Review of the Week: 4th-10th May 2006


The week at a glance:

As expected the week produced a number of quality rarities and a decent backing cast of scarcities. East-coast birders perhaps felt a bit short-changed as the majority of action was centred on the Northern Isles. For mainland birders some major rarities did tease, but few were available for the masses. A Caspian Stonechat at Sumburgh Head (Shetland) on Sunday 7th will be only the 2nd confirmed British record of this race/species (breeding on the western edge of the Caspian Sea, it is confusingly treated as a race of Stonechat by most authorities, a full species by some, or as a race of Siberian Stonechat by others). Unfortunately it did not linger, unlike the first which was at Porthgwarra, Cornwall from 1st-4th October 1985. Subsequent claims have come from Landguard, Suffolk on 11th September 1993 and one thought to show characteristics of this race at Stiffkey, Norfolk in October 1990.

American Robin: Boat of Garten, Highland (photo: Martin Butters).

Iberian Chiffchaff: Postbridge, Devon (photo: Ben Lewis). Iberian Chiffchaff: Pressmennan, Lothian (photo: Kris Gibb).

Impressive back-up came in the shape of two surprise Nearctic passerines. A Rose-breasted Grosbeak at Holme next the Sea (Norfolk) was released after a short period in care on Friday 5th, whilst an American Robin photographed at Glenmore Lodge (Highland) on Thursday 4th was relocated, and photographed, at Boat of Garten (Highland) on Saturday 6th. A male Collared Flycatcher at Brow Marsh (Shetland) from Tuesday 9th-10th was more expected in view of the weather conditions, as was a Eurasian Scops Owl at Swining, Mainland (Shetland) on 10th. Iberian Chiffchaffs were at Pressmennan (Lothian) from 6th onwards with another at Postbridge (Devon) from 7th and a probable at Holland Haven (Essex) on 5th.

Citrine Wagtail: Holland Haven, Essex (photo: Craig Holden). Red-rumped Swallow: Unst, Shetland (photo: Mike Pennington).

A Citrine Wagtail was at Holland Haven (Essex) from 7th-9th and a handful of Grey-headed Wagtails made an appearance. A possible Pallid Swift was over Nuneaton (Warks) from 5th-6th and half-a-dozen Red-rumped Swallows arrived, including one on Unst (Shetland). Six Subalpine Warblers included males of the eastern race albistriata at Sumburgh (Shetland) on 7th and Vidlin (Shetland) on 8th. A Red-throated Pipit was at Bockhill Farm (Kent) on 4th, and Tawny Pipits were at Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 5th and Flamborough Head (E. Yorks) on 6th. A Richard's Pipit at Bolt Head (Devon) on 4th and Yellow-browed Warblers at Dungeness (Kent) on 4th and Abbot's Cliff (Kent) on 9th were notable.

Woodchat Shrike: Hambledon, Hampshire (photo: Richard Ford).

Woodchat Shrike: Torver, Cumbria (photo: Craig Shaw).

Woodchat Shrike: Great Orme, Conwy (photo: Marc Hughes). Woodchat Shrike: Hambledon, Hampshire (photo: Mike Prince).
Woodchat Shrike: Torver, Cumbria (photo: Nick Franklin). Red-backed Shrike: Easington, E. Yorks (photo: Marcus Conway).
Hoopoe: Kilmarnock, Ayrshire (photo: Jim Woods). Shore Lark: Girdle Ness, Aberdeenshire (photo: Chris Jones).

Five Woodchat Shrikes were logged, with singles at: Great Orme (Conwy); North Ronaldsay (Orkney); Torver (Cumbria); Hambledon (Hampshire) and Porthgwarra (Cornwall). Seven Red-backed Shrikes included three on Fair Isle (Shetland) on 8th. A Short-toed Lark was on Fair Isle from 6th-10th and another at South Gare (Cleveland) from 7th-8th. A Common Rosefinch was at Blakeney Point (Norfolk) from 7th-8th and another at Christchurch harbour (Dorset) on 8th. A Greenish Warbler reported from Gringley Carr (Notts) on 6th will be an excellent inland record if accepted, and a possible Marsh Warbler was noted at Frodsham Marsh (Cheshire), though a mimetic Reed Warbler is still to be excluded. Ten Bluethroats were restricted to the Northern Isles, with the exception of one on the Farne Islands (Northumbs) and six were on Fair Isle. Just five Wrynecks was a poor showing, there were around eight migrant Golden Orioles and Hoopoes were into double figures. Three brief Bee-eaters were reported and four Serins. Three separate Waxwings were noted on Shetland on 8th, a Lapland Bunting was at Cemlyn (Anglesey) on 4th and five single east coast Shore Larks were welcome after such a poor winter for the species. In Essex the Northern Long-tailed Tit remained in residence in Southend.

