Review of the Week: 28th October-3rd November 2004

Masked Shrike: Kilrenny, Fife. (Photo: Paul Hackett)

Masked Shrike: Kilrenny, Fife. (Photo: Andy Warr) Masked Shrike: Kilrenny, Fife. (Photo: Tom Tams)

Masked Shrike: Kilrenny, Fife. (Photo: Steve Nuttall) Masked Shrike: Kilrenny, Fife. (Photo: Alan Gilbertson)

Autumn 2004 will long be remembered for a number of exceptionally rare species, and there was no let-up for the travelling lister this week either. A juvenile Masked Shrike, another first for Britain, was present at Kilrenny (Fife) from Friday 29th onwards. Originally identified as a Woodchat Shrike, the identification of Britain's first Masked Shrike was confirmed in the hand mid-afternoon on Saturday 30th. Fortunately, the bird was on the mainland and large numbers of birders travelled to Fife to enjoy this ultra-rarity which is still present and showing well at the time of writing. With a breeding range restricted to the eastern Mediterranean and Iran, this might seem an unlikely vagrant, but there were previous October records from Finland (1983) and Sweden (1984), which ensured the species had been accorded potential vagrant status to our shores before this sighting.

Masked Shrike: Kilrenny, Fife. (Photo: Mark Stirland) Masked Shrike: Kilrenny, Fife. (Photo: Brendan Doe)

Little Crake: Marazion, Cornwall. (Photo: Phil Stidwill)

A number of other exceptionally rare species were reported during the week; unfortunately none remained long enough to attract crowds. A possible Purple Martin was reported at Land's End (Cornwall) on Saturday 30th, a Tree Swallow was reported over Hengistbury Head (Dorset) on Sunday 31st and a male Siberian Thrush was reported at Loop Head (Co. Clare) the same day. A possible Black-eared Wheatear was reported from St. Agnes (Scilly) on Friday 29th. A Red-eyed Vireo was at Toe Head (Co. Cork) on Saturday 30th, but unfortunately the Ovenbird died in care on Scilly. More obliging was a juvenile Little Crake at Marazion (Cornwall) from Monday 1st onwards. This is the 2nd county record - the first was as long ago as 1878!

Lesser Grey Shrike: Newburgh, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: Peter Gore) Lesser Grey Shrike: Newburgh, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: Chris Jones)

Western Bonelli's Warbler: Mizen Head, Cork. (Photo: Michael O'Keefe) Western Bonelli's Warbler: Mizen Head, Cork. (Photo: Michael O'Keefe)

Olive-backed Pipits were at Howdens Pullover (Lincs) on Thursday 28th, Land's End (Cornwall) on Friday 29th and at Porthgwarra (Cornwall) from Tuesday 2nd onwards. A Western Bonelli's Warbler was at Mizen Head (Co. Cork) from Thursday 28th-31st and another was on South Ronaldsay (Orkney) from Friday 29th-31st, trapped, but not heard to call. A Lesser Grey Shrike showed well at Newburgh (Aberdeenshire) on Sunday 31st, a Penduline Tit was reported on St. Mary's (Scilly) on Monday 1st, a Short-toed Treecreeper was at Dungeness (Kent) on the 28th and a male Desert Wheatear reported at Margate (Kent) on Wednesday 2nd.

Western Bonelli's Warbler: Mizen Head, Cork. (Photo: Michael O'Keefe) Western Bonelli's Warbler: Mizen Head, Cork. (Photo: Tom Shevlin)

Pallid Swift: Newburgh, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: Pete and Sue Morrison) Pallid Swift: Newburgh, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: Pete and Sue Morrison)

It was another good week for Pallid Swifts, with reports into double figures. Birds were seen in Kent, Norfolk, East Yorkshire, East Sussex, Dorset, Scilly, Isle of Wight, Cornwall and Aberdeenshire. Assessing the number of birds involved is difficult, and a number of Common Swifts and unidentified Swift sp. were also noted.

Northern Long-tailed Tit: Port Mooar, Isle of Man. (Photo: Chris Wormwell) Barred Warbler: Mizen Head, Cork. (Photo: Tom Shevlin)

Pallas's Warbler: Saltburn, Cleveland. (Photo: Damian Money) Pallas's Warbler: Saltburn, Cleveland. (Photo: Damian Money)

Red-backed Shrike: Mizen Head, Cork. (Photo: Michael O'Keefe) Red-backed Shrike: Easington, Yorks. (Photo: Darren AP Ward)

