Review of the Week: 7th-13th October 2004

Common Yellowthroat: Foula, Shetland. (Photo: Jonathan Drew)

Common Yellowthroat: Foula, Shetland. (Photo: Jonathan Drew) Common Yellowthroat: Foula, Shetland. (Photo: Tony and Helen Mainwood)
Common Yellowthroat: Foula, Shetland. (Photo: Tony and Helen Mainwood)

The easterly airflow was disappointing for many, but if you chose your location right there were jewels to be had. The majority of this week's attention was centred on Foula (Shetland) or Spurn/Easington (E. Yorks), whilst the Isles of Scilly continued to be relatively quiet by their own high standards.

The 9th Common Yellowthroat for Britain and Ireland was a 1st-winter male trapped on Foula on Saturday 9th and present until the 10th. This record comes hot on the heels of the bird at Loop Head (Co Clare) from 3rd-4th October 2003. Prior to that there were two collectable individuals of this Nearctic rarity in 1997 when birds were on Unst (Shetland) and St. Mary's (Scilly); before that you have to go back to 1984 for a long-stayer, a lingering bird on Bryher (Scilly). The Foula bird was the 3rd for Shetland and follows spring birds on Unst from 16th-23rd May 1997 and Fetlar from 7th-11th June 1984. The only other new Nearctic landbird of the week was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo on St. Mary's (Scilly) on Thursday 7th, whilst the Yellow Warbler remained on Barra (Outer Hebrides) until Friday 8th.

White's Thrush: Kergord, Shetland. (Photo: Jon Dunn) White's Thrush: Easington, E. Yorks. (Photo: Paul Hackett)

The autumn so far will be remembered for exceptional numbers of White's Thrushes in northwest Europe, an event in which Britain has shared handsomely. The previous records this autumn have all been on Shetland and another at Swining on Sunday 10th continued the theme (this bird present to 12th), much to the frustration of those further south. However, the trend was bucked early on Sunday 10th by a bird showing well in Easington cemetery (E. Yorks). With news breaking early in the day and on a weekend this ensured that large numbers of birders were able to enjoy views of this superb Asian Zoothera which remained until dusk. Yet another White's Thrush was found, with one at Bru, Lewis (Outer Hebrides) on Monday 11th which remained until 12th. The latter recalled events of 1998 when one was present on Lewis from 14th-26th October; the first twitchable bird since the early 1990s.

Pied Wheatear: Whalsay, Shetland. (Photo: Jon Dunn) Olive-backed Pipit: Spurn, E. Yorks. (Photo: Paul Hackett)

Arctic Redpoll: Unst, Shetland. Good numbers are on the move in Norway, might we expect a good winter? (Photo: Mike Pennington) Arctic Redpoll: Unst, Shetland. Presumably a 1st-winter female of the race exilipes; note the extensive white area on the rump, even though there is quite a lot of streaking (Photo: Mike Pennington)

Arctic Redpoll: Unst, Shetland. The undertail coverts are at the extreme for the species? (Photo: Mike Pennington) 'Greenland' Redpoll: Unst, Shetland. Of the race rostrata; note the heavily saturated plumage and large size. (Photo: Mike Pennington)

Arctic Redpoll and Greenland Redpoll pics and comments courtesy of Mike Pennington: http://www.nature.shetland.co.uk

A Pied Wheatear at Skaw, Whalasay (Shetland) on Sunday 10th was the 5th for Shetland, all of which have been since 1989. An Olive-backed Pipit was at Kilnsea (E. Yorks) from Saturday 10th-11th, and was, inadvertently perhaps, responsible for large numbers of birders being able to connect with the White's Thrush by already being nearby. Also at Spurn a Yellow-breasted Bunting was reported on Sunday 10th. In Norfolk a Western Bonelli's Warbler was at Holme from Tuesday 12th onwards and a Blue Rock Thrush was reported in-off at Selsey Bill (W. Sussex) on Wednesday 13th. A Citrine Wagtail was on Foula on Thursday 7th and there were two Pechora Pipits there on Sunday 10th and 11th, with one for the rest of the week, plus the Blyth's Reed Warbler remained until the 7th and another Blyth's Reed Warbler was on Barra from Friday 8th-10th. There were three each of Radde's Warbler (Bempton Cliffs (E. Yorks) on 7th, St. Mary's from 11th and St. Martins from 13th (Scilly)) and Dusky Warbler (Birchington (Kent) on 9th, Bawdsey (Suffolk) on 11th and Hengistbury Head (Dorset) on 11th). An Arctic Warbler was on Bryher (Scilly) on 8th and the bird from last week at Walton-on-the-Naze (Essex) was last seen on 7th. Arctic Redpolls were noted on Foula and Unst (Shetland) and Lewis and South Uist (Outer Hebrides) along with reasonable numbers of Common Redpolls of both the nominate race and Greenland birds. From last week the Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler remained at Pool of Virkie (Shetland) until the 7th and the Siberian Stonechat was still on Out Skerries (Shetland) on 7th and another was at Castle Hill (E. Sussex) on 7th.

