Review of the Week: 27th October–2nd November 2011


The week at a glance

Perhaps the most unexpected warbler find of the year was Britain's second Eastern Crowned Warbler, found in a mist net at Hilfield Park Reservoir (Herts) on 30th. The ringers, unaware of its true identity, originally ringed it as a Yellow-browed Warbler and it was only identified retrospectively from photographs after it was released. Apart from a possible sighting nearby on 1st, there was no further sign of this remarkable bird.

Eastern Crowned Warbler
Eastern Crowned Warbler, Hilfield Park Reservoir, Hertfordshire (Photo: Mark McManus)

The first-winter Brown Shrike also remained at Balephuil (Tiree) to at least 1st and of equal note was a Great Grey Shrike at Wall Farm (Shropshire) from 28th that was reidentified as a Steppe Grey Shrike on 30th and remained to the end of the week. Following the first on Fair Isle (Shetland) in 1956, there are now over 20 records of this mega, though with this being the fourth in four years it might suggest that there are certainly more to come.

Brown Shrike
Brown Shrike, Tiree, Argyll (Photo: Sam Northwood)

Steppe Grey Shrike
Steppe Grey Shrike, Wall Farm NR, Shropshire (Photo: Jim Almond)

Luckily for some, the female/juvenile Bufflehead near Housel Bay (Cornwall) remained on its farm pool all day on 27th, but departed overnight. Further searches of local waterbodies relocated it at Loe Pool on 29th, where it stayed very briefly. On Scilly, the Upland Sandpiper remained at Borough Farm (St Mary's) to 27th, while the Wilson's Snipe and Northern Waterthrush both remained around Lower Moors all week. In Northumberland, the drake Black Scoter moved to Cheswick Sands on 28th–30th and, last but certainly not least, the male Siberian Rubythroat remained at Gulberwick (Shetland) to 30th.

Bufflehead, Housel Bay, Cornwall (Photo: Adrian Davey)

Wilson's Snipe
Wilson's Snipe, St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly (Photo: Martin Goodey)

Northern Waterthrush
Northern Waterthrush, St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly (Photo: Martin Goodey)

Wilson's Snipe, St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly (Video: mistyanddull)

On Islay, the Richardson's Canada Goose remained with Barnacle Geese at Loch Gruinart to at least 1st and others were at Malin Head (Donegal) on 30th, Termoncarragh Lough (Mayo) on 1st and Lissadell (Sligo) on 1st, and a feral bird was at Blagdon Lake (Somerset) on 1st. In Lancashire, the Todd's Canada Goose moved to Pilling Lane Ends on 30th–31st and a Taverner's Canada Goose was at Mersehead (Dumfries & Galloway) on 30th. The Snow Goose at Budle Bay (Northumberland) was joined by a second on 28th, and another remained at Craobh Haven (Argyll). Blue-morph birds were with Pink-footed Geese at South Alloa (Borders) on 28th–30th and with Greenland White-fronted Geese at Lower Lough MacNean (Fermanagh) on 28th–29th. The only Ross's Goose was one at West Water Reservoir (Borders) on 28th. The first-winter Red-breasted Goose was at Stanpit Marsh (Dorset) to 28th, before moving to Ferrybridge on 30th and appearing over Abbotsbury on 31st; one also remained at Scaling Dam Reservoir (Cleveland) to 1st and a bird of dubious origin was at Corsham Park (Wilts) on 29th. Two Black Brants remained on The Fleet at Ferrybridge (Dorset) to 27th, and two were also at Donna Nook (Lincs) to 28th, while a male and four hybrid young were on Hayling Island (Hants) on 27th.

Richardson's Canada Goose
Richardson's Canada Goose, Loch Gruinart RSPB, Islay, Argyll (Photo: Steve Percival)

American Wigeon remained at Loch of Strathbeg (Aberdeenshire) to 28th, Wellington Gravel Pits (Herefordshire) to 29th, Dawlish Warren (Devon) to 1st and Rutland Water to 1st, and a drake was on Loch Indaal and Loch Skerrols (Islay) on 27th–1st. The only Blue-winged Teal were a female at Wigtown (Dumfries & Galloway) on 27th and a juvenile at Ballycotton (Cork) on 29th. The drake Green-winged Teal remained at Benacre (Suffolk) to 2nd and, after a slow start to the autumn, several new birds turned up this week: at Hesketh Out Marsh and Crossens Out Marsh (Lancs) on 27th–29th, Kinneil Lagoon (Forth) on 28th, Caerlaverock (Dumfries & Galloway) on 2nd, Mersehead (Dumfries & Galloway) on 2nd, and two at Tacumshin (Wexford) on 30th. The drake Black Duck remained on Achill Island (Mayo) to at least 28th and there was a Marbled Duck at Hesketh Out Marsh (Lancs) on 30th, before heading out onto the Ribble.

