Review of the Week: 3-9 June 2020


It was a week awash with pink – Rosy Starlings seemed to be everywhere, with well in excess of 50 birds reported across Britain and, with easterlies forecast into the weekend, no doubt more to follow. 

Rosy Starling, Cudworth, South Yorkshire (Tim Melling).

Also worth of a shout out before launching into the week's rarity news was the ongoing influx of Blyth's Reed Warblers. At least 16 birds were recorded in the past seven days, with several of these holding territory and even allowing for great views alongside the excellent aural experience they have been putting on.

Blyth's Reed Warbler, Far Ings NR, Lincolnshire (Paul Coombes).

The week’s rarity highlight saw one (or perhaps two) touring Swedish-ringed Caspian Terns, with one paying a relatively brief visit to Saltholme RSPB, Cleveland, on evening of 3rd. It, or another, popped up at Potter Heigham Marshes from 7th. The latter site also hosted a dapper Broad-billed Sandpiper (is there a smarter spring wader?) for a time on 5th.

Caspian Tern, Potter Heigham Marshes, Norfolk (DAVID Griffiths).

An adult Gull-billed Tern graced Muckrush, Co Galway, on the morning of 7th, while a possible flew over fields alongside the River Dearne near Thurnscoe on 5th. In Kent, the Bonaparte's Gull was back at Oare Marshes for the eighth year running on 5th, its earliest return date yet. The Little Bittern was also seen again at Knock Lake, Co Dublin, on 5th.

The Green Warbler stuck around on North Ronaldsay, Orkney, until 7th, becoming the second-longest stayer in British history (after the first on St Mary's, Scilly, in 1983). In Northumberland, a Great Reed Warbler sang at Druridge between 5th and 8th. A Savi's Warbler 'buzzed' at North Warren RSPB, Suffolk, from 7th, with another doing likewise at Scatness, Shetland, from 8th. Back in Suffolk, the Iberian Chiffchaff was still singing at Minsmere. Not to be left out, a River Warbler brought Fair Isle back onto the front pages at the end of the week.

River Warbler, Fair Isle, Shetland (Alex Penn).

Scotland scored strongly on the bunting front on Monday, with a male Rustic at Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire, and a male Black-headed Bunting in a Wester Ross garden. A Lesser Grey Shrike was at Vidlin, Shetland, on 5th.

Wildfowl included the Lesser Scaup still on North Uist and the Blue-winged Teal or hybrid still at Castle Island, Northumberland. Despite its arguably odd appearance, the latter is considered by some experts to be within the range of a second calendar-year female of this species.


Scottish mainland

The long-awaited split of Caithness from Highland on our news page was announced this week and the 'new' county duly obliged with news of a Rosy Starling at Roster on 3-4th and a Common Rosefinch at Castletown on 8th.

Elsewhere, Scotland found favour with possibly 10 individual Rosy Starlings. Highland held up to four. Individuals were on Coll on 4th and in gardens in both Elgin and Nairn. Aberdeenshire recorded two at Peterhead and Crimond; Ayrshire provided a single report from a Barr garden.

As Scotland cautiously eases out of lockdown, other news of note included a White-billed Diver passing Dunbar, Lothian, on 7th and two Avocets checking out Musselburgh Lagoons on 3rd, a breeding record can't be too far away in the future. Common Quail were prominent around the Reston area in Borders; further reports came from Longniddry, Lothian, and two sites in Clyde. A Ruddy Shelduck at Browhouses was the only notable report in Dumfries & Galloway this week.


Northern Isles and the Hebrides

Human visitors may be in short supply on Shetland currently, but the start of summer nonetheless brought a flurry of scarce avian arrivals. As ever, Fair Isle oozed quality: a Blyth's Reed Warbler led a strong cast that included at least two Marsh Warblers, Icterine Warbler, three Red-backed Shrikes, two Rosy Starlings and the lingering male Citrine Wagtail.

Blyth's Reed Warbler, Papa Westray, Orkney (Jonathan Ford).

