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

Pine Grosbeak: Easington, E. Yorks. (Photo: Garry Taylor)

As I was writing the weekly review it appeared as though for the first time for quite a few weeks there was going to be very little to report on the continuing discovery of 'megas' that have made for an exceptional autumn. Then, within the space of a couple of minutes, news was broadcast on two megas and the whole week had changed - such is birding.

Pine Grosbeak: Easington, E. Yorks. (Photo: Garry Taylor) Pine Grosbeak: Easington, E. Yorks. (Photo: Garry Taylor)

Over the years invasions of Pine Grosbeaks into Scandinavia have fuelled birders' expectations of an influx to Britain. All too often these hopes have not been fulfilled, although a well-watched bird was on Shetland between March and April 1992 and another made it to Shetland on 9th November 2000. The last was only the 4th record of this ultra-rare finch in Britain since 1957 (three were seen in the 1950s, in 1954, 1955 and 1957); others were at Maidstone (Kent) on 15th May 1971 and on Holy Island (Northumberland) from 11th-12th May 1975. News of a 1st-winter male at Easington (E. Yorks) late morning on Wednesday 10th had many birders hastily making arrangements, but unfortunately the bird was last seen early afternoon, leaving a large number of late arrivals disappointed. The bird had first been seen two days ago, but the identification was only confirmed by birders on 10th when a video was shown at the nearby bird observatory at Spurn. However, this sighting raises hopes that others might be found over the coming weeks, and that, at last, we might share in a small influx of this superb species - perhaps 1,000 or more were reported in Norway at the weekend.

Grey-cheeked Thrush: Croxton, Norfolk. (Photo: BTO Nunnery Ringing Group)

A Grey-cheeked Thrush was trapped and ringed at Croxton, near Thetford (Norfolk) during the morning on Wednesday 10th, but was unfortunately not seen after it was released at 08:30. Once again this illustrates that exceptionally rare birds do make it inland, but they're just harder to find! This is late for this Nearctic vagrant; a later bird was found at Lossiemouth (Moray/Nairn) on 26th November 1965 and the only other 'east-coast' record was in Durham in 1968. This is the first for Norfolk.

Little Crake: Marazion, Cornwall. (Photo: Paul Hackett)

Little Crake: Marazion, Cornwall. (Photo: Andy Warr) Little Crake: Marazion, Cornwall. (Photo: Andrew Cunningham)

The juvenile Masked Shrike has continued to entertain visitors to Kilrenny (Fife) during the week, as has the juvenile Little Crake at Marazion RSPB (Cornwall) and Snowy Owl at Loch Bee (Outer Hebrides). A Dusky Warbler was at North Foreland (Kent) on Thursday 4th, on which date birds at Pegwell Bay (Kent) and Landguard (Suffolk) were last reported. A Pallid Swift passed over North Foreland on Thursday 4th and another over St. Levan (Cornwall) the same day. Also in Cornwall, the Olive-backed Pipit was last reported at Porthgwarra on 4th. Late news from last week was of a possible Purple Martin reported from Porthgwarra on Sunday 31st.

Masked Shrike: Kilrenny, Fife. (Photo: Kit Day) Masked Shrike: Kilrenny, Fife. (Photo: John Molloy)

Great Grey Shrike: Weather Heath, Suffolk. (Photo: Kelvin) Dartford Warbler: Sherbrook Valley, Staffs. (Photo: Ian Butler)

Not surprisingly, scarce migrants are becoming a bit thin on the ground, with no noticeable late arrivals so far this year. There were just 4 Pallas's Warblers during the week, with singles in East Yorkshire, Kent, Dorset and East Sussex, but none since the 6th. A paltry 7 Yellow-browed Warblers were noted and a Barred Warbler was at Reay (Highland) on 4th. There were 4 late Wrynecks, all in the southwest, and a Richard's Pipit passed over Uskmouth NR (Gwent) on 6th. A late Red-backed Shrike was reported from Thursford (Norfolk) on 9th and around 11 Great Grey Shrikes were noted, many at traditional wintering locations. A Serin remained on St. Mary's to the 7th, one flew over Northam (Devon) on 8th and others were at Portland (Dorset) and Trevilly Farm (Cornwall) on 10th. Several out-of-range Dartford Warblers continued to show, the most notable of which was at the Sherbrook Valley (Staffs). Small numbers of Shore Larks were noted along the east coast, the largest gathering 16 at Holkham (Norfolk). Waxwings continued to move through in number, with three-figure flocks still in Scotland and good numbers were starting to wander along the east coast, but only small numbers of Northern Bullfinches were reported.

