Review of the Week: 26 July-1 August 2021


After a slow start to the late summer pelagic season, a fast-moving transatlantic low overnight on 29th provided a much-needed boost to seabird action in the South-West. This resulted in a bumper crop of Wilson's Storm Petrels, including double figures from the Scilly pelagics alone, peaking with no fewer than 12 on Saturday's trip, as well as a small number of Great Shearwaters. The North Sea coastline wasn't to be neglected, either, with a respectable showing from the two scarcer skuas over the weekend – as well as Great and Cory's Shearwaters – after the low pushed on through the Channel throughout Friday.

Wilson's Storm Petrel, Scilly pelagic, Isles of Scilly (Ted Smith).

Ireland scored an adult Western Sandpiper of its own this week, at Ballinclamper, Co Waterford, from 31st. Just a sixth for Ireland, the most recent back in 2016 was a summer record too – at Tacumshin, Co Wexford, from 23-26 July. Meanwhile, Norfolk's Western Sand was last noted at Snettisham RSPB on 30th.

Western Sandpiper, Snettisham RSPB, Norfolk (Tim Smith).

Two Semipalmated Sandpipers were unearthed – at Lower Rosses, Co Sligo, on 26th and Rossbeigh, Co Kerry, on 28th.

Semipalmated Sandpiper, Rossbeigh, Kerry (Seamus Enright).

Dwindling numbers of Sandwich Terns led Anglesey's Elegant Tern to depart Cemlyn Bay after 30th, resurfacing on the beach at Formby Point, Lancashire, on 1st. Post-breeding, the Sandwiches tend to grace a number of sites before heading off to their wintering grounds – is a similar performance on the cards for the Elegant, perhaps?

Elegant Tern, Cemlyn Bay, Anglesey (Nathaniel Dargue).

The defining bird of summer 2021, the Black-browed Albatross was again present on and off at Bempton Cliffs RSPB, East Yorkshire, throughout the week.

Black-browed Albatross, Bempton Cliffs RSPB, East Yorkshire (Jeff Lack).

In Norfolk, a possible dark-morph Booted Eagle reported over Breydon Water on 31st was somewhat intriguing. A new Snowy Owl was belatedly reported from Inishmore, Co Galway, on 18th; St Kilda's female was reported again on 26th.

Snowy Owl, St Kilda, Outer Hebrides (Brian Matthews).

In the Outer Hebrides, a subalpine warbler species was elusive along the road at Cuithir, Barra, from 26-28th; this is the exact spot where an Eastern Subalpine was seen some weeks ago and you'd suspect it's one and the same bird involved.

Ireland's Least Tern remained settled at Portrane Point, Co Dublin, until 31st at least. Meanwhile, a Gull-billed Tern graced Minsmere RSPB and Carlton Marshes on 26th. A probable flew south-west through Stanwick GPs, Northamptonshire, the following day. The Caspian Tern was reported again at Saltholme RSPB, Cleveland, on 26th but there was no sign subsequently.

Least Tern, Portrane Point, Dublin (Paul Lynch).

Gull-billed Tern, Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk (Andrew Moon).

Meanwhile, Bonaparte's Gulls continued at Oare Marshes, Kent, and in Shetland at Norwick, Unst.

Bonaparte's Gull, Oare Marshes NR, Kent (Shaun Ferguson).

A Pacific Golden Plover off the Cob at Malltraeth, Anglesey, from 27-29th was one of the finds of the week and just a second for Wales. Elsewhere, a new adult was at Burnham Norton, Norfolk, on 26-27th, with another still at Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincolnshire, throughout.

Pacific Golden Plover, Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincolnshire (Ian Bollen).

A new Long-billed Dowitcher was in Norfolk at Potter Heigham Marshes on 26th, moving to Hickling Broad from 28-30th. Elsewhere, one held out at Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB, Cheshire, until the week's end. Still a rare bird in Ireland, a Black-winged Stilt was at Lough Corrib, Co Galway, on 26th.

Long-billed Dowitcher, Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB, Cheshire (Mark Woodhead).

The Black Scoter was again at Blackdog, Aberdeenshire, on 27-28th, while the young drake King Eider lingered in Shetland at Baltasound, Unst.

The rich run of scarce cetaceans continued in the Firth of Forth, with a Striped Dolphin performing admirably off South Queensferry, Lothian, from 30-1st. In Scilly, the Walrus was last sighted off Bar Point, St Mary's, on 30th.


