Review of the Week: 4th-10th September 2003


Even though the much-predicted "ideal fall conditions" failed to materialise there were plenty of birds arriving to keep most birders occupied. Pride of place must go to the adult Paddyfield Warbler trapped and ringed at Dungeness (Kent) on 9th, which surprisingly was the first record for such a well watched county. Unfortunately it remained very elusive after release and gave just very brief views amongst the reeds of Hooker's Pit. Although records of this species have increased over the last 25 years due to a westerly range expansion it remains rare and elusive enough to attract many admirers.

Paddyfield Warbler: Dungeness, Kent. (Photo: David Walker)

Other rare warblers included Lincolnshire's second ever Booted Warbler, which showed very well on occasions at Donna Nook on 6th and 7th, single Lanceolated Warblers quite predictably on both North Ronaldsay (Orkney) and Fair Isle (Shetland) on 8th, an Arctic Warbler on Foula (Shetland) on 9th and 3 Greenish Warblers with singles briefly at Bawdsey (Suffolk) on 6th and Overstrand (Norfolk) on 7th and a longer staying bird at Filey CP (North Yorkshire) from 4th-7th, the second of the autumn at this site.

Lanceolated Warbler: North Ronaldsay. The first for Orkney (Photo: Kevin Woodbridge) Lanceolated Warbler: North Ronaldsay. (Photo: Tony Disley)

A supporting cast of rare passerines was headed by the arrival of a further 5 first-winter Citrine Wagtails, 4 of which arrived in the Northern Isles on the 6th and 7th and another much appreciated mainland bird, this time on the south coast at Pennington Marsh (Hampshire) from 7th-9th which represented the fifth record for the county. The relatively long staying bird remained at Tacumshin (Wexford). Back on the Northern Isles a Yellow-breasted Bunting was on Fair Isle (Shetland) on 7th-8th.

Citrine Wagtail: Tacumshin, County Wexford. (Photo: Tom Shevlin) Citrine Wagtail: Pennington, Hants. (Photo: Tom Radford)

During the week around 60 Wrynecks were reported, including 4 birds inland; there were at least 30 Ortolan Buntings, including 5 at Lizard Point (Cornwall) on 6th. Tawny Pipits were noted at Meols (Cheshire) on 7th, Bridport (Dorset) on 7th and St. Mary's (Scilly) on 8th and an early Richard's Pipit was reported briefly from Strumble Head (Pembroke) on 6th. A Hoopoe was at Fort le Crocq (Guernsey) on 7th. Red-backed Shrikes totalled 17 birds, with a juvenile Woodchat Shrike reported briefly from Polgigga (Cornwall) on 4th. There were single Red-breasted Flycatchers on Bressay and Fetlar (Shetland) on 8th.

Wryneck: Daventry, Northants. (Photo: Vince Garvey) Red-backed Shrike: Cleethorpes, Lincs. (Photo: Toby Collett)

Twenty-four Barred Warblers were reported, mostly on the Northern Isles. There were 3 Melodious Warblers, 4 Icterine Warblers, a single Marsh Warbler, and at least 20 Common Rosefinches (nearly all of which were on the Northern Isles). New juvenile Rose-coloured Starlings were found at Eastleigh (Hampshire briefly on 4th and Lundy (Devon) on 8th, with birds remaining from the previous week at Portland (Dorset) and Spurn (East Yorkshire). A Serin was at Lands End (Cornwall) on 5th, a Little Bunting was on the Out Skerries (Shetland) on the 8th and the first Lapland Buntings of the autumn appeared on South Uist (Outer Hebrides) on 7th.

Melodious Warbler: Portland, Dorset. (Photo: Phil Stidwill)

Highlights of the week's seawatching were an Albatross sp. past Cape Clear (Cork) on the afternoon of 7th and the first Wilson's Storm-petrel for the Channel Islands on a pelagic trip at the Hurd Deep, 16 miles northwest of Guernsey on 7th. Elsewhere Skua numbers remained very low, likewise large Shearwaters with the exception of 120 Great Shearwater which passed Brandon Head (Kerry) in 3 hours on 6th. A total of 11 Sabine's Gulls were seen, all from western headlands with the exception of 2 past Flamborough Head (East Yorkshire) on 6th. On 7th an adult and a juvenile Caspian Tern flew west past Portland Bill.

Nearctic waders continue to arrive with at least 60 Pectoral Sandpipers around the country with up to 5 birds at Loch of Strathbeg (Aberdeenshire) on 9th. A Baird's Sandpiper remained on Foula (Shetland) and new arrivals were at Threipmuir Reservoir (Lothian) from 6th, Salthouse (Norfolk) on 8th, Crookhaven (Cork) on 9th with a probable on the Solway on 8th. Semipalmated Sandpipers were at Tralee (Kerry) and near Crookhaven (Cork) on 10th, the White-rumped Sandpiper remained at Tacumshin (Wexford) and another was at Blackrock Strand (Kerry) on 10th and there were single Buff-breasted Sandpipers at Cahore Point (Wexford), Dursey Island (Cork) on 7th and Dawlish Warren NNR (Devon) on 8th. The Lesser Yellowlegs remained at Loch of Tankerness (Orkney) until 3rd and an adult American Golden Plover was a new arrival at Sandwick Shetland) from 6th to at least 10th.

Baird's Sandpiper: Threipmuir Reservoir, Lothian. (Photo: Peter M Macdonald) White-rumped Sandpiper: Tacumshin, Co. Wexford. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly)
Pectoral Sandpipers: Caerlaverock, Dumfries and Galloway. (Photo: John Molloy) Pectoral Sandpiper: Farmoor, Oxon. (Photo: David Lawrence)

Other waterbirds included a total of 13 Grey Phalaropes, 3 Red-necked Phalaropes, an adult Night Heron at Hornsea Mere (East Yorkshire) on 8th, 3 Spotted Crake, up to 3 drake Ring-necked Ducks at Vane Farm RSPB (Perth/Kinross) and an immature drake Blue-winged Teal at Lough Beg (Londonderry).

Written by: Tim Barker