Foula produced singles of Rosy Starling and Red-backed Shrike, while an Icterine Warbler was on Out Skerries. South Mainland sites had a similar feel, with a Blyth's Reed Warbler at Boddam, Marsh Warblers at two sites and Red-backed Shrikes at four. An Icterine Warbler was at Geosetter and a male Rosy Starling at Toab. Further north, Marsh Warblers were also found at Burrafirth, Mainland, Burravoe, Yell, and Halligarth, Unst. Larger targets included a White-tailed Eagle at White Ness and the Common Crane still at Norwick, Unst.

Orkney mixed it up with some Mediterranean flavour in the week – a Woodchat Shrike was at The Shunan and European Bee-eaters at Rendall, Mainland and Grimness, South Ronaldsay. However here too Blyth's Reed and Marsh Warblers were represented, with singles of the former at Queenamidda and on Papa Westray and the latter at Loch of Stenness.

North Ronaldsay also chipped in with Marsh Warbler, Red-backed Shrike, Greater Short-toed Lark and Grey-headed Wagtail.

A minimum of three Rosy Starlings were found marauding around Lewis, Outer Hebrides (just imagine how many must be on the island in reality!). A contribution was made to the nationally remarkable numbers of Blyth's Reed Warbler, with singing males on Barra and South Uist. A male Red-backed Shrike was also on Barra.


North-East England

A fine male Red-backed Shrike at Seaton Common, Cleveland, performed superbly for two days this week. Nearby Saltholme RSPB continued to offer a selection box of support with Garganey, Great Egret, Eurasian Spoonbill and a Wood Sandpiper on 3rd.

Red-backed Shrike, Boldon Flats NR, Durham (Ron Marshall).

Durham too offered a Red-backed Shrike, though the male at Boldon Flats took the social distancing a little too seriously and remained a long range throughout its three-day stay. A Eurasian Stone-curlew seen briefly at Piercebridge was an intriguing report on 4th. A strong contribution to the widespread Rosy Starling influx involved up to three individuals in Sunderland, Chester-le-Street and South Shields. A summer-plumaged male Snow Bunting at Hendon drew some admiring glances.

A male Blyth's Reed Warbler sang briefly from roadside vegetation in Boulmer, Northumberland, on 6th but was not seen again. Grindon Lough continued to host the regular adult female Red-necked Phalarope, while the drake American Wigeon made a brief showing again this week. Boulmer also held a couple of singing Common Quail, surprisingly perhaps the only site in the county the species has been reported from so far. A Little Stint had a two-day break at Druridge Pools NR and, further north, a Black Guillemot was off Annstead on 6th.


North-West England

Rosy Starlings continue to stream into the region: three more were in Lancashire this week, with a single reported at Morecambe and two at Fleetwood on 5th. Two probables were also reported from Cheshire, with one at Winsford and another at Upton, Chester both on 3rd.

A White-tailed Eagle was again seen in Lancashire over the M6 at Garstang on 3rd and a probable was picked up over Boulsworth Hill and then Rawtenstall on 9th. A stonking female Red-necked Phalarope was at Marshside RSPB briefly on 6th, meanwhile a female Ruddy Shelduck spent the morning at Lunt Meadows NR on 4th.

North-westerly winds produced a smattering of nice seabirds, with European Storm Petrels being recorded past five localities on 6th. A Black Tern was recorded past Starr Gate, Blackpool, while another pair worked their way inland and showed nicely at Neumann's Flash, all also on 6th. A flock of eight Kittiwakes flew north-west over Woolston Eyes NR the following day. Channel Wagtails remained at Hale and Rixton. A European Bee-eater proved somewhat frustrating as it was briefly noted hawking over farmland at Eccleston before heading over Chester. Perhaps one for local birders to keep an eye (and ear) out for …

Three Eurasian Spoonbills made a brief pit-stop at Neumann's Flash early morning on 9th and were picked up again at Audenshaw Reservoirs, Greater Manchester, a little later, before continuing south-east. A Marsh Warbler was singing in the Bolton area on Sunday only, and three Little Terns delighted visitors at Elton Reservoir on 9th.

Little Tern, Elton Reservoir, Greater Manchester (Martin Loftus).