Scottish mainland

The now-annual influx of Ruddy Shelduck along the east coast of Britain deposited several into the south-east portion of Scotland this week. Four at Belhaven Bay, Lothian, until 31st are perhaps the same as seen over North Queensferry, Fife, early on 1st and at Tullibody Inch, Forth, that afternoon. Another remained at Montrose Basin, Angus and Dundee.

A busy week of seawatching along the North Sea coast included an adult Long-tailed Skua past both Scoughall and Cramond, Lothian, on 31st; three flew north past Eyemouth, Borders, on 1st alongside a Pomarine Skua. A Balearic Shearwater was off Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, on 29th, while a Glaucous Gull started August at Lossie Estuary, Moray and Nairn, and Roseate Terns were at three Lothian localities. Elsewhere, a Grey Phalarope was photographed from the ferry between Oban and Barra on 26th.

Long-tailed Skua, Cramond, Lothian (Lukasz Pulawski).

A Black Kite north over Ruddon's Point, Fife, on 29th was a late July treat, as was a lingering Hoopoe at Paxton, Borders and a Rosy Starling at Dornoch, Highland. Singing Common Quail were at Shearington, Dumfries and Galloway, Findhorn Bay, Moray and Nairn, and in the Clyde Islands at Kingarth, Bute.

Three sites held Wood Sandpipers, with Little Stints at Loch of Strathbeg, Aberdeenshire, and Udale Bay, Highland (two). Two Slavonian Grebes were at Loch of Skene, Aberdeenshire, on 29th, with two Eurasian Spoonbills again at Findhorn Bay, Moray and Nairn.


Northern Isles and the Hebrides

An adult American Golden Plover at Baltasound, Unst, on 26th kick-started Shetland's week although didn't hang around for long. Meanwhile a female European Honey Buzzard at Hagdale, Unst, on 27th transpired to be the same bird that spent a lengthy stay on Fair Isle. The adult Long-tailed Skua continued to put in visits to Dalsetter, Boddam. A first-summer Rosy Starling was at Sumburgh, Mainland, from 26th, the adult remained at Girlsta, Mainland, until 28th and one was on the Isle of Noss on 29th.

Rosy Starling, Sumburgh, Mainland, Shetland (Roger Riddington).

Fair Isle hosted at least one Rosy Starling until 30th, while a Common Rosefinch on 1st served a timely reminder that autumn is around the corner. 

An adult Rosy Starling was on the beach at Warebeth, Mainland, on 27-28th while a sub-adult Pomarine Skua overflew The Shunan, Mainland, on 1 August. North Ronaldsay was also quiet, the Rosy Starling remained until at least 31st – as did the Common Quail – and there was a Fieldfare on 29th. All was still on the Outer Hebrides, with two Sooty Shearwaters flew past Cleat, Barra, on 31st the only local birds of note.

Dan Owen


North-East England

It was a good week for seawatching, with a number of scarce seabirds passing coastal sites. Cory's Shearwaters were seen off four localities on 1st including two from Whitburn Coastal Park, Durham, and a Great Shearwater lingered for 20 minutes off Tynemouth, Northumberland, the previous day. Five sites scored Long-tailed Skuas including a group of four past Ryhope, Durham, and three tracked between Whitburn Coastal Park and Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, on 1st. Several Balearic Shearwaters and Pomarine Skuas were also seen past both at Whitburn Coastal Park and Hartlepool Headland, Cleveland.

Away from the sea, it was a quiet week in Northumberland. The Eurasian Spoonbill, Spotted Redshanks and Ruddy Shelduck remained in Druridge Bay throughout, with four Black Terns off Druridge Pools on 1st. The nearby Coquet Estuary produced four Curlew Sandpipers and the Polish-ringed adult Caspian Gull returned to Amble for its eighth summer.

In Durham, two Eurasian Spoonbills were at Bishop Middleham at the start of the week, with the lingering group of six Ruddy Shelduck and a Wood Sandpiper also there. Boldon Flats NR scored a Spotted Redshank and a Great Egret. Hurworth Burn Reservoir continued to host a Great Egret, joined by six Ruddy Shelduck later in the week.   

Ruddy Shelduck, Saltholme RSPB, Cleveland (BobH).

A Yellow-legged Gull put in a brief appearance on Hartlepool Headland, Cleveland, on 27th. Other highlights in the county included a Ruddy Shelduck arriving in off the sea at Seaton Snook and a Great Egret at Saltholme RSPB.

