Review of the Week: 27th May-2nd June 2004


As would be expected for the time of year the week produced a number of rare birds, but scarce migrants were still in short supply and the majority that did occur were on the Northern Isles.

Nearctic passerines claimed the rarity prize this week, but neither proved accessible for the masses. A Dark-eyed Junco was videoed in Whitehead (Co. Antrim) sometime during the last week and a White-throated Sparrow was in a private garden near Hull (E. Yorks) on Monday 31st. Gardens were clearly the place to be, as a male Black-headed Bunting visited a feeder in Nuneneaton (Warks), also on 31st.

The Northern Isles accommodated much of the rare passerine interest. The second Collared Flycatcher of the spring for Shetlansd was found at Muness Castle, Unst on Wednesday 2nd. A female Sardinian Warbler was on Whalsay (Shetland) from Monday 31st onwards and a Great Reed Warbler was on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on Monday 31st, whilst the male was last reported from Abberton Reservoir (Essex) on 31st. A Little Swift was present at Porthcothan (Cornwall) on Wednesday 2nd - this species would now seem to be an annual vagrant to our shores. A Eurasian Scops Owl was picked up on the Forties Delta oil rig 100 miles east of Aberdeen on Wednesday 2nd. It was flown to Aberdeen and is now in care and is expected to be released on Sunday 6th June. A Red-throated Pipit was on Fair Isle on Monday 31st and another reported at Spurn (E. Yorks) on Tuesday 1st.

Eurasian Scops Owl: Aberdeen. (Photo: Tim Marshall)
Icterine Warbler: Outney Common, Suffolk. (Photo: Mike Lawrence) Icterine Warbler: Outney Common, Suffolk. (Photo: Mike Lawrence)

Scarce migrant reports were also centred around the Northern Isles. Around 37 Red-backed Shrikes were reported, most on Shetland, including 10 on Fair Isle on Wednesday 2nd. There were 8 Marsh Warblers, including 3 on Fair Isle, and 9 Common Rosefinches, with 2 on Fair Isle and 2 at Portland (Dorset). Of 4 Icterine Warblers, the only one away from the islands was a bird at Outney Common (Suffolk) from Monday 31st onwards. A Melodious Warbler was reported from Margate (Kent) on Thursday 27th and another remained at Trevarrick (Cornwall) to 28th. A White-spotted Bluethroat was at Blacktoft Sands (E. Yorks) from Saturday 29th-30th and two red-spotted birds were seen, with singles on Fair Isle and North Ronaldsay. A Tawny Pipit was on St. Agnes (Scilly) on Tuesday 1st, a Short-toed Lark on Foula (Shetland) on Wednesday 3rd, and there were 2 Hoopoes and 2 Grey-headed Wagtails. A handful of Bee-eaters included one at Lerwick (Shetland) on Monday 31st, a Red-rumped Swallow was at Dungeness (Kent) on Monday 31st and an Alpine Swift was over Birkenhead on Thursday 27th. A Rose-coloured Starling was on Fair Isle from Thursday 27th onwards, with the long-staying bird still on St. Agnes. Several Serins were all in Dorset, 2 of which were on Portland.

Great White Egret: Leighton Moss, Lancs. (Photo: Tristan Reid) Great White Egret: Leighton Moss, Lancs. (Photo: Tristan Reid)

It was a good week for rare herons. A Squacco Heron at Blithfield Reservoir (Staffs) on Monday 31st was the second for the county (the first was in 1874). Another was found the same day at Portmellon (Cornwall) and remained to the 2nd and was present in a back garden - another good garden bird! A Little Bittern was reported on St. Kilda (Outer Hebrides) over the weekend and an elusive male was at Messingham Sand Quarry (Lincs) from Tuesday 1st-2nd. Of several Great White Egrets, a bird a Leighton Moss (Lancs) had been ringed in the nest at Lac de Grand-Lieu, Loire Atlantique, France in 2003, and Purple Herons remained in residence at Welney WWT (Norfolk) and Minsmere (Suffolk) through the week. Finally, a Night Heron was at Kendal (Cumbria) on Friday 28th.

Greater Yellowlegs: Quoile Pondage, Down. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly)

Greater Yellowlegs: Quoile Pondage, Down. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Greater Yellowlegs: Quoile Pondage, Down. (Photo: Tom Shevlin)

Kentish Plover: Cley, Norfolk. (Photo: Gavin Horsley) Temmincks’s Stint: Ringstone Edge Reservoir, W. Yorks. (Photo: Sean Gray)

A Spotted Sandpiper was on Tresco (Scilly) from Monday 31st-1st, and the Greater Yellowlegs remained at Quoile Pondage (Co. Down), but could be elusive. Scarce waders included a Kentish Plover at Cley (Norfolk) on Saturday 29th, Red-necked Phalarope on the Ken/Dee Marshes (Dumfries and Galloway) on Friday 28th and a single-figure total of Temminck's Stints were the last remnants of the superb spring for this delightful stint. Pectoral Sandpipers were in Northants and Co. Wexford. On the Outer Hebrides the Cinnamon Teal on Lewis continues to attract visitors, but geographical location alone is unlikely to carry this bird onto the British list. A King Eider at Troon (Ayr) from Thursday 27th onwards presents an attractive diversion for those heading to the Outer Hebrides. A White-billed Diver was noted passing Cape Clear (Co. Cork) on Monday 31st and a Sabine's Gull was on Berneray (Orkney) on Wednesday 2nd, otherwise seawatching had little to offer. Of the Red-footed Falcon sightings a 1st-summer male at Minsmere has been the most obliging. White-winged Black Terns lingered into the week at Hickling Broad (Norfolk) and Cliffe (Kent) and the Glossy Ibis is still on Otmoor (Oxon).

Red-footed Falcon: Minsmere, Suffolk. (Photo: Kit Day) American Wigeon: Marton Mere, Lancs. (Photo: Philip J Kirkham)

Turtle Dove: Clipstone Forest, Notts. Something of a rarity in many areas nowadays. (Photo: John Dickenson) Common Redstart: Dovedale, Derbyshire. One of the most attractive of our summer visitors. (Photo: Will Bowell)
Written by: Russell Slack