11/09/2002
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Review of the Week: 5th-11th September 2002

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Seasoned followers of the weather charts had little difficulty in predicting the east coast fall on the 8th and 9th. Southeasterly winds combined with heavy rain and a nice high pressure over Scandinavia was enough to prompt large numbers of expectant observers to call in sick or to hastily re-arrange work schedules!

A juvenile Pallid Harrier was seen to come in-off at Sumburgh Head (Shetland) on the 10th and was relocated at Brow Marsh on subsequent evenings. This was a repeat of events, almost to the day, of the juvenile at the same site in 2001, which remained for 10 days.

The week will long be remembered for exceptional numbers of scarce migrants. It's still rather early in the autumn for a wide range of rarities, but most of the expected species put in an appearance, backed up by large numbers of common migrants between East Anglia and northeast Scotland. A Paddyfield Warbler on North Ronaldsay took the accolade of rarest, but back-up was provided by a mouthwatering array of rarities. Rare warblers were well represented: no fewer than 7 Greenish Warblers were found between Lincolnshire and Fife; Booted Warblers were seen in East Yorkshire and Cornwall; a Lanceolated Warbler was, predictably, on Fair Isle; an Arctic Warbler was reported in Norfolk and a Subalpine Warbler was in West Sussex. Three Great Snipe were reported, with birds in Suffolk, Norfolk and Fife, whilst five Yellow-breasted Buntings were reported. Two Citrine Wagtails were on Shetland and a Rustic Bunting was at Cley. Large numbers of Wrynecks, Red-backed Shrikes, Barred Warblers and Icterine Warblers were also seen, with smaller numbers of Red-breasted Flycatchers and Grey-headed Wagtails and several early Richard's Pipits, plus an early Yellow-browed Warbler. An article on the events of this week is in preparation.

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Elsewhere, a Little Swift was seen in Cornwall. Not all of the action was to do with passerines, and Nearctic waders were evident, particularly in Ireland and Northern Ireland, where Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper and two Baird's Sandpipers were seen during the course of the week. In addition, three White-rumped Sandpipers were seen during the week and a Wilson's Phalarope was on Orkney. In Scotland the Snowy Egret was relocated in Dumfries and Galloway, providing an opportunity for those who did not travel the first time an opportunity to do so if they wished. An arrival of Glossy Ibis was noted in southern England, with four birds together in Oxfordshire and seen later in Norfolk, whilst a single was seen in Devon and another ranged across north Norfolk. Seawatchers notched up at least two more Fea's Petrels with birds in Scilly and Cork, whilst the orange-billed tern saga was brought back to life by a bird briefly in Essex. A report of a Brown Booby in Anglesey would be a remarkable record of this distinctive seabird, but would no doubt require a watertight description for admission to the national list.

With a high pressure system over Scandinavia for the next few days producing onshore winds, rarities should continue to be found. Commoner migrants will also be evident, but in much smaller numbers than those which draped coastal bushes earlier in the week. As always, keep an eye on our Bird News Extra page for the latest happenings and please continue to send your updates and sightings to us on 08000 350444 or email sightings@birdguides.com.

Written by: Russell Slack