Jonathan Farooqi


North-West England

In Cumbria, a Little Stint on Hardendale Quarry Pool on 30th was a nice local find. Waders continued to trickle through in Lancashire this week, with a Little Stint at Leighton Moss RSPB from 26th and Wood Sandpiper at three sites. A new Roseate Tern was loafing at Formby Point on 26th, while a Caspian Gull was at Seaforth LWT on 29th, alongside a juvenile Greater Scaup

A Roseate Tern was also loafing off Hoylake, Cheshire, on 26th – a nice Cheshire bird. Various Ruddy Shelduck continued to entertain local birds, with four localities supporting up to six birds – a South African Shelduck was seemingly partnered with the drake at Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB. A Little Stint was at Frodsham Marsh on 30th. Moving to Greater Manchester, two Eurasian Spoonbills overflew Chat Moss on 27th while a Wood Warbler put in a brief visit at Elton Reservoir.

Dan Owen


Lincolnshire and Yorkshire

In Lincolnshire, a Red-necked Phalarope was tracked south past Huttoft Bank and Gibraltar Point NNR on 30th. The Glossy Ibis was still at Alkborough Flats, while Frampton Marsh RSPB remained a hotbed of action – as well as plentiful waders, a Vagrant Emperor dragonfly was an excellent record on 30th. Two Common Cranes flew over Boultham Mere on 31st. Pyewipe, Lincolnshire, produced a monumental count of 9,200 Common Shelduck, which amounts to more than 15% of the entire UK population.

Spotted Redshank, Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincolnshire (Ian Bollen).

In South Yorkshire, a released White-tailed Eagle from the Isle of Wight was seen near Agden Reservoir on 1st. The Adwick Pectoral Sandpiper was last observed on 28th. In what can be best described as 'changeable' weather conditions, a selection of grounded Common Scoter, Ruddy Turnstone and Sanderling were the best elsewhere were seen both here and in West Yorkshire, with Whiteholme Reservoir also scoring Red Knot and Grey Plover.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Adwick Washlands RSPB (Dearne Valley), South Yorkshire (Peter Garrity).

Several North Yorkshire sites produced Wood Sandpiper this week, but the best action was on the coast. Filey scored Long-tailed Skua and Balearic Shearwater, with a Sooty Shearwater passing Long Nab. A Cory's Shearwater appeared to be lingering off Flamborough Head, East Yorkshire, with records on 28th and 1st, plus Balearic and Sooty Shearwaters, and both scarcer skuas, seen there.

A Cory's also flew past Beacon Ponds, Easington, while nearby Kilnsea Wetlands was treated to an adult White-rumped Sandpiper on 31-1st and several Caspian Gulls.

Josh Jones

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West Midlands

A Pectoral Sandpiper pitched down at Blithfield Reservoir, Staffordshire, on 31st but sadly there was no sign the next day. An adult Black Tern winged its way around Belvide Reservoir on 31-1st, with a juvenile Wood Sandpiper and Garganey for company. Three adult Arctic Terns were also present on 29th. while two Sandwich Terns at the aforementioned Blithfield on 26th complete the tern movement. A female Garganey was at Wood Lane NR, Shropshire, from 27th.

Black Tern, Belvide Reservoir (PERMIT ONLY), Staffordshire (Steve Nuttall).

Two Wood Sandpipers were in Worcestershire this week, with singles at John Bennett Wetland and Ripple GPs. The latter site also hosted a Lesser Emperor on 26th. Two Sandwich Terns flew over Maxstoke, Warwickshire, on 1st.

Wood Sandpiper, Belvide Reservoir (PERMIT ONLY), Staffordshire (Steve Nuttall).

Dan Owen


East Midlands

The two Ruddy Shelduck remained at Carsington Water, Derbyshire, until 28th at least and two Arctic Terns were present on 27th and 29th. Up to two male European Honey Buzzards continued entertaining visitors at Welbeck, Nottinghamshire, throughout. A juvenile Black Tern was at Idle Valley NR from 27th and a Sandwich Tern flew through at East Leake GPs on the evening of 25th. Three Arctic Terns were at Newstead and Annesley CP on 30th, with two at Idle Valley NR the following day. The Black-necked Grebe remained at Idle Washlands and a Wood Sandpiper was there throughout. Another Black-necked Grebe was at Hoveringham GPs on 28th only.

It was a quiet week in Northants, with a Wood Sandpiper at Summer Leys LNR the avian highlight. Late news came of a Southern Migrant Hawker at Pocket Park, Finedon, from 22-30th. Rutland Water remained the epicentre for local news. A European Honey Buzzard flew low south on 31st and is a great record for the site. More expected news included a Ruddy Shelduck there on 31st, while the first-summer Black Tern lingered throughout. A Wood Sandpiper was at Eyebrook Reservoir on 26th.

