Review of the Week: 9-15 August 2021


As perhaps expected for mid-August, early autumn passerine migration began in earnest in the Northern Isles, while it was a bit of a slow burner elsewhere in less than helpful weather conditions, with lingering rarities providing the greatest interest for most. 

Shetland's second Black-winged Pratincole – a juvenile – was a fantastic Fetlar find, present at Houbie from 11th before relocating to Funzie from 14th. The archipelago's first was shot on Fair Isle as long ago as May 1927 – at the time just the second for Britain. It remains a very rare bird and there have been fewer than 50 British records in total, with only six of those in Scotland. A bird in juvenile plumage remains a rare treat too, with the last a three-day bird at Monikie, Angus & Dundee, in August 1996.

Black-winged Pratincole, Houbie, Fetlar, Shetland (Alan Prescott).

Two roaming Black Storks provided much of this week's rarity interest. In Suffolk, one flew north over Snape on 12th, before reappearing over Lowestoft on 14th. From there, it was tracked over a number of sites along the county's coast, crossing over the River Stour into Essex that afternoon. Its visit to that county would prove brief, however – it was back at Holbrook, Suffolk, the next morning.

After departing the Spurn recording area early on 9th, a wide-ranging juvenile was logged over Tetney, Lincolnshire, en-route to the wetlands east of Boston, where it proved set to linger from 12th. Meanwhile, a possible reported over Esher, Surrey, on 11th would evade confirmation.

Black Stork, Freiston Shore RSPB, Lincolnshire (Steve Clipperton).

The adult Egyptian Vulture drifted north-east over Eskeragh, Co Mayo, on 11th, but would unfortunately evade relocation despite the best efforts of local birders. Elsewhere, the Snowy Owl remained on Hirta, St Kilda, while Fair Isle's autumn kicked off with a young Booted Warbler on 11-12th.

Booted Warbler, Fair Isle, Shetland (Alex Penn).

In Co Dublin, the vocal male Least Tern lasted at Portrane Point until 13th at least, while the moulting Forster's Tern was still at Soldier's Point, Co Louth. Lancashire's Elegant Tern performed on and off among the throng of Sandwich Terns at Formby Point.

Forster's Tern, Soldier's Point, Louth (Gerry O Neill).

Elegant Tern (centre), Formby Point, Lancashire (Jack Bucknall).

After five days passed without a sniff of the Black-browed Albatross, some started to speculate that it had departed for pastures new as summer draws to a close. So it came as a slight surprise when it was back on its favoured ledge at Bempton Cliffs RSPB from 13th, lingering until the week's end.

Black-browed Albatross, Bempton Cliffs RSPB, East Yorkshire (Mark Rayment).

A new adult Long-billed Dowitcher was a smart find at Llanelli Wetland Centre WWT, Carmarthen, on 15th; another remained at Frodsham Marsh, Cheshire, too. Pacific Golden Plovers continued at Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincolnshire (two), and North Point Pools, Norfolk.

Pacific Golden Plover, Frampton Marsh RSPB, Lincolnshire (Peter Garrity).

Bonaparte's Gulls lingered at both Norwick, Unst, Shetland, and Oare Marshes, Kent. On 11th, a possible sub-adult Brown Booby flew south past Bamburgh, Northumberland, while a potential drake Black Scoter was reported off Withernsea, East Yorkshire, the following day.

Bonaparte's Gull, Norwick, Unst, Shetland (Robbie Brookes).

With a fresh supply of RIBs to plunder, the Walrus hung out in Dunnycove Bay, Co Cork, from 9-13th, while the Sei Whale continued its march northwards past St Cyrus, Aberdeenshire, on 10th.


Scottish mainland

A Cory's Shearwater past Mull of Kintyre on 14th was a rare Argyll record. Elsewhere, a Balearic Shearwater flew south past Saltcoats, Ayrshire, on 12th, a Leach's Storm Petrel was trapped and ringed at Inverbervie, Aberdeenshire, and Pomarine Skuas were noted past Chanonry Point, Highland, and off the Ullapool-Stornoway ferry, while a Fin Whale was offshore from Portknockie, Moray & Nairn.

Two young Black Terns proved popular alongside the Eurasian Spoonbill at Ythan Estuary, Aberdeenshire, with another at Scurdie Ness, Angus & Dundee, on 10th. No fewer than 40 Mediterranean Gulls at East Wemyss, Fife, on 13th was an impressive number, while 11 sites in Lothian and Fife held dispersing Roseate Terns. Two immature Glaucous Gulls were at Lossie Estuary, Moray & Nairn.

Black Tern, Ythan Estuary, Aberdeenshire (Ron Macdonald).

Stoer, Highland, held a Rosy Starling on 14th and lingering Common Quail remained at Shearington, Dumfries & Galloway and Fail Loch, Ayrshire, with another at Peterculter, Aberdeenshire.

Three Garganey were reported – at The Wilderness, Fife, Hunterston Sands, Ayrshire, and Vane Farm RSPB, Perth & Kinross. At least two Ruddy Shelