Review of the Week: 28th November-4th December 2002


Bird of the week was an easy call. With just five previous British records, the last of which was as long ago as 1975 in East Yorkshire, a Oriental (Rufous) Turtle Dove on Stromness (Orkney) will have rapidly galvanised the keenest into action. There have been around 50 European records, more than half of which have been in Scandinavia. A winter bird with Collared Doves has been long anticipated, given that a number of the northwest European records have been at this season. The Stromness bird is considered to belong to the form meena, which breeds in the western Himalayas and winters in the Indian subcontinent. The only previous British record of this form was the 1975 bird at Spurn, and the previous four records were racially undetermined, or were of the eastern form orientalis. Although some are perhaps overlooked at other times of the year, late or winter claims of Turtle Doves on your local grain heap should always be investigated.

An Arctic feel was attached to the other avian stars this week. A dashing white-morph Gyr Falcon was found in Cornwall on the 4th and will deservedly prove popular if it can be 'pinned-down' – it was even seen sat on a birder's roof at one point! In Glamorgan a 1st-winter Ivory Gull was found at the gull mecca of Blackpill Beach on 29th November and was present to the end of the week at least. The latest ever date for a Pallid Swift was extended even further by a bird in Kent on the 29th November, and a White-tailed Eagle was also seen in the same area on the 28th November. A Great White Egret in Staffordshire was a good find, and one of a growing number of winter records for this increasingly regular rarity. Another, presumably the same bird, was seen on consecutive days in Lothian, Cleveland and Lincolnshire and the bird, considered to be of the form egretta, remained on South Uist to the 30th. Interest elsewhere centred on an inland Little Bunting in the Forest of Dean (Gloucs) - how many more skulk the winter away undetected? A Pallas's Warbler in Yorkshire would be only the 2nd inland record for the county, and a Red-backed Shrike in Surrey was exceptionally late. On Scilly both Pallas's Warbler and Yellow-browed Warbler were seen, and in West Sussex a long-staying Wood Sandpiper was unusual.

As winter progresses the list of long-stayers continues to increase. The long-staying Redhead in Glamorgan will have been an added bonus for those travelling to see the Ivory Gull, whilst the Glossy Ibis continued its residence in Devon. Long-billed Dowitchers were still present in Cork, Carmarthen and Highland, and the Lesser Yellowlegs remained in Norfolk. Forster's Terns continued to entertain in Cornwall and Mayo, whilst the obliging Rose-coloured Starling in Lincolnshire made fieldcraft redundant, and other birds were present in Cornwall. On Guernsey, the 1st-winter male Desert Wheatear continued to show well, despite the best efforts of the stormy weather.

Written by: Russell Slack