Dan Owen


East of England

In Norfolk, an adult White-rumped Sandpiper was again at Snettisham RSPB on 27th. A Cory's Shearwater flew past Sheringham on 31st, while a Common Crane roved along the north coast. A Black-crowned Night Heron flew along the River Yare at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB on 29th and an impressive six Glossy Ibises were at Welney WWT on 30th; the Ken Hill Marshes bird was last reported on 28th. A Southern Migrant Hawker was in Norwich on 1st.

White-rumped Sandpiper, Snettisham RSPB, Norfolk (Nick Watmough).

A quiet week in Essex produced little more of interest than the odd Wood Sandpiper and Eurasian Spoonbill; in Hertfordshire, a Ruddy Turnstone visited Wilstone Reservoir on 29th, where up to four Garganey were also seen. Once again, the only piece of news from Bedfordshire was the adult Caspian Gull at Rookery Pits.

Both White-rumped and Pectoral Sandpipers visited the in-form Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk, this week, along with Curlew and Wood Sandpipers, as well as a Sooty Shearwater offshore. A Purple Heron was seen in flight a few times at Carlton Marshes SWT on 31st. Two Greater Scaup at Aldeburgh Marshes was an unusual record for July on 31st.

Pectoral Sandpiper, Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk (Andrew Moon).

A Glossy Ibis was still at Somersham, Cambridgeshire, on 31st, with a male Hen Harrier reported from Wicken Fen NT on 26th (as well as a flyover White Stork). Tanholt landfill site held up to three Caspian Gulls. Singles of Sanderling and Ruddy Turnstone visited the Grafham Water dam on 31st.

Josh Jones


South-East England

It was very quiet in the South-East this week. Dungeness, Kent, scored a small movement of Balearic Shearwaters: 22 on 30th and three on 1st. A Roseate Tern was at Pegwell Bay on 31st and a Wood Warbler was trapped and ringed at Sandwich Bay on 28th.

Sesley Bill, Sussex, also scored Balearic Shearwater with a singleton past on 1st. The Hooded Crow was again at Polegate on 27th, while Common Quail were recorded at Steyning and The Burgh. Up to two Roseate Terns were still at Church Norton and Findon hosted a Pied Flycatcher on 27th.

In Hampshire, a Common Quail was at Colemore and the Pennington Marshes Pale-bellied Brent Goose duo continued. A European Honey Buzzard was reported over Great Brickhill, Buckinghamshire on 26th.

Little Gull, Titchfield Haven NNR, Hampshire (Chris Rose).

In Oxfordshire, a putative first-summer Baltic Gull was at Sutton Courtenay/Appleford GPs, with the same site hosting Ruddy Turnstone, along with Farmoor. In the capital, a Sanderling was at the London Wetland Centre on 31st.

Ed Stubbs


South-West England

A bumper showing of Wilson's Storm Petrels, they were recorded from Scilly pelagics on three days during the week, with a peak count of no fewer than 12 on 31st. Up to eight Great Shearwaters and a couple of Sooty Shearwaters were also seen. A Rosy Starling put in an appearance on St Mary's on 29th and the long-staying Dark-bellied Brent Goose was still on the island. At least three Wood Sandpipers were on Tresco on Tuesday with another on St Mary's.

Great Shearwater, Scilly pelagic, Isles of Scilly (Richard Stonier).

In Cornwall, Wilson's Storm Petrels were noted from Pendeen on 29th and a pelagic out of Penzance on 1st. Pendeen and Porthgwarra both scored Cory's Shearwaters, with three passing the latter site on Sunday; another was seen from a boat trip between Falmouth and The Lizard. There were three sightings of Great Shearwaters from the Scillonian III crossings between 29th and 1st. The lingering Greater Scaup at Helston, a Ruddy Shelduck at College Reservoir and three Wood Sandpipers were the best of the rest in the county. 

A Black-winged Stilt at Velator NR, Wrafton, from 29th was Devon's stand-out highlight. Two Roseate Terns were at Dawlish Warren NNR and another was at Slapton Sands. Two Western Cattle Egrets and a Wood Sandpiper were at Seaton Marshes, while another Wood Sandpiper was at Soar.

Black-winged Stilt, Wrafton, Devon (Ray Turner).

A probable Melodious Warbler was seen at Cogden Beach, Dorset, on 26th but unfortunately evaded confirmation. Eurasian Spoonbills were at three localities in the county and Middlebere hosted four Spotted Redshank. A ferry in Poole Harbour produced a Roseate Tern on 27th and a Curlew Sandpiper was at Brownsea Island NT the same day. A Wood Sandpiper lingered at Lytchett Fields RSPB for a couple of days with another seen at Stanpit Marsh. Common Quail sang at two sites.

