Review of the Week: 26th June–2nd July 2003

Lesser Grey Shrike: Acle, Norfolk. (Photo: Mark Thomas) Lesser Grey Shrike: Acle, Norfolk. (Photo: Pete Merchant)

A Lesser Grey Shrike at Acle (Norfolk) from 26th June-1st July proved popular, being the first in the county since an adult at Burnham Overy from 5th-18th September 1996. Unfortunately this beautiful bird was rather distant next to a busy road, proving less than ideal aesthetic viewing conditions. This is one of a handful of rarities that are becoming rarer as the years go by, with records few and far between in southern Britain over the past few years.

An Arctic Warbler was on Unst (Shetland) on the 2nd. Typically an east coast and Northern Isles migrant between late August and late September, July records are not without precedent and this was presumably a late overshoot. In contrast a male Black-headed Bunting at St. John's Loch (Highland) from 28th-1st was in accordance with expected patterns in terms of date and location. Traditionally early July is not a good time to be out and about looking for scarce passerines, but a few were found during the week. A Melodious Warbler was present at Whitburn (Co. Durham) from 27th onwards, its identity only coming to light later in its stay, with a Marsh Warbler on Unst on the 27th and one was still on Foula (Shetland) on 1st. Also on Unst a Common Rosefinch was present on the 26th. In Bedfordshire a male Serin was a good find at Everton from 29th onwards and is the 2nd record for the county. A Bee-eater on St. Agnes (Scilly) on 26th added a welcome splash of colour to the week, as did Rose-coloured Starlings on Foula and Eastleigh (Hants). On the Isle of Man the Southern Grey Shrike, presumed to be of the form pallidirostris (Steppe Grey Shrike) remains at Ballaghennie Ayres.

Southern Grey Shrike: Ballaghennie Ayres, Isle of Man. (Photo: Chris Wormwell) Southern Grey Shrike: Ballaghennie Ayres, Isle of Man. (Photo: Chris Wormwell)

Serin: Everton, Beds. (Photo: Mark Thomas) Red-footed Falcon: Upton Fen NWT, Norfolk. (Photo: Alan Clewes)

Baird's Sandpiper: Hauxley NR, Northumbs. Present only briefly, the value of digiscoping is nicely illustrated. (Photo: John Malloy) White-winged Black Tern: East Chevington, Northumbs. Present since the 10th June, this stunning bird continues to entertain. (Photo: Alan Gilbertson)

Rare waders consisted of a Baird's Sandpiper at Hauxley NR (Northumberland) briefly on 28th, extending the recent good run of rarities in the area and a White-rumped Sandpiper was at Goldcliffe Pools NR (Gwent) from 2nd. Always difficult to catch up with, Kentish Plovers were at Ferrybridge (Dorset) on 30th and Walton-on-the-Naze (Essex) on 1st-2nd, with another reported at Easton Broad (Suffolk) on 28th. A Red-necked Phalarope was on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 28th and a Temminck's Stint at Martin Mere WWT (Lancs) from 27th-28th, with another reported at Marshside RSPB (Lancs) on 1st. An exceptional arrival of at least 37 Wood Sandpipers were widely scattered throughout the country, presumably pointing towards a poor breeding season somewhere within their range. In Greater Manchester an eclipse drake Lesser Scaup was a surprise find on 1st at Pennington Flash; who would have thought that this Nearctic duck used to be extremely rare? Red-footed Falcons were at Upton Fen NWT (Norfolk) from 28th onwards with others reported at Fen Drayton (Cambs) and Retford (Notts). Seawatching was quiet during the week, but Long-tailed Skuas were seen off East Yorkshire, Cumbria and Devon, whilst an inland adult over High Eske NR (E. Yorks) on 28th must have been a fine sight. Rare herons were represented by a Great White Egret in Dorset from 26th-29th, a Purple Heron in Norfolk and a report of the Squacco Heron again in Hampshire. Finally, at least 24 Quail were reported, including five at High Offley (Staffs).

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Lesser Scaup: Pennington Flash, Gtr Manchester. A nice comparison of the upperwing pattern, with the white on the secondaries replaced by brownish-grey on the the outer part of the wing. (Photo: Tony Disley) Tufted Duck: Pennington Flash, Gtr Manchester. Here the white extends across the upperwing. (Photo: Tony Disley)

Lesser Scaup: Pennington Flash, Gtr Manchester. This shot shows the distinctive underwing pattern of the species, usually more striking in females, but clearly evident on this bird. (Photo: Sue and Andy Tranter) Lesser Scaup: Pennington Flash, Gtr Manchester. (Photo: Sue and Andy Tranter)

Long-stayers included the White-winged Black Tern at East Chevington, interspersed with a short sojourn to the Farne Isalnds (Northumbs), the Sabine's Gull remains at Lowestoft (Suffolk). The drake King Eider remains in Ayr and Argyll and in Devon the Iberian Chiffchaff was still at Kingswear and the Glossy Ibis remains at Bowling Green Marsh.

Wood Sandpiper: At least 37 adults were reported during the week, giving many birders an unexpected early bonus on their patch. (Photo: Russell Wynn) Green Sandpiper: Numbers are starting to build up at a number of 'traditional' sites. (Photo: Sue and Andy Tranter)

Sabine's Gull: Lowestoft, Suffolk. This photo was taken on 9th June with the bird in its full glory with a gorgeous hood and bright red orbital ring. (Photo: Bill Baston) Sabine's Gull: Lowestoft, Suffolk. What difference a few weeks makes, with the grey hood showing signs of wear and the dark-red orbital ring fading. (Photo: Bill Baston)
Written by: Russell Slack