Review of the Week: 5th–11th August 2010


The week at a glance

The only megas of note during the week were more possible Yelkouan Shearwaters in Cornwall, with two past Porthgwarra on 6th and another past Lizard Point on 7th, and the contentious House Finch that remained at East Prawle (Devon), reported on 5th.

The equally contentious and debatable group of nine Ruddy Shelduck remained at Montrose Basin (Angus & Dundee) until 8th, with singletons at Hornsea Mere (East Yorkshire) again on 9th and 11th and at Salthouse (Norfolk) on 11th. Post-breeding groups of Garganey continued to build, with maximum counts of ten at Grove Ferry (Kent) on 8th and eight (including seven juveniles) at Grafham Water (Cambridgeshire) on 7th.

Several of the long-staying Ferruginous Ducks seemed to be lingering, with the female at Minsmere (Suffolk) reported on 8th and the drake noted at Chew Valley Lake (Somerset) on 8th–10th (after being last reported on 10th June). There was also an unconfirmed report of one from Lackford Lakes (Suffolk) 'recently'.

One of Fife's eclipse drake Ring-necked Ducks, at Angle Park, remained to 10th. On the sea, the first-summer drake King Eider was reported again off Winterton Dunes (Norfolk) on 10th and one of the drake Surf Scoters was again at Blackdog (Aberdeenshire) on 8th, with an adult drake at Trondra (Shetland) on 5th and 7th. Interestingly, Cotswold Water Park (Wiltshire) produced yet another Smew record, with a drake there on 9th.

Cory's Shearwaters were split between the east and west, with singletons past Ballycotton (Co. Cork) and Spurn (East Yorkshire) on 8th and three past Kilcummin Head (Co. Mayo) on 10th. Great Shearwaters were more regular, with singles past Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 6th and 9th, from the Isles of Scilly pelagic on 8th and 9th, past Peninnis Head, St Mary's (Isle of Scilly) on 9th, and from Pendeen (Cornwall) and Bridges of Ross (Co. Clare) on 10th.

Great Shearwater
Great Shearwater, at sea, Isles of Scilly (Photo: Richard Stonier)

More impressive, though, were records from a pelagic off Dingle (Co. Kerry), which produced 12 Great Shearwaters, 20 Sooty Shearwaters, two Wilson's Storm-petrels, three Long-tailed Skuas and an adult Sabine's Gull on 10th. Other impressive counts of Sooty Shearwaters included 40 past Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 6th and 24 past Bloody Foreland (Co. Donegal) on 7th while, in Scotland, two passed Fife Ness (Fife) on 10th. Peak Balearic Shearwater counts reported were 160 past Porthgwarra on 6th and 50 past Portland Bill (Dorset) on 6th, with singles past Flamborough Head (East Yorkshire) on 6th and 7th. The only Wilson's Storm-petrels apart from the Dingle birds were from the Isles of Scilly pelagic on 6th and 9th and one past Bridges of Ross (Co. Clare) on 8th.

Sooty Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater, at sea, Isles of Scilly (Photo: Richard Stonier)

Most of the summering waterbirds remained, including the Glossy Ibis at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) all week, Little Bittern at Walton Heath (Somerset) on 5th and an adult and juvenile Purple Heron and Great White Egret regularly at Dungeness (Kent) all week. Other Great White Egrets included birds at Kilcoole (Co. Wicklow) on 6th, Glounthaune (Co. Cork) on 10th, Paxton Pits (Cambridgeshire) on 8th and one at Marazion Marsh (Cornwall) on 9th that then moved to Drift Reservoir late afternoon until 10th. Perhaps of more interest were two at Shapwick Heath (Somerset) on 9th.

Great White Egret
Great White Egret, Dungeness RSPB, Kent (Photo: Graham James)

Dungeness's purple patch continued with the Cattle Egrets remaining until 8th, while one roosted with Little Egrets at Needingworth Quarry Lakes (Cambridgeshire) on 8th and possibly the same was on the Ouse Washes at Earith (Cambridgeshire) on 10th and 11th.

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret, Dungeness RSPB, Kent (Photo: Mark Chidwick)

There were few new records of Spoonbills, with the summering flocks reaching at least 20 at Cley (Norfolk) and seven at Gibraltar Point (Lincolnshire).

