Review of the Week: 27th October-2nd November 2005


The week at a glance:

Chimney Swift: Baltimore, Co. Cork (photo: Mike O’Keeffe).

Chimney Swift: Baltimore, Co. Cork (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly). Chimney Swift: Baltimore, Co. Cork (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly).

Chimney Swift: St. Mary’s, Scilly (photo: Martin Goodey). Chimney Swift: St. Mary’s, Scilly (photo: Martin Goodey).

Chimney Swift: Holy Island, Northumbs (photo: Darren Haley).

Highlight of the week was without doubt the multiple arrival of Chimney Swifts. Although widely predicted following news of record numbers on the Azores, the scale of the arrival was unprecedented in the British Isles, with possibly as many as 20 birds involved. This invasion eclipses the previous record year of 1999, when 12 birds were recorded, all in the southwest. The first were 3 on Sherkin Island (Cork) on 29th, followed by a total of 7 birds on the 30th, 2 at Baltimore (Cork) and singles at Connagh (Cork), Clonakilty (Cork), Cape Clear (Cork), Tresco (Scilly) and St. Mary's (Scilly). Three were at Courtmacsherry (Cork) on 31st, with 4 reported there on 1st and another single at Dungarvan (Waterford). Three at Galley Head (Cork) on 2nd and a single on St. Agnes (Scilly) were followed by another on Holy Island (Northumbs). This bird, found at mid-day and only present to mid-afternoon, was the only one seen away from the southwest and due to the state of the tide could only enjoyed by a small number of lucky observers.

Yellow-rumped Warbler: Cape Clear, Co. Cork (photo: Aidan Kelly). Yellow-rumped Warbler: Cape Clear, Co. Cork (photo: Aidan Kelly).

Grey-cheeked Thrush: Cape Clear, Co. Cork (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly).

Grey-cheeked Thrush: Cape Clear, Co. Cork (photo: Aidan Kelly). Grey-cheeked Thrush: Cape Clear, Co. Cork (photo: Mike O’Keeffe).

Grey-cheeked Thrush: Cape Clear, Co. Cork (photo: Mike O’Keeffe). Grey-cheeked Thrush: Cape Clear, Co. Cork (photo: Mike O’Keeffe).

Blackpoll Warbler: St. Mary’s, Scilly (photo: Martin Goodey).

Not content with a Chimney Swift, Cape Clear (Cork) also scored with an uncharacteristically obliging Grey-cheeked Thrush from the 29th and a Yellow-rumped Warbler on 30th-31st.

Glossy Ibis: Porth Neigwl, Gwynedd (photo: Steve Williams).

Pallid Swift: South Gare, Cleveland (photo: Ian Boustead).

Desert Wheatear: Holy Island, Northumbs (photo: Peter Macdonald). Desert Wheatear: Holy Island, Northumbs (photo: Alan Gilbertson).

Desert Wheatear: Holy Island, Northumbs (photo: Dan Pointon).

Paddyfield Warbler: Torness, Lothian (photo: John Anderson). Paddyfield Warbler: Torness, Lothian (photo: Dave Mansell).

The strong southerly winds brought the now expected late-autumn crop of Pallid Swifts along with many possibles, probables and "Swift sp."! A total of 12 Pallid Swifts were claimed between Cornwall and Northumberland from 29th October-2nd November, including 2 birds together at St. Mary's Wetland (Northumbs) on 30th. Other birds presumably associated with the same warm southerly airstream were an immature Glossy Ibis at Porth Neigwl (Gwynedd) from 27th-30th, a Desert Wheatear on Holy Island (Northumbs) from 31st, Alpine Swifts at Brownwich and Chilling (Hants) on 30th and the Isle of Wight on 1st and a Western Bonelli's Warbler at Brownstown Head (Waterford) on 31st. A very elusive male Sardinian Warbler at Skegness on 27th-28th could also have been associated with the same weather pattern, or more intriguingly it could be the same bird present in the area from October 2003 to January 2004. Elsewhere the Sardinian Warbler remained at Fife Muir (Fife) but the long-staying Paddyfield Warbler at Torness Power Station (Lothian) was last seen on 29th. A Blyth's Reed Warbler was a good late-autumn find on St. Mary's (Scilly) on the 1st. Other late warblers included a Greenish Warbler on St. Agnes on 27th-28th, Radde's Warbler in the Nanjizal Valley (Cornwall) on 29th and an Arctic Warbler in Stornoway Woods (Outer Hebrides) on 2nd.