Black-winged Stilt: Martin Mere, Lancs (photo: Adrian Dancy).

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Aberlady Bay, Lothian (photo: Tristan Reid).

Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Aberlady Bay, Lothian (photo: Peter Macdonald). Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Aberlady Bay, Lothian (photo: Graham Morrice).
Temminck's Stint: Elmley Marshes, Kent (photo: Barry Wright). Dotterel: Carnethy Hill, Lothian (photo: Kris Gibb).

Wader interest was provided by the arrival of three Black-winged Stilts at Far Ings NR (Lincs) on 4th, which were then relocated at Martin Mere (Lancs) from 5th onwards. One Black-winged Stilt remained at Elmley Marshes (Kent) to 4th. A Long-billed Dowitcher was at Balranald (Outer Hebrides) on 9th and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Aberlady Bay (Lothian) from 4th-6th, plus a Pectoral Sandpiper at Martin Mere from 4th onwards. The American Golden Plover was again at Cemlyn (Anglesey) on 8th. A female Kentish Plover was at Marazion (Cornwall) on 5th and a male at Snettisham (Norfolk) on 6th. At least 20 Temminck's Stints arrived courtesy of the easterly airflow. For the second week running modest numbers of Dotterel occurred, with over 30 reported, including 9 at Cotehill Loch (Aberdeenshire). Several Black Storks were reported, though all may have referred to one wandering individual, with sightings from Holt (Norfolk) on 7th, Wester Clunes (Highland) on 9th and North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 10th. A handful of mobile White Storks were also reported, though the provenance of some, or indeed all, may be questionable. A Cattle Egret was at St. Leonard's Grange (Hants) on 4th and four Great White Egrets included one at Roadford Reservoir (Devon) from 9th-10th. Night Herons were reported in Co. Cork and Lancashire, and seven Purple Herons included obliging (for Purple Herons!) birds at Beesands Ley (Devon), Titchwell RSPB and Cley (Norfolk).

Purple Heron: Titchwell, Norfolk (photo: Peter Simpson). Purple Heron: Beesands Ley, Devon (photo: Paul Boulden).

Two Gull-billed Terns passing Hartlepool (Cleveland) were tracked northwards past Whitburn (Co. Durham), then St. Mary's Island, Newbiggin and Cresswell (Northumbs). Also in Cleveland, a Caspian Tern was at South Gare on 8th. An impressive movement of Black Terns occurred on 4th before doing their usual overnight disappearing trick, though the only White-winged Black Terns associated with the deluge were two at Lough Owel (Co. Westmeath). Laughing Gulls were still conspicuous by their presence with an adult at Penzance (Cornwall) on 4th, a 2nd-summer at Christchurch (Dorset) on 5th, 1st-summer at Marazion (Cornwall) on 7th and an adult in north Norfolk between Cromer, Cley and Blakeney from 7th-9th. In Ireland singles remained in Cork City (Co. Cork) and Waterside (Co. Galway), as did the 1st-summer Franklin's Gull at Northam Burrows (Devon) and Bonaparte's Gull at Whitehouse Lagoon (Co. Antrim) until 5th. A Brünnich's Guillemot was found dead on Yell (Shetland) on 4th and a White-billed Diver was off Lewis (Outer Hebrides) on 5th. Small numbers of Pomarine Skuas were observed off the usual watchpoints, with a peak count of 30 past Selsey Bill (Sussex) on 4th and four Long-tailed Skuas were noted passing Lewis (Outer Hebrides) on 8th. A Balearic Shearwater was off Chesil Beach (Dorset) on 6th.

Blue-winged Teal: Castle Espie, Co. Down (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly).

Surf Scoter: Blackdog, Aberdeenshire (photo: Chris Jones). King Eider: Ythan Estuary, Aberdeenshire (photo: Tony Jackson).

