Review of the Week: 3rd-9th March 2005


As most of us wait for spring to sprinkle a bit of variety into our local birding through some early summer visitors, we were to be disappointed as another cool week with a predominantly northerly airflow failed to deliver any sign of first migrants. The exception to this were single Wheatears in Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

Wheatear: (Photo: Steve Round)

Ardent gull enthusiasts were treated to another bonus in the shape of a 1st-winter Thayer's Gull at Barnatra (Co. Mayo). This bird, if accepted, will be only the 10th occasion Thayer's Gull has occurred in the Western Palearctic, and will be the 6th for Ireland. Others have occurred in Norway and Denmark, and there were two in Iceland last spring. Breeding in Arctic North America and wintering mainly along the American west coast, this long-distant migrant has a chequered history with birders on this side of the Atlantic. The identification, taxonomy and occurrence of these birds in Western Europe always provides much debate and confusion. Current thinking accords Thayer's Gull specific status so, statistically, this is still quite a 'mega'.

Thayer's Gull: Banatra, Co. Mayo. (Photo: Mike O'Keefe) Thayer's Gull: Banatra, Co. Mayo. (Photo: Mike O'Keefe)

Elsewhere, pickings were decidedly thin on the ground. A Cattle Egret was reported from Lancaster (Lancs) on Monday 8th and an adult Night Heron reported from Bolden Flats NR (Durham) on Saturday 6th. A Gyr Falcon over Ocraquoy (Shetland) was presumably one of the birds seen on the island recently, with it, or another, over Veensgarth later the same day. The adult Bonaparte's Gull was again on Harris (Outer Hebrides) and another again at Thurso (Highland). The White-tailed Eagle again put in an appearance in South Yorkshire, being seen over Potteric Carr then Doncaster on Monday 8th, and over Laughton (Lincs) later in the morning, before once again disappearing into oblivion. At least 10 Great Grey Shrikes were at large, there were 30 Shore Larks in Norfolk and two more in Lothian and a modest total of 11 Lapland Buntings were noted.

Great Grey Shrike: Oakham, Leics. (Photo: Katie Fuller) Great Grey Shrike: Haverthwaite, Cumbria. (Photo: Tristan Reid)

Short-billed Dowitcher: Bull Island, Dublin. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly)

American Herring Gull: Dingle, Co. Kerry. (Photo: ZJG) American Herring Gull: Dingle, Co. Kerry. (Photo: ZJG)

Long-stayers prevail. The Killdeer remained at Upper Lough Erne (Co. Fermanagh) to the 8th, the Short-billed Dowitcher continues to be reported intermittently in Dublin, the Lesser Yellowlegs is still in Norfolk and the Grey Phalarope again at Lade GPs (Kent). The presence of an amazing 3 Little Buntings was confirmed at Caunsell (Worcs/Staffs), the Arctic Redpoll is still at Titchwell RSPB (Norfolk) and last week's exceptionally early Wryneck at Treave Common (Cornwall) was trapped and ringed on 6th and was still present on 7th. In Co. Galway the Forster's Tern remains at Nimmo's Pier, and the 1st-winter American Herring Gull is still at Dingle (Co. Kerry). Around 19 Ring-billed Gulls were reported, and there were a handful of 'Kumlien's Gulls' for good measure. Pomarine Skuas were off Norfolk on 5th and 8th, and a handful of Little Auks were confined mostly to the east coast. Finally, the Norfolk Glossy Ibis again put in an appearance, though it is elusive to say the least.

Kumlien's/Iceland Gull: Brighton, E. Sussex. (Photo: Marc Read)

Glaucous Gull: Cefni Res, Anglesey. (Photo: Mark Jobling) Iceland Gull: Wrexham, Clwyd. (Photo: Mark Jobling)

Lesser Scaup: Beesands Ley, Devon. (Photo: Ben Lewis) Lesser Scaup: Lough Barry, Co. Fermanagh. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly)

Lesser Scaup: Farnborough, Warks. (Photo: Stephen Burch) Lesser Scaup: Farnborough, Warks. (Photo: Steve Valentine)

On Shetland the American Coot remains at Loch of Benston and on the Outer Hebrides last week's bird remains on Benbecula. The Black Scoter was again off Conwy, and Black Ducks were on Tresco (Scilly) and Achill Island (Co. Mayo). Half-a-dozen Snow Geese were noted and similar numbers of Black Brants were with coastal Brent Geese between Hampshire and Norfolk, with one in Co. Mayo. King Eiders were off Unst (Shetland) and Loch Ryan (Dumfries and Galloway), there were 3 Lesser Scaups, 6 Ring-necked Ducks, 3 Ferruginous Ducks, 6 Surf Scoters, 3 American Wigeons and just under a dozen Green-winged Teals. Drake Garganey were in Co. Wexford and Gloucestershire and the Trumpeter Swan was again in Devon.

Ring-necked Duck: Porth Res, Cornwall. (Photo: Colin Selway) Ferruginous Duck: Abberton Res, Essex. (Photo: Perry Hampson)

Trumpeter Swan: Bowling Green Marsh, Devon. (Photo: Simon Mackie) Great Northern Diver: Hartlepool, Cleveland. (Photo: MJ Watson)

Jack Snipe: Heacham, Norfolk. (Photo: Guy Dawson) Ruff: Martin Mere, Lancs. (Photo: Steve Round)

Red-breasted Merganser: West Kirby, Cheshire. (Photo: Chris Cook) Long-tailed Duck: Beesands Ley, Devon. (Photo: Ben Lewis)

Dartford Warbler: Derby, Derbys. (Photo: Simon Wilson) Crossbill: Clocaenog Forest, Clwyd. (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://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/
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
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