Review of the Week: 4th-10th March 2004


Another 'winter' Dusky Warbler was located, this time at Portbury Warth (Somerset) on Saturday 7th and present until at least the 10th. This is the 4th of the winter and constitutes the 2nd of the winter for Somerset following a bird at Taunton for much of January. Elsewhere, there has been a long-staying individual at Paignton (Devon), which is still present this week, and another was at Polgigga (Cornwall) in mid-January. It has been an exceptional winter for rare wintering warblers.

Dusky Warbler: Paignton, Devon. How many more are wintering in the southwest? (Photo: Ray Wilson) Little Bunting: Newborough Warren, Anglesey. Now complete with tail! (Photo: Ray Wilson)

Yellow-browed Warbler: Louth, Lincs. It has been a truly exceptional winter for this charismatic sprite. (Photo: Roy Harvey) Yellow-browed Warbler: Louth, Lincs. (Photo: Roy Harvey)

After going AWOL between Thursday and Monday (except for a 15-minute show on Sunday), the male Pine Bunting has again been present all week at Choseley Drying Barns (Norfolk). Wintering 'sprites' continued to perform well, with Hume's Warbler still in London, 5 Yellow-browed Warblers in southern England and the Pallas's Warbler in Kent. At least one Northern Long-tailed Tit is still present in Suffolk and the Little Bunting (now complete with tail) continues to reside at Newborough Warren (Anglesey). Rose-coloured Starlings remain in Cornwall and Scilly. At least 15 Great Grey Shrikes were reported during the week, and a scattering of summer migrants included an exceptionally early Swift in E. Sussex, several Wheatears, a Yellow Wagtail, four Sand Martins, two Swallows and several House Martins. An Osprey was reported in Hampshire, and Little Ringed Plovers in Berkshire and Norfolk.

Harlequin Duck: Lewis, Outer Hebrides. Relocated during the week, it continues to show well. (Photo: Mike Richardson) Harlequin Duck: Lewis, Outer Hebrides. (Photo: Jim Duncan)

Black Brant: Titchwell, Norfolk. (Photo: Barry Byatt) Green-winged Teal: Woodhorn Flash, Northumbs. (Photo: E. Barnes)

On Lewis (Outer Hebrides) the Harlequin Duck was relocated at Griais on Friday 5th and a drake Redhead was at Llanilid (Glamorgan) on Tuesday 9th with the long-staying female still on Barra (Outer Hebrides). The American Coots remain on the Outer Hebrides and Shetland as does the White-billed Diver on Shetland. The Forster's Tern remains in Galway as does the Lesser Yellowlegs in Cornwall. The Finnish-ringed White-tailed Eagle was last seen at Loch of Strathbeg (Aberdeenshire) on Friday 5th. A Cory's Shearwater was reported in Kent and Essex. Rare wildfowl numbers remained relatively static, with 9 American Wigeon, 8 Green-winged Teal, 3 Ring-necked Ducks, 3 Ferruginous Ducks, 3 Lesser Scaup and 2 King Eider. Numbers of 'white-wingers' decreased slightly with around 35 Iceland Gulls and 30 Glaucous Gulls, along with several Kumlien's and American Herring Gulls. Ring-billed Gulls totalled around 20 birds and there were just 7 Caspian Gulls reported.

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Woodcock: Titchwell, Norfolk. Visitors to the Pine Bunting have also been able to enjoy rare views of a Woodcock on the ground... (Photo: Nick Smith) Lapland Bunting: Choseley Drying Barns, Norfolk. ...and several Lapland Buntings in the same area as the Pine Bunting (Photo: Josh Jones)

Iceland Gull: Ullapool, Highland. Numbers of 'white-wingers' are starting to drop off in a number of areas. (Photo: Jim Duncan) Bittern: Moore NR, Cheshire. It has been a good winter for Bitterns, but it requires luck and patience to see one this well. (Photo: Steve Round)

Red Kite: Gigrin Farm, Powys. The reintroduction scheme has ensured that large numbers are present at some sites in Britain, but they are still exciting birds to see. (Photo: Philip Tomkinson) Red Kite: Gigrin Farm, Powys. A distinctive bird, even without wing-tags! (Photo: Ray Wilson)

In Lincolnshire the obliging American Robin proved too tempting for a passing Sparrowhawk on the 8th when it met its demise. As is often the case this story was picked-up by the press and news of the event travelled far and wide. It is possible that the Cornish American Robin ended its stay on this side of the Atlantic in the same manner and the abrupt disappearance of the Baltimore Oriole suggests a similar fate. A number of famous rarities have succumbed to the skills of the Sparrowhawk over the years, but whilst it is easy to become emotive over such cases we have to remember that it is survival of the fittest even for popular long-staying rarities.

American Robin: Grimsby, Lincs. This bird entertained the masses since the New Year, providing a lifer and a digipic for numerous birders. (Photo: Alan Clewes) American Robin: Grimsby, Lincs. (Photo: Alan Clewes)
Written by: Russell Slack