Review of the Week: 27th April-3rd May 2006


The week at a glance:

As the spring started to 'warm up' at last, there was still a modest showing of rarities and scarcities on offer. However, a look at the weather charts for the next few days suggests that the slow start to spring so far may well be about to step up a gear or two rapidly. Not only does it look promising for coastal falls of migrants, and arrivals of species such as Black Terns, but such conditions look likely to produce some major rarities – probably not a good weekend to have other commitments!

Whiskered Tern: Chew Valley Lake, Somerset (photo: Paul Bowyer).

Subalpine Warbler: Hilbre, Cheshire (photo: Steve Williams).

Southern overshoots included a Whiskered Tern at Chew Valley Lake (Somerset) from 28th-29th which was the 5th county record, a Gull-billed Tern at Seaton and Exminster Marshes (Devon) on 2nd and another past Flamborough Head (E. Yorks) on 1st. A Black Stork passed over Minsmere (Suffolk) on 27th, never to be seen again. A Bonelli's Warbler sp. was singing at Rutland Water (Leicestershire) on 2nd, but couldn't be pinned down, and a Subalpine Warbler on Hilbre Island (Cheshire) from 30th-3rd was the 4th county record.

Hoopoe: Sutton St. Nicholas, Herefordshire (photo: William Marler). Hoopoe: Cogden Beach, Dorset (photo: Phil Stidwill).

Woodchat Shrike: Trent Meadows, Derbys (photo: Darren Chapman).

Woodchat Shrike: Trent Meadows, Derbys (photo: Steve Evans). Woodchat Shrike: Trent Meadows, Derbys (photo: John Dickenson).

Woodchat Shrike: Trent Meadows, Derbys (photo: Kev Joynes).

An Arctic Redpoll was trapped at Thetford (Norfolk) on 28th and two Arctic Redpoll (probably Hornemann's) were at Hermaness NNR, Unst (Shetland) on 29th-30th. The male Northern Long-tailed Tit remains on territory in South (Essex), and an apparent Ashy-headed Wagtail was at Portland (Dorset) on 3rd. A Bee-eater passed over Sheringham (Norfolk) on 3rd, and other aerial delights included three Red-rumped Swallows: at Portland on 3rd, with birds at St. Margaret's at Cliffe/Kingsdown (Kent) on 27th and Sittingbourne (Kent) on 2nd. Alpine Swifts were over Ogston Reservoir (Derbyshire) from 27th-28th, Arlington Reservoir (E. Sussex) on 1st and St. Martins' (Scilly) on 2nd. Richard's Pipit is a spring migrant in small numbers nowadays, so one at Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 27th comes as little surprise. A Woodchat Shrike well inland at Trent Meadows (Derbyshire) from 1st-3rd was a good find, and the male remained at Porthgwarra to 28th. The Short-toed lark on St. Mary's (Scilly) was present to 27th, on which day one flew south at Spurn (E. Yorks). Seven typically brief Serins were noted, the most notable of which was one over Hilbre Island (Cheshire) on 28th, whilst Hoopoes reached the mid-teens, including two at Portland on 29th, but just one Golden Oriole was logged, with one at St. Margaret's at Cliffe (Kent) on 3rd. Five Wrynecks included inland birds in Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire. Winter remnants included 34 Waxwings at Yeadon (W. Yorks) on 1st, Great Grey Shrike at North Wirral CP (Cheshire) from 30th-1st, Lapland Bunting at Ravensworth Fell (Durham) on 1st and the long-staying Shore Lark at Minsmere (Suffolk) to at least 30th, plus another over South Gare (Cleveland) on 27th.

Long-billed Dowitcher: Old Hall, Essex (photo: Tim Corke).

A Black-winged Stilt was at Elmley Marshes (Kent) on 3rd, a Broad-billed Sandpiper was at Exminster Marshes, then Dawlish Warren (Devon) on 1st and it, or another, was at Pennington Marshes (Hampshire) on 2nd. A summer-plumaged Long-billed Dowitcher was at Nosterfield Quarry (N. Yorks) on 1st and the long-staying 1st-summer was at Old Hall Marshes (Essex) to at least the 30th. The 1st-summer American Golden Plover remained at Cemlyn (Anglesey) to the 3rd, and Kentish Plovers were noted at Worthing (W. Sussex) on 2nd and Dawlish Warren (Devon) on 3rd. Four Temminck's Stints were reported, with singles on the 1st at Grove Ferry (Kent) and Cley (Norfolk) and others on the 2nd at Gibraltar Point (Lincs) and Oare Marshes (Kent). That spring favourite, Dotterel, started to appear in number this week with over 40 noted from trips, the largest such gathering 9 at Aldbrough (E. Yorks) on 3rd.

