Review of the Week: 4 - 10 February


The week at a glance

In Britain and Ireland it was much of a muchness this week, with a familiar cast of lingering rarities making the headlines. In terms of popularity, it was hard to beat the first-winter Laughing Gull found at the marine lake in New Brighton, Cheshire, last Tuesday which spent the entire week showing well in the area. Its confiding nature and decision to stay ensure that it is the first easily twitchable (and certainly the best-received) mainland Laughing Gull since 2007 — an impressive duration given that this species turns up annually on our shores.

Laughing Gull
Laughing Gull, New Brighton, Cheshire (Photo: John Tymon)

Laughing Gull
Laughing Gull, New Brighton, Cheshire (Photo: Simon Smethurst)

Aberdeen's Harlequin continued to play the proverbial sitting duck, showing well to all-comers on its chosen stretch of the River Don all week. Similarly reliable were the Pacific Diver at Marazion, Cornwall, and the American Coots in Co Kerry and on North Uist, while the Black Scoters also remained off Rossbeigh, Co Kerry, and Cheswick Sands, Northumberland, throughout.

Harlequin, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire (Video: Mike Alibone)

Harlequin Duck
Harlequin Duck, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire (Photo: Barry Farquharson)

Black Scoter
Black Scoter, Cheswick Sands, Northumberland (Photo: Frank Golding)

Two Surf Scoters were again off Rosslare, Co Wexford, on 7th, with two drakes in Co Clare (off Lahinch and Gleninagh) and four still off Old Colwyn, Conwy. Others continued their respective vigils in Fife, Lothian and on the Suffolk/Essex border, while the young male King Eider was still off Maenporth, Cornwall, on 10th.

The drake American Black Duck remained on Tresco, Scilly, while American Wigeon were again plentiful, with nine drakes recorded. New males were at Burton Mere Wetlands, Cheshire, on 5th, and at Melby, Shetland, and Holme Pierrepont, Notts, from 8th. Most striking, though, was the capture of the Ythan Estuary drake on 7th during a routine wildfowl ringing session — a fantastic species to ring on British soil indeed. Other drakes remained in Cornwall, North Yorkshire, North Uist, and Counties Cork and Leitrim. A few new Green-winged Teal were also found among the dozen recorded: on the Axe Estuary, Somerset, and at Staveley, N Yorks, on 5th; on Benbecula, Outer Hebrides, and at Loch of Skaill, Orkney, on 7th; and at South Ferriby, Lincs, on 8th.

Black Duck
Black Duck, Tresco, Isles of Scilly (Photo: Joe Pender)

American Wigeon
American Wigeon, Ythan Estuary, Aberdeenshire (Photo: Alex Penn)

Long-staying drake Lesser Scaup remained at Lough Gill in Co Kerry, Siblyback Lake in Cornwall and Cardiff Bay in Glamorgan, while the Ayrshire bird relocated to Broadwood Flash on 10th. A drake Ring-necked Duck at Ashford Reservoir, Somerset, on 6th proved a one-day-wonder, but other English birds remained at Bray Gravel Pits, Berks, and Calvert Lakes, Bucks. In Scotland, a bird shared Loch of Skaill on Orkney with the Green-winged Teal and others remained on North Uist and Tiree, while the two at Carlingwark Loch, Dumfries & Galloway, also extended their stay. In Ireland a drake was found at Lough Cullin in Co Mayo on 7th, two remained at Lough Leane in Co Kerry, and another was still at Roo Lough in Co Clare. Ferruginous Ducks remained in Hampshire and Gloucestershire.

An immature Snow Goose was reported at Pilling Lane Ends, Lancs, on 6th; a Black Brant was on Jersey on 5th and an adult was again at Castlegregory, Co Kerry. Elsewhere, birds were seen in East Yorkshire (2), Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk (2+), Essex, West Sussex and Devon. The Ridgway's Cackling Goose remained at Cults Loch, Dumfries & Galloway, to 8th at least and Richardson's Cackling Geese remained with Barnacle Goose flocks on North Uist and in Co Sligo.

The Night Heron was last reported from Youghal, Co Cork, on 4th, while an increase in Cattle Egret reports included two overflying Haldon Forest, Devon, on 4th in addition to the two still at Dungeness, Kent; a third was nearby at Hamstreet from 8th. Glossy Ibis continued at Tramore, Co Waterford, and Fen Drayton Lakes, Cambs.

A white-morph Gyr Falcon was seen on the Inishkea Islands, Co Mayo, on 4th and a grey morph was reported at Halvergate Marshes, Norfolk, the following day. A new Lesser Yellowlegs was discovered at Skibbereen, Co Cork, on 4th and the East Sussex bird was still at Rye Harbour on 9th.

Lesser Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs, Winchelsea, East Sussex (Photo: Mark Leitch)

In addition to the New Brighton bird, the second-winter Laughing Gull remained another week at Ballycotton, Co Cork. Argyll's Bonaparte's Gull was seen again at Loch Gilp on 4th and the adult in Dawlish, Devon, was also still around. Also lingering was the Forster's Tern at Nimmo's Pier, Co Galway, seen on 7th.

