Review of the Week: 8th-15th November 2001


The weather during the week has been a mixture of severe storms and settled spells. The east coast on the 8th and 9th bore the brunt of gale-force northerly winds, whilst a brief spell of northerlies returned on the 13th. There has certainly been enough happening to keep birders entertained throughout the country, though much of the focus has been on seawatching along the length of the east coast and in Cornwall.

Small numbers of Little Auks have been seen off most coastal watchpoints for a couple of weeks now, and during the gale-force northerlies on the 8th slightly more were seen. As seawatchers along the east coast 'bunkered down' on the 9th amid the strong winds, occasional showers and mountainous seas, it was clear that an astounding northerly movement of 'Dovekies' was taking place as flock after flock passed north dodging the violent waves pounding down all around them. Tens of thousands of birds must have been involved and the full extent of this movement is discussed further at:


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Associated with the movement were good numbers of divers, wildfowl, Dunlin, one Cory's Shearwater, several Sooty Shearwaters and a Red-necked Phalarope associated with a number of Grey Phalaropes, most of the latter seeking coastal sanctuary in harbour mouths. Surprisingly very few birds were displaced inland with only a couple of Little Auks rescued and a Grey Phalarope in Cambridgeshire, plus Kittiwakes reported from a number of inland waters.

On the rarities front, the Snowy Egret in Argyll and the Snowy Owl in Suffolk remained through the weekend, much to the delight and relief of many. The drake Redhead remained at Kenfig and all three are still present at their scattered locations this morning. Elsewhere, a Blyth's Reed Warbler ringed at Portland was late, whilst a Hume's Warbler there this morning was bang on cue. In the same county a Black-throated Thrush was reported in private gardens in Christchurch on the 11th and 12th and a 1st-winter drake Lesser Scaup was at Swineham GPs. On the 12th an Ivory Gull was taken into care on Shetland, whilst an American Herring Gull was on Merseyside on the 10th. An American Golden plover in Lincolnshire was presumably the bird present in Nottinghamshire recently.

Scarcities included unseasonable Pectoral Sandpiper and Tawny Pipit in Dorset, whilst a Pallas's Warbler there yesterday was less surprising. Several Barred Warblers have been seen with birds in East Yorkshire, Pembrokeshire, Devon and Cornwall. A Bluethroat was at Tacumshin and a Siberian Stonechat at Sandwich Bay.

The outlook is for a settled weekend, with a high pressure system stretching across Europe. Under such conditions there is still plenty of potential for late warblers such as Pallas's, Dusky, Yellow-browed or Hume's, whilst an obliging Blyth's Pipit would be a bonus. It is also the time of year when late wheatears deserve close scrutiny as both Pied And Desert are typical late migrants. Small numbers of Little Auks will still be present along the coast, whilst forays into coastal stubble could produce Snow and Lapland Buntings and possibly a Shore Lark or two, though they have been scarce so far. Great Grey Shrikes remain at a number of locations.

Written by: Russell Slack, BirdGuides