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Blyth's Reed Warbler: Barra, Outer Hebrides. (Photo: James Dickson) Rose-coloured Starling: Berrow, Somerset. (Photo: James Packer)

Pallas's Warbler: Southwold, Suffolk. (Photo: Tony Mills) Yellow-browed Warbler: Robin Hood's Bay, N. Yorks. (Photo: Andy Baxter)

Richard's Pipit: Walmer, Kent. (Photo: Pete Merchant) Red-breasted Flycatcher: Kilnsea, E. Yorks. (Photo: Bill Aspin)

Red-backed Shrike: St. Martins, Scilly. (Photo: Marcus Lawson) Barred Warbler: Barns Ness, Lothian. (Photo: Peter Macdonald)

A small arrival of Pallas's Warblers commenced on Sunday 10th and by the end of the week just over a dozen had been noted at east-coast watchpoints to the south of Northumberland. Over 60 Yellow-browed Warblers were also found, though in contrast to last year no Hume's Warblers (yet), whilst there were just over 25 Red-breasted Flycatchers. A Tawny Pipit was noted over Dungeness on 12th and Marsh Warblers on Fair Isle on 10th (Shetland) and St. Mary's on 12th. There was a juvenile Woodchat Shrike on Skomer (Pembrokeshire) from 11th onwards, a Melodious Warbler on Cape Clear (Co. Cork) from 10th-11th and a Golden Oriole at Abergavenny (Gwent) from 13th, plus an Ortolan Bunting on Bryher from 10th-13th. On Scilly the Short-toed Lark remained on St. Mary's, whilst on Shetland there were singles at Quendale on 8th and Fair Isle on 12th. A Little Bunting was on Foula from 8th onwards, with two from 9th-10th. Other scarce migrants included 15 Richard's Pipits, 8 Red-backed Shrikes, 10 Great Grey Shrikes, over a dozen Barred Warblers, half-a-dozen Wrynecks, Bluethroats and Rose-coloured Starlings, and 18 Common Rosefinches. Serins were reported from Stanpit Marsh (Dorset), Porthgwarra (Cornwall) and St. Mary's and a Hoopoe was on Yell (Shetland) on 12th. A number of Siberian Chiffchaffs were reported from the Northern Isles and along the east coast, there were a couple of reports of possible Eastern Redstarts of the race samamisicus and there were 5 Waxwings on Shetland from 7th and another on South Uist on 11th.

Little Bunting: Foula, Shetland. (Photo: Helen and Tony Mainwood) Wryneck: Langtoft, Lincs. (Photo: Phil Ackerman)

Cream-coloured Courser: St. Mary's, Scilly. (Photo: Tony Mills)

Grey Phalarope: Malgarve, Galway. (Photo: Tony Murray) Western Sandpiper: Brownsea Island, Dorset. (Photo: Andy Warr)

Not surprisingly, rare waders were fewer on the ground. The Cream-coloured Courser remains on Scilly but moved from St. Martins to St. Mary's on the 8th and the juvenile Western Sandpiper is still at Brownsea Island (Dorset). A Long-billed Dowitcher was at Kilmore Quay (Co. Wexford) on Monday 11th and two unidentified dowitchers were at Spurn the same day. A Lesser Yellowlegs was at Stiffkey (Norfolk) from 10th onwards, and a Baird's Sandpiper put in an appearance at Minsmere (Suffolk) from 7th-8th with a White-rumped Sandpiper at the same site on 13th. There were seven American Golden Plovers during the week, including birds on Benbecula and South Uist (Outer Hebrides) from last week, plus the bird remained on Fetlar (Shetland); new birds were seen at Sway (Hants) on 7th, Loop Head (Co. Clare) from 7th-9th, Seabank (Co. Louth) from 7th-9th and on the Alaw Estuary (Anglesey) on 8th. A Spotted Sandpiper was at Portrush (Co. Antrim) from Wednesday 13th onwards. Five Buff-breasted Sandpipers were noted and around a dozen Pectoral Sandpipers. Finally, there were over 30 Grey Phalaropes, and three Dotterel.

