Review of the Week: 28th September-4th October 2006


The week at a glance:

Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler: Whalsay, Shetland (photo: Peter Stronach/Andrew Seth).

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler: Cape Clear, Co. Cork (photo: Michael O'Keefe).

As befits the time of year there were some excellent birds found this week. It was definitely one for Locustellas, with both River Warbler and Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler on the Northern Isles. A 1st-winter Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler was trapped and ringed at Skaw, Whalsay (Shetland) on 2nd and a River Warbler was present on Foula (Shetland) on 3rd and 4th. An enviable number of 'PG Tips' have been found on Shetland and it is one of the true specialities of the islands as the records testify, with just 6 of the 30 accepted British records occurring away from the islands. River Warbler is rarer there, and the Foula bird, if accepted, will be the 15th record for Shetland and the first since one on Fair Isle in 2002. Of last week's 'megas', on Cape Clear (Co. Cork) the Eastern Olivaceous Warbler was last reported on the 1st, whilst the superb juvenile Pallid Harrier remained at Winterton (Norfolk).

Pallid Harrier: Winterton, Norfolk (photo: Andrew Easton).

Pallid Harrier: Winterton, Norfolk (photo: Lou Cross). Pallid Harrier: Winterton, Norfolk (photo: Andrew Easton).

Arctic Warbler: Geosetter, Shetland (photo: John Miller).

A Red-eyed Vireo at Nanquidno (Cornwall) from 2nd onwards was the first Nearctic passerine of the autumn; perhaps more will follow after the latest weather system passes through late this week? The Isabelline Shrike (Turkestan Shrike) remained on Lewis (Outer Hebrides) to 29th, with the same bird relocated on Barra (Outer Hebrides) from 30th-1st, thus confirming the hypothesis that Barra is the 'trickle-down' point for migrants on the Outer Hebrides! Another Isabelline Shrike was at Eday (Orkney) on 30th and 3rd. A Thrush Nightingale was near Lerwick (Shetland) on 29th-30th and a Western Bonelli's Warbler was on St. Mary's (Scilly) to 3rd. Left-overs from last week included the Olive-backed Pipit on Out Skerries (Shetland) to 28th, Blyth's Reed Warbler on North Ronaldsay (Orkney) to 30th, Black-headed Bunting on Fetlar (Shetland) to 28th and Arctic Warbler at Geosetter (Shetland) to 30th.

Little Bunting: Out Skerries, Shetland (photo: Michael McKee).

Rustic Bunting: Foula, Shetland (photo: Russell Wynn).

Ortolan Bunting: Unst, Shetland (photo: Mike Pennington).

Woodchat Shrike: Great Orme, Conwy (photo: Kim).

Short-toed Lark: Great Orme, Conwy (photo: Julie Rogers). Short-toed Lark: Great Orme, Conwy (photo: Adrian Foster).

Four Rustic Buntings were located on the Northern Isles, with two on Foula, and singles on Fair Isle and Unst. An Arctic Redpoll was also on Foula on 4th, and 4 Little Buntings included two on North Ronaldsay, and singles on Foula and Out Skerries. A Red-throated Pipit passed over St. Mary's (Scilly) on 28th and a Subalpine Warbler was on St. Agnes (Scilly). A Woodchat Shrike was at Hook Head (Co. Wexford) and a popular bird was at Great Orme (Conwy), where there was also a Short-toed Lark, with others at Grutness (Shetland) and Fair Isle. There were Ortolan Buntings on Unst and Fair Isle and another on St. Mary's, and Tawny Pipits were on St. Mary's and at Tacumshin.

Wryneck: Landguard, Suffolk (photo: Sean Nixon).

Barred Warbler: Foula, Shetland (photo: Russell Wynn).

Red-backed Shrike: Brighton, E. Sussex (photo: Johnny Carr).

Hoopoe: Walsall, W. Midlands (photo: Steve Seal).

Six Richard's Pipits were logged, along with a dozen Common Rosefinches, 10 Red-breasted Flycatchers, 15 Red-backed Shrikes and over 30 Wrynecks. Over 100 Yellow-browed Warblers entertained birders between Shetland and Scilly, but the largest count was 15 on Foula. There were a dozen Barred Warblers, perhaps up to 4 Marsh Warblers, 3 Icterine Warblers and 2 Melodious Warblers. Seven Rose-coloured Starlings included one in Cumbria, there was a Serin on Bardsey (Gwynedd) and two Bluethroats on North Ronaldsay. Ten Hoopoes included a popular bird in Walsall (W. Midlands) and an Alpine Swift was over Ipswich (Suffolk) on 4th. The long-staying Red-rumped Swallow was still at Hoswick (Shetland) and another passed over Sheringham (Norfolk) on 28th.

Red-rumped Swallow: Hoswick, Shetland (photo: John Miller).

Pectoral Sandpiper: Rogerstown, Dublin (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly).

Long-billed Dowitcher: Oare Marshes, Kent (photo: Dylan Wrathall). American Golden Plover: Whalsay, Shetland (photo: Roger Broadbent).