Both the Ring-necked Duck and Ferruginous Duck remained at Chew Valley Lake (Somerset), with the only other Ring-necked Ducks being two drakes and two females at Lough Gara (Sligo) on 31st–2nd and a drake still at Achill Island (Mayo) on 28th. Other Fudge Ducks remained at Dinton Pastures (Berks) to 30th and Far Ings (Lincs) to 2nd and a new drake was at Lurgan Park Lake (Armagh) on 30th–1st. The juvenile Lesser Scaup was still showing well at Marden Quarry (Northumberland) to at least 1st. The eclipse drake King Eider was again in Burghead Bay (Moray & Nairn) to 30th and an adult drake Surf Scoter was new in at Lahinch (Clare) on 1st.

The only seabirds of note were two Great Shearwaters past Mizen Head (Cork) on 29th, and there were only single-figure counts of Balearic Shearwaters in the south and east. There were no reports of Leach's Storm-petrel, though there was a significant passage of Little Gulls in the North Sea. Peak counts included 200 past Cley Marshes (Norfolk) on 28th, 118 past Goswick (Northumberland) on 29th and 89 past North Blyth (Northumberland) in 90 minutes on 2nd. Sabine's Gulls were reported from just eight coastal sites, including three past Cley Marshes (Norfolk) on 29th and two off Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) on 28th. There was just one inland bird, an adult at Shapwick Heath (Somerset) on 2nd. Grey Phalaropes were reported from just eight coastal sites during the week, mostly singletons. The only remaining inland bird was at Chew Valley Lake (Somerset) most of the week.

Grey Phalarope
Grey Phalarope, Filey, North Yorkshire (Photo: Martin Standley)

The juvenile Purple Heron remained at Saltholme (Cleveland) to 27th and there was a further possible at Dungeness (Kent) on 2nd. Numbers of Great White Egrets continued to increase, with wandering birds in Lancashire, South Yorkshire and Kent. There were plenty of other records, including four at Frampton-on-Severn (Glos) with a Cattle Egret on 30th, and two at sites in Cumbria, Lancashire, Cheshire, Carmarthenshire, Glamorgan, South Yorkshire and West Sussex. On Shetland, the bird on Whalsay was also joined by a second on 27th–29th. The popular Cattle Egret remained on Blakeney Freshmarsh (Norfolk) all week, also wandering as far as Salthouse and Kelling, and the long-staying bird was at Thorney Island (West Sussex) to 30th. In Gloucestershire, one at Slimbridge on 28–29th roosted at Frampton-on-Severn on 1st and others were at Teigngrace (Devon) on 31st, Treraven Meadows (Cornwall) on 28th and Killala (Mayo) on 30th–2nd. A juvenile Squacco Heron at Attenborough Nature Reserve on 28th–2nd was seen on both sides of the county boundary between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. This is the fourth for Nottinghamshire, the last being at Attenborough in 1998, though the only previous Derbyshire record was back in 1874. There was an unfortunate incident involving local anglers who flushed the bird, and the slanging match that followed, and the fishing trolley that was thrown, will do nothing for local relations.

Great White Egret
Great White Egret, Campfield Marsh RSPB, Cumbria (Photo: Roger Ridley)

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret, Thorney Island, West Sussex (Photo: John Stanton)

Squacco Heron
Squacco Heron, Attenborough NR, Nottinghamshire (Photo: Steve Whiteley)

Squacco Heron, Attenborough NR, Nottinghamshire (Video: Paul Wetton)

Glossy Ibis were reported from 10 sites this week, including new birds over the Rogerstown Estuary (Dublin) on 30th and Beachy Head (East Sussex) on 31st, at Stodmarsh (Kent) on 27th–2nd and at Filey Dams (North Yorks) on 28th–2nd, and five headed west over Beccles (Suffolk) on 1st.

Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis, Filey Dams YWT, North Yorkshire (Photo: Andy Hood)

The only Black Kite of the week was at Eldernell (Cambs) on 30th. The incredible run of Pallid Harriers continued with the first for Ayrshire, at Bogside Flats and Garnock Floods from 27th–2nd, and others at Power Head (Cork) on 29th–30th and Walland Marsh (Kent) on 31st. The second-winter Northern Harrier was at Tacumshin (Wexford) to at least 1st and the juvenile was also reported again at Broad Lough (Wicklow) on 27th. There was a further possible as well, around the Rogerstown Estuary (Dublin) on 27th. Rough-legged Buzzards were present at numerous sites from Durham to Kent, including inland birds at High Lands (Durham), Ouse Fen and Earith (Cambs) and two at Winscar Reservoirs (South Yorks) on 1st. There were also two at Sleddale (Cleveland) to 30th, Sheppey (Kent) on 28th–30th and Holkham Freshmarsh (Norfolk) on 2nd. In the north one was at Loch of Strathbeg (Aberdeenshire) on 29th, and in Ireland one was at Ashbourne (Meath) on 30th and another was reported from St John's Point (Down) on 27th.

Pallid Harrier
Pallid Harrier, Bogside Flats & Racecourse, Ayrshire (Photo: Chas Moonie)

The only Spotted Crake reported was on Fair Isle on 29th. On the Outer Hebrides, American Golden Plovers were on both Barra and South Uist on 27th, with other Scottish birds on Tiree (Argyll) to 27th and at Ellon (Aberdeenshire) on 29th, which was probably the same as that on the Ythan Estuary the next day before being flushed by a Peregrine. In Ireland birds were at five sites between Mayo and Cork, and an adult was at Breydon Water (Norfolk) on 1st.

American Golden Plover
American Golden Plover, Tiree, Argyll (Photo: Sam Northwood)

Lesser Yellowlegs remained on Tresco (Scilly) to 30th and the Alaw Estuary (Anglesey) to 1st, and a new bird was at Alkborough Flats (Lincs) on 31st–1st. The adult Spotted Sandpiper remained at Chew Valley Lake (Somerset) to 1st, the juvenile was on the Plym Estuary (Devon) to 2nd and the juvenile was again at Achill Island (Mayo) on 28th. The only Red-necked Phalarope was a juvenile briefly on Holkham Freshmarsh (Norfolk) on 28th before moving to Cley Marshes on 31st–1st. The two juvenile Long-billed Dowitchers continued to commute between Chew Valley Lake and Blagdon Lake (Somerset) all week and one also remained at Wigtown (Dumfries & Galloway) to 28th. There was also a report of two dowitchers over Thornham (Norfolk) on 30th.

Red-necked Phalarope
Red-necked Phalarope, Cley Marshes NWT, Norfolk (Photo: Andy Thompson)

Interestingly, the only remaining Semipalmated Sandpipers were at Tacumshin (Wexford) and Greatham Creek (Cleveland), both to 27th. Tacumshin also saw just one Buff-breasted Sandpiper to 27th and a juvenile Baird's Sandpiper to 1st. The only other Baird's was on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 29th–31st. The adult White-rumped Sandpiper remained at Rutland Water to 1st and there was a new juvenile on Tresco Great Pool (Scilly) on 31st–1st. Reports of Pectoral Sandpipers came from just five sites, with birds remaining at Brigsteer (Cumbria) and Tacumshin (Wexford) to 27th, Bishop Middleham (Durham) to 29th and Tresco (Scilly) to 30th, and one at Lough Atedaun (Clare) to 29th.

Apart from adults past Dalgety Bay (Fife) on 28th and 30th, the only Long-tailed Skuas were at three sites in Ireland, including two past Annagh Head (Mayo) on 1st, along with four Sooty Shearwaters. The Glaucous Gull remained at Dungeness (Kent) and the only others were juveniles on Tiree (Argyll) on 27th, Ross Beach (Galway) on 29th and Tory Island (Donegal) on 30th. Apart from a juvenile at Belfast Lough (Antrim) on 1st, all the week's Iceland Gulls were in Scotland, at five sites in the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland. A first-winter American Herring Gull was at Cobh (Cork) on 30th and the probable Azorean Yellow-legged Gull was again in the roost at Rutland Water on 1st. Second-winter Ring-billed Gulls were again at Stornoway Harbour (Lewis, Outer Hebrides) to 27th, Cardigan (Ceredigion) to 30th and Groomsport (Down) to 30th; adults also remained at Gosport (Hants) and Seafield (Clare) and a new adult was at Stolford (Somerset) on 1st. There were also second-winter and first-winter birds together at both Sligo City on 28th and Nimmo's Pier (Galway) on 31st. An adult Bonaparte's Gull was new in at Sennen Cove (Cornwall) on 28th–1st.