Wood Sandpipers were at four Gloucestershire localities including at least two at Northwick Warth. The male Blue-headed Wagtail was still there on 28th, while Slimbridge WWT continued to host a Spotted Redshank and Garganey. Common Quail sang at Marshfield and Tresham.

In Somerset, Chew Valley Lake produced a drake Greater Scaup on 28th, a Sandwich Tern on 29th and at least three Garganey. A Eurasian Spoonbill and Ruddy Shelduck double act were at Steart WWT and Catcott Lows NR hosted a Wood Sandpiper.

Common Quail sang in Wiltshire at Everleigh (two on 26th) and Ogbourne St Andrew.  

Jonathan Farooqi



A quiet week for Wales, a new Rosy Starling was in a Llandyssil, Powys, garden and a Balearic Shearwater flew past St Govan's Head, Pembrokeshire. In Anglesey, Hooded Crows were at South Stack (two) and Mynachdy.

A bumper week for Wood Sandpipers, no fewer than four sites along the south coast scored sightings – including three at Goldcliff Pools, Gwent. In Mid Wales, another was at Tregaron Bog, Ceredigion. Meanwhile, Goldcliff Pools also hosted a Little Stint and two Garganey.

Rosy Starling, Llandyssil, Powys (Nick Smith).



With the unsettled conditions, it was no great surprise to see a few more waders turn up. Three different White-rumped Sandpipers were found, with birds at Muckrush, Co Galway, on 27th, Annagh Beach, Co Mayo, on 30th and Tacumshin, Co Wexford, from 31st; the latter site also pulled in a Pectoral Sandpiper on the same date.

Montagu's Harrier, Antrim Hills, Antrim (Jonathan Rosborough).

An excellent record concerned a first-summer female Montagu's Harrier photographed in the Antrim Hills at the end of July. A Hoopoe was at Tivoli, Co Cork, on 26th, with a Rosy Starling in the county on Dursey Island on 31st.

Josh Jones


Western Palearctic

A presumed Ancient Murrelet flew south-east past Kikhavn, Denmark, on 29th. There has been just one previous Western Palearctic record of this Pacific alcid, a famous individual that summered on Lundy, Devon, between 1990 and 1992.

Ancient Murrelet, Lundy, Devon (Alan Shaw).

In Bulgaria, news of a major influx of Laughing Doves began to materialise via the Balkans Rare Bird Sightings Facebook group this week. The country has a total of just three previous records, the first as recently as March 2016. First to emerge was a male at Svilengrad on 25th, present for approximately two weeks. This was overtaken by a pair at Aytos on 28th – present for around a month – with another photographed at Beloslav on 24th. The species has been expanding through Turkey in recent years and with such healthy numbers seemingly present in Bulgaria too one would be wise to keep an eye out for further records from eastern Europe in the coming years.

Laughing Dove, Svilengrad, Haskovo (Hristo Dimitrov).

A Baird's Sandpiper at Barrinha de Esmoriz on 1st is just the third for mainland Portugal; a Swinhoe's Storm Petrel was seen from a pelagic off Madeira on 29th. The returning female Cape Verde Shearwater was again among the Cory's Shearwater colony on Montaña Clara, Canary Islands.

In France, the breeding Elegant Terns began to depart the Polder de Sébastopol, Barbâtre, colony, with a count of three on 27th dwindling to a lone juvenile by Thursday. In the Mediterranean, an adult roosted at Digue de Paulet, Arles, on 31st.

Iceland's sixth Least Sandpiper delighted at Grindavík on 28th; the Black-and-white Warbler was also still around at Syðra Lágafell. Denmark's earliest-ever autumn Arctic Warbler was trapped and ringed at Blåvand on 28th, while the Sandhill Crane lingered at Lakselv, Norway. An adult Red-necked Stint in gorgeous summer regalia was belatedly reported from Skalmören, Finland, on 1 July – the country's fifth record.

Franklin's Gulls graced Río Almanzora, Spain, and Reve, Norway; two Greater Crested Terns continued off Eilat, Israel. The Pygmy Cormorant remained at Plas Laagraven, The Netherlands, and the released Bearded Vulture held on near Ede.

In rare pinniped news, a female Ringed Seal was found on a beach near Calais, France, on 29th and taken into care.

Least Sandpiper, Grindavík, Suðurnes (Guðmundur Falk).

Written by: Sam Viles & the BirdGuides team