American Golden Plover: Cley, Norfolk (photo: Julie Rogers). American Golden Plover: Warham Greens, Norfolk (photo: Josh Jones).

White-rumped Sandpiper: Radley GPs, Oxon (photo: Stephen Burch). Long-billed Dowitcher: Drift Res, Cornwall (photo: John Lee).

The Cattle Egret was still at Elmley Marshes RSPB to at least the 30th. A Lesser White-fronted Goose with Greylags at Rimswell (E.Yorks) on 30th-31st caused some debate: could it be one of the ever-increasing flocks now wintering in The Netherlands which just hopped over the North Sea? The drake Lesser Scaup remained at Myerscough Quarry (Lancs), as did the drake Black Scoter at Llanfairfechan (Conwy), whilst the Sora continued to perform on St. Mary's (Scilly) throughout. The adult American Golden Plover remained around north Norfolk and was seen at several sites until the 31st. Another was seen briefly at Nosterfield NR (N. Yorks) on 29th, with 4 birds in Ireland and singles still in the Outer Hebrides and Shetland. Long-billed Dowitchers remained at Drift Reservoir (Cornwall), Old Hall Marshes RSPB (Essex) and Inner Marsh Farm RSPB (Cheshire), with another bird briefly at Loch Gruinart RSPB (Argyl) on 28th. A White-rumped Sandpiper at Radley GPs (Oxon) from the 27th was a much-awaited addition to the county list; elsewhere the Coalhouse Fort (Essex) bird was last seen on the 27th and others were at Ardivachar Point (Outer Hebrides) on 29th-30th and past Southwold (Suffolk) on the 28th. A Semipalmated Sandpiper toured the Sumburgh area (Shetland) on 1st and 2nd and Lesser Yellowlegs remained at Killingholme Haven Pits LWT (Lincs) and Inchydoney (Cork) throughout and Titchfield (Hants) to the 28th.

Laughing Gull: St. Mary’s, Scilly (photo: Martin Goodey). Laughing Gull: St. Mary’s, Scilly (photo: Martin Goodey).

Laughing Gull: Featherstone, Yorks (photo: Simon Wilson). Laughing Gull: Featherstone, Yorks (photo: Simon Wilson).

The appearance of two first-winter Franklin's Gulls in the southwest, at the Hayle Estuary (Cornwall) from the 1st and Rosslare (Wexford) on the 2nd, coincides with higher than normal numbers on the eastern seaboard of North America and the recent series of deep Atlantic depressions. Likewise a 1st-winter Laughing Gull on St. Mary's (Scilly) and a 2nd-winter at Tolcarne Beach (Cornwall), both on 2nd, seem likely to have arrived the same way while the long staying 2nd-winter remained in West Yorkshire. The late Gull-billed Tern which flew past Hermitage (Louth) on the 30th could even have arrived the same way although a southerly origin seems more likely.

Pallas’s Warbler: St. Mary’s, Scilly (photo: Tom Raven). Richard’s Pipit: St. Mary’s, Scilly (photo: Tom Raven).

Little Bunting: Mewslade Valley, Glamorgan (photo: Paul Roberts). Little Bunting: Mewslade Valley, Glamorgan (photo: Paul Roberts).

Hoopoe: Boulmer, Northumbs (photo: Peter Macdonald). Hoopoe: Boulmer, Northumbs (photo: Alan Gilbertson).

A Dark-breasted Barn Owl was an unexpected find at Spurn on 27th-29th, although they do seem to be getting more regular in occurrence. Many of the star passerines were still around from the previous week, with the Blackpoll Warbler on St. Mary's (Scilly) entering its third calendar month and becoming the longest-ever staying individual of this species. Elsewhere the Siberian Rubythroat was still on Fair Isle (Shetland) to the 27th, Red-flanked Bluetail at Berry Head (Devon) to the 30th, Isabelline Wheatear on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) to the 29th, Isabelline Shrike at the Montrose Basin to the 28th, Dusky Warbler at Scoughall (Lothian) to the 28th and Hume's Leaf Warbler at Skateraw (Lothian) to the 27th. Another probable Siberian Thrush, this time at Balmedie CP (Aberdeenshire) on the 27th, managed to evade its would-be observers for the second time in less than a month. There was an Olive-backed Pipit at Northbay, Barra (Outer Hebrides) on 29th while one remained at Sumburgh (Shetland) to at least the 31st, with single Red-throated Pipits on Tresco (Scilly) on 30th and a flyover in Cleveland the same day. Single Penduline Tits were seen at 2 sites in Kent on the 27th and the 2 Northern Long-tailed Tits remained at Easington (E. Yorks) to at least the 1st but were mobile and generally elusive. The Rustic Bunting was last seen at Hoswick (Shetland) on the 27th and an Arctic Redpoll was at Sandgarth (Shetland) on the 30th.

Grey Phalarope: Devizes, Wilts (photo: Rob Laughton). Grey Phalarope: Wellington GPs, Herefs (photo: William Marler).

Green-winged Teal: Stiffkey, Norfolk (photo: Josh Jones). Ring-necked Duck: Silverdale, Staffs (photo: RS Calder).

Phalaropes continued to appear this week, with up to 30 Grey Phalaropes around the country including 8 inland birds, with 2 in Devon and singles in Wiltshire, Lancashire, North Yorkshire, Staffordshire, West Sussex and Berkshire. There were also 3 single Red-necked Phalaropes at Calvert Lakes (Bucks), Walmore Common (Glos) and Coate Water CP (Wilts). There were at least 5 Snow Geese in the north of the country between Northumberland and Aberdeen with 2 different birds seen at Montrose Basin (Angus). The Richardson's Canada Goose remained at Caerlaverock WWT (Dumfries and Galloway) and Todd's Canada Goose was at Cramond (Lothian) on 28th. A drake American Wigeon was at Hickling Broad on 1st and 2nd with and there were at least 10 Ring-necked Duck in the country, including 2 at Silverdale Colliery (Staffs). Other Nearctic wildfowl included 5 Surf Scoter with 2 drakes together at both Burghead Bay (Moray and Nairn) and Ruddon's Point (Fife), a Black Brant at Tramore Backstrand (Waterford) and up to 8 Green-winged Teal. Late Pectoral Sandpipers were still at Kingussie (Highland) to the 29th and Lough Beg (Londonderry) to the 1st. There were just 3 regular wintering Ring-billed Gull in the country whilst seawatching produced at least 12 Sabine's Gulls. A late Bee-eater was reported from St. Ives GPs (Cambs) on 29th while the Hoopoe remained at Boulmer (Northumbs) and another was at Loch of Stenness (Orkney) on 29th-30th. There were at least 18 mainly flyover Richard's Pipits including an inland one flying west at Paull Holme Strays (E. Yorks) on the 30th. A late juvenile Red-backed Shrike was still at St. David's (Dyfed) on the 1st and 7 Great Grey Shrikes included several back on their winter territories. There was a Black-bellied Dipper at Channerwick (Shetland) from 29th-31st. A total of at least 11 Pallas's Warblers filtered down the country with the majority of reports from the south and southwest coasts and at least 50 Yellow-browed Warblers remained in the country. At least 8 Little Buntings were reported, including west-coast birds at Walney Island (Cumbria), Mewslade Valley (Glamorgan) and Bardsey Island (Gwynedd), and the 2 Serins were still on Bryher (Scilly) to at least the 30th.

Lapland Bunting: Brownwich and Chilling, Hants (photo: Richard Ford).

Lapland Bunting: Brownwich and Chilling, Hants (photo: Rob Laughton). Snow Bunting: Salthouse, Norfolk (photo: Chris Cook).

Ring Ouzel: Warham Greens, Norfolk (photo: Steve Round). Ring Ouzel: Tetney, Lincs (photo: Dean Eades).

Bearded Tit: Titchwell, Norfolk (photo: Steve Round). Dartford Warbler: Severn Beach, Glos (photo: Paul Bowerman).

Red-necked Grebe: Covenham Res, Lincs (photo: Dean Eades). Slavonian Grebe: Covenham Res, Lincs (photo: Dean Eades).

Spotted Redshank: Titchwell, Norfolk (photo: Steve Round). Jack Snipe: Titchwell, Norfolk (photo: Peter 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
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/
Andrew Easton: http://home.clara.net/ammodytes/
Graham Eaton: http://www.eatonphotography.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
Josh Jones: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
John Judge: http://www.draycotebirding.co.uk
Paul and Andrea Kelly: http://www.irishbirdimages.com/
Jack Levene: http://www.birdingimages.com
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
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
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: Tim Barker