Review of the Week: 29th April-5th May 2004


Although the Bank Holiday did not run to expectations and produce any megas it was still an exciting week with good numbers of scarce migrants, most notably an astounding influx of Red-rumped Swallows.

An Upland Sandpiper was at Ham Voe, Foula (Shetland) from Tuesday 4th to at least the 5th. Following a run of records in the 1990s when several long-staying and obliging birds delighted visitors to Scilly, this is the first British record since 1999. It is also only the second spring record for Britain (there was one on St Kilda (Outer Hebs) on 24th April 1980). Of 4 previous Shetland records, the last 2 have also been on Foula.

Snowy Owl: Whinnyfold, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: Tim Marshall)

Snowy Owl: Whinnyfold, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: Chris Jones) Snowy Owl: Whinnyfold, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: Chris Jones)

A fine Snowy Owl was found at Whinyfold (Aberdeenshire) on Monday 3rd, performing well during the afternoon and evening for those lucky enough to be within striking distance of this superb Arctic owl, before it headed south just prior to dark. A long-staying bird on the mainland further south would prove quite a draw with such records few and far between.

Subalpine Warbler: Dungeness, Kent. (Photo: Marcus Lawson) Wryneck: Spurn, E. Yorks. (Photo: Darren AP Ward)

Wryneck: Spurn, E. Yorks. (Photo: Paul Hackett) Wryneck: Spurn, E. Yorks. (Photo: Paul Hackett)

Pick of the rare passerines was a Great Reed Warbler present for much of the day at Sandwich Bay (Kent) on Sunday 2nd. There was no shortage of other rarities, with a roll call resembling autumn rather than early May. A Dusky Warbler was at Barrow Gurney Reservoir (Somerset) on Saturday 1st, with one at Slimbridge (Glos) on Sunday 2nd. A Hume's Warbler was at Brent Reservoir (London) on Saturday 1st (perhaps the Fairlop Waters CP bird), a Pallas's Warbler was trapped at Flamborough Head (E. Yorks) on Monday 3rd and a Little Bunting at Nanjizal (Cornwall) on Sunday 2nd. Subalpine Warblers included: a male trapped at Portland (Dorset) on Friday 30th; a female trapped at Dungeness (Kent) on Saturday 1st; a female trapped on Fair Isle on Saturday 1st-2nd; an excellent record of a female at Severn Beach (Glos) on Sunday 2nd; and a male on St. Agnes (Scilly) from Monday 3rd onwards. Of those racially assigned, all were thought to be 'eastern' birds. A male Rock Thrush was reported from Blakeney Point (Norfolk) on Saturday 1st. There was a fine supporting cast of scarce migrants. A Tawny Pipit was at Ballycotton (Co. Cork) on Saturday 1st with another on St. Mary's (Scilly) on Sunday 2nd, there were Short-toed Larks on Dursey Island (Co. Cork) and St. Mary's on Sunday 2nd and Woodchat Shrikes were at Hengistbury Head (Dorset) on Sunday 2nd and Cape Clear (Co Cork) on Wednesday 5th. Around 19 Wrynecks were detected, most scattered along the east coast, but one inland at Blows Downs (Beds) on Monday 3rd. In addition, there were 7 Hoopoes and 6 Serins reported and a male 'white-spotted' Bluethroat at the London Wetland Centre (London) from Thursday 29th-3rd was joined by a second bird on Friday 30th. A welcome splash of colour was provided by a Bee-eater at Bideford (Devon) from Friday 30th-1st, with 'fly-throughs' on Sunday 2nd at Portland (Dorset), Wymondham (Norfolk) and Landguard (Suffolk).

Red-rumped Swallow: Huntspill, Somerset. (Photo: Gary Thoburn) Red-rumped Swallow: Lydney, Glos. (Photo: Nic Hallam)

This was certainly the week to find a Red-rumped Swallow on your local patch, with a minimum of 36 reported during the week, making for another superb spring influx of this delightful hirundine. Reports were as follows: Lydney (Glos) 2 (from 28th) remained to 30th, with one to 4th; Regent's Park (London) one on 29th; St. Mary's (Scilly) one remained to 2nd; Gailey Reservoir (Staffs) one from 29th-1st; Hanningfield Reservoir (Essex) 2 on 29th; Hemel Hempstead (Herts) one on 29th; Seven Sisters CP (E. Sussex) one on 29th; Loch of Hillwell (Shetland) one on 30th; Thrybergh CP (S. Yorks) one from 30th-1st; Blithfield Reservoir (Staffs) one on 30th; Tresco (Scilly) one to 3rd; Radipole RSPB (Dorset) one from 30th-2nd; Earlswood (Warks) one from 30th-1st; Cardiff (Glamorgan) one on 30th; Cuckmere Haven (E. Sussex) one on 30th; Holland Haven (Essex) one on 30th; Monmouth (Gwent) one on 30th; Huntspill (Somerset) one from 30th-1st; Northward Hill (Kent) one on 30th; Colebrook Lake North (Berks) one on 1st; Slapton Ley (Devon) 3 on 1st, 2 from 2nd-4th; Felixstowe Ferry (Suffolk) 2 on 1st; Thrapston (Northants) one on 1st; Spurn (E. Yorks) one on 2nd; St, Martin's (Scilly) one on 2nd; Winterton (Norfolk) one on 3rd; Flamborough Head (E. Yorks) one on 3rd and 5th; Coll (Argyll) one from 4th-5th; Water's Edge CP (Lincs) one on 4th; Far Ings (Lincs) 2 on 4th with one at Barton-upon-Humber (Lincs) on 5th; and Filey Dams (N. Yorks) one on 4th.

