Review of the Week: 31st March-6th April 2005

Belted Kingfisher: Milford, Staffs. (Photo: Mark Thomas) Belted Kingfisher: Milford, Staffs. (Photo: Mark Stirland)

Belted Kingfisher: Peterculter, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: Tom Tams) Belted Kingfisher: Peterculter, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: Chris Jones)

Belted Kingfisher: Peterculter, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: Tom Tams) Belted Kingfisher: Peterculter, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: Chris Jones)

It is over 20 years since a Belted Kingfisher turned up in Co. Clare in autumn 1984. That bird remained into 1985 when it relocated to Co. Tipperary, where it stayed until the spring. It is even longer ago that birders in England were able to enjoy a bird in Cornwall present from October 1979 into June 1980 (and again in August of that year). News of a Belted Kingfisher in Staffordshire on Friday 1st April was initially greeted with scepticism given the date and unlikely location, but those who trusted the news were rewarded with superb views of this stunning Nearctic kingfisher at Milford until dusk - only the 6th British and Irish record. An expectant throng gathered at dawn on Saturday 2nd but expectations were rapidly quashed as it transpired that the bird had done a flit, leaving many to rue their decision to delay travelling until the weekend. Early afternoon on the 2nd, news reached the news services that the bird had been relocated at Eastrington NR near Howden in East Yorkshire. Improbable though it seemed, birders were to have another bite at this exceptionally rare cherry. As it transpired the bird didn't find the site to its liking either, quickly moving on, and the whole event was more an exercise in traffic congestion! Amazingly it was then relocated in Aberdeenshire at Peterculter on Monday the 4th, where it has remained since to the delight of those who missed out further south. It was identified in Aberdeenshire thanks to the BirdGuides photo gallery!

Great Spotted Cuckoo: Worthing, W. Sussex. (Photo: George Spraggs) Great Spotted Cuckoo: Worthing, W. Sussex. (Photo: George Spraggs)

Great Spotted Cuckoo: Worthing, W. Sussex. (Photo: Ian Barnard) Great Spotted Cuckoo: Worthing, W. Sussex. (Photo: Steve Evans)

White-faced Pied/Amur Wagtail: Seaham, Durham. (Photo: Chris Bell)

White-faced Pied/Amur Wagtail: Seaham, Durham. (Photo: Martyn Sidwell) White-faced Pied/Amur Wagtail: Seaham, Durham. (Photo: Martyn Sidwell)

Great Spotted Cuckoos take some beating, but the kingfisher clearly eclipsed all other rarities this week. In West Sussex a Great Spotted Cuckoo was at Shoreham-by-Sea on Sunday 3rd with another in Worthing from Sunday 3rd onwards; news of the latter broke later in the week, but the bird showed well. In Co. Durham an alba Wagtail, potentially of the form M. a. leucopsis (treated as a distinct species, White-faced Pied/Amur Wagtail, by some authorities) was at Seaham from Tuesday 5th-6th. Presumably this bird arrived in Western Europe last autumn alongside the many other super-rarities from eastern Asia and has been picked up again the following spring - April is fast evolving as the month to turn up displaced sibes. A Short-toed Treecreeper was less inspiring than many of the other rarities this week, but is still an exceptionally rare species, especially so away from Kent and this, if accepted, will be the 2nd for Essex.

Short-toed Treecreeper: Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex. (Photo: Nic Lindsell)

Snowy Owl: Fair Isle, Shetland. (Photo: Deryk Shaw) Snowy Owl: Fair Isle, Shetland. (Photo: Deryk Shaw)

Franklin's Gull: QE II CP, Northumberland. (Photo: Alan Gilbertson) Franklin's Gull: QE II CP, Northumberland. (Photo: John Malloy)

A Snowy Owl was on Fair Isle (Shetland) on Saturday 2nd and a probable Gyr Falcon at Brandon Bay (Co. Kerry) on Tuesday 5th. A 2nd-summer Franklin's Gull was at Woodhorn (Northumberland) on Saturday 2nd, then relocated at Queen Elizabeth II CP on 3rd and Castle Island on 6th. The now expected passage of White-billed Divers off the Outer Hebrides included one at Port Nis and 2 at Port Skigersta on Sunday 3rd, and 4 off Port Nis on Wednesday 6th; another was reported from the Kennacriag-Port Ellen ferry (Argyll) on Friday 1st. A possible Red-footed Falcon at Annesley (Notts) on Sunday 3rd was exceptionally early and a White-tailed Eagle – considered by the finder to be probably the same bird as that which toured the country this winter - passed over Simonside (Northumberland) the same day.

