-the-Sea (Norfolk) on 27th. In West Sussex one remained at Climping to 29th and another was at Pagham Harbour on 27th, and in Dorset one was with three Pale-bellied Brents at Butterstreet Cove on 27th, with three on The Fleet on 28th and two with 6 Pale-bellied Brents at Wyke Regis on 30th.

With no reports from Chew Valley Lake, the only Ferruginous Ducks were a drake still at Corbet Lough (Co Down) to 29th, a female at Burgess Park (London) on 28th and one on Cheddar Reservoir (Somerset) on 28th. There was also a Pochard hybrid at Marine Park Lake, Southport (Lancashire) on 29th, and another hybrid causing some interest was a Baikal Teal lookalike at Cambourne (Cambridgeshire) on 27th. Of far more interest, however, was a Black Duck at Bangor (Co Down) on 28th.

Ferruginous Duck
Ferruginous Duck, Burgess Park, Greater London (Photo: James Lowen)

The drake Ring-necked Duck remained at Bardney Pits (Lincolnshire) to 28th with another at Foxcote Reservoir (Buckinghamshire) on 26th–1st. Females remained at Lough Gur (Co Limerick) to 26th, Cork City (Co Cork) to 27th and Llyn Pencarreg (Carmarthen) to 29th.

Ring-necked Duck
Ring-necked Duck, Bardney Pits, Lincolnshire (Photo: Russell Hayes)

Ring-necked Duck
Ring-necked Duck, Cork City, Cork (Photo: Graham Clarke)

There were strangely far fewer Green-winged Teal reported this week, with the only Irish birds being drakes at Belfast Lough (Co Antrim) and Womanagh (Co Cork), both to 27th. Other drakes were at Kinneil Lagoon (Forth) to 26th, Caerlaverock (Dumfries & Galloway) to 26th, Hodbarrow (Cumbria) on 27th and Martin Mere (Lancashire) on 28th. Back in Ireland, the drake Blue-winged Teal was again at Cabragh Wetlands (Co Tipperary) on 25th with a new drake at Threave (Dumfries & Galloway) on 27th–28th.

Green-winged Teal
Green-winged Teal, Belfast Lough RSPB, Antrim (Photo: Derek Charles)

Blue-winged Teal
Blue-winged Teal, Threave, Dumfries & Galloway (Photo: Rob Smallwood)

The only Surf Scoters remaining now were females at Murvey (Co Galway) to 29th and Dawlish Warren (Devon) to 30th. Records of Smew came from 36 sites, with an impressive peak of nine at Eyebrook Reservoir (Leicestershire) on 30th, six at Rutland Water, four at Blunham Lake (Bedfordshire) and three at Pitsford Reservoir (Northamptonshire).

The only shearwaters were single Balearic Shearwaters past Durham and Cornwall, with two past St Catherine's Breakwater (Jersey).

Aside from the two Glossy Ibis that remained on the Otter estuary (Dorset) to 25th, the only other records were new birds at Radipole Lake (Dorset) on 29th, later seen over Portland Harbour, and at Dunraven Bay (Glamorgan) on 29th–30th. Great White Egrets remained at Pitsford Reservoir (Northamptonshire) and Minsmere (Suffolk) with others briefly at 10 other sites. The only remaining Cattle Egrets were on the Clyst estuary (Devon) to 27th and at Grouville Marsh (Jersey) to 30th, with one new bird at Aughinish Island (Co Limerick) on 28th, though perhaps present all week.

Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis, Dunraven Bay, Glamorgan (Photo: Raymond)

Great White Egret
Great White Egret, Hatchet Pond, Hampshire (Photo: Ian Williamson)

Various Rough-legged Buzzards continued to be seen along the east coast, with most records coming from Norfolk and Lincolnshire. Away from there, singles were reported over Plymouth (Devon) on 27th, at Tindale Tarn (Cumbria) on 30th and Marshside RSPB (Lancashire) on 1st. The Northern Harrier remained at Tacumshin (Co Wexford) to 27th, with the now 'almost-certain' bird at Thornham (Norfolk) to 29th. In Co Sligo, a white-morph Gyr Falcon was at Ballinfull on 29th and Raghly on 30th.