Good numbers of waders were still on offer. A Wilson's Phalarope was at Annagh Marsh (Co. Mayo) on 30th, with Semipalmated Sandpiper still at Rosslare (Co. Wexford), and Baird's Sandpipers at Myroe levels (L'derry), Ballyferriter (Co. Kerry) and Tacumshin (Co. Wexford). The major wader feature of the week was an arrival of American Golden Plovers, with perhaps up to 17 reported. There were 6 Long-billed Dowitchers, with birds at Upper Bittell Reservoir (W. Midlands) to 3rd, Oare Marshes (Kent) from 2nd, Lough Beg (Co. Cork) from 30th-1st, two at Lough Beg (L'derry) from 30th-1st and the long-staying bird at Gibraltar Point (Lincs). Lesser Yellowlegs were at Meikle Loch (Aberdeenshire), Lough Beg (Co. Cork) and Cross Lough (Co. Mayo). A supporting cast included over 30 Pectoral Sandpipers, 20 Buff-breasted Sandpipers, and one Dotterel. Around 30 Grey Phalaropes were seen, but 25 of these passed Rocky Point (Co. Donegal) on 28th and Red-necked Phalaropes were at Kilcoole (Co. Wicklow) and Meare Heath (Somerset).

Sooty Shearwater: Bridlington, E. Yorks (photo: Steve Fletcher).

The Azorean Yellow-legged Gull remained in Co. Kerry, but just 5 Ring-billed Gulls were reported and 8 Sabine's Gulls. An adult Ross's Gull was on Islay (Argyll) on 3rd and the adult Bonaparte's Gulls were still in Co. Kerry and Northumberland. Balearic Shearwaters were still evident off west coasts, with a superb 110 passing Bardsey on 28th and 33 likewise off New Quay (Ceredigion) and 40 past Pendeen (Cornwall). A total of 134 Great Shearwaters were seen off Annagh Head (Co. Mayo) on 28th and a Little Auk reported off Weybourne (Norfolk) on 4th.

Glossy Ibis: Brockholes, Lancs (photo: Stephen Menzie).

The Snowy Owl remained in Co. Mayo and a Glossy Ibis was at Brockholes Quarry (Lancs) on 1st-2nd and Martin Mere (Lancs) on 3rd. The Rough-legged Hawk (originally found exhausted on a boat off Newfoundland, then held in captivity in the Faeroes for two years until this spring, when it was deliberately released off Shetland) was again reported, this time at Levenwick (Shetland). The Night Heron was last reported from Weir Wood Reservoir (E. Sussex) on 28th, whilst the Cattle Egret remained at Stanpit Marsh (Dorset) as did the Great White Egret at Blashford Lakes (Hants) with another passing south at Donna Nook (Lincs) on 30th. A juvenile Purple Heron was at Lough Donnell (Co. Clare) intermittently from 1st, and the Great White Pelican remained on Anglesey. A Spotted Crake was on Tresco (Scilly) on 3rd

Marbled Duck: Stanpit Marsh, Dorset (photo: Gary Thoburn).

A noticeable arrival of geese during the week brought with them the returning Richardson's Canada Goose to Caerlaverock (Dumfries and Galloway) and a white-phase Snow Goose to Loch of Strathbeg (Aberdeenshire) and a blue-morph bird to Holkham (Norfolk). A possible borealis Eider was off Fair Isle and the Black Scoter remained off Llanfairfechan (Conwy). The Marbled Duck continued to show well at Stanpit Marsh, and the Lesser Scaup remained at Pine Lake (Lancs), as did the Ring-necked Duck at Avonmouth (Somerset) and Ferruginous Duck at Chew Valley Lake (Somerset). There were American Wigeon at Tophill Low (E. Yorks) and Needingworth Quarry (Cambs), and another was reported from Loch Ryan (Dumfries and Galloway). Three Surf Scoters were reported.

Sparrowhawk: Summer Leys, Northants (photo: Richard Bedford).

Ringed Plover: Nanjizal, Cornwall (photo: Kev Joynes).

Little Stint: Draycote Water, Warks (photo: Dave Hutton).

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
Mike Atkinson: http://mikeatkinson.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/
Dean Eades: http://www.pbase.com/dean_eades/root
Andrew Easton: http://home.clara.net/ammodytes/
Graham Eaton: http://www.eatonphotography.co.uk
Stuart Elsom: http://www.stuartelsom.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
David Hatton: http://www.kowapower.com
Josh Jones: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
John Judge: http://www.draycotebirding.co.uk
Paul and Andrea Kelly: http://www.irishbirdimages.com/
Matt Latham: http://www.pbase.com/latho/root
Jack Levene: http://www.birdingimages.com
Micky Maher: http://www.aardfoto.co.uk/
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
Ken Plows: http://www.kenswildlifepics.co.uk
Ray Purser: http://www.pbase.com/02purser/images
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
Simon Stirrup: http://www.simonstirrup.co.uk/
Garry Taylor: http://www.spurnbirdobservatory.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: Russell Slack