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

Purple Martin: Butt of Lewis, Outer Hebrides. (Photo: Martin Scott) Purple Martin: Butt of Lewis, Outer Hebrides. (Photo: Martin Scott)

The calm of a hot early September Sunday was shattered for many by the news of an immature Purple Martin at the Butt of Lewis (Outer Hebrides) mid-afternoon on Sunday 5th. Fortunately for the listing fraternity this bird remained at the site for the rest of the day and was present until 12:45 on Monday 6th, when it gained height and was lost to view. This represents the first undisputed record for the Western Palearctic, and once again the islands of the Outer Hebrides point the way for where birders should be looking for Western Palearctic or British firsts. The Purple Martin is widespread across North America and will be familiar to many as the inhabitants of martin houses. Nominate race birds pass through Central America en route to wintering areas in northern South America. Long anticipated as a vagrant on this side of the Atlantic, birds have reached Bermuda, and there have been European claims that have failed to be accepted by the relevant committees. Interestingly, the 2nd for the Western Palearctic was present on Flores on the Azores on Monday 6th.

Red-eyed Vireo: Cape Clear, Co. Cork. (Photo: Michael O'Keeffe)

The earliest-ever British or Irish Red-eyed Vireo was trapped in Cotter's Garden on Cape Clear (Co. Cork) on Sunday 6th, and was doubtless associated with the same weather pattern that delivered the Purple Martin. The earliest record prior to this individual was one trapped on the same island on 14th September 1995, which remained until the 20th. The earliest British bird was found dead at the lighthouse on Bardsey Island (Gwynedd) on 19th September 1998. Many observers will hope that these birds are the forerunners of a good autumn for Nearctic landbirds!

Yellow-breasted Bunting: Unst, Shetland. (Photo: Micky Maher) Booted Warbler: Ballycotton, Co. Cork. (Photo: Michael O'Keeffe)

Arctic Warbler: Bempton Cliffs, E. Yorks. (Photo: Lee Davis)

Citrine Wagtail: Loch of Spiggie, Shetland. (Photo: Roger Riddington) Citrine Wagtail: Marazion, Cornwall. (Photo: Mark Newsome)

With highlights from across the Atlantic, there was a fusion of migrants from other points of the globe during the week. The first Yellow-breasted Buntings of the autumn were two at Skaw, Unst (Shetland) from Sunday 5th-6th, with at least one still present on 7th. The 2nd and 3rd Irish Booted Warblers both arrived on Thursday 2nd, with one showing well at Ballycotton (Co. Cork) through the day and another at Annagh Head (Co. Mayo) which remained until the 5th. These follow the first Irish record last year which was on Tory Island (Co. Donegal) on 27th September 2003. Several Citrine Wagtails were found during the week: a 1st-winter at Ballycotton (Co. Cork) on the 2nd provided an excellent bonus for watchers of the Booted Warbler, another 1st-winter was at Leem Lough (Co. Mayo) on Monday 6th and the 1st-winter at Marazion (Cornwall) from last remained to at least 8th. A female Citrine Wagtail was identified at Loch of Spiggie (Shetland) on Monday 6th, but had been present since 31st August. The first Arctic Warbler of the autumn was at Norwick, Unst (Shetland) from Monday 6th-7th, followed by another at Bempton Cliffs (E. Yorks) on Wednesday 8th and there were yet more Greenish Warblers found, with one on St. Mary's (Scilly) from Saturday 4th-5th (the first on the islands since 1997), one on Bressay (Shetland) on Monday 6th, and a third at Holme (Norfolk) on Wednesday 8th. An immature Red-headed Bunting/Black-headed Bunting was on Skomer (Pembrokeshire) on Sunday 5th and a Red-rumped Swallow was on Great Blasket Island (Co. Kerry) on Tuesday 7th.