Glossy Ibis: Ringwood, Hants. (Photo: David Palmer)

American Golden Plover: Garreg Lwyd, Carmarthen. (Photo: Barry Stewart) American Golden Plover: Garreg Lwyd, Carmarthen. (Photo: Barry Stewart)

Dotterel: Blackmoorfoot Reservoir, W. Yorks. (Photo: Sean Gray) Dotterel: Blackmoorfoot Reservoir, W. Yorks. (Photo: Darren AP Ward)

Kentish Plover: Berrow, Somerset. (Photo: James Packer)

A Glossy Ibis was at Ringwood (Hants) early afternoon on Thursday 29th, with presumably the same bird at Charlton-All-Saints (Wilts) from Saturday 1st-2nd, Cotswold WP (Glos) on Sunday 2nd before finding Otmoor RSPB (Oxon) to its liking from Monday 3rd onwards; another was reported from St. Agnes (Scilly) on Wednesday 5th and the Bowling Green Marsh (Devon) bird was present to early Thursday 29th and may relate to the subsequent sightings in Hants, Wilts, Glos and Oxon. An adult Night Heron was at Veryan (Cornwall) from Sunday 2nd-4th and a 1st-summer at London Wetland Centre on Wednesday 5th. Purple Herons were reported from Norfolk, Gloucestershire and Glamorgan and Great White Egrets in Fife and Shetland. An American Golden Plover was an unexpected find on Garreg Lwyd (Carmarthen) from Monday 3rd-4th and the Long-billed Dowitcher was still on Orkney at Ayre Loch on Friday 30th. Several Pectoral Sandpipers included one at Loch Gruinart (Argyll) on Thursday 29th, one at Inner Marsh Farm (Cheshire) on Monday 3rd, and two at Mythop (Lancs) on Wednesday 5th; in addition the bird at Campfield Marsh (Cumbria) remained until the 1st. Nearly 100 Dotterel were reported during the week with trips of 32 at Foxton (Cambs) and 21 at Wainfleet All Saints (Lincs). An inland female Kentish Plover at Upware (Cambs) on Saturday 1st was a good local find, and there were males in Somerset at Dunster Beach on Saturday 1st and Berrow from Sunday 2nd-3rd with another male at Northam Burrows (Devon) from Tuesday 4th-5th. Scarce waders also included at least 8 Temminck's Stints and a Red-necked Phalarope was at Rutland Water from Sunday 2nd to at least 5th.

Red-footed Falcon: Waxham, Norfolk. (Photo: Ron McIntyre)

Lesser Scaup: Waters' Edge CP, Lincs. (Photo: Shaun Nicholson) Harlequin Duck: Lewis, Outer Hebrides. (Photo: Richard Jackson)

A handful of Black Kites were reported, but none lingered, and it was a similar situation with Red-footed Falcons; around half-a-dozen were noted, but only a 1st-summer male at Waxham (Norfolk) from Saturday 1st till at least 5th stayed long enough to be appreciated. A King Eider was at Wadbister Voe (Shetland) on Sunday 2nd, and a Redhead (or hybrid) was at Uskmouth NR (Gwent) on Sunday 2nd. Other rare ducks included the Harlequin Duck still on Lewis (Outer Hebrides), one Lesser Scaup, 4 Ring-necked Ducks, 5 Surf Scoters and 5 Green-winged Teals. At least 2 White-billed Divers were still off Lewis. A Forster's Tern was at Lady's Island (Co. Wexford) on Wednesday 5th, there were 1st-winter American Herring Gulls in Co. Antrim and Co. Galway and just two Ring-billed Gulls were reported. Finally, a Spotted Crake was at Sutton Gault (Cambs) on Wednesday 5th.

Arctic Skua: Langness, Isle of Man. (Photo: Chris Wormwell)

It was a good week for seawatchers at various skua watchpoints. There were 22 Long-tailed Skuas, 12 past Balranald (Outer Hebrides) on Monday 3rd the largest count, with small numbers from the Channel and Solway. Good numbers of Pomarine Skuas were noted during the week - peak counts included 136 past Dungeness on Sunday 2nd, 126 past Balranald on Monday 3rd and 51 past Annagh Head (Co. Mayo) on Wednesday 5th; 28 off Severn Beach (Glos) on Tuesday 4th was a notable count for the Severn Estuary. Small numbers of Arctic Skuas were reported from many sites, the peak 22 past Dungeness on Sunday 2nd. Sabine's Gulls were noted off Severn Beach on Tuesday 4th and Clevedon (Somerset) on Wednesday 5th.

With the second ever Western Palearctic Varied Thrush found in Iceland this week, could the next week produce a mega Nearctic vagrant on one of the Scottish islands? Alternatively, perhaps there is still a cracking sibe lurking in Western Europe and some lucky soul at one of our windswept headlands will chance upon a once in a lifetime find?

Montagu's Harrier: Tacumshin, Co. Wexford. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Montagu's Harrier: Tacumshin, Co. Wexford. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly)

White Stork: Barnton, Cheshire. (Photo: Stephen Tomlinson) White Stork: Barnton, Cheshire. (Photo: Sue Tranter)
Written by: Russell Slack