Lincolnshire and Yorkshire

An Icterine Warbler sang briefly at Barton-upon-Humber Pits, Lincs, on the evening of 4th – however the singing Blyth's Reed Warbler at nearby Far Ings NR from 7th was much more co-operative, showing delightfully through the latter part of the week. Two Marsh Warblers were heard on the coast. The Deepings area produced Little Tern and Wood Sandpiper at Baston & Langtoft Pits on 3rd and 5th respectively, plus a Eurasian Spoonbill at Baston Fen on 7th and an inland Northern Fulmar south-west over Stamford on 6th.

Yorkshire Rosy Starlings included a very popular individual at Cudworth from 4th, with another at Adwick Washlands RSPB. A further individual was at Collingham from 7th. A Purple Heron was at Wintersett Reservoir on 4th, with a European Bee-eater west over there on 8th. A Little Stint proved fearless at White Holme Reservoir on 5th.

Rosy Starling, Collingham, West Yorkshire (Michael Ambler).

An immature White-tailed Eagle was perched by the River Esk at Grosmont, North Yorks, on 5th. Rosy Starlings were in Scarborough and Fylingthorpe gardens, with a Red-necked Phalarope at Smallways Lake at the end of the week; a male was also at North Cave Wetlands, East Yorks, on 3rd and 8th. A male Golden Oriole was the Spurn area highlight, singing at Kilnsea on 9th. The 1,828 Manx Shearwaters counted passing Flamborough Head on 8th was a June record count for the famous site.

Little Stint, White Holme Reservoir, West Yorkshire (Daniel Branch).


West Midlands

Staffordshire played host to two Wood Sandpipers on 3rd, with one at New Landywood Pool, Great Wyrley, and a particularly showy individual at Belvide Reservoir. A Little Tern was at Belvide throughout 6th, and there was a report of three early morning on 9th. Also here, a Red-necked Phalarope paid a brief visit on 7th.

A Rosy Starling was in a garden at Whiston on 6th, although there was no subsequent sign. However, with more arriving by the day nationally, it's fair to say that more may come. A single Eurasian Spoonbill was at Doxey Marshes on the morning of 9th, with a White-tailed Eagle seen over Gun Moor mid-afternoon before flying north over Silverdale early evening.

The drake Long-tailed Duck remained in West Midlands county, firstly at Amblecote before being harassed by Coots and relocating to Footshole Pool, Dudley, on 7th and then Buckpool and Fens Pool NR from 8th. The adult Glossy Ibis was still at Lower Moor, Worcs, during the week, while Herefordshire produced a fine first-summer Black-crowned Night Heron near Ross-on-Wye on 4th.


East Midlands

In Northamptonshire, the pair of Greater Scaup were still at Daventry Reservoir CP on 3-4th and a Black Tern was at Stanwick GPs on 6th. There were two more at Attenborough NR, Notts, on 3rd and a single over Kilvington West Lake on 5th.

Garganey, Willington, Derbyshire (Tony Davison).

The drake Smew continued off Slaynes Lane, Misson, throughout the week, where a Red-necked Phalarope pitched up on 4th. A first-summer Caspian Gull was briefly at Idle Valley NR the same afternoon. Now onto fun-sized, with a Little Gull at Holme Pierrepont from 5-9th and a pair of Little Terns at Misson on 9th.

On 8th, an adult Roseate Tern stayed for all of five minutes at Mapperley Reservoir, Derbyshire, before continuing on its way. A Eurasian Spoonbill flew north-east over Long Eaton GPs on 7th and there was a belated report of a Rosy Starling at Padley Gorge the same day.

Not to miss out on any of the action, Leicestershire produced a pair of Rosy Starlings in a private garden at Nanpantan on 7th. The drake Green-winged Teal stayed loyal to Eyebrook Reservoir for another week, with a Wood Sandpiper keeping him company on 9th. There was a Little Tern at Rutland Water on 4th, and a White Stork flew over Kibworth Harcourt on the morning of 9th.


East of England

A casual six Rosy Starlings were seen in Norfolk alone, most of which were in gardens, while the county's recent run of Blyth's Reed Warblers continued: singing males were at Beeston Bump on 7-8th and North Walsham on 8-9th. Raptor reports on 7th included a White-tailed Eagle over Little Walsingham and a Black Kite over Rockland St Mary.

Eurasian Spoonbill, Cley Marshes NWT, Norfolk (DAVID Griffiths).