Tawny Pipit: Portland, Dorset. (Photo: Martin Cade) Rose-coloured Starling: New Passage, Glos. (Photo: John Martin)

Tawny Pipits were on Cape Clear (Co. Cork) on Friday 3rd and Flamborough Head (E. Yorks) on Saturday 4th, whilst last week's bird at Portland (Dorset) remained to the 2nd. Increasingly scarce nowadays, Ortolan Buntings were at Portland (Dorset) from 2nd-4th, Spurn (E. Yorks) on 3rd, and Hengistbury Head (Dorset), Sennen (Cornwall) on 6th and Shell Ness on 8th. A Hoopoe was at Easington (E. Yorks) on 2nd, with another at Nanquidno on 8th and juvenile Woodchat Shrikes were noted at Polgigga (Cornwall) from 2nd-6th and on Lundy (Devon) from 2nd-4th. The first Bluethroat of the autumn was on St. Mary's (Scilly) on Saturday 4th. A scattering of juvenile Rose-coloured Starlings included birds in Cornwall and Pembrokeshire, with three together on Lundy on Tuesday 7th and one at New Passage (Glos) on Thursday 2nd.

Wryneck: Landguard NR, Suffolk. (Photo: Kit Day) Red-backed Shrike: Prior's Fen, Cambs. (Photo: Katie Fuller)

Common Rosefinch: Unst, Shetland. (Photo: Micky Maher) Icterine Warbler: Unst, Shetland. (Photo: Micky Maher)

Around 30 Wrynecks included several inland birds, whilst Red-backed Shrikes just scraped into double figures, though an inland bird in Cambridgeshire was notable. There were around half-a-dozen each of Melodious Warblers and Icterine Warblers, most of which were in the southwest and southern Ireland. A dozen Barred Warblers were all on the Northern Isles and east coast, with the exception of one on Bardsey (Gwynedd) and another on Coll (Argyll) and a Marsh Warbler was on Unst (Shetland) on Saturday 4th. Just over a dozen Common Rosefinches were largely restricted to the Northern Isles, with 5 on Fair Isle (Shetland) on 8th and 4 on Fetlar on the 5th, the only birds away from this area being one on Skomer (Pembrokeshire) from 5th-6th and one on the Farne Islands (Northumberland) on 8th. The first fall of Red-breasted Flycatchers was noted, one at Cape Clear on 2nd the forerunner, but singles were at Hadston Carrs (Northumberland) and Flamborough Head (E. Yorks) on Tuesday 7th, on which date four were at Spurn (E. Yorks) with two in the area the following day and one at Great Yarmouth (Norfolk) on the 8th. Two Aquatic Warblers included birds at Soar Mill (Devon) on Saturday 4th and Pett Levels (E. Sussex) on Sunday 5th. Two Serin were noted at Hengistbury Head (Dorset) on Saturday 4th and Stanpit Marsh (Dorset) on Wednesday 8th.

Content continues after advertisements
Franklin's Gull: Sandbach Flashes, Cheshire. (Photo: Paul Hill) Wilson's Storm-petrel: Scilly pelagic, Scilly. (Photo: Ben Lascelles)

An adult Franklin's Gull was all too brief a visitor to Sandbach Flashes between Thursday 2nd and early on 3rd. Seawatching highlights involved another Fea's Petrel (considered different to the bird seen on 28th August) from the Scilly pelagic on Monday 6th, with a Wilson's Storm-petrel on the same trip. Small numbers of Great Shearwaters were seen from Co. Cork, with 30 passing Cape Clear on 4th, and there were several from Scilly pelagic. In contrast there were just four Cory's Shearwaters, one of which was off Suffolk on 7th. The maximum count of Sooty Shearwaters was 274 passing Co. Cork on 4th and a total of 14 Balearic Shearwaters included 4 passing the Point of Ayre (Isle of Man) on the 3rd. Around 20 Long-tailed Skuas were logged, the majority juveniles, and small numbers of Leach's Storm-petrels included several birds from East Anglian watchpoints. Juvenile White-winged Black Terns were noted on Monday 6th at the Loch of Tankerness (Orkney) and Queen Elizabeth II Reservoir (Surrey). A juvenile American Herring Gull was seen from the Scilly pelagic on Friday 3rd and seven Sabine's Gulls included 3 passing South Uist (Outer Hebrides) on 4th. An inland Manx Shearwater was at Grafham Water (Cambs) on Friday 3rd.

