Review of the Week: 7-13 February 2022


An early candidate for bird of the year, a simply scrumptious American Robin delighted in gardens around a suburban housing estate at Eastbourne, East Sussex, from 8th – although locals suggested it had been present since early January at least.

Though a species with a hefty 32 previous British records, American Robin is nevertheless a highly desirable vagrant, with the last twitchable mainland record as far back as November 2010 (at Turf, Devon) and just three records in the intervening period. Drawing large crowds to the seaside resort, it made for a smart double act with the neighbouring Hume's Leaf Warbler, which could be elusive but was also present throughout. Another Hume's held on at St Margaret's at Cliffe, Kent.

American Robin, Eastbourne, East Sussex (Mark Rayment).

Hume's Leaf Warbler, Eastbourne, East Sussex (Beachy Birder).

England's three Red-breasted Geese – at Cley Marshes, Norfolk, Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire, and South Fambridge, Essex – were perhaps the week's next most popular visitors, with each often showing stupendously well at close range in among the throngs of Dark-bellied Brent Geese they accompanied.

Red-breasted Goose, Gibraltar Point NNR, Lincolnshire (Paul Coombes).

Two Grey-bellied Brant at Kilbarrack, Co Dublin, brought the city's total to six this winter. Another was at Kilcoole, Co Wexford. Meanwhile, Black Brant in five English counties included two at Coldharbour Lagoon, Kent, and a new bird at Emsworth Harbour, Hampshire.

Grey-bellied Brant, Dublin, Dublin (Brian McCloskey).

Richardson's Cackling Geese included three on North Uist, Outer Hebrides, two at Ballintemple, Co Sligo, and one on Islay, Argyll. A Todd's Canada Goose remained on neighbouring Tiree, another was on The Mullet, Co Mayo, and a probable remained at Lesbury, Northumberland. The adult Ross's Goose remained mobile near Millichen, Clyde, too.

Richardson's Cackling Goose (left of centre), Ballintemple, Sligo (Brian McCloskey).

Ross's Goose, Milngavie, Clyde (Stephen Tomlinson).

The two drake Baikal Teal proved altogether better behaved than they have for much of the winter thus far, with both noted near-daily at Greylake RSPB, Somerset, and Swine Moor, East Yorkshire. In Co Mayo, the drake American Black Duck at Cross Lough, Mullet, is now present into its third calendar year.

Baikal Teal, Swine Moor, East Yorkshire (Joe Seymour).

A number of Lesser Scaup continued to be unearthed, including two females at West Loch Ollay, South Uist, Outer Hebrides, and a drake joining two females at Woodend Loch, Clyde. On 8th, a new drake Ferruginous Duck was a smart find near Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.

Lesser Scaup, Coatbridge, Clyde (Mark Begg).

Ferruginous Duck, Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire (Conor Mackenzie).

An astounding 55 Ring-necked Duck were noted across British and Irish waterbodies, including new birds in Dorset, North Yorkshire, Oxfordshire, and Co Clare. Six at Kenfig Hill, Glamorgan, remained a popular draw alongside the nearby Pacific Diver.

Ring-necked Duck, Lifford Reservoir, West Midlands (Andy Ambrose).

Drake American Wigeon – at Idle Valley NR, Nottinghamshire, Crook of Baldoon, Dumfries & Galloway, and Ballyallia Lake, Co Clare – added a splash of colour to Eurasian Wigeon flocks, although a possible reported at Marshside RSPB, Lancashire, remained unconfirmed. A new Green-winged Teal at Priory CP, Bedfordshire, was notable, with others at nine sites.

American Wigeon, Crook of Baldoon, Dumfries & Galloway (Sam Northwood).

Northumberland's Black Scoter was photographed close inshore off Berwick-upon-Tweed on 8th, with the White-winged Scoter at Musselburgh, Lothian, and King Eider at Nairn both lingering. An impressive five Surf Scoter, including three adult drakes, off Pendine, Carmarthen, was the week's highest count. Others lingered off Conwy, Scilly, Lothian and Outer Hebrides.

King Eider (top left), Nairn, Moray & Nairn (Stephen Tomlinson).

Co Wexford's American Coot moved to Lady's Island Lake from 7th, with another still at Lough Yganavan, Co Kerry. The Pacific Diver at Eglwys Nunydd Reservoir, Glamorgan, remained popular and White-billed Divers were at four sites, most notably a twitchable juvenile off Stag Rocks, Northumberland, from 9-12th. The Pied-billed Grebe, meanwhile, lingered at Loch Feorlin, Argyll.

American Coot (right), Lady's Island Lake, Wexford (Brian McCloskey).

Pacific Diver, Eglwys Nunydd Reservoir, Glamorgan (Chris Griffin).

In Lancashire, the Belted Kingfisher was again along the River Darwen near Roach Bridge, while Hertfordshire's first European Serin in two decades remained in a mixed finch flock at Maple Cross. The Red-flanked Bluetail at Middleton-in-Teesdale, Durham, Rosy Starling at Pendeen, Cornwall, and Dusky Warbler at Fordwich, Kent, all continued.