Returning migrant Ospreys included an impressive four over Poole Harbour (Dorset) on 5th, and also more regular were Spotted Crakes, with singletons briefly at Dorman's Pool (Cleveland) on 9th, Grove Ferry (Kent) on 10th and 11th, and Lower Moors, St Mary's (Isles of Scilly) on 10th.

The only migrant Stone Curlew reported was one over a garden at Birdham (West Sussex) in the very early morning (01:15) of 6th. Plovers were well reported, with the adult Pacific Golden Plover still at Bornish, South Uist (Outer Hebrides) until 9th, though very mobile, and an adult American Golden Plover briefly with Golden Plovers at the mouth of the River Nene (Lincolnshire) on 7th. Also with Golden Plovers was an adult Dotterel in pea fields at West Carlton (East Yorkshire) on 10th–11th.

Dotterel, West Carlton, East Yorkshire (Photo: Martin Standley)

A Kentish Plover reported, appropriately, at Dungeness (Kent) on 7th caused some discussion, with some observers considering the bird to have been a Little Ringed Plover, although there was then a record of a juvenile at Seasalter (Kent) two days later. Another was at Breydon Water (Norfolk) on 7th.

Kentish Plover
Kentish Plover, Seasalter, Kent (Photo: Mike Gould)

Semipalmated Sandpipers continued to cause problems, with the most straightforward being the bird at Port Carlisle (Cumbria) that remained until 5th. Another possible moulting adult was at Lodmoor (Dorset) on the morning of 5th and more contentious was another moulting bird at Blacktoft Sands (East Yorkshire) on 9th.

There were still a few Pectoral Sandpipers reported, including an adult at Hickling Broad and one at Cley NWT (Norfolk) on 6th–10th and 11th respectively, one on a tidal pool at Greatham Creek (Cleveland) on 9th, and new birds at Steart (Somerset) and Vane Farm (Perth & Kinross) on 10th. The great run of White-rumped Sandpipers continued, with the bird still at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) until 8th and others on the shore at Gibraltar Point (Lincolnshire) on 8th and at Bran Sands, South Gare (Cleveland) on 9th–10th.

White-rumped Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper, Tacumshin, Wexford (Photo: Niall Keogh)

Nottinghamshire's second Baird's Sandpiper (and the second for the site, following one in 1998) showed well at Idle Valley NR on 6th–10th.

Baird's Sandpiper
Baird's Sandpiper, Lound, Nottinghamshire (Photo: Roy Harvey)

Other waders still hanging around were the adult Buff-breasted Sandpiper with Golden Plovers at Collieston (Aberdeenshire) on 7th and the Lesser Yellowlegs at Inner Marsh Farm (Cheshire) until 10th. A "new" Lesser Yellowlegs was on Big Pool, St Agnes (Isle of Scilly) on 9th–11th.

At sea, a Grey Phalarope was seen from the Isles of Scilly pelagic on 7th, and a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope was off Flamborough Head (East Yorkshire) on 6th. Skuas are becoming more regular, with Poms off Turnberry Point (Ayr), Egilsay (Orkney), Flamborough Head and Spurn (East Yorkshire), and two past Cley (Norfolk) on 8th. In Ireland, singles were reported past Brownstown Head (Co. Waterford) and Lenadoon Point (Co. Sligo). Possible Long-tailed Skuas were then reported past Howick (Northumberland) on 8th and Selsey Bill (West Sussex) on 10th.

There must be something very special about the cones from Rossi's Ice Cream Parlour in Westcliff-on-Sea (Essex), as the semi-famous Ring-billed Gull returned for its twelfth winter in succession, seen on 7th–8th. This is actually quite an early return, as it normally appears in late August or September. It has only appeared earlier in one year, on 4th August 2006. Another adult was at the almost-as-predictable location of Nimmo's Pier (Co. Galway) on 7th. Ireland also had the only Glaucous Gulls reported, a first-summer at Sandymount (Co. Dublin) on 5th, a third-summer at Kilrush (Co. Clare) on 5th and a second-summer at Nimmo's Pier on 7th. The first-summer American Herring Gull remained at Blennerville (Co. Kerry) all week and the moulting Laughing Gull was also at Ballycastle (Co. Antrim) until 9th. Elsewhere, the only large count of Yellow-legged Gulls was of 23 at Springfield Farm Quarry (Buckinghamshire) on 7th. Sabine's Gulls were more regular, with birds past Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 6th and Whitburn (Durham) on 8th, and from the Isle of Scilly pelagic on 9th.

Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex (Photo: Steve Arlow)

Laughing Gull
Laughing Gull, Ballycastle, Antrim (Photo: Derek Charles)

A possible Gull-billed Tern was reported from Slapton (Devon) on 11th, while Cleveland's rather attractive juvenile Whiskered Tern remained at Saltholme until at least 10th. Passage tern counts included up to 10 Roseate Terns at South Shields (Durham), 16 Black Terns past Gibraltar Point (Lincolnshire) on 5th and an impressive 40 Black Terns off Shell Ness (Kent) on 8th. Also at sea, the autumn's first Little Auks were two past Bloody Foreland (Co. Donegal) on 7th.

Whiskered Tern
Whiskered Tern, Saltholme RSPB, Cleveland (Photo: Tristan Reid)

The Alpine Swift remained at Burwick, South Ronaldsay (Orkney) until 7th. Also in the Northern Isles, the year's second Paddyfield Warbler was at Halligarth, Unst (Shetland) on 6th. This bird came on the back of a run of records in northern Europe, with two ringed in Finland (on 21st and 25th July), the fifth and sixth for Estonia ringed on 24th and 26th July, and another bird seen in Norway.

Scarce Hippos were also popping up, including a Melodious Warbler ringed at Portland Bird Observatory (Dorset) on 9th, another on Brownsman, Farne Islands (Northumberland) on 9th, and an Icterine Warbler at Gloup Holm (Shetland) on 10th. Also on Shetland, a Greenish Warbler was singing in the garden of the Sumburgh Hotel on 10th–11th. Another Greenish Warbler was on Orkney at Queenamidda on 9th–10th. Staying in the far north, the only Common Rosefinch of the week was at Norwick, Unst (Shetland) on 8th.

Further south, the male white-spotted Bluethroat was reported at Welney (Norfolk) again on 7th, three passage Nightingales were at Seaford (East Sussex) on 8th and a female Serin was present with a large finch flock at Rainham Marshes (London) on 7th and reported again on 10th.

Photo of the Week

Sparrowhawk, Big Waters NR, Northumberland (Photo: Keith Cochrane.)

Northumberland-based bird photographer Keith Cochrane has submitted many great locally captured images since he started posting a year ago. We're pleased to be able to select his 200th upload as his first Photo of the Week. Keith has worked the Big Waters Nature Reserve intensively, shooting a wide range of species, but concentrating on flight shots. This week, putting in the hours enabled him to be there as a Sparrowhawk came in fast and low over the water. Keith used good technique, including the use of a very high shutter speed (1/5000 sec), to capture the action. With an air-braking pose just centimetres above the water, the shot is more typical of Osprey images. This is certainly an image that's striking in its own right, but also leaves you wanting to know the full story.

Other notable photos

Yellow Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail, Aylburton Warth, Gloucestershire (Photo: Lewis Thomson)

Lapwing, Oare Marshes NR, Kent (Photo: Ian Curran)

Night Heron
Night Heron, Qatar (Photo: Dileep Kumar)

Great Shearwater
Great Shearwater, at sea, Isles of Scilly (Photo: Richard Stonier)

Hobby, undisclosed site, Dorset (Photo: Simon Johnson)

Cuckoo, Pilling, Lancashire (Photo: David Moreton)

Spotted Flycatcher
Spotted Flycatcher, Fressingfield, Suffolk (Photo: Jon Evans)

Gannet, Bass Rock, Lothian (Photo: Ron McCombe)

Little Egret
Little Egret, Strumpshaw Fen RSPB, Norfolk (Photo: Bryan Wright)

Common Buzzard
Common Buzzard, Arisaig, Highland (Photo: Rob Sewell)

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl, North Uist, Outer Hebrides (Photo: Pauline Greenhalgh)

Sanderling, Grutness Voe, Mainland, Shetland (Photo: James Wood)

Wood Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper, Boyton Marshes, Suffolk (Photo: Chris Upson)

Tawny Owl
Tawny Owl, Watlington, Oxfordshire (Photo: Roger Wyatt)

House Martin
House Martin, Ipswich, Suffolk (Photo: Carl Wright)

Little Ringed Plover
Little Ringed Plover, undisclosed site, Gwent (Photo: Mike Warburton)

Willow Warbler
Willow Warbler, Courance, Dumfries & Galloway (Photo: Brian Henderson)

Written by: Mark Grantham and Stephen Menzie