The male Snowy Owl was again at Mangurstadh (Lewis, Outer Hebrides) on 28th. In Norfolk, a Pallid Swift was again over Beeston Regis, Sheringham and Cley Marshes on 26–27th and others were over Landguard (Suffolk) on 31st and Whitburn (Durham) on 2nd; other "probables" in Norfolk and North Yorkshire were hotly debated and may or may not be Common Swifts. In Cork, Hoopoes were on Cape Clear on 27th–28th and Sherkin Island on 1st, while another was reported at Lossiemouth (Moray & Nairn) on 28th. There were five new Wrynecks this week, at Holme-next-the-Sea and Reepham (Norfolk), Christchurch Harbour (Dorset), Berry Head (Devon) and Porthgwarra (Cornwall). The only remaining Short-toed Lark was on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) to 1st. Also of note, the Shore Lark remained at QE2 Reservoir (Surrey) to 1st and suggestions that it may be of Nearctic origin now seem to have been dampened. Two late Swallows over Sea Palling (Norfolk) on 29th were accompanied by a single Red-rumped Swallow.

Richard's Pipits remained on the Great Orme (Conwy) to 1st and at Porth Hellick (St Mary's, Scilly) to 29th, and a new bird was on St Mary's Island (Northumberland) on 27th–28th. Other flyovers were reported from the Farne Islands (Northumberland), Donna Nook and Mablethorpe (Lincs), High Halstow (Kent), Sandy Point (Hants), Durlston Country Park (Dorset), St Agnes (Scilly) and St David's (Pembrokeshire). The only Tawny Pipit was at Horse Eye Level (East Sussex) on 30th. Olive-backed Pipits remained at Filey (North Yorks) to 28th and on St Agnes (Scilly) to 1st, while new birds were at Skaw (Unst, Shetland) on 28th and briefly at Prawle Point (Devon) on 1st.

Olive-backed Pipit
Olive-backed Pipit, Filey, North Yorkshire (Photo: Steve Race)

The Red-backed Shrike remained at Lizard Point (Cornwall) to 28th and the only other was near Rosslare (Wexford) on 30th–1st. Great Grey Shrikes spread west during the week, with birds now at six sites in Wales and two in Devon. In Scotland, apart from birds on Shetland, others were Carloway (Lewis, Outer Hebrides) on 27th–28th and Lindean Reservoir (Borders) on 28th–29th. Most were singletons, but two were at Thursley Common (Surrey) and Cannock Chase (Staffs). The first-winter Daurian Shrike remained at Horsey (Norfolk) to 28th and the female was at Hillwell (Shetland) to 29th, and the excellent run of records continued with the second for Pembrokeshire at Porth Clais from 28th–1st and one at Sandwick (Shetland) on 1st.

Red-backed Shrike
Red-backed Shrike, Churchtown, nr Rosslare, Wexford (Photo: Tom Shevlin)

Great Grey Shrike
Great Grey Shrike, Thursley Common, Surrey (Photo: Gary Loader)

Great Grey Shrike
Great Grey Shrike, Cannock Chase, Staffordshire (Photo: Ann Pallas-Bentley)

Isabelline Shrike
Daurian Shrike, Horsey, Norfolk (Photo: Chris Darby)

The only Bluethroat was a female reported from Seahouses (Northumberland) on 28th. The Pied Wheatear continued to show well at Oldbury-on-Severn (South Glos) to 28th and a Desert Wheatear at Sandside Bay (Orkney) on 29th–31st caused a great deal of head-scratching, as its plumage tones and particularly tail pattern almost suggested Red-tailed Wheatear!

Pied Wheatear
Pied Wheatear, Oldbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire (Photo: Dave Helliar)

Desert Wheatear
Desert Wheatear, Sandside Bay, Mainland, Orkney (Photo: Alastair Forsyth)

A very late adult Great Reed Warbler was ringed at Porth Hellick (St Mary's, Scilly) on 1st. This is only the second November record, following one ringed at Thurlestone (Devon) on 15th November 1972. The only Melodious Warbler was a new bird at Winspit Valley (Dorset) on 28th. The Dusky Warbler remained on St Mary's (Scilly) all week and three new birds turned up, at Arbroath (Angus & Dundee) on 27th–30th, North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 27th–28th and Orcombe Point (Devon) on 28th. Pallas's Warblers brightened days at 27 sites this week, including an inland bird in Glasgow (Clyde) on 30th,; the same city hosted a Yellow-browed Warbler in a garden on 31st–1st. Other Yellow-broweds were at almost 60 sites across the country, though there was just one in Ireland, at Kilcoole (Wicklow) on 1st. Most were singletons, but there were three at Swinister (Shetland) and 'twos' at St Mary's Island (Northumberland), Whitburn Coastal Park (Durham), Titchwell (Norfolk), Ham Wall (Somerset), Newford Duckpond (St Mary's, Scilly) and North Foreland (Kent). The only Barred Warblers were in Ireland, at Mizen Head (Cork) to 29th and Hook Head (Wexford) on 27th–28th. On Scilly, the halimodendri Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat remained on St Agnes to 28th.