Belted Kingfisher, Samlesbury, Lancashire (Martin Roper).

Red-flanked Bluetail, Middleton-in-Teesdale, Durham (Frank Golding).

Three Eurasian Penduline Tits continued to delight all-comers at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset & Bristol, although the Greater Short-toed Lark at West Runton, Norfolk, continued to provide flight views only. Along England's eastern flank, Shore Larks were again at five sites, with a peak count of seven at Leysdown-on-Sea, Kent, and a new bird at Pett Level, East Sussex.

Eurasian Penduline Tit, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset & Bristol (Mike Lane).

Shore Lark, Holkham, Norfolk (Nick Lawman).

Four Waxwings at Nethy Bridge, Highland, were the only reported this week. A new Richard's Pipit was at Skewjack, Cornwall, on 10th, with a Little Bunting back at Poundgate, East Sussex, from 11th. Just three Great Grey Shrikes were reported – at Killington Reservoir, Cumbria, Bryn Trillyn, Conwy, and Bonsall Moor, Derbyshire.

The North York Moors gained a Rough-legged Buzzard over Bransdale on 7th, with a possible near Aberffraw, Anglesey, on 9-10th. The young Northern Harrier, meanwhile, was still at Lough Boora Parklands, Co Offaly.

Kent's wintering White Stork was still decimating the local amphibian population at Worth Marsh; Glossy Ibises were at no fewer than 11 new sites, including Oxfordshire's first two of the ongoing influx.

Glossy Ibis, Brading Marshes RSPB, Isle of Wight (Tracey Jolliffe).

The first-winter Long-billed Dowitcher resurfaced at Fluke Hall, Lancashire, from 8th, while a brief American Golden Plover graced Porthgwarra, Cornwall, on Wednesday afternoon. All three Lesser Yellowlegs were still in situ – at Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk, Tacumshin, Co Wexford, and Rahasane Turlough, Co Galway – while belated news of a Eurasian Dotterel sound recorded over Tacumshin, Co Wexford, on 5 January is just the second winter record for Ireland. In Lincolnshire, the White-tailed Lapwing at Halton Marshes continued to impress and the German-ringed Kentish Plover was still off the seafront at Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset.

Long-billed Dowitcher (bottom right), Fluke Hall, Lancashire (Paul Ellis).

Two Ross's Gulls made the airwaves – last week's adult continuing to delight off Kinnaird Head, Aberdeenshire, and one at Trevone, Cornwall, on 9th. Adult Bonaparte's Gulls were at Lytchett Bay, Dorset, on 9-10th, and Cardiff Bay, Glamorgan, on 12-13th.

Ross's Gull, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire (Ron Macdonald).

Bumper counts of Ring-billed Gull saw four at both Tralee, Co Kerry, on 12th and Douglas Estuary, Co Cork, on 13th, with further new birds including a first-winter at Cromane, Co Kerry, on 12th and a probable adult at St Aidan's RSPB, West Yorkshire, on 9th. An apparent Azores Gull logged at Cross Lough, Mullet, Co Mayo, mid-week was first noted several weeks ago.

Ring-billed Gull, Edinburgh, Lothian (Andrew Dodd).

A decent smattering of Kumlien's Gulls included four in north-west Scotland – two at Rubh' Arnal, North Uist, and singletons on Skye and Barra – plus the regular adult at Tralee, Co Kerry, and long-staying third-winter in Cambridgeshire. Other white-wingers comprised Glaucous Gulls at 29 sites and Iceland Gulls at 30.

Glaucous Gull, Hartlepool Headland, Cleveland (Bob Howe).


Western Palearctic

In Denmark, the appearance of a White-headed Duck at Selsø Sø on 13th looks like a solid shout for the nation's first record. Keeping close company with a Ruddy Duck, itself an uncommon visitor, the first-winter drake likely originates from the population in Eastern Europe. Both were earlier present at Grober Binnensee, Germany, between 12 January and 3 February.

White-headed Duck, Selsø Sø, Capital Region (Jakob Engelhard).

Poland's first-ever Bimaculated Lark visited Le┼╝ajsk on 10th. Elsewhere, the young male Siberian Rubythroat continued at Vargön, Sweden and an Oriental Turtle Dove was still at Sulgen, Switzerland.

In the Biscay, a drake Black Scoter was off Saint-Trojan-les-Bains, France, from 12th, with a second-winter American Herring Gull at Soorts-Hossegor the following day. Belgium's Falcated Duck and Ross's Gull lasted another week and the Western Swamphen was again at Alblasserdam, The Netherlands.

Two Sociable Lapwings held out in Spain, the House Bunting was still at Fuengirola, Andalucia, and the juvenile Allen's Gallinule lasted on Sal, Cape Verde, until 10th at least. In the Azores, a Water Rail at Praia da Vitória, Terceira, was just the archipelago's eighth and the first since 2013, with the site also hosting the female Belted Kingfisher, Lesser Scaup, two American Greater Scaup, five Ring-necked Duck, Green-winged Teal, and a Bonaparte's Gull.

Written by: Sam Viles