Rough-legged Buzzard
Rough-legged Buzzard, South Ferriby, Lincolnshire (Photo: Mick West)

After seven birds last week, the only American Golden Plover reported this week was one still at Ballymacoda (Co Cork) to 27th, although there was also a 'Lesser Golden Plover' on the Camel Estuary (Cornwall) on 25th–26th. Other remaining waders included the Long-billed Dowitcher at Lodmoor (Dorset) to 30th, the Lesser Yellowlegs at Rutland Water to 28th and the Dotterel at The Wig (Dumfries & Galloway) to 25th. There were also just five reports of Grey Phalarope, at Dunbar (Lothian), Pett Levels (East Sussex), Barvas, Lewis (Outer Hebrides), Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) and Rutland Water on 29th–30th.

Long-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher, Lodmoor RSPB, Dorset (Photo: Mick Southcott)

Grey Phalarope
Grey Phalarope, Pett Levels, East Sussex (Photo: Mark Tomlins)

Despite the weather, there were just seven reports of Glaucous Gull this week, including two (an adult and a third-winter) at Shawell (Leicestershire) on 30th. Iceland Gulls were more numerous, reported from 19 sites, including four at Killybegs (Co Donegal) on 27th, three in Stornoway Harbour (Outer Hebrides) on 26th and two at Peterhead (Aberdeenshire) on 27th. Long-staying Ring-billed Gulls were reported from Gosport (Hampshire), Nimmo's Pier (Co Galway) and Portrush (Co Antrim) with others in Limerick (Co Limerick), Milford-on-Sea (Hampshire) and an adult again at Sands Lane Gravel Pit (West Yorkshire) to 30th. With no sign of either of Derbyshire's star Nearctic gulls, the only representative was a Laughing or Franklin's Gull at Garretstown (Co Cork) on 28th. Also in Ireland, the Co Galway Forster's Tern was at Nimmo's Pier to 28th.

Iceland Gull
Iceland Gull, Cobh, Cork (Photo: James Hayes)

Forster's Tern
Forster's Tern, Galway, Galway (Photo: Tom Cuffe)

Perfectly able to handle the weather, large groups of Shore Larks included 40 at Holkham Gap (Norfolk), 13 at Dingle Marshes (Suffolk) and 12 at Gibraltar Point (Lincolnshire). Similarly wintry, the Waxwings are now slowly creeping south, but the biggest flocks were all still in the north, including 450 in Dalston (Cumbria), 400 in Musselburgh (Lothian) and 300 in Carlisle (Cumbria) and Glasgow (Clyde). Flocks of over 200 were also recorded in West Yorkshire, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Ayrshire.

Shore Lark
Shore Lark, Dunwich Pools, Suffolk (Photo: Ian Clarke)

Waxwing, Oswestry, Shropshire (Photo: Anthony Griffiths)

The most bizarre of sights this week must have been either of the two Hoopoes in the snow. One was at Longham Lakes (Dorset) on 25th–30th with another in the back car park of Durham County Hall on 28th–29th. The latter bird featured on BBC Look North and was later taken into care, though sadly it didn't survive the night. A late (or wintering?) Richard's Pipit was at Paviland (Glamorgan) on 26th, along with 40 Lapland Buntings, and another was at Slimbridge (Gloucestershire) on 29th.

Hoopoe, Longham Lakes, Dorset (Photo: Daniel)

There was no sign of the Dusky Warbler on the Isles of Scilly, but a probable was at Elmley Marshes (Kent) on 27th. Numbers of Yellow-browed Warblers really dropped off — perhaps not surprising given the plummeting temperatures — with birds in the Cot Valley (Cornwall) to 30th, on St Mary's (Isles of Scilly) to 26th, at Durlston Country Park (Dorset) to 30th and at Dungeness (Kent) on 27th, and one was reported from Deeping Lakes (Lincolnshire) on 30th. In East Anglia, possible Hume's Leaf Warblers were in Wells Woods (Norfolk) on 29th and at Lowestoft (Suffolk) on 30th, and the only remaining Pallas's Warbler was on St Mary's (Isles of Scilly) on 30th.

There were fewer reports of Great Grey Shrikes than of late, with birds at 14 sites as far north as Featherstone Castle (Northumberland), Waddington Fell (Lancashire), Langsett Reservoir (South Yorkshire) and Pennal (Gwynedd). There were three in Dorset, two in Hampshire and singles in five other southern counties.

There was a brief Penduline Tit at Strumpshaw Fen (Norfolk) on 26th, looking a bit lost in the snow. More at home, the only remaining Arctic Redpolls were Coues' at Woodwalton Fen (Cambridgeshire) to 29th and one at Titchwell (Norfolk) on 29th that had previously been identified as a Mealy Redpoll. There was one unidentified to race at Cley (Norfolk) on 28th.

