Review of the Week: 26th June-2nd July 2008


The week at a glance

Little Swift
Little Swift, Old Moor RSPB (Dearne Valley), South Yorkshire (Photo: Roy Harvey)

Little Swift
Little Swift, Old Moor RSPB (Dearne Valley), South Yorkshire (Photo: Marcus Conway)

Woodchat Shrike
Woodchat Shrike, Minehead, Somerset & Bristol (Photo: Roger Musgrove)

The only megas since last week's reports were all swifts. The Pacific Swift reported in the Spurn (E. Yorks) area on 22nd June was reported again on Thursday 26th, but was not seen after mid-afternoon. However, compensation for some lucky birders in the area was a Little Swift seen late the same afternoon. Conceivably the same bird turned up at Old Moor (S. Yorks) early in the morning of Wednesday 2nd, where it lingered over the wader scrape for most of the day before disappearing in heavy rain. Two representatives of the Balearic race of Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator badius) were claimed, from Minehead (Somerset) and Saltfleet (Lincs).

European Storm-petrel
European Storm-petrel, Severn Beach, Gloucestershire (Photo: Paul Bowerman)

An adult summer White-billed Diver popped up off South Ronaldsay (Orkney) on Wednesday 2nd. Balearic Shearwaters were seen by seawatchers off the coasts of Devon, Dorset, Hampshire and Kent during the week, the largest counts (of up to 22) past Portland Bill (Dorset). A Sooty Shearwater passed Carnsore Point (Co. Wexford) on Sunday 20th, and a Cory's Shearwater was seen from Horse Point on St. Agnes (Scilly) the following day. Manx Shearwater reports came from Aberdeenshire, Devon, Dorset, Co. Durham, East Yorkshire, Gloucestershire, Scilly, Somerset and West Sussex, while European Storm-Petrel reports came from Argyll, Co. Cork, Cumbria, Devon, Dorset, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Highland, Scilly, Somerset, West Sussex and Co. Wexford. The first Wilson's Storm-petrel sightings of the year—two from a pelagic trip southeast of the Scilly Isles—were reported on Monday 30th. Just two Pomarine Skuas were reported, off Flamborough Head (E. Yorks) and Sellafield (Cumbria), both on Sunday 29th, and for the second week running no sightings of Long-tailed Skuas were received.

Spoonbill, Cley Marshes NWT, Norfolk (Photo: Garth Clarke)

For the first week in months, no Cattle Egrets were reported from the southwest. The sole report was of a single at Leighton Moss (Lancashire) for a couple of hours on the evening of Saturday 28th. Great White Egrets were similarly thin on the ground: two were reported over Rendlesham (Suffolk) on Saturday 28th and there was one at Lurgan Green (Co. Louth) the following day (possibly a reappearance of the bird seen there in October 2007?). Two inland Spoonbills were reported this week: one from the Nene Washes (Cambs) intermittently between Friday 27th and Tuesday 1st, and the long-staying bird at Old Moor (South Yorks), which was still present at the time of writing. Coastal counties represented were Cheshire, Devon, Dorset, Dumfries & Galloway, East Yorkshire, Essex, Forth, Lancashire, Norfolk, Northumberland and Suffolk. The Glossy Ibis continued to frequent Marshside RSPB (Lancs). The only Common Cranes listed were a duo seen near Draycote Water and later over the M6 in Warwickshire on Friday 27th, and the only Black Stork was a bird that circled over the village of Stow Longa near Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire for quarter of an hour or so on the morning of Wednesday 2nd. White Stork reports comprised: a bird over South Elmsall near Doncaster (W. Yorks) on Thursday 26th; last week's bird from near Leominster, which reappeared near Bromyard (Herefordshire) on Sunday 29th; and a series of reports of a single at various sites in Lincolnshire between Friday 27th and Sunday 29th that most likely referred to the same wandering bird. The Berkshire Corncrake was last heard on Friday 27th, and a male was calling on the Nene Washes (Cambs) on 1st and 2nd.

The Hooded Merganser of unknown origin remained at Radipole (Dorset) all week. An eclipse male American Wigeon, not part of the collection, was at Pensthorpe (Norfolk) on Saturday 28th but was not present the following day. Up to three drake Surf Scoters remained off Blackdog (Aberdeenshire) through the week. The drake Green-winged Teal remained at Inner Marsh Farm (Cheshire) and a new bird appeared at Grafham Water (Cambridgeshire) but apparently did not stay more than a day.

Honey Buzzard
Honey Buzzard, Wykeham Forest, North Yorkshire (Photo: Dave Mansell)

Raptors included Honey Buzzards in Hampshire, Norfolk, West Yorkshire, East Yorkshire and North Yorkshire, and similarly distributed Black Kites in Hampshire, Norfolk and North Yorkshire and Montagu's Harriers in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and North Yorkshire. New Red-footed Falcons were at Panfield (Essex) on Friday 27th and Stronsay (Orkney) but no long-staying birds remained into this week. The female Snowy Owl was still present on North Uist to Wednesday 2nd at least, but the nearby male was not reported all week.

