Review of the Week: 4th-11th July 2002


In a predictably quiet week for major rarities, the main excitement was provided by a probable Elegant Tern on the Exe Estuary in Devon on Monday 8th, but not reported the next day or since. This bird was a different individual to the orange-billed tern that patrolled the Norfolk coast a couple of weeks ago, and whose identification continues to prompt debate.

The seawatching season is beginning to get under way. A Little Shearwater lingered briefly for a lucky few off Flamborough Head on Friday 5th, and seawatching off southern and eastern coasts has produced Cory's, Great, Sooty and Balearic Shearwaters, and a couple of Sabine's Gulls, this week. The Wilson's Petrel season is in full swing, with several sightings from pelagic trips south of the Isles of Scilly; this species is traditionally encountered in August, but sightings in June and July are becoming more and more frequent.

Apart from these, a search for "megas" on Bird News Extra this week produces only waterfowl of questionable origin: a drake Canvasback appeared at Pennington Flash in Greater Manchester this morning (Thursday); a female Bufflehead remains on the River Brett in Suffolk (present since mid-June); another long-stayer, the Whistling Swan in Clyde, was reported on Saturday 6th but not since to our knowledge; and finally the drake White-headed Duck was still on floods at Hardley in Norfolk until Tuesday at least. Less controversial ducks present this week included Ring-necked Ducks in London, Somerset, Northumberland and Donegal, an adult female King Eider in Aberlady Bay, Lothian, a 1st-summer Surf Scoter reported in Aberdeenshire on Friday 6th and, last but not least, the drake Black Duck, which remains on Stithians Reservoir in Cornwall (and has been present since October 1999).

The Spotted Sandpiper in County Durham (present from 19th June) and the White-rumped Sandpiper in Norfolk were both last reported on Saturday 6th. Other American waders this week comprised a Baird's Sandpiper seen briefly in Lincolnshire yesterday morning, and Pectoral Sandpipers in Northumberland (Thursday-Sunday) and East Yorkshire (Tuesday).

Other rarities this week include the Purple Heron at Minsmere, Suffolk (to 10th at least), a Red-footed Falcon at Hickling Broad (also to 10th) plus another briefly in Dorset, Pacific Golden Plover and Red-necked Phalarope on North Ronaldsay, a White-winged Black Tern at Whitburn in County Durham, a Caspian Tern near Grangemouth and Ring-billed Gulls in Devon and County Londonderry. Bee-eaters have been seen in Suffolk, Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire and the well-publicised pair are still at Bishop Middleham in County Durham, but can be elusive - please obey on-site instructions if visiting these birds. A Red-rumped Swallow has been reported twice in the New Forest in the last couple of days, and a Common Rosefinch was in Auchessan, Forth, on Sunday 7th. The Rose-coloured Starling influx continues, with birds reported from a variety of sites across England, Scotland and Ireland. The resident Golden Orioles continue to show on occasion at the RSPB reserve at Lakenheath, but birds in Clwyd and West Sussex were presumably migrants. Common Cranes and Honey Buzzards appear to be on the move too, with a scattering of reports of both from a range of mainland sites. Green and Wood Sandpipers were well reported, the latter almost exclusively from northern England.

Finally, regular readers will remember the story of the generous resident of Runswick Bay, North Yorkshire, who allowed visiting birders into her garden to view a Rose-coloured Starling that had taken up residence there. The inconsiderate behaviour of a minority of those visiting did nothing for her opinion of birdwatchers, and a collection for a local bus shelter fund produced a disappointing return. We're glad to announce that thanks to the generosity of BirdGuides readers (none of whom, so far as we know, had travelled to see the bird!) we have today forwarded a bundle of cards and cheques to a total value of £56 and we hope that this will go some way to restoring the reputation of birders in one lady's eyes at least. Thank you to those who contributed for providing a happy ending to the story.

Written by: Dave Dunford