Review of the Week: 6th-12th September 2007


The week at a glance:

Rare and scarce birds

Great Shearwater: at sea (photo: Peter Stronach).

Great Shearwater: at sea (photo: Ben Lascelles).

The main talking point of the week were the record-breaking numbers of Great Shearwaters passing off the west coast of Scotland and in the North Sea, where regionally exceptional numbers penetrated as far south as Norfolk. A whopping 7,114 birds passed the Butt of Lewis (Outer Hebrides) on 8th, obliterating the Scottish record: the previous highest count was of 58 birds! The passage on that single day was more than ten times the cumulative total of birds ever seen in the country! On the 9th over 3000 Great Shearwaters passed Tory Island (Co. Donegal) and on the 10th over 4000 did likewise off Annagh Head (Co. Mayo). Along the east coast birds were reported from many counties, with 14 past Sheringham (Norfolk) on 10th and 35 passing Flamborough Head (E. Yorks) on 11th, both constituting record county tallies. Also in Scottish waters 91 were observed off North Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 12th. In contrast just two Cory's Shearwaters were reported, both of which passed the Butt of Lewis, with the bird on the 10th thought possibly to be a Scopoli's Shearwater. A Fea's Petrel passed Annagh Head (Co. Mayo) on 8th and another off Whitburn (Co. Durham) on 11th. Mixed in with the seabird movement along the east coast were decent numbers of Sabine's Gulls, including six past Holme (Norfolk) on 10th and six past Sheringham (Norfolk) on 11th, and small numbers of Long-tailed Skuas and Pomarine Skuas. A possible Little Shearwater was reported from Loch Fleet (Highland) on 12th. A reported Audouin's Gull from Hinkley Point (Somerset) from 10th-11th raised hopes, but it was subsequently re-identified as an aberrant Herring Gull and there was an unconfirmed report of an Audouin's Gull past Sker Point (Glamorgan) on 12th. There was a Laughing Gull at Countess Weir (Devon) on 10th, presumably the bird from last month, and a Bonaparte's Gull was at Kilshannig (Co. Kerry) on 7th, plus a possible Baltic Gull at Slimbridge (Glos) on 9th. The White-winged Black Tern was at Dungeness (Kent) to at least the 8th and four Ring-billed Gulls were reported during the week.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper: Sammy's Point, E. Yorks (photo: Gareth Picton). Sharp-tailed Sandpiper: Sammy's Point, E. Yorks (photo: Gareth Picton).

Semipalmated Sandpiper: Ventry, Co. Kerry (photo: Matt Latham).

Semipalmated Sandpiper: Ventry, Co. Kerry (photo: Matt Latham).

Spotted Sandpiper: St. Mary's, Scilly (photo: Martin Goodey).

Wilson's Phalarope: Belfast Lough, Co. Antrim (photo: Craig Nash).

Wilson's Phalarope: Belfast Lough, Co. Antrim (photo: Craig Nash).

Pectoral Sandpiper: Titchwell, Norfolk (photo: Steve Morgan).

Pectoral Sandpiper: Titchwell, Norfolk (photo: Jon Hall).

American Golden Plover: East Butterwick, Lincs (photo: John Wilcox).

A fine array of waders were on offer during the week, the pick of which was a short-staying Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Sammy's Point (E. Yorkshire) on 8th. A Semipalmated Sandpiper was at Ventry (Co. Kerry) from the 6th to 7th and there were Baird's Sandpipers on Shetland at Sandwick on 8th, and Esha Ness on 10th and 11th, plus one at Butt of Lewis on 10th. Wilson's Phalaropes graced both Belfast Lough (Co. Antrim) and Stanpit Marsh (Dorset), a Lesser Yellowlegs was on Tory Island (Co. Donegal) from 8th to 9th, a White-rumped Sandpiper was at Breydon Water (Norfolk) on 6th and 8th and the Spotted Sandpiper remained on St. Mary's (Isles of Scilly) as did the Long-billed Dowitcher at Shannon (Co. Clare). An arrival of Buff-breasted Sandpipers included over a dozen birds, including four together on Tiree (Argyll). Seven American Golden Plovers was a good showing, though a modest number of Pectoral Sandpipers crept into double figures. Nine Grey Phalaropes were all 'seawatch birds', apart from one at Staines Reservoir (Surrey) from 11th onwards and there were Red-necked Phalaropes at Wicken Fen (Cambs) on 7th, Buckenham Marshes (Norfolk) from 8th to 10th and Gibraltar Point (Lincs) from 12th. A Temminck's Stint was at Farlington Marshes (Hants) from 9th and five Dotterel were logged.

