Review of the Week: 3rd-9th June 2004

Squacco Heron: Minnis Bay, Kent. (Photo: Dylan Wrathall)

Night Heron: Shipley, W. Yorks. (Photo: Darren AP Ward) Night Heron: Shipley, W. Yorks. (Photo: Darren Starkey)

Rare herons provided the main highlights of the week for many observers. Continuing the recent run of records more Squacco Herons were located, with sightings at Dungeness RSPB (Kent) on Thursday 3rd, Minnis Bay (Kent) on Friday 4th and Abberton Reservoir (Essex) on Saturday 5th all perhaps relating to the same individual. In Cornwall the bird from last week continued to frequent a back garden at Portmellon until Friday 4th. A 2nd-summer Night Heron at Shipley (W. Yorks) showed extremely well between Monday 7th and 8th. A Purple Heron was at Loch of Strathbeg RSPB (Aberdeenshire) on Thursday 3rd and several brief Great White Egrets were reported.

Eurasian Scops Owl: Loch of Strathbeg RSPB, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: Mark Caunt)

Eurasian Scops Owl: Loch of Strathbeg RSPB, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: Mark Caunt) Eurasian Scops Owl: Loch of Strathbeg RSPB, Aberdeenshire. (Photo: Mark Caunt)

Last week (on the 2nd) a Eurasian Scops Owl was picked up on the Forties Delta oil rig in the North Sea. The bird was flown to Aberdeen where it recuperated well enough to be released back to the wild. It was released late evening at the Loch of Strathbeg RSPB reserve (Aberdeenshire) on Wednesday 9th, at which point it flew off towards a small copse by the visitor centre. Some might be surprised at the choice of release location and the sentimental amongst us might have hoped for a repatriation story, but hopefully this diminutive owl has reorientated itself and is safe and well on the continent already.

Red-headed Bunting: Monreith, Dumfries and Galloway. (Photo: Richard Popplewell) Red-headed Bunting: Monreith, Dumfries and Galloway. (Photo: Steve Nuttall)

News of a Dusky Warbler at Fowey (Cornwall) on Sunday 6th (for its 6th day) was a surprise, but is in keeping with the exceptional number of wintering and passage birds reported this year; it was last reported on the 7th. A Great Reed Warbler was at Slapton Ley (Devon) from Thursday 3rd-4th. A male Red-headed Bunting at Monreith (Dumfries and Galloway) from Tuesday 8th-9th will have prompted listers to have travelled for 'insurance purposes'. Although commonly kept as a cage bird, some presumably occur as vagrants, such that at some point in the future it might be possible to tie in some sightings with occurrence patterns and thus establish which, if any, are likely to fall into this category – in the meantime, if listing is your game, see as many that turn up as possible! A Blyth's Reed Warbler was at Spurn (E. Yorks) on Monday 7th, a male Rustic Bunting on Fair Isle (Shetland) from Friday 4th-5th and a hornemanni Arctic Redpoll on Barra (Outer Hebrides) on Wednesday 9th. A Savi's Warbler at Minsmere RSPB (Suffolk) on Wednesday 9th was the first of the year, and an Alpine Swift over Alvaston (Derbyshire) on Monday 7th was another addition to the total this spring. On Whalsay the female Sardinian Warbler was still present on Monday 7th.

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Scarce migrants were once again largely restricted to the Northern Isles, though there were a few pickings to be had elsewhere. A Rose-coloured Starling was at Whiteford NNR (Glamorgan) on Sunday 6th and the individual from last week remained on Fair Isle until at least the 7th. Four Woodchat Shrikes included birds at Minnis Bay (Kent) and Papa Westray (Orkney) on Saturday 5th and a female at Sennen (Cornwall) on Monday 7th, with a male there from Tuesday 8th-9th. A Red-breasted Flycatcher and Bluethroat were on Fair Isle on Monday 7th, a Hoopoe was reported in Staffordshire and a Wryneck in Essex. There were around 30 Red-backed Shrikes, the majority on Shetland, including 12 on Unst on Sunday 4th. A dozen Marsh Warblers included just two away from Shetland, 9 Icterine Warblers likewise, with the popular bird still present at Outney Common (Suffolk). There were 10 Common Rosefinches around the country. Several Bee-eater reports included a flock of 10 over Seasalter (Kent) on Sunday 6th. A Shore Lark was an unseasonable find at Marwick Head (Orkney) on Wednesday 9th.

Broad-billed Sandpiper: Drayton Bassett Pits, Staffs. (Photo: Rob Fray) Broad-billed Sandpiper: Drayton Bassett Pits, Staffs. (Photo: Steve Nuttall)

Broad-billed Sandpiper: Drayton Bassett Pits, Staffs. (Photo: Andy Warr) Broad-billed Sandpiper: Drayton Bassett Pits, Staffs. (Photo: Vince Garvey)

An inland Broad-billed Sandpiper proved deservedly well watched at Drayton Bassett Pits (Staffs) from Monday 7th onwards. Inland birds are always at a premium and most birders jump at the chance to enjoy good views of this beautifully marked wader. An American Golden Plover was on Samson (Scilly) from Tuesday 8th-9th and a Kentish Plover was at Southport (Lancs) on Friday 4th. There were 9 Pectoral Sandpipers, most in Scotland and a further 5 Temminck's Stints were noted during the week. In Co. Down the Greater Yellowlegs was still present at Quoile Pondage and the Glossy Ibis remains at Otmoor RSPB (Oxon). A 1st-summer Bonaparte's Gull was at Bowling Green Marsh (Devon) on Wednesday 9th, whilst the 1st-year American Herring Gull remains at Nimmo's Pier (Co. Galway) and a 1st-summer Forster's Tern was at Tory Island (Co. Donegal). The last remnants of skua passage were represented by 10 Long-tailed Skuas past Balranald (Outer Hebrides) on Thursday 3rd. The Cinnamon Teal remained on Lewis, as did the Bufflehead as a side-show to the Broad-billed Sandpiper at Drayton Bassett Pits – presumably the Gtr Manchester and Yorkshire bird from earlier in the spring, he would appear in no hurry to continue his travels? There were four fly-over Black Kites, plus a bird was at Achentoul (Highland) and was presumably the individual seen nearby in the summer of 2002 and 2003. The Red-footed Falcon remained at Minsmere and a couple of others were reported briefly in Norfolk. Finally, it has been a relatively poor year for Quail so far, but the last week has seen an increase in sightings, with around 30 reported, including 8 at High Offley (Staffs).

Green-winged Teal: East Chevington, Northumbs. An interesting combination, present with a Garganey. (Photo: Alan Gilbertson) Bufflehead: Drayton Bassett Pits, Staffs. Could this be the bird seen earlier in the spring? (Photo: Mike Lawrence)

Collared Flycatcher: Unst, Shetland. Unfortunately last week's bird remained for just the day. (Photo: Micky Maher)

Spotted Flycatcher: Findhorn Valley, Highland. How scarce are they on your local patch this year? (Photo: Steve Round) Crested Tit: Abernethy Forest, Highland. Often the highlight of a trip to Speyside for many of us. (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: Kit Day: http://angusbirding.homestead.com/
Kit Day: http://www.geocities.com/christophe_41/
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
Pete Ryder: http://groups.msn.com/petesdigibirds homepage
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