Squacco Heron: East Chevington, Northumberland. (Photo: Peter Macdonald)

Squacco Heron: East Chevington, Northumberland. (Photo: Alan Gilbertson) Squacco Heron: East Chevington, Northumberland. (Photo: Alan Gilbertson)

Sabine's Gull: Amlwch, Anglesey. (Photo: Stephen Tomlinson) Long-tailed Duck: Titchwell, Norfolk. (Photo: Peter Simpson)

An unidentified albatross was seen off the Norfolk coast on Sunday 10th, with sightings off Sheringham and Great Yarmouth. Could this bird still be in the North Sea? Reasonable sea passage was noted off many locations with decent numbers of Sabine's Gulls and nearly 50 Little Auks. A Ross's Gull was reported passing Birchington (Kent) on Saturday 9th and a Forster's Tern was at Carlingford Lough (Co. Down). Black Kites were reported over Minsmere on 8th and West Bexington (Dorset) on 10th and a Rough-legged Buzzard was at Tory Island (Co. Donegal) on 9th and another passed over Holkham and Blakeney (Norfolk) on 13th. In Northumberland the Squacco Heron continues to entertain visitors to East Chevington, two Night Herons were noted over Fagbury Cliff (Suffolk) on 9th and a Purple Heron was over Walberswick on 10th. The colour-ringed Great White Egret remained at Rye Harbour (E. Sussex) and another was on the Hayle Estuary (Cornwall). The Glossy Ibis was at Minsmere on 8th and 9th and Spotted Crake was at Tresco. Finally, an African Spoonbill seen at Cley/Salthouse on 6th relocated to Cardiff Bay (Glamorgan) on 14th - a long shot for a genuine vagrant perhaps, but stranger things have happened!

Slavonian Grebe: North Wirral CP, Cheshire. Several were noted on inland waters. (Photo: Steve Round) Bewick's Swan: Bardney Pits, Lincs. A number of sites reported their first wild swans of the autumn during the week. (Photo: Dean Eades)

Rare ducks were slightly more evident this week. The drake Redhead returned to Kenfig Pool (Glamorgan) on Wednesday 13th and a female or immature Blue-winged Teal was on the Ythan Estuary (Aberdeenshire) on Friday 8th and 9th. In Cheshire the Lesser Scaup remained at Sandbach Flashes to the 7th, a Ferruginous Duck was at Kenfig Pool, Ring-necked Ducks were at Vane Farm (Perth and Kinross), Lerwick (Shetland) and Lough Gill (Co. Kerry) and American Wigeons at Graemeshall (Orkney) and on the Rogerstown Estuary (Dublin).

Bearded Tit: Strumpshaw Fen, Norfolk. Late October is a good time to see this gorgeous species. (Photo: Bill Baston)

Snow Bunting: Donna Nook, Lincs. (Photo: Dean Eades) Black Redstart: Sizewell, Suffolk. (Photo: Kelvin Lewis)

Hobby: Pennington Flash, Gtr Manc. (Photo: Sue Tranter) Hobby: Pennington Flash, Gtr Manc. (Photo: Sue Tranter)
Many of the images that appear in our weekly reviews can be purchased from the photographers, some of whom have their own websites:

Bill Aspin: http://www.eastlancashirebirding.net
Ian Barnard: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/sussex.birder
Bill Baston: http://billbaston.com
Steve Blain: http://www.steveblain.co.uk
Nigel Blake: http://www.nigelblake.co.uk
Will Bowell: http://www.geocities.com/wbowell/
Paul Bowerman: http://mysite.freeserve.com/severnsidebirds
Paul Bowyer: http://www.ukbirds.net
Andy Brett: http://www.freewebs.com/andybrett/
Martin Cade: http://www.portlandbirdobs.btinternet.co.uk
Mark Caunt: http://angusbirding.homestead.com/
Kit Day: http://www.kitday-uk.com/
Lee Dingain: http://www.leedingain.co.uk
Jon Dunn: http://www.surfbirds.com/blogs/Stercorarius/
Sean Gray: http://www.grayimages.co.uk
Peter Hadfield: http://www.manxbirdphotography.co.uk
Josh Jones: http://www.geocities.com/blgp_birder
John Judge: http://www.draycotebirding.co.uk
Paul and Andrea Kelly: http://www.irishbirdimages.com/
Jack Levene: http://www.birdingimages.com
John Malloy: http://mysite.freeserve.com/JohnMalloyBirdPhotos
Jerry O'Brien: http://www.BirdsofBerkshire.co.uk
James Packer: http://www.somersetbirder.co.uk
Mike Pennington: http://www.nature.shetland.co.uk
Tristan Reid: http://www.solwaybirder.org.uk
Steve Round: http://stevenround-birdphotography.com
Tom Shevlin: http://wildlifesnaps.com/
Matt Slaymaker: http://www.freewebs.com/slaymaker
Glen Tepke: http://www.pbase.com/gtepke
Phillip Tomkinson: http://www.philliptomkinson.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk
Stephen Tomlinson: http://www.digitalbirds.co.uk
Sue Tranter: http://www.suesbirdphotos.co.uk/
Steve Williams: http://www.hilbrebirdobs.co.uk
Chris Wormwell: http://www.iombirding.co.uk
Dylan Wrathall: http://www.planetthanet.org
Written by: Russell Slack