Terek Sandpiper: Blennerville, Co. Kerry. (Photo: Michael O'Keeffe) Long-billed Dowitcher: Kinsale Marsh, Co. Cork. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly)

Baird's Sandpiper: Tacumshin, Co. Wexford. (Photo: Killian Mullarney) Baird's Sandpiper: Tacumshin, Co. Wexford. (Photo: Killian Mullarney)

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Thorganby Ings, N. Yorks. (Photo: John Beaumont) Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Hickling Broad, Norfolk. (Photo: David Coxon)

A number of Nearctic waders put in an appearance during the week. Pick of the waders through was a Palearctic Terek Sandpiper at Blennerville (Co. Kerry) from Sunday 5th which was only the 2nd Irish record. A juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper was at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) from Friday 3rd to at least 7th and White-rumped Sandpipers were at Poulnasherry Bay (Co. Clare) and Killala Bay (Co. Mayo) on Sunday 5th. Several Baird's Sandpipers included one at Tacumshin from 2nd-7th, one at Goldcliffe Pools (Gwent) on 3rd, Davidstow/Crowdy Reservoir (Cornwall) on 6th with two on 7th and Marazion on 7th, plus the juvenile remained on Scilly. An adult Buff-breasted Sandpiper in the Lower Derwent Valley (N./E. Yorks) from Saturday 4th onwards was probably the recent Blacktoft Sands (E. Yorks) bird, a juvenile was at Hickling Broad (Norfolk) from 6th onwards, one was at Tacumshin from 6th onwards, with one at the Butt of Lewis (Outer Hebrides) the same day and up to three were at Davidstow Airfield from 6th onwards. Long-staying Long-billed Dowitchers remain at Gibraltar Point (Lincs), Blennerville (Co. Kerry) and Kinsale Marsh (Co. Cork). Around a dozen Pectoral Sandpipers were reported. There were five Temminck's Stints, and nine Dotterel, plus a noticeable arrival of juvenile Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints. A Grey Phalarope was seen from the Scilly pelagic on Friday 3rd, with one reported from Blithfield Reservoir (Staffs) on Monday 6th, and the Red-necked Phalarope was last seen at Grafham Water on 2nd.

Dotterel: Great Orme, Conwy. (Photo: Peter Latham) Dotterel: Great Orme, Conwy. (Photo: Paul Hackett)

Great White Egret: Old Moor, S. Yorks. (Photo: Dave Waddington) Great White Egret: Old Moor, S. Yorks. (Photo: John Dickenson)

A Snowy Owl was at Carrickfin (Co. Donegal) on Sunday 5th and was perhaps the bird seen in mid-August in Co. Donegal. A female Red-footed Falcon was reported over Hengistbury Head on Wednesday 8th and four reports of Black Kites may have involved the same bird: Romney Marsh (Kent) and Headon Warren (Isle of Wight) on 2nd and Exmouth then Seaton (Devon) on 5th. An adult Night Heron was at Boscathnoe Reservoir (Cornwall) from Thursday 2nd-3rd and the Black Stork was last reported in Essex on Saturday 4th, with perhaps the same bird passing over Pagham Harbour (W. Sussex) on Tuesday 7th. The colour-ringed Great White Egret remains in Glamorgan/Carmarthen, and last week's bird from Kent was relocated at Old Moor (S. Yorks) on Thursday 2nd, and has frequented various waterbodies in the area since then. In Norfolk the Glossy Ibis is still presnet, and Purple Herons were noted in Essex and Derbyshire, with the long-staying Norfolk bird still present to at least the 3rd. Eight Spotted Crakes were noted, many present for several weeks now.

Black Stork: Old Hall Marshes, Essex. (Photo: James Starbuck-Machin)

American Wigeon: Rogerstown Estuary, Dublin. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Black-winged Stilt: Titchwell RSPB, Norfolk. (Photo: Bob Hazell)

Osprey: Downholland Moss, Lancs. (Photo: Sean Gray)
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
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
Tristan Reid: http://www.solwaybirder.org.uk
Steve Round: http://stevenround-birdphotography.com
Tom Shevlin: http://wildlifesnaps.com/
Matt Slaymaker: http://www.freewebs.com/slaymaker
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