Suffolk also got in on the Blyth's Reed Warbler influx, with singing males at Southwold and North Warren RSPB, and also hosted three Rosy Starlings. Other significant county news included a male Grey-headed Wagtail at Easton Bavents on 3rd, a brief Black-winged Stilt at Dunwich Pools on 7th and a Red-backed Shrike at Hollesley on 8th.

Essex mustered just a single Rosy Starling (at Colne Point on 9th), but The Naze hosted both Marsh and Blyth's Reed Warblers on 3rd and 5th respectively. Another Marsh was at South Benfleet on 9th.

Impressively, Hertfordshire attracted two singing Marsh Warblers: one at Ware from 6th and another at Stocker's Lake from 8th. Highlights in Bedfordshire, however, were restricted to a Eurasian Spoonbill at Grovebury Sand Pit on 6th and a couple of Common Quail at Streatley. Cambridgeshire produced a Red-footed Falcon at Fen Drayton Lakes RSPB on 9th, plus an elusive Golden Oriole at Wicken Fen NT. Belated news from the county concerned a European Bee-eater in a Little Abington garden on 1st and a Rosy Starling in Gamlingay on 2nd.


South-East England

The Rosy Starling influx reached Kent, with birds at Deal, the Dungeness area (two) and Folkestone. More remarkable was the six Red-footed Falcons now at large in the county – a first-summer male on the North Kent Marshes at Oare and Conyer on 3rd, a female and male at Dungeness on 5th and 9th respectively, the Stour Valley first-summer female until 7th and first-summer male until 3rd and the male at Worth Marsh. Elsewhere, a Black-crowned Night Heron put in a two-day appearance at Seabrook.

The Rosy and Red-foot influx made it to East Sussex, too, with the former species recorded in a Newhaven garden on 6th and the latter a first-summer male on the South Downs north of Portslade-on-Sea on 9th.

Rather more unseasonal was a male Snow Bunting at Pett Level from 7th – amazingly enough the same individual that was in Cornwall until 5th. A Black-winged Stilt was at Rye Harbour from 6th. It was a much quieter week in West Sussex, where a couple of Common Quail and Western Cattle Egrets headlined, along with two European Storm Petrels off Selsey Bill on 7th – always a good bird on the south coast.

Snow Bunting, Pett Level, East Sussex (Jake Gearty).

Surrey's good end to spring continued with the county's seventh record of Black-winged Stilt, when a pair turned up at Tice's Meadow on 9th. As the first birds to prove gettable to most Surrey listers, they proved popular during the day. A Great Egret was seen in flight from Leith Hill tower the same morning. Things were quiet in London, with only a Common Quail flushed at Mitcham Common of note.

A White Stork of unknown origin popped up at a couple of sites in Berkshire. Several of the top Buckinghamshire listers were able to add Red-necked Phalarope to their county lists on the morning of 7th, when one pitched up at Little Marlow GPs. Also in Bucks, a Great Egret flew over Linford Lakes on 9th.

Oxfordshire news centred around Farmoor, where two each of Little Tern and Sanderling – always good birds inland – highlighted, along with Western Osprey and Garganey. There was no sign of the previous week's reported Red-backed Shrike near Chipping Norton.

In Hampshire, a Rosy Starling was a brief visitor to a garden in Wallington, Fareham, on 6th, unfortunately only seen by a non-birder. Late on the evening of 9th, a first-summer male Red-footed Falcon was reported at Shatterford. A Little Stint was at Keyhaven Marshes over the weekend. On the Isle of Wight, the Marsh Warbler continued to sing at Bembridge but, better still and at the same site, a Black Kite was photographed over Windmill Farm on 3rd.


South-West England

At least three male Golden Orioles produced a glorious soundtrack at Holy Vale on St Mary's, Scilly, this week. The Red-rumped Swallow remained throughout, with the island also cashing in on the Rosy Starling invasion. Devon saw no less than four of the latter species, while a White-billed Diver flew west past Prawle Point on 6th. The resident Slavonian Grebe remained floating on the Exe Estuary. Two Rosy Starlings remained at Trevescan, Cornwall, until 3rd; a European Serin flew over The Lizard on the same date. A Hoopoe was there on 7th, with 12 European Bee-eaters over Argal Reservoir on 6th. Other Rosy Starlings were at Sennen, Lanreath, St Austell and the Lizard.