Citrine Wagtail: Lough Gill, Co. Kerry (photo: Matt Latham).

Aquatic Warbler: Uskmouth, Gwent (photo: Paul Marshall).

Aquatic Warbler: Uskmouth, Gwent (photo: Paul Marshall).

Melodious Warbler: Unst, Shetland (photo: Mike Pennington).

The quiet theme for rare passerines continued, though a Booted Warbler was found on Barra (Outer Hebrides) on 11th and a possible Eastern Bonelli's Warbler was at Spurn (E. Yorks) on 8th. Two Citrine Wagtails remained on Fair Isle (Shetland), a Greenish Warbler was at Hastings (E. Sussex) on 7th and an Aquatic Warbler at Uskmouth NR (Gwent) from 12th. A Short-toed Lark was on St. Agnes (Scilly) from 10th to 11th, whilst the Melodious Warbler remained on Unst (Shetland), along with a Marsh Warbler there too, though just six Barred Warblers were discovered. At least seven Ortolan Buntings were reported, all in Dorset and Cornwall, three Common Rosefinches were on Scottish islands and eight Red-backed Shrikes and two Woodchat Shrikes were reported, along with four Rose-coloured Starlings. A Red-rumped Swallow was trapped at roost at Heasley Manor (Isle of Wight) on 9th and released on 10th, a Shore Lark was on Unst on the 10th and over 20 Lapland Buntings were reported, the majority on islands.

Spotted Crake: Coombe Hill Meadows, Glos (photo: Richard Dawkins).

Spotted Crake: Coombe Hill Meadows, Glos (photo: Dave Hutton).

Great White Egret: Leighton Moss, Lancs (photo: Steve Round).

On Shetland the Pallid Harrier was seen again, frequenting Loch of Hillwell on 7th and 8th, and the Black Kite continued at Nocton Heath (Lincs), plus others were at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) and Chudleigh (Devon). A Black Stork was at Harty Marshes (Kent) on 10th and an elusive bird frequented the Polgigga (Cornwall) area from 11th. The Glossy Ibis remained at Marshside (Lancs), and Purple Herons were in Somerset, Northamptonshire and Surrey, plus several Great White Egrets were reported, including a long-staying bird at Leighton Moss (Lancs). The Night Heron in Hastings (E. Sussex) remained and good numbers of Spoonbills included 23 still at Havergate Island (Suffolk). Several obliging Spotted Crakes continued to delight observers and as many as nine were reported. The Marbled Duck remained at Lowestoft (Suffolk) as did the Blue-winged Teal at Haverton Hole (Cleveland). A King Eider was off Easter Hogaland (Shetland) and a Surf Scoter off Blackdog (Aberdeenshire), plus the Ferruginous Duck again put in an appearance at Hornsea Mere, whilst the bird remained at Chew Valley Lake (Somerset), as did the Ring-necked Duck at Avonmouth (Glos).

Photo of the week

Nigel's exquisite portrait of a Dunlin shows us how 'fine art' bird photography is done: choose a day with good lighting; find a beautiful specimen in a natural setting, with the light coming from the right direction; position at eye level with the bird for maximum 'rapport'; select a wide aperture to make the bird stand out from its background; wait for the moment when the body and head are in the right position, with a catch-light in the eye, then compose and shoot. Easy? You'll never know until you try!

Dunlin: Salthouse, Norfolk (photo: Nigel Pye).

Other notable photos from the week

Snipe: White Holme Reservoir, W Yorks (photo: Sean Gray).

