Review of the Week: 2nd-8th December 2004

Arctic Redpoll: Titchwell, Norfolk. (Photo: Dave Hawkins)

Arctic Redpoll: Titchwell, Norfolk. (Photo: Roy Passley) Arctic Redpoll: Titchwell, Norfolk. (Photo: Dave Hawkins)

Year-listers have been struggling for additions over the past few weeks, so an Arctic Redpoll at Titchwell RSPB (Norfolk) from Friday 3rd-5th was a welcome opportunity for birders in 'southern' Britain to catch up with the species. Decent numbers of Arctic Redpolls arrived on Shetland during the autumn with others on the Outer Hebrides, the majority of which were nominate-race birds (Hornemann's Redpoll), whilst the Titchwell bird was of the exilipes form, which has accounted for the majority of British Arctic Redpoll sightings over the years. If accepted, this will be the first new arrival of this species in England since December 2001 when a small arrival of 5 birds included 3 at...Titchwell RSPB!

Pallas's Warbler: New Romney, Kent. (Photo: Mike Buckland)

Pallas's Warbler: New Romney, Kent. (Photo: Mike Buckland) Pallas's Warbler: New Romney, Kent. (Photo: Mike Buckland)

Richard's Pipit: Mereclough, Lancs. (Photo: Sean Gray)

Richard's Pipit: Mereclough, Lancs. (Photo: Sean Gray) Richard's Pipit: Mereclough, Lancs. (Photo: Sean Gray)

A Lesser Whitethroat trapped at Aberdeen on Sunday 5th was thought, based on in-hand biometrics, to belong to the form minula, better known nowadays as Desert Lesser Whitethroat; it remained throughout the week. A Dusky Warbler was found at Kessingland (Suffolk) on Thursday 2nd and is still present, and a Pallas's Warbler was at New Romney (Kent) from Saturday 4th-6th. Up to two Richard's Pipits were at Mereclough (Lancs) from Thursday 2nd onwards and these birds show once again that scarce birds turn up in the least expected of places. A Serin passed over Dungeness (Kent) on Sunday 5th and a possible Little Bunting was reported from Rutland Water on Tuesday 7th. The Blyth's Pipit remained at Land's End (Cornwall) as did the showy Barred Warbler at Covenham Reservoir (Lincs) and the Bluethroat was noted several times at Loch of Strathbeg (Aberdeenshire). Just 9 Great Grey Shrikes were reported. An assortment of 'summer' visitors included a Common Whitethroat in Essex, Lesser Whitethroat in Essex and Devon, Ring Ouzel in Devon, House Martin in Co. Wexford and at least 8 Swallows along the south coast - winters are changing fast!

Barred Warbler: Covenham Reservoir, Lincs. (Photo: Darren AP Ward) Barred Warbler: Covenham Reservoir, Lincs. (Photo: Dean Eades)

Tundra Bean Goose: Capel Fleet, Kent. (Photo: Marc Read) Tundra Bean Goose: Capel Fleet, Kent. (Photo: Marc Read)

Tundra Bean Goose: Slimbridge, Glos.. (Photo: Roy Shilham) Tundra Bean Goose: North Warren, Suffolk. (Photo: Sean Nixon)

Tundra Bean Goose: Sightings between 2nd and 8th December 2004.

A drake Black Duck was at New Pitsligo (Aberdeenshire) from Saturday 4th-6th at least, but unfortunately the selfish actions of a few have now prevented access to a sensitive site for the rest; a female is still present on St. Mary's (Scilly). A drake Lesser Scaup at Lee Reservoir (Co. Cork) on 5th was presumably the returning bird from last winter, whilst the drake remains at Scotney GPs (E. Sussex/Kent) and the female at Dozmary Pool (Cornwall). The drake King Eider retuned to Loch Ryan (Dumfries and Galloway) from 2nd onwards, and the Redhead is still in Glamorgan. Elsewhere, there were 7 Ring-necked Ducks, Ferruginous Duck in Bedfordshire, 7 Surf Scoters, nearly a dozen Green-winged Teals and four Scottish American Wigeons, plus hybrid birds in Conwy and Cumbria. A nationwide influx of Continental geese continued during the week, the most interesting feature of which was an arrival of over 300 Tundra Bean Geese. As would be expected the majority of these were in East Anglia, mostly Suffolk and Norfolk, though the largest flock was 48 in Kent. Away from this area sightings were scarce, with just 13 in Yorkshire, two flocks in Cambridgeshire and small numbers across to Dorset, Isle of Wight, Somerset and Gloucestershire.

Ivory Gull: Kyle of Tongue, Highland. (Photo: Stuart Williams) Ivory Gull: Kyle of Tongue, Highland. (Photo: Garry Taylor)

Ivory Gull: Kyle of Tongue, Highland. (Photo: Paul Hackett) Ivory Gull: Kyle of Tongue, Highland. (Photo: Paul Hackett)

The lingering Ivory Gull at Kyle of Tongue (Highland) continued to attract a steady stream of admirers, though in keeping with the winter so far scarce gulls were in short supply. There were low double figures of Ring-billed Gull, Iceland Gull and Caspian Gull and the cumulative total of reported Glaucous Gulls dropped to single figures. An adult Forster's Tern was at Strangford Lough (Co. Down) on Sunday 5th and was presumably the returning bird from earlier in the year. A Leach's Storm-petrel was a surprise visitor to the QEII Reservoir (Surrey) on Monday 6th. Assorted long-stayers included the American Coot at Loch of Benston (Shetland), Snowy Owl on South Uist (Outer Hebrides), Cattle Egret at Firsdwon (Wilsts) and Great White Egret at Mockbeggar Lake (Hants).

Iceland Gull: Ayr, Ayrshire. (Photo: Ian Fulton) Caspian Gull: Meadowhall, S. Yorks. (Photo: Martin Garner)

Great Grey Shrike: Wimpole Hall, Cambs. (Photo: Mike Lawrence) Waxwing: Ashington, Northumberland. (Photo: John Malloy)

Smew: Toft Newton, Lincs. (Photo: Ray Purser) Velvet Scoter: Pugney's CP, W. Yorks. (Photo: Martin Garner)

Brambling: Halifax, W. Yorks. (Photo: Sean Gray) Redwing: Neston, Cheshire. (Photo: Steve Round)
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
Marc Read: http://www.marcread-pix.com
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