Waxwing: Douglas, Isle of Man. (Photo: Chris Wormwell)

Pectoral Sandpiper: Hayle Estuary, Cornwall. (Photo: Andy Warr) Purple Sandpiper: Leigh WM, Glos. (Photo: Bob Hazell)

The Short-billed Dowitcher was last reported at North Bull Island (Dublin) on Thursday 4th, but the Lesser Yellowlegs continued to show well on St. Mary's (Scilly) and near Stiffkey (Norfolk). A juvenile American Golden Plover was at Annagh Head (Mayo) from 5th-6th. A Pectoral Sandpiper was at Castletown (Highland) on 9th and another reported at Hanningfield Reservoir (Essex) on 10th, whilst the juvenile was still present on the Hayle Estuary (Cornwall) on the 8th. Around half-a-dozen Grey Phalaropes were noted and several inland Purple Sandpipers were nice bonuses for local patch watchers.

Lesser Yellowlegs: St. Mary's, Scilly. (Photo: Martin Goodey)

Green-winged Teal: Hayle Estuary, Cornwall. (Photo: Paul Hackett) Green-winged Teal: East Chevington, Northumberland. (Photo: Alan Gilbertson)

A female Redhead was on Barra (Outer Hebrides) on Monday 8th and the drake remained in residence at Kenfig NNR (Glamorgan) as did the drake Black Scoter off Llanfairfechan (Conwy). The immature drake King Eider was last reported off Peterhead (Aberdeenshire) on 4th, but rare ducks were in short supply, with 9 Green-winged Teals, one American Wigeon, 2 Ring-necked Ducks and 5 Surf Scoters. Six adult Black Brants lured observers to look through Brent Geese flocks and several vagrant Canada Geese were reported from traditional locations with wild geese during the week.

Black Brant: Wells, Norfolk. (Photo: David H Hatton)

Squacco Heron: East Chevington, Northumberland. (Photo: John Malloy) African Spoonbill: National Wetlands Centre, Carmarthen. (Photo: Derek Moore)

A Great White Egret was at Mockbeggar Lake (Hants) from 6th-7th, whilst the Squacco Heron remained at East Chevington (Northumberland) and the Glossy Ibis was again noted from Burgh Castle (Norfolk) and the African Spoonbill was still at National Wetlands Centre (Carmarthen). A juvenile American Herring Gull was noted at Killybegs (Donegal) on Sunday 7th, and other scarce gulls totalled 11 Ring-billed Gulls, 8 Glaucous Gulls, 7 Iceland Gulls and a dozen Caspian Gulls, and the adult Sabine's Gull was last noted from Cobh (Cork) on 4th. Two Cory's Shearwaters were noted passing Sheringham (Norfolk) on Friday 5th, an inland Leach's Storm-petrel was on the William Girling Reservoir (London) on the 8th and a handful of others were noted from coastal watchpoints.

Black-necked Grebe: North Bull Island, Dublin. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Red-necked Grebe: Chew Valley Lake, Somerset and Bristol. (Photo: Simon Mackie)

Black Redstart: Howth, Dublin. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Snow Bunting: Point of Ayre, Isle of Man. (Photo: Pete Hadfield)

Garganey: Old Moor, S. Yorks. (Photo: Keith Pickering) Garganey: Old Moor, S. Yorks. (Photo: Keith Pickering)
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: 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/
Sean Gray: http://www.grayimages.co.uk
Peter Hadfield: http://www.manxbirdphotography.co.uk
Josh Jones: http://www.geocities.com/blgp_birder
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
Mike Pennington: http://www.nature.shetland.co.uk
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