Pallas's Warbler
Pallas's Warbler, Bardsey Island, Gwynedd (Photo: Ben Porter)

Yellow-browed Warbler
Yellow-browed Warbler, St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly (Photo: Martin Goodey)

Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat
Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat, St. Agnes, Isles of Scilly (Photo: Martin Goodey)

Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat, St. Agnes, Isles of Scilly (Video: benjimi1)

Ireland saw no Red-breasted Flycatchers this week, but elsewhere birds were on Fair Isle on 28th, on St Mary's (Scilly) on 28th–30th and at Eoropie (Lewis, Outer Hebrides) on 31st.

There was one each of Ortolan Bunting and Little Bunting, at Portland (Dorset) on 1st and Grouville Marsh (Jersey) on 30th respectively. Numbers of Lapland Buntings were rather reduced and the hoped-for invasion appears to have stalled for now. Most birds were along the east coast and in Wales, with peak counts of 23 at Warham Greens (Norfolk) and seven at Buckton (East Yorks), and five at Long Nab, Burniston (North Yorks), Carmel Head (Anglesey) and Cley Marshes (Norfolk). Inland birds were over Rainham Marshes (London) on 29th, at Miles Hill (Hants) on 29th and at Walthamstow Reservoirs (London) on 31st.

The Red-eyed Vireo remained at Mizen Head (Cork) to 27th and another new bird was on St Mary's (Scilly) on the same day, the island also seeing the only Serin of the week on 1st. Scilly also hosted Common Rosefinches on St Agnes and St Mary's on 28th and the only other was at Rame Head (Cornwall) on the same day. The juvenile Rose-coloured Starling remained at Nefyn (Gwynedd) to 29th, and new birds were one at Ballynahinch (Down) on 29th and another Cornish bird at St Columb Minor on 31st.

Rose-coloured Starling
Rose-coloured Starling, Ballynahinch, Down (Photo: Ian G Jackson)

Photo of the Week: 27th October–2nd November

Pallid Harrier
Pallid Harrier, Bogside Flats & Racecourse, Ayrshire (Photo: Chas Moonie)

Through our Photos of the Week, we try to highlight the variety of 'qualities' that make for a good avian image. These qualities are mainly the aesthetic characteristics that make for pleasing viewing or the way action has been frozen to reveal fascinating aspects of bird behaviour. In other words, they relate to the ability of the image to 'satisfy' its viewers. Whilst art/illustration is a valuable purpose in its own right, some bird images have other types of value to birders/ornithologists. In past times, the main technique used to identify an unusual bird encountered in the field was to shoot it and bag it so that it could later be analysed by experts. Thankfully, in the 21st century, bird photography has now advanced to such a level that it provides an excellent alternative. A perfect example is Chas Moonie's stunning flight shot of a rare Pallid Harrier taken in Ayrshire this week. Chas initially thought this was a Hen Harrier as it was with a male of that species but, having captured such an incredibly detailed image, the local experts would have had no difficulty in confirming its true identity, enabling this record to be added to the overall distribution picture for this species. To cap it all, though, Chas managed to combine aesthetics, action and utility all into a single shot! A very worthy first PotW for Chas.

Other notable photos

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl, undisclosed site, Northamptonshire (Photo: Paul Riddle)

Barn Owl
Barn Owl, undisclosed site, Suffolk (Photo: Ian Clarke)

Isabelline Shrike
Isabelline Shrike, Horsey, Norfolk (Photo: Chris Darby)

Southern Grey Shrike
Southern Grey Shrike, Dubai (Photo: Jamie MacArthur)

Green Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker, Hengistbury Head, Dorset (Photo: Kev Joynes)

Common Kingfisher
Common Kingfisher, undisclosed site, Kent (Photo: Tonyf)

Greenfinch, Wychbold, Worcestershire (Photo: Mark Hancox)

Great Shearwater
Great Shearwater, Scilly pelagic, Isles of Scilly (Photo: Mick Colquhoun)

Pygmy Owl
Pygmy Owl, Poland (Photo: Karol Zub)

Rook, Mold, Clwyd (Photo: Richard Steel)

Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper, Scarborough, North Yorkshire (Photo: Steve Race)

Goosander, undisclosed site, Devon (Photo: Charlie Fleming)

Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit, Davidstow Airfield, Cornwall (Photo: Steve Turner)

Written by: Mark Grantham