Black-winged Stilt
Black-winged Stilt, Beaulieu, Hampshire (Photo: Steve Copsey)

The unsuccessful breeding pair of Black-winged Stilts from Neumann's Flash (Cheshire) were relocated at the nearby Ashton's Flash from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th, then almost certainly the same birds were at Beaulieu (Hants) on Monday 30th. The adult American Golden Plover lingered on the Alaw Estuary on Anglesey until Friday 27th but was not seen subsequently. The Lesser Yellowlegs reappeared at Minsmere (Suffolk) on Saturday 28th after an absence of nearly a fortnight, but did not linger; however, the bird at Cley (Norfolk) remained all week. A Pectoral Sandpiper was on Coedbach Marsh near Kidwelly from Sunday 29th to Tuesday 1st at least, and a Temminck's Stint was at Loch of Strathbeg (Aberdeenshire) on Wednesday 2nd.

The putative American Herring Gull continued its stay at Chew Valley Lake (Somerset) to Monday 30th at least. The only other rare gull of the week was a Sabine's Gull on the Broadmeadows Estuary (Co. Dublin) on Tuesday 1st. A Gull-billed Tern appeared briefly at Morfa Madryn (Conwy) on Friday 27th.

Red-backed Shrike
Red-backed Shrike, Sea Palling, Norfolk (Photo: Garth Clarke)

Subalpine Warbler
Subalpine Warbler, Portland, Dorset (Photo: Lee Fuller)

Hoopoes were at Glanmire (Co. Cork) on Thursday 26th and Sway (Hants) on Friday 27th. A Short-toed Lark was on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) from Monday 30th to Wednesday 2nd at least. Only two Red-backed Shrikes were reported, at Sea Palling (Norfolk) to Sunday 29th and at Dorney Wetlands (Berks) briefly in the early morning of the 29th. There were very few rare warblers this week: an eastern-race Subalpine Warbler turned up in a quarry on the Isle of Portland (Dorset) on Thursday 26th, and a possible Marsh Warbler was at Northdale, Unst (Shetland) the next day.

Common Rosefinch
Common Rosefinch, Tyndrum, Forth (Photo: Ian Fulton)

Rose-coloured Starling
Rose-coloured Starling, Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire (Photo: Craig Shaw)

A Black-headed Bunting was seen on Fetlar (Shetland) on Thursday 26th and Saturday 28th. Last week's "Bird of the Week", the Common Rosefinch at Tyndrum, continued to show well on-and-off until Tuesday 1st at least. Another bird was in Glen Urquhart on Friday 27th, and a singing male was at Spurn (E. Yorks) on Sunday 29th. The Rose-coloured Starling at Newburgh (Aberdeenshire) remained to Wednesday 2nd at least, the adult in Lytham St. Anne's (Lancs) showed well on feeders until Sunday 29th, and new birds appeared at Leverburgh (Harris), various sites on mainland Orkney, Earsham GP (Norfolk), Mablethorpe (Lincs), Thornton (Lancs—a different bird to that at Lytham) and on Canna in the Inner Hebrides. Finally, a migrant Golden Oriole was at Dungeness (Kent) on Tuesday 1st and resident birds continued to be seen during the week on the RSPB reserve at Lakenheath Fen on the Norfolk/Suffolk border.

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Photo of the Week

Gannet, Bempton Cliffs RSPB, East Yorkshire (Photo: Dean Eades)

Bempton Cliffs RSPB reserve on the East Yorkshire coast is one of Britain's 'honey pot' bird sites, providing reliable views and photo opportunities of a range of seabirds. The star species at this reserve is the Gannet and we have received many excellent images of these magnificent birds from this site. In some cases, these highly reflective birds have been photographed against the dark backgrounds of the shaded cliffs or the sea below, making correct exposure very difficult, but yielding dramatic images where this is accomplished. In his close-up of a pair of Gannets bill-touching, Dean Eades makes it look easy, bringing out every detail in the tones, colours and textures of the birds' feathers and faces. This intimate image is given even more impact by the strong eye-contact and the way the curves of the birds' necks and bills are intertwined. A superb composition.

Other notable photos

Black-winged Stilt
Black-winged Stilt, Beaulieu, Hampshire (Photo: Steve Purcell)

Common Kingfisher
Common Kingfisher, Venus Pool NR, Shropshire (Photo: Jim Almond)

Spoonbill, Cley Marshes NWT, Norfolk (Photo: John Miller)

Whinchat, Alwinton, Northumberland (Photo: David Cookson)

Turtle Dove
Turtle Dove, High Vinnalls, Herefordshire (Photo: George Ewart)

Common Buzzard
Common Buzzard, Venus Pool NR, Shropshire (Photo: Jim Almond)

Hen Harrier
Hen Harrier, Islay, Argyll (Photo: Kev Joynes)

Black Guillemot
Black Guillemot, Oban, Argyll (Photo: Robert Hammond)

Common Tern
Common Tern, Lymington, Hampshire (Photo: Richard Steel)

Skylark, North Wirral CP, Cheshire (Photo: Richard Steel)

Bullfinch, Spital, Cheshire (Photo: Steve Round)

Kittiwake, Bempton Cliffs RSPB, East Yorkshire (Photo: Matt Latham)

Avocet, Marshside RSPB, Lancashire (Photo: Robert Askew)

Mute Swan
Mute Swan, Summer Leys LNR, Northamptonshire (Photo: Richard Bedford)

Pheasant, Alwinton, Northumberland (Photo: David Cookson)

Guillemot, Bempton Cliffs RSPB, East Yorkshire (Photo: Matt Latham)

Rose-coloured Starling
Rose-coloured Starling, Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire (Photo: Craig Shaw)

Grey Heron
Grey Heron, Guardbridge, Fife (Photo: Jacqui Herrington)

Arctic Tern
Arctic Tern, Farne Islands, Northumberland (Photo: Kev Joynes)

Written by: Dave Dunford