Review of the Week: 29th November-6th December 2001


Generally a very quiet week, with few new arrivals and most of the long-staying rarities remaining faithful to their chosen sites. The continued mild weather ensured that the 'stale' feel to the recent birding scene remained, with little movement or immigration evident.

On the duck front, the Redhead remained in Glamorgan, the Lesser Scaup in Dorset and the Baikal Teal in Suffolk. In Norfolk the Squacco Heron continued its dawn departures and dusk arrivals, but refused to reveal its favoured haunts during the day. The Snowy Owl is clearly enjoying its extended stay in Suffolk and remains in the port area for his 44th day. Nearctic waders comprise a juvenile American Golden Plover on Orkney, Pectoral Sandpiper in Dorset during the early part of the week and a Long-billed Dowitcher was seen once again at the Belfast harbour estate. Elsewhere, the Richard's Pipit is still present in Gloucestershire, whilst the individual in Greater Manchester was seen once again over the weekend. The Dusky Warbler remains in Cornwall.

A Great White Egret in Kent was 'new', whilst the Cattle Egret was still in Dorset during the early part of the week. On Shetland, the 1st-winter Ivory Gull, taken into care a few weeks ago and successfully released, was seen once again, whilst a Caspian Gull in West Yorkshire was an excellent record for the county. Three Rose-coloured Starlings were seen during the week: a long-staying bird in Norfolk was seen again, whilst the bird in Aberdeenshire was seen during the early part of the week and on the 29th one was taken into care at the Gower Peninsula. Unseasonable lingerers included the Red-backed Shrike in Suffolk until the 1st, and the long-staying Barred Warbler at Spurn revealed its presence once again on the 2nd. A Yellow-browed Warbler in southern Devon has been seen during the week and could presumably attempt to winter in the area. A Willow Warbler on St. Mary's shows characteristics of one of the eastern forms acredula/yakutensis.

The immediate prospects look set for more of the same but, for those seeking an alternative to Christmas shopping, there is a good scattering of scarce ducks on offer in the southern part of the country, whilst Black Brants appear to present in good numbers this winter. In the north and Scotland, several parties of Waxwings appear to be lingering. Otherwise, the short daylight hours are excellent times to marvel at congregations of wildfowl or to acquaint yourselves with the complexities of gull identification and ageing amongst your local gulls at tips or at roost sites.

Written by: Russell Slack, BirdGuides