Review of the Week: 27th July-3rd August 2006

The week at a glance:

Great White Pelican: Bough Beech Reservoir, Kent (photo: Robbie Toothill).

Great White Pelican currently forms no part of the British list, residing alongside such hotly disputed species such as Baikal Teal, Hooded Merganser, White-headed Duck, and Greater Flamingo to name but a few. Despite a number of records over the years, some of which were thought to have better credentials than others, there has always been reasonable doubt that they have ever occurred in a natural state and as such it has been placed in Categories D and E. Will the arrival of an adult Great White Pelican at Bough Beech Reservoir (Kent) on the morning of Sunday 30th do anything to change that? In most years such a record will probably have not generated much interest, but this year this bird, arriving on the back of a searing heatwave and correlated with birds in northwest Europe and Iberia, have led some observers to consider that it may well have the credentials to sneak into category A of the British List. There is also a Dalmatian Pelican at large, moving from Poland to Germany in July, perhaps lending further credence to the record, or pointing towards a mass escape of pelicans from somewhere! Additionally, a pelican species was also reported off Northern Ireland in early June and another in late May in Norway. Of course the Kent record will be assessed on the basis of the movements of all birds in Europe during this late summer period, to see whether it fits with a dispersal of wild birds or relates to wandering known escapes, though many active birders will have travelled to see it - just in case.

Great Shearwater: The Minch, Highland (photo: Jasper Willemsen).

The heatwave finally slipped away and in its wake came onshore winds and seawatching weather in Ireland and the Southwest. A Fea's Petrel passed Brandon Point (Co. Kerry) on the 31st, whilst large shearwaters were in evidence, with good numbers of Cory's and small numbers of Great Shearwaters, nearly all off southern Ireland and the southwest. A superb 900 Cory's Shearwaters were observed passing Galley Head (Co. Cork) on 30th, and 72 went past Porthgwarra (Cornwall) the same day; by contrast just one Cory's was reported in the North Sea, one off Northumberland. Great Shearwaters were present in the mix in smaller numbers, usually single figures, though 20 passed Galley Head on 30th and one past St. Bee's Head (Cumbria) on 29th was the only sighting away from the main area of activity. Good numbers of Balearic Shearwaters included 60+ past Porthgwarra on 29th with 45 the following day. Wilson's Storm-petrels from the Scilly pelagics included one on 28th and 8 on 31st, though the only Sabine's Gulls were singletons past Brandon Point on 1st and the Bridges of Ross (Co. Clare) on 2nd.

American Black Tern: Lady's Island Lake, Wexford (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly).

Caspian Gull: Southwold, Suffolk (photo: Mike Parker).

Caspian Gull: Southwold, Suffolk (photo: Mike Parker). Caspian Gull: Southwold, Suffolk (photo: Chris Mayne).

A Franklin's Gull at Grunty Fen (Cambs) on 29th will be the first county record, but the brevity of its stay gave inland gull roost watchers elsewhere renewed hope! The 1st-summer American Black Tern remained at Lady's Island Lake (Co. Wexford) to at least the 1st, and a Gull-billed Tern was reported on the Ythan Estuary (Aberdeenshire) on 1st. Ring-billed Gulls were present in Co. Galway, Co. Sligo, Lancashire and London and five Caspian Gulls included the returning Kiev-ringed bird to Southwold (Suffolk).

White-rumped Sandpiper: Seaton Snook, Cleveland (photo: David Brown).

White-rumped Sandpiper: Seaton Snook, Cleveland (photo: David Brown).
Red-necked Phalarope: Fetlar, Shetland (photo: Micky Maher).

Wader activity was still disappointingly quiet. A Marsh Sandpiper was at Sidlesham Ferry (W. Sussex) from 29th onwards, whilst both the Lesser Yellowlegs and Long-billed Dowitcher were at Gibraltar Point (Lincs) through the week and another Long-billed Dowitcher was at Shannon Airport (Co. Clare) from 28th-1st. The Seaton Snook (Cleveland) White-rumped Sandpiper was joined by a second bird from 30th-1st and another bird was on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 30th and 1st. Pectoral Sandpipers were at Titchwell RSPB (Norfolk) and Holland Haven (Essex) and a Red-necked Phalarope in the Kilnsea/Spurn area (E. Yorks) on 30th-31st.

Red-backed Shrike: Croxley Common Moor, Herts (photo: Ken Plows).

Woodchat Shrike: Friskney, Lincs (photo: Russell Hayes). Woodchat Shrike: Friskney, Lincs (photo: Simon Wilson).

A Woodchat Shrike was at Friskney (Lincs) from 29th-2nd and the Red-backed Shrike remained at Croxley Common Moor (Herts) and another was at Wouldham (Kent) on 28th. A Rose-coloured Starling was at Halligarth, Unst (Shetland) on 28th and there were reports of a Bee-eater over Trunch (Norfolk) on 29th, Wryneck at Soberton (Hants) on 1st and Alpine Swift over Mangotsfield (Glos) on 1st. A Melodious Warbler at Durlston CP (Dorset) on 28th was the only scarce warbler of the week.

Great White Egret: Chigborough Lakes, Essex (photo: Sean Nixon).

Great White Egret: Chigborough Lakes, Essex (photo: Craig Holden). Great White Egret: Chigborough Lakes, Essex (photo: Martin Back).
Cattle Egret: Preston Marshes, Kent (photo: Dylan Wrathall). Cattle Egret: Preston Marshes, Kent (photo: Dave Hockey).

A Black Stork passed over Uckfield (E. Sussex) on 27th, whilst White Storks were reported in Cheshire and Devon. A Great White Egret was at Chigborough Lakes (Essex) and a Cattle Egret was at Grove Ferry/Preston Marshes (Kent), at times consorting with Greylag Geese. A 1st-summer Night Heron passed over Wadebridge (Cornwall) on 1st and an escaped Puna Ibis was temporarily passed off as a Glossy Ibis at Aysgarth (N. Yorks) on 31st. A Spotted Crake was at Martin Mere (Lancs) and a Red-footed Falcon was reported over Holland Haven (Essex) on 30th. A handful of scarce ducks included the Ferruginous Duck and Ring-necked Duck at Loch Gelly (Fife) and American Wigeon at Cardiff Bay (Glamorgan).

Grasshopper Warbler: Rochdale, Greater Manchester (photo: Dave Winnard).

Bearded Tit: Titchwell, Norfolk (photo: Dean Eades).
Snipe: Titchwell, Norfolk (photo: Dean Eades).
Little Gull: Balcomie, Fife (photo: John Anderson).

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://www.pbase.com/latho/root
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