White-tailed Eagle: Simonside, Northumberland. (Photo: Keith Reeder)

Great Grey Shrike: Bamburgh, Northumberland. (Photo: Alan Gilbertson) Great Grey Shrike: Bamburgh, Northumberland. (Photo: Alan Gilbertson)

Alpine Swifts were over Dungarven (Co. Waterford) on Sunday 3rd and Sizewell (Essex) on Tuesday 5th. Woodchat Shrikes were at Galley Head (Co. Cork) on 2nd and Bryher (Scilly) on 3rd. Three Serin were reported from Gammon Head (Devon) on 2nd and 14 Hoopoes were noted during the week, four of them in County Cork. A Wryneck was at Youghal (Co. Cork) on 4th. At least 17 Great Grey Shrikes were a mix of long-staying wintering and passage birds. Good numbers of Waxwings remain, most in the southern counties of England, including a flock of over 100 in Somerset.

Common Crane: Fenham Mill, Northumberland. (Photo: Alan Gilbertson) Great White Egret: Loch Lomond, Clyde. (Photo: Jim Duncan)

Rare herons included adult Night Herons at Mizen Head (Co. Cork) on 2nd and Nanjizal (Cornwall) on 3rd, and a Purple Heron at North Gare (Cleveland) on 5th and Morden Bog (Dorset) on 6th. The Great White Egret remained at Loch Lomond (Clyde) and others were at Gorseinon (Glamorgan) on 31st, Ouse Washes (Cambs) on 1st and Foryd Bay (Gwynedd) on 5th. A Cattle Egret was at Frampton/Slimbridge from 4th-6th, and the long-stayer was still at Kingston Seymour (Somerset). Several White Storks were also noted, including some known absconders, and the Glossy Ibis remained in Norfolk. Two Dotterel at Cowbar (Cleveland) on 2nd were early and were followed by 3 at Colne Point (Essex) on 5th. The Short-billed Dowitcher was still in County Dublin as was the Lesser Yellowlegs in Norfolk to at least 4th. A Spotted Crake was at St. Mary's (Scilly) from 3rd-4th.

Short-billed Dowitcher: Booterstown Marsh, Dublin. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly)

Surf Scoter: Ruddon's Point, Fife. (Photo: Mark Wilkinson) Ring-necked Duck: Grafham Water, Cambs. (Photo: Mike Lawrence)

The American Coot remains on the Outer Hebrides. Long-staying passerines included the Arctic Redpoll in Norfolk and Richard's Pipit in Conwy, both to at least 2nd, and Dusky Warbler in Suffolk to at least 4th. Rare ducks began to thin out, but there were still at least 8 Green-winged Teals, single American Wigeon, Lesser Scaup and Surf Scoter at large, plus just over half-a-dozen Ring-necked Ducks, plus the Black Duck on Scilly.

Lapland Bunting: Cresswell Pond, Northumberland. (Photo: Gary Smith) Lapland Bunting: Cresswell Pond, Northumberland. (Photo: Gary Smith)

Osprey: undisclosed, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: T Keith Bruce) Mediterranean Gull: Amble, Northumberland. (Photo: Alan Gilbertson)

Black Redstart: Upton Warren, Worcs. (Photo: Oliver Wadsworth) Hawfinch: Parkend, Glos. (Photo: Steve Evans)

Garganey: St. Mary's, Scilly. (Photo: Martin Goodey) Garganey: Marshside, Lancs. (Photo: Sue Tranter)
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://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/birdphotos/index.htm
Will Bowell: http://www.wanderingbirders.co.nr/
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/
Steve Evans: http://www.powow.com/birds2004/
Katie Fuller: http://bogbumper.blogspot.com
Sean Gray: http://www.grayimages.co.uk
Peter Hadfield: http://www.manxbirdphotography.co.uk
Josh Jones: http://www.wanderingbirders.co.near/
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
Brian Mcgeough: http://www.pbase.com/bmcgeough/british_birds
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
George Spraggs: http://www.bird-watching.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
Written by: Russell Slack