Not one to miss out this week, Dorset hosted five Rosy Starlings, plus a Blyth's Reed Warbler was ringed at Portland Bill on 5th. A Black-crowned Night Heron was sound recorded over Bridport on 4th, with two Red-footed Falcons in the Weymouth area – a first-summer male at Ferrybridge on 4th and a female at Lodmoor RSPB on 5th.

Red-footed Falcon, Ferrybridge, Dorset (Mark Wright).

A late adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose was at Slimbridge WWT, Gloucestershire, on 5th; a drake Garganey was there on 4th and a Eurasian Spoonbill flew over on 9th. Somerset hosted a brief Woodchat Shrike near East Coker on 7th. The Purple Heron was still at Ham Wall RSPB on 4th. An Arctic Skua was over Chew Valley Lake on 6th; a pristine Red-necked Phalarope was there the following day.



It's June, and so the midsummer wind-down begins – as a result, it was a quiet week for the country. It was again Bardsey Island that flew the nation's flag, with a Common Rosefinch serenading island residents throughout the week. Less of a performer, a singing male Blyth's Reed Warbler delivered a few frustrating snippets from the Observatory garden on the morning of 8th, but hasn't been heard since.

Elsewhere in the county, Rosy Starlings were at both Conwy and Trearddur Bay, Anglesey, on 3rd. No doubt there's more of these pinkish delights waiting to be uncovered out in the west. European Storm Petrels were logged past the northern coast on 6th, with two past Octel, Anglesey, and four past Rhos Point, Conwy. There was a Whooper Swan at Kidwelly, Carmarthen, on 4th.

Up to three Hooded Crows were still on offer around South Stack RSPB and the surrounding fields and two Eurasian Spoonbills flew over Pwll, Carmarthen, on 8th.



It was somewhat disappointing that just the single Rosy Starling was seen this week, and that was the continuing Cliffs of Moher bird.

Tory Island, Co Donegal, picked up a Marsh Warbler on 8th, while also in the county a female Red-necked Phalarope visited Blanket Nook on 7th.

A group of six Ruddy Shelduck at Dundrum Bay, Co Down, on 4th relocated south to Lurgan Green, Co Louth, thereafter. With Egyptian Geese reported from Lough Neagh, Co Antrim, and Ballybay Wetland Centre, Co Monaghan, it was a special week for Irish wildfowl.

Ruddy Shelduck, Lurgan Green, Louth (Brian McCloskey).

A Hawfinch was an odd record in a garden at Monkstown, Co Cork, on 8th, while a Common Quail sang at Donaghdee, Co Down, on 6th. The Purple Heron was also seen again at Knock Lake, Co Dublin.


Western Palearctic

The week's undoubted star was a Long-toed Stint at Siilinjärvi, Finland, on 5th, representing just the second for Finland and the 12th for the WP. A Swedish Greater Sand Plover was at Västerås the following day. Part of the explosion of north-western European records in recent years, a Green Warbler trapped in Norway at Jomfruland on 8th was the country's first.

Long-toed Stint, Siilinjärvi, Finland (Kari Hänninen).

This spring's remarkable raptor passage on the near continent continued – a Short-toed Snake Eagle was over Skagen, Denmark, on 3rd. Belgium's fifth and sixth Booted Eagles of the year were over Aulnois and Maaseik. Meanwhile, Sweden's eighth Black-winged Kite was at Gerum on 9th.

Spain had a decent week – a Franklin's Gull was at Irún, a Lesser Crested Tern flew past Lekeito, Basque Country, and the Pied-billed Grebe was still at Grijalba. Neighbouring Portugal's star attraction, the Yellow-crowned Night Heron at Faro, was last reported on 7th. In the Canary Islands, two Pied Crows were photographed on a yacht at Taliarte, Gran Canaria, on 3rd.

The Dutch Amur Wagtail remained throughout, while the Elegant Tern remained at Polder de Sébastopol, France, until 8th at least. An adult male Black-headed Bunting was in Denmark on 7th.

Written by: Sam Viles & the BirdGuides team