The week at a glance
- Belated news of Tufted Puffin between Cornwall and Scilly
- Semipalmated Plover still in Co Wexford
- White-throated Sparrow on Tiree
- Black-headed Bunting on Skye
- Pied Wheatear on the Isle of Wight
It's been such a quiet week that the thrills of May seem a long time ago and, bar one of those 'fall off your chair' mega rarities and the occasional decent shorebird, one expects it'll be a fairly quiet couple of months from now on. In fact the week's most exciting news actually concerned a bird seen at sea in Cornwall back on 20 May — what looks to be Britain's second Tufted Puffin was seen and photographed from the Scillonian III (more here).
Otherwise the week's only mega news concerned the continued presence of the Semipalmated Plover at Tacumshin, which was last reported on 9th. When other sites seem to be deathly quiet, Tacumshin often remains alive with birds and the presence of Gull-billed Tern (10–13th), Purple Heron (10th) and the continuing American Golden Plover only supports the notion that this is one of the foremost birding locations in Britain and Ireland.
Two particularly impressive passerines, with origins at considerably different points of the compass, were discovered in north-west Scotland. The first of these was a White-throated Sparrow on Tiree for the day on 10th — a typical late-spring record of this species and, interestingly, of the so-called 'tan-striped' form. Also discovered on 10th was a stunning male Black-headed Bunting on the Isle of Skye. Visiting feeders near Glendale, it lingered until 12th and represents another west coast occurrence of a species which counter-intuitively so often winds up on this flank of Britain. Another great find, at the opposite end of the country, was a stunning male Pied Wheatear photographed in a non-birder's garden at Freshwater, Isle of Wight, on 14th.
The Dalmatian Pelican continues in Cornwall, though it seems to have snapped out of its routine of roosting at Drift Reservoir — last seen there on 11th, it has since moved east to Carrick Roads, and is currently loitering on the estuary not far north of Falmouth.
A Purple Heron at Rye Meads, Herts, on 11th was the only twitchable individual of at least three seen this week; what was probably the same adult was responsible for two sightings on Anglesey on 11–12th and there was also a report of a fly-over from the Suffolk coast. The Little Bittern was still at Trimley Marshes, Suffolk, on 8th but hasn't been seen since; in contrast the male continued to sing and show well at times at Old Moor, S Yorks, all week.
A fly-over Night Heron was noted at Spurn, E Yorks, on 8th, and another dropped in at Dungeness, Kent, on 10th — though a late-evening vigil failed to relocate it. A Cattle Egret was discovered at Brading Marshes, IOW, on 13th, while another lingered in Co Wexford. A total of five Glossy Ibises were reported. A White Stork flew over Bridgend, Glamorgan, on 9th, and another was seen again in the Steart and Otterhampton area of Somerset from 10–12th. A bird in Herefordshire from 12th was unfortunately found to be one of the green-ringed escapes that have been on tour this year.
Though it spent much of the week at Hale, Cheshire's Green-winged Teal visited Frodsham Marsh on 8th and 13th. Another was at Mull Head, Orkney, on 8th. An American Wigeon was photographed at St John's Loch, Highland, on 13th. Last week's Lesser Scaup was still in Co Fermanagh on 10th and the immature drake Surf Scoter was still off Musselburgh, Lothian, on 9th. A female King Eider was also there that day, while long-staying drakes continued to perform in Highland and Aberdeenshire.
There were Black Kite reports from Kent (2), Suffolk, Essex and Cornwall this week. Following last week's fly-over male there, a female Red-footed Falcon drifted south over Spurn, E Yorks, on 13th. The Snowy Owl was again reported from the Burren, Co Clare — this time atop Gleninagh Mountain on 7th.
A Spotted Sandpiper at Brent Reservoir on Saturday was the first to be twitchable in the London area since 1989. Another great wader was the Broad-billed Sandpiper at Gronant, Clwyd, on 11th — this presumably the bird that then relocated on 13–14th to Kinmel Bay, Conwy, where it proved a little more gettable. Other records included a Pectoral Sandpiper at Titchwell, Norfolk, from 9–11th and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper in the county at Hickling Broad on 10th. Red-necked Phalaropes included two at Potteric Carr, S Yorks, early on 10th — one wonders whether they're the same birds seen at Woolston Eyes, Cheshire, later that day. Two were also on North Ronaldsay, Orkney, while the long-stayer continued at Grindon Lough, Northumberland, to 12th.
Northumberland's Bonaparte's Gull lingered another week and looks set for an extended stay. A first-summer Ring-billed Gull was discovered in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, on 14th. An adult Caspian Tern was at Middlemarsh Farm near Skegness, Lincs, on 13th, with two together at nearby Gibraltar Point the following day. Scotland's Gull-billed Tern was at Skinflats Lagoons, Forth, on 8th before relocating back to Lothian on 12–13th; on 14th it was back at Kinneil Lagoon. A White-winged Black Tern was as far north as Unst, Shetland, on 9th, while the Whiskered Tern continued to show well at Trimley Marshes, Suffolk, to 9th. The Forster's Tern was again noted at Inishroo, Co Galway, on the evening of 12th.
The Great Spotted Cuckoo has very much become part of the furniture at Portland, Dorset, since its arrival back in May, and it was a real surprise to hear that there was no sign by mid-afternoon on 14th. An even longer stayer is the Iberian Chiffchaff at Tresco, Scilly, which was still singing on 13th; other lingering songsters included the Savi's Warbler still at Blacktoft Sands, E Yorks, and the Great Reed Warbler at Paxton Pits, Cambs.
Records of Hoopoe came from Nazeing Meads, Essex, on 9th and Tickhill, S Yorks, on 11th. A Woodchat Shrike was to the south of Martinstown, Dorset, from 10th, while a handful of Red-backed Shrike records included a female inland at Gorefield, Cambs, on 13th. A European Serin was at Weybourne and Cley, Norfolk, on 11th. European Bee-eaters over Flamborough Head on 8th and Spurn on 12th may well have related to the same bird; another flew north at Martletwy, Pembrokeshire, on 10th. A Tawny Pipit was reported from South Uist on 13th.
New Icterine Warblers graced the Isle of May, Fife, and Tiree, Argyll, while the songster continued near Laggan, Highland. A ringed Marsh Warbler trapped on Fair Isle on 10th turned out to be a bird from North Ronaldsay, Orkney; others were seen in Suffolk (2) and at Spurn. Common Rosefinches included a first-summer on Lundy, Devon, on 8th and a red male in a Brighton garden on 9th.
Western Palearctic news
Germany has enjoyed a good spring and the latest top vagrant to be found in the country was the Lesser Crested Tern near Greifswald, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, on 13th. Two Elegant Terns are once again breeding with Sandwich Terns in France — one in Gironde, the other in Vendée.
Elegant Tern, France (Photo: Joachim Bertrands)
Other records included the Black-browed Albatross again on Sylt, Schleswig-Holstein, while Black-winged Kites were seen in Denmark, north-east Germany and northern France — we keep saying this, but surely it's only a matter of time before one makes it across the Channel?