Bonaparte's Gull: Whitehouse Lagoon, Co. Antrim (photo: Derek Charles).

Scarce gulls were still in evidence, with the long-staying Franklin's Gull at Northam Burows (Devon) the pick. There were also Laughing Gulls at Devoran, Penzance and Hayle Estuary (Cornwall) and a 1st-winter Bonaparte's Gull was at Whitehouse Lagoon (Co. Antrim) from 27th-1st. The American Herring Gull remained at Nimmo's Pier (Co. Galway) and Ring-billed Gulls were noted from Nimmo's Pier and Oban (Argyll). At least two White-billed Divers were still off the coastline of Lewis (Outer Hebrides) and others off Unst and Banna Minn (Shetland) and Handa Island (Highland). As expected, skua passage picked up this week, with Pomarine Skuas noted from a number of watchpoints in the English Channel and along the west coast; peak counts were 25 on 2nd and 27 on 3rd past Bowness (Cumbria) and 24 past Portland (Dorset) on 2nd.

Aythya hybrid: Slimbridge, Glos (photo: Colin Selway).

An Aythya hybrid at Slimbridge (Glos) was initially considered to be a Redhead, but various features were inconsistent with this tricky Nearctic duck. A drake Blue-winged Teal was at Fearville Lake (Co. Tipperary) on 1st and a female at Loch of Stenness, Mainland (Orkney) on 3rd. The drake Hooded Merganser prolonged his stay on Unst (Shetland) and the drake Black Scoter was still off Llanfairfechan (Conwy) on 28th. The drake Lesser Scaup was still at Swithland Reservoir (Leics), and eight Ring-necked Ducks were reported. There were two Surf Scoters, five Green-winged Teal and three American Wigeon. The Taverner's Canada Goose was again at Caerlaverock (Dumfries and Galloway) and a Grey-bellied Brant was reported from Blennerville (Co. Kerry). Three brief Great White Egrets were noted, as were several mobile White Storks, the only one of which obliged being a ringed bird at Billingham (Cleveland) from 2nd-3rd. The Night Heron continued to perform in Lincoln (Lincs) to 30th and another was at Dungeness RSPB (Kent) on 28th. Three fly-over Rough-legged Buzzards were reported along with two fly-over Black Kites.

Night Heron: Lincoln, Lincs (photo: Paul Sullivan). Montagu's Harrier: Belfast Lough, Co. Antrim (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly).

White Stork: Billingham, Cleveland (photo: David Brown).

Coot: Hampstead Heath, London (photo: Fraser Simpson).

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
Mike Atkinson: http://mikeatkinson.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/
Andy Bright: http://www.Digiscoped.com
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/
Dean Eades: http://www.pbase.com/dean_eades/root
Andrew Easton: http://home.clara.net/ammodytes/
Graham Eaton: http://www.eatonphotography.co.uk
Stuart Elsom: http://www.stuartelsom.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
David Hatton: http://www.kowapower.com
Josh Jones: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
John Judge: http://www.draycotebirding.co.uk
Paul and Andrea Kelly: http://www.irishbirdimages.com/
Matt Latham: http://mattswildlifephotos.blogspot.com/
Jack Levene: http://www.birdingimages.com
Micky Maher: http://www.aardfoto.co.uk/
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
Ken Plows: http://www.kenswildlifepics.co.uk
Ray Purser: http://www.pbase.com/02purser/images
Marc Read: http://www.marcread-pix.com
Tristan Reid: http://www.solwaybirder.org.uk
Steve Round: http://stevenround-birdphotography.com
Gerald Segelbacher: http://www.digiscoping.uk.md
Deryk Shaw/FIBO: http://www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk
Tom Shevlin: http://wildlifesnaps.com/
Peter Simpson: http://www.blueskybirds.co.uk
Matt Slaymaker: http://www.mattslaymaker.co.uk
Oliver Smart: http://www.smartimages.co.uk
George Spraggs: http://www.bird-watching.co.uk
Simon Stirrup: http://www.simonstirrup.co.uk/
Garry Taylor: http://www.spurnbirdobservatory.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