A rather quiet week, with winds predominantly of a mild southwesterly origin. As a consequence there were relatively few rarities, with most of the headlines taken by an array of Nearctic waders, though traditional winter fare was in short supply.
An arrival of three White-rumped Sandpipers was quite late, with birds in Lothian, Co. Mayo and Devon, though only the bird in Lothian at Aberlady Bay lingered for any period of time. Continuing the Nearctic theme, a Lesser Yellowlegs turned up inland in Norfolk. Two new Long-billed Dowitchers included birds in Cheshire and Highland, with others in Lincolnshire and Carmarthen extending their stays in a fashion typical of the species. In Galway a 1st-winter American Golden Plover was found with Golden Plovers. A female Lesser Scaup on South Uist might also have originated from the same weather systems.
Elsewhere, pickings were few and far between as we span the remnants of autumn and the first arrivals of winter. An adult White-billed Diver was in Shetland, Dotterel were in Norfolk and Bedfordshire, there were eight Grey Phalaropes, at least a dozen Great Grey Shrikes, seven Waxwings, Bluethroat, three Yellow-browed Warblers and several Richard's Pipits. White-winged gulls have been in short supply, with just four Iceland Gulls and four Glaucous Gulls, making a Glaucous Gull in Cambridgeshire and an Iceland Gull in Derbyshire all the more notable. Similarly, a lack of conducive conditions has contributed to the dearth of Little Auks so far; though northwesterly storms could soon redress the shortfall for this superb auk and the white-winged gulls!
Leftovers from last week included the Stilt Sandpiper in Shetland and Killdeer on Scillies, though neither lingered long. In Somerset the Temminck's Stint was again present, as was the Glossy Ibis in Devon, whilst the Pacific Golden Plover remained on South Uist. In Dorset the Bobolink was present to the 11th, and the White-winged Black Tern lingered in Norfolk as did the Redhead in Glamorgan. On the Isles of Scilly, the Blyth's Reed Warbler continued to be seen, as was the Dusky Warbler and Red-rumped Swallow early in the week. In addition, Rough-legged Buzzards continued to please in Lincolnshire, Kent and Suffolk with several others reported.
Intriguing reports of Pallas's Sandgrouse flocks in Latvia and Hungary have whetted the appetite and prompted a delve into the history books. If genuine, these will provide fantasy birding for all of us over the coming months! Could these perhaps be the forerunners of a westerly incursion into northwest Europe?. If this is the case then we will be scouring the fields with optics like they've never been scoured before. The last record was on Shetland in 1990, and the last on the mainland as long ago as 1969. At the turn of the last century massive irruptions of this species headed westwards into Europe in large numbers with invasions noted in May 1863, 1888 and 1908; and smaller numbers noted in a number of other years. In 1888, the irruption occurred on a massive scale, with up to 2,000 in Scotland alone, and in the region of 5,000 noted across the British Isles. Breeding occurred in Yorkshire in 1888, Scotland in 1888/89 and probably Suffolk in 1888. Would we all like a repeat performance? Yes please!