13/12/2002
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Review of the Week:

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The first icy blast of winter has left most of the country shivering over the past week. However, it has produced little in the way of avian excitement and it has been a relatively quiet period - so far. However, an extended cold snap on the continent could certainly produce quite a bit of interest: it's been a long time since the last one.

A female Two-barred Crossbill at Sandringham was the first to be seen, during this bumper autumn, since early September, when one was in South Yorkshire and another on Fair Isle. It is perhaps surprising that others have not been found on the mainland during the winter, though perhaps this bird will stimulate a renewed search for Crossbill flocks and more birds will be found as they are surely out there? This is the 10th for Norfolk and the fourth to be seen at Sandringham - the last there was in 1998.

The Oriental (Rufous) Turtle Dove has remained at Stromness (Orkney) all week, enticing many to dig deep into their pockets and travel north, just in case we have to wait another 27 years for the next one! Or will this species prove to be like many “blockers”, and a more accessible bird will occur on the mainland within a short period of time? New arrivals were few and far between. A Richard's Pipit was in Cornwall and an unseasonable Stone Curlew in Hertfordshire. A White-winged Black Tern in Co. Cork was very late, and Grey Phalaropes were in Norfolk and Orkney. In Glamorgan the 1st-winter Ivory Gull was last seen on the 5th and the Gyr Falcon in Cornwall was last seen on the same date. On Shetland a White-billed Diver was seen on the 9th. The blasting northeasterlies produced little of interest for hardy seawatchers apart from a handful of Sooty Shearwaters, a small number of Little Auks and a small movement of Eiders.

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The usual cohort of long-stayers could be found scattered around the country. Long-billed Dowitchers remained in Co. Cork, Highland and Carmarthen, as did the Lesser Yellowlegs in Norfolk and Glossy Ibis in Devon. Forster's Terns were in Cornwall and Co. Kerry, and the Great White Egret remained in Lincolnshire. More interesting ducks continued to be represented by the Redhead in Glamorgan and Lesser Scaup in South Uist, with a scattering of Ring-necked Ducks and a few Ferruginous Ducks for good measure. In the Forest of Dean the Little Bunting was last seen on the 8th, but is probably still present, whilst on St Mary's the Yellow-browed Warbler was still at Lower Moors and Rose-coloured Starlings lingered in Lincolnshire and Cornwall.

As always, if you are fortunate enough to encounter anything of interest, or if you have travelled to see one of the birds mentioned on our Bird News Extra page, please call us on our freephone number 08000 350 444, email us at sightings@birdguides.com or use the submission form on our Bird News Extra page – we would love to hear from you with information on what you have found, or been to see.
Written by: Russell Slack