As would be expected for the time of year, there were a number of Dusky Warblers at large. One was at Winterton (Norfolk) from 29th-31st, a scarce west-coast bird was at Barrow-in-Furness (Cumbria) from 29th-1st, Church Norton (W. Sussex) on 30th, Collieston (Aberdeenshire) from 31st-1st, Pegwell Bay (Kent) from 1st-2nd, with 2 on 3rd, Tresco (Scilly) on 2nd and Margate (Kent) on 3rd. Of interest, a bird trapped at Landguard NR (Suffolk) on 31st had first been ringed there 10 days previously, and was still present to at least the 3rd. A Siberian Stonechat was on St. Agnes (Scilly) on 29th and birds were reported from Kilnsea (E. Yorks) again on 28th and the South Gare (Cleveland) bird was reported to the 2nd. It was a good week for Pallas's Warblers with over 60 reported, including a rare inland bird at St. Albans (Herts) on 31st, and there were around 25 Yellow-browed Warblers. Supporting scarcities comprised 8 each of Barred Warblers and Red-breasted Flycatchers. There were 5 Wrynecks, a Hoopoe was at Pegwell Bay (Kent) on Thursday 28th, with a Short-toed Lark over there on 3rd and three Little Buntings were still present. Around nine Serins were noted, and three Common Rosefinches, there was a single Bluethroat and four Rose-coloured Starlings. Richard's Pipits remained scarce with just 8 reported, there were 7 Red-backed Shrikes and around 22 Great Grey Shrikes. A Northern Long-tailed Tit was at Port Mooar (Isle of Man) on Sunday 31st. Northern Bullfinch numbers were greatly reduced, the challenge now will be for inland birders to pick them out on their local patch, whilst the Waxwing invasion gathers momentum. The majority of birds are still in Scotland including an exceptional 1,200 at Forres (Moray/Nairn) and over 1,000 at Inverness (Highland), but small numbers have filtered further south and west, some as far as Scilly. Is there a Cedar Waxwing lurking in one of these flocks for the sharp-eyed observer?

Waxwing: Lewis, Outer Hebrides. (Photo: Martin Scott) Waxwing: Lewis, Outer Hebrides. (Photo: Martin Scott)

Waxwing: Inverurie, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: Peter and Sue Morrison) Waxwing: Holt, Norfolk. (Photo: Kevin P Elsby)

Pacific Golden Plover: Stretham, Cambs. (Photo: James Hanlon) Pacific Golden Plover: Stretham, Cambs. (Photo: James Hanlon)

A Pacific Golden Plover was present at Stretham (Cambs) from Saturday 30th-2nd, and an American Golden Plover was still on the Bann Estuary (Londonderry) on 29th. A Short-billed Dowitcher was at North Bull Island (Dublin) on Sunday 31st and a Lesser Yellowlegs on St. Mary's (Scilly) from Monday 1st, with the long-staying bird still at Stiffkey (Norfolk) through the week. A Semipalmated Sandpiper was reported from Blagdon Lake (Somerset) on 30th, with a Temminck's Stint at Meare Heath (Somerset) from 30th-2nd and a Dotterel at Stretham on 3rd. A Pectoral Sandpiper was on The Mullet (Co. Mayo) on 1st and the juvenile remained on the Hayle Estuary (Cornwall) through the week. Around 25+ Grey Phalaropes were noted, included 6 in storm-lashed Penzance (Cornwall) on 29th. A Glossy Ibis was at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) from Thursday 28th and the Snowy Owl remained at Loch Bee (Outer Hebrides) through the week. In Northumberland the Squacco Heron remains at East Chevington, though it can be elusive, and Great White Egrets were at Abberton Res (Essex) on 29th and Gibraltar Point (Lincs) on 1st.

Short-billed Dowitcher: North Bull Island, Dublin. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Short-billed Dowitcher: North Bull Island, Dublin. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly)

Lesser Yellowlegs: St. Mary's, Scilly. (Photo: Vince Garvey) Lesser Yellowlegs: Stiffkey, Norfolk. (Photo: Kevin P Elsby)

Glossy Ibis: Tacumshin, Wexford. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Squacco Heron: East Chevington, Northumberland. (Photo: Gary Smith)

A 1st-winter Red-breasted Goose was noted with Brent Geese at Southwold (Suffolk) on 2nd and Black Brants included singles at Strangford Lough (Co. Down) and Coney Island (Co. Sligo) with two at Titchwell RSPB (Norfolk). A King Eider was off Peterhead (Aberdeenshire) from 30th-3rd and another off Maidens (Ayr) on 31st. The Redhead remains at Kenfig (Glamorgan) and other wildfowl at large comprised one Ferruginous Duck, three Ring-necked Ducks, 7 Green-winged Teal, 3 American Wigeons and a handful of Surf Scoters.

King Eider: Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: Chris Jones) Green-winged Teal: Hayle Estuary, Cornwall. (Photo: Mike Lockyear)
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
Steve Blain: http://www.steveblain.co.uk
Nigel Blake: http://www.nigelblake.co.uk
Will Bowell: http://www.geocities.com/wbowell/
Paul Bowerman: http://mysite.freeserve.com/severnsidebirds
Paul Bowyer: http://www.ukbirds.net
Andy Brett: http://www.freewebs.com/andybrett/
Martin Cade: http://www.portlandbirdobs.btinternet.co.uk
Mark Caunt: http://angusbirding.homestead.com/
Kit Day: http://www.kitday-uk.com/
Lee Dingain: http://www.leedingain.co.uk
Jon Dunn: http://www.surfbirds.com/blogs/Stercorarius/
Sean Gray: http://www.grayimages.co.uk
Peter Hadfield: http://www.manxbirdphotography.co.uk
Josh Jones: http://www.geocities.com/blgp_birder
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
Jerry O'Brien: http://www.BirdsofBerkshire.co.uk
James Packer: http://www.somersetbirder.co.uk
Mike Pennington: http://www.nature.shetland.co.uk
Tristan Reid: http://www.solwaybirder.org.uk
Steve Round: http://stevenround-birdphotography.com
Deryk Shaw/FIBO: http://www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk
Tom Shevlin: http://wildlifesnaps.com/
Matt Slaymaker: http://www.freewebs.com/slaymaker
Oliver Smart: http://www.smartimages.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
Chris Wormwell: http://www.iombirding.co.uk
Dylan Wrathall: http://www.planetthanet.org
Written by: Russell Slack