A minimum of 23 Ring-billed Gulls were seen, eight of which were in Britain. Long-stayers comprised adults in Dingwall, Highland, and Gosport, Hampshire, with the Pembrokeshire bird seen again at Llys-y-Fran on 5th and the Clyde bird again at Strathclyde Loch on 7th. The first-winter was again on Hayle Estuary, Cornwall, to 8th and was presumably the same as that at Drift Reservoir. A second-winter was at Skinflats Lagoon, Forth, on 6th and new adults were at Stanpit Marsh, Dorset, on 8th and Townhill Country Park, Fife, from 8th — the latter showing particularly well. New Irish birds included a first-winter at Coranroo Bay, Co Clare, on 4th and adults in Counties Kerry and Waterford.

Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull, Townhill CP, Fife (Photo: Willie McBay)

An impressive record concerning a first-winter Caspian Gull in Shetland waters some way to the east of Whalsay on 6th represents a first record for the islands and is presumably the most northerly ever recorded in Britain — although an excellent record it's less exceptional given that one reached south-east Iceland last year.

Caspian Gull
Caspian Gull, at sea, Shetland (Photo: Mark Lewis)

Four Richard's Pipits remained: at Redcliff Point, Dorset, to 4th, Breydon Water, Norfolk, to 7th, and Shell Ness, Kent, and Cloughton Wyke, N Yorks, both to 8th. Just shy of 50 Waxwing reports were received throughout the week, with 26+ at Westhill, Aberdeenshire, on 5th the high count. Up to five Ring Ouzels remained at Nant Ffrancon, Gwynedd, throughout the week and further reports arrived from Cornwall, West Sussex, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire and North Yorkshire in what is turning out to be an exceptional winter for the species. The Lesser Whitethroat also remained in Lochwinnoch, Clyde.

Richard's Pipit
Richard's Pipit, Shell Ness/Swale NNR, Sheppey, Kent (Photo: Mike Buckland)

Richard's Pipit
Richard's Pipit, Breydon Water RSPB, Norfolk (Photo: Craig Shaw)

Three Penduline Tits remained at Darts Farm, Devon, throughout the week though they did make one brief sortie across the Exe to Exminster Marshes. The two Serins lingered at Gunners Park, Essex, throughout the week, as did the Rose-coloured Starling in Prudhoe, Northumberland. Two Little Buntings were found on 5th — at Forest Farm, Glamorgan, and at Old Lodge in Ashdown Forest, E Sussex, the former performing particularly well for the cameras.

Penduline Tit
Penduline Tit, Darts Farm RSPB, Devon (Photo: Katie Horrocks)

Little Bunting
Little Bunting, Forest Farm, Glamorgan (Photo: Brian Harrison)

Little Bunting
Little Bunting, Ashdown Forest, East Sussex (Photo: Tom Lee)

Western Palearctic news

The Grey-headed Gull was again at Bisceglie, Puglia, Italy, on Sunday and the Pallas's Gull was also still in the region at Taranto. Another Pallas's Gull was at Albufera Natural Park near Valencia, Spain, on 9th and is assumed to be last year's bird (which was a national first) returning. Of great relief to Spanish listers was the relocation of early January's Brown Shrike at Deltebre, Catalonia, on 9th.

Grey-headed Gull
Grey-headed Gull, Italy (Photo: Richard Smith)

Impressive news emerged that 31 Sudan Golden Sparrows had been seen at Bir Anzarane, Western Sahara, on 6th. At least one Black Heron remained on Santiago, Cape Verde. The Lesser Flamingo also remained near Kuwait City, though there was no news on the Israeli bird.

The Dark-eyed Junco continued to show well on the outskirts of Groningen, Netherlands, throughout the week; also still around were Black-throated Accentor and Azure Tit in Finland, and the Glaucous-winged Gull in Iceland.

Dark-eyed Junco
Dark-eyed Junco, Netherlands (Photo: Paul Cools)

Photo of the Week, 4—10 February

Eider, Crail, Fife (Photo: John Anderson)

British harbours offer fantastic chances to photograph coastal species that have become habituated to man, not least Eider, which can prove remarkably tame in some instances. Photographer John Anderson seized the opportunity presented to him by this stunning drake in Crail harbour, Fife, last Wednesday. Swimming towards the photographer and making eye contact with the image, the Eider is naturally engaged with the photo, the crisp clarity of the breaking water at the bird's bow only enhancing the image's dynamism.

The warm, late afternoon sunshine gives the bird a glow as well as creating a number of attractive reflections, understandably dubbed 'necklaces' by the photographer. Correctly exposing a largely white bird against a dark background can be a tricky task, yet this has been achieved perfectly. Congratulations to John on his winning image.

Other notable images

Cormorant, Hyde Park, Greater London (Photo: Tom Hines)

Ptarmigan, Cairn Gorm, Highland (Photo: Marcus Conway - ebirder)

Bearded Tit
Bearded Tit, Radipole Lake RSPB, Dorset (Photo: Roger Wyatt)

White-backed Night Heron
White-backed Night Heron, Gambia (Photo: Dave Williams)

Buzzard, Greylake RSPB, Somerset & Bristol (Photo: James Gibbs)

Barn Owl
Barn Owl, undisclosed site, Devon (Photo: Steve Hatch)

Waxwing, Kesgrave, Suffolk (Photo: Nick Brown)

Black Redstart
Black Redstart, Brean Down, Somerset & Bristol (Photo: Carl Bovis)

Peregrine, undisclosed site, Derbyshire (Photo: David Naylor)

Long-tailed Duck
Long-tailed Duck, Grutness, Mainland, Shetland (Photo: Robbie Brookes)

Robin, Brean Down, Somerset & Bristol (Photo: Carl Bovis)

Content continues after advertisements