Aside from the 40 already mentioned, the highest counts of Lapland Bunting reported were 21 at Breydon Water (Norfolk) on 25th, 15 at Carmel Head (Anglesey) on 29th, 15 at Llanon (Ceredigion) on 29th and 14 at Keyhaven Marshes (Hampshire) on 28th. More bizarrely for early winter, there were three reports of Common Rosefinches, all frequenting feeders in gardens: at St David's (Pembrokeshire) to 28th, Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) on 30th–1st and at Gorseinon (Glamorgan) on 27th–28th.

With the cold did come some northern arrivals, including excellent numbers of Northern Bullfinches. Highest counts were of six at North Warren (Suffolk) on 26th and three in Wells Woods (Norfolk) on 26th. The same site also claimed a possible Northern Treecreeper on 25th, though the identification of this form is extremely difficult. The only Northern Long-tailed Tit was a possible in a garden at Wishaw (Clyde) on 25th, though it could have been an intergrade.

The last of the migrants were still hanging on, and included Sandwich Tern in Lothian on 28th, Turtle Dove in East Sussex on 28th, Swallows in Cornwall and Clyde on 26th, Ring Ouzels in Buckinghamshire and Gwynedd on 26th, Lesser Whitethroat in Cornwall on 25th and Willow Warbler ringed in Hertfordshire on 27th.

Photo of the Week: 25th November–1st December 2010

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl, Worlaby Carrs, Lincolnshire (Photo: Graham Catley)

Back in September 2004, Lincolnshire-based local patch birder Graham Catley was awarded the first ever BirdGuides Photo of the Week with a shot of a Baird's Sandpiper. Like most bird photographers who have been around since those days, Graham's photos have gone from strength to strength over the intervening years. In fact, a look back through the history of our 300+ PotWs shows just how far standards have risen. This week, Graham adds another PotW to his collection with a wonderfully seasonable image of a Short-eared Owl in heavy snow. Over the last few weeks, we've had some stunning images of this species from Worlaby Carrs, but Graham is the only contributor to have braved the recent snowfalls to shoot the bird in falling snow. On his Blog, Graham explains how he set out to capture something 'different from the norm', as well as the difficulties he faced, from autofocus challenges to falling headlong with his camera! He certainly succeeded, with over 30 great atmospheric images in the bag. In our favourite image, you can almost imagine the owl wondering why this particular photographer hadn't just stayed indoors like everyone else! We're glad he didn't, though.

Other notable photos

Woodcock, undisclosed site, Lancashire (Photo: Tom Charles)

Little Owl
Little Owl, undisclosed site, Worcestershire (Photo: Mark Hancox)

Grey Partridge
Grey Partridge, undisclosed site, Lancashire (Photo: Tom Charles)

Bittern, Upton Warren NR, Worcestershire (Photo: Stuart Andrews)

Starling, Dunwich, Suffolk (Photo: Jon Evans)

Great Northern Diver
Great Northern Diver, Fleetwood, Lancashire (Photo: Brian Rafferty)

Goldcrest, undisclosed site, Warwickshire (Photo: Tom Melton)

Lesser Striped Swallow
Lesser Striped Swallow, Mozambique (Photo: Rudi Debruyne)

Yellow Warbler
Yellow Warbler, Ecuador (Photo: Graham Clarke)

Andean Condor
Andean Condor, Peru (Photo: Keith Dover)

Sparrowhawk, Wigan, Greater Manchester (Photo: David Cookson)

European Stonechat
European Stonechat, Farr, Highland (Photo: Marcus Conway - ebirder)

Nuthatch, North Wirral, Cheshire (Photo: Richard Steel)

Snow Bunting
Snow Bunting, Northam Burrows CP, Devon (Photo: Rob Cross)

Iceland Gull
Iceland Gull, Preston, Lancashire (Photo: Steve Round)

Ring-necked Duck
Ring-necked Duck, Cork City, Cork (Photo: Sean Cronin)

Waxwing, Newtown, Powys (Photo: Kev Joynes)

Crested Tit
Crested Tit, Aviemore, Highland (Photo: Neill Carden)

Hooded Crow
Hooded Crow, Ramsey, Isle of Man (Photo: Sean Gray)

Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper, Dunbar, Lothian (Photo: Mike Thrower)

Written by: Mark Grantham