A number of Black Kites were reported, though none lingered, and a Rough-legged Buzzard was on Unst (Shetland) on 7th. A drake Blue-winged Teal was at Castle Espie (Co. Down), drake King Eiders were in Ayrshire and Aberdeenshire and a Lesser Scaup at Suffolk Water Park (Suffolk) from 10th onwards. Surf Scoters were in Lothian and Aberdeenshire, with five Ring-necked Ducks and five Green-winged Teals completing the roll-call of scarce ducks. A Black Brant was at Snettisham (Norfolk) on 6th.

Turnstone: Toft Newton Reservoir, Lincs (photo: Dean Eades).

Turtle Dove: Stourport, Worcs (photo: John Robinson).

Whinchat: Frodsham, Cheshire (photo: Steve Round). Whinchat: Frodsham, Cheshire (photo: Steve Round).
Montagu's Harrier: Colne Point, Essex (photo: Sean Nixon). Black Tern: Trent Meadows, Derbyshire (photo: Mark Priest).
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
Mike Atkinson: http://mikeatkinson.net
Ian Barnard: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/sussex.birder
Bill Baston: http://billbaston.com
Richard Bedford: http://www.richardbedford.co.uk
Steve Blain: http://www.steveblain.co.uk
Nigel Blake: http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/birdphotos/index.htm
Paul Boulden: http://southdevonbirds.mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/
Will Bowell: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
Paul Bowerman: http://mysite.freeserve.com/severnsidebirds
Paul Bowyer: http://www.ukbirds.net
Andy Brett: http://www.freewebs.com/andybrett/
Andy Bright: http://www.Digiscoped.com
Martin Cade: http://www.portlandbirdobs.btinternet.co.uk
Graham Catley: http://pewit.blogspot.com/
Mark Caunt: http://angusbirding.homestead.com/
Kit Day: http://www.kitday-uk.com/
Eric Dempsey: http://www.birdsireland.com/
Lee Dingain: http://www.leedingain.co.uk
Jon Dunn: http://www.surfbirds.com/blogs/Stercorarius/
Dean Eades: http://www.pbase.com/dean_eades/root
Andrew Easton: http://home.clara.net/ammodytes/
Graham Eaton: http://www.eatonphotography.co.uk
Stuart Elsom: http://www.stuartelsom.co.uk
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
David Hatton: http://www.kowapower.com
Josh Jones: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
John Judge: http://www.draycotebirding.co.uk
Paul and Andrea Kelly: http://www.irishbirdimages.com/
Matt Latham: http://mattswildlifephotos.blogspot.com/
Jack Levene: http://www.birdingimages.com
Micky Maher: http://www.aardfoto.co.uk/
John Malloy: http://mysite.freeserve.com/JohnMalloyBirdPhotos
Brian Mcgeough: http://www.pbase.com/bmcgeough/british_birds
Tony Mills: http://www.notjustbirds.com
Jerry O'Brien: http://www.BirdsofBerkshire.co.uk
Charlie Moores: http://www.charliesbirdblog.com
Mark Newsome: http://www.whitburnbirding.co.uk
James Packer: http://www.somersetbirder.co.uk
Mike Pennington: http://www.nature.shetland.co.uk
Ken Plows: http://www.kenswildlifepics.co.uk
Ray Purser: http://www.pbase.com/02purser/images
Marc Read: http://www.marcread-pix.com
Tristan Reid: http://www.solwaybirder.org.uk
Steve Round: http://stevenround-birdphotography.com
Gerald Segelbacher: http://www.digiscoping.uk.md
Deryk Shaw/FIBO: http://www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk
Tom Shevlin: http://wildlifesnaps.com/
Peter Simpson: http://www.blueskybirds.co.uk
Matt Slaymaker: http://www.mattslaymaker.co.uk
Oliver Smart: http://www.smartimages.co.uk
George Spraggs: http://www.bird-watching.co.uk
Simon Stirrup: http://www.simonstirrup.co.uk/
Garry Taylor: http://www.spurnbirdobservatory.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
Simon Wilson: http://www.bakewellbirder.co.uk/
Chris Wormwell: http://www.iombirding.co.uk
Dylan Wrathall: http://www.planetthanet.org
Written by: Russell Slack