Peregrine and Knot: Belfast Lough RSPB, Co. Antrim (photo: Craig Nash).

Great White Egret: Leighton Moss, Lancs (photo: Cliff).

Grey Heron: Brandon Marsh, Warks (photo: Tom Melton).

Greenshank and Ruff: Covenham Reservoir, Lincs (photo: Dean Eades).

Arctic Skua and Kittiwake: Fife Ness, Fife (photo: John Anderson).

Turnstone: North Wirral CP, Cheshire (photo: Richard Steel).

Chough: Slea Head, Co. Kerry (photo: Matt Latham).

Avocet: Cley Marshes NWT, Norfolk (photo: Richard Bedford).

Sandwich Tern: Ballyquin, Co. Kerry (photo: Matt Latham).

Willow Warbler: Roybridge, Highland (photo: Mike Warburton).

Common Gull: North Wirral CP, Cheshire (photo: Richard Steel).

Sanderling: Smeale, Isle of Man (photo: Pete Hadfield).

Moorhen: Cley Marshes NWT, Norfolk (photo: Richard Bedford).

Many of the images that appear in our weekly reviews can be purchased from the photographers, some of whom have their own websites:

John Anderson: http://www.pbase.com/crail_birder
Bill Aspin: http://billaspinsnatureblog.blogspot.com
Mike Atkinson: http://mikeatkinson.net
Richard Bedford: http://www.richardbedford.co.uk
Steve Blain: http://www.steveblain.co.uk
Will Bowell: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
Paul Bowerman: http://www.severnsidebirds.co.uk
Paul Bowyer: http://www.birdlist.co.uk
Graham Catley: http://pewit.blogspot.com/
Mark Caunt: http://www.AngusBirding.com
Dean Eades: http://www.deaneadeswildlifephotography.co.uk
Andrew Easton: http://home.clara.net/ammodytes/
Graham Eaton: http://www.eatonphotography.co.uk
Stuart Elsom: http://www.stuartelsom.co.uk
Steve Evans: http://www.isabelline.co.uk
Katie Fuller: http://bogbumper.blogspot.com
Ian Fulton: http://www.pbase.com/ianfulton
Sean Gray: http://www.grayimages.co.uk
David Hatton: http://www.kowapower.com
Josh Jones: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
Paul and Andrea Kelly: http://www.irishbirdimages.com/
Matt Latham: http://www.mattlathamphotography.com
Micky Maher: http://www.aardfoto.co.uk/
John Malloy: http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/johnmalloy
Brian Mcgeough: http://www.brianmcgeough.com/
Tony Mills: http://www.notjustbirds.com
Jerry O'Brien: http://www.BirdsofBerkshire.co.uk
Mark Newsome: http://www.durhambirdclub.org/
James Packer: http://www.somersetbirder.co.uk
Mike Pennington: http://www.nature.shetland.co.uk
Ken Plows: http://www.kenswildlifepics.co.uk
Ray Purser: http://www.pbase.com/02purser
Marc Read: http://www.marcread-pix.com
Tristan Reid: http://www.atricillaimages.co.uk/
Steve Round: http://stevenround-birdphotography.com
Craig Shaw: http://craigsukbirdpictures.bravehost.com/
Tom Shevlin: http://wildlifesnaps.com/
Peter Simpson: http://www.blueskybirds.co.uk
Matt Slaymaker: http://www.mattslaymaker.co.uk
Oliver Smart: http://www.smartimages.co.uk
George Spraggs: http://www.bird-watching.co.uk
Richard Steel: http://wildlifephotographic.bblogspot.com/
Stephen Tomlinson: http://stevesbirding.blogspot.com
Sue Tranter: http://www.suesbirdphotos.co.uk/
Damian Waters: http://www.drumimages.co.uk
Steve Williams: http://www.hilbrebirdobs.co.uk
Simon Wilson: http://www.bakewellbirder.co.uk/
Chris Wormwell: http://www.iombirding.co.uk
Dylan Wrathall: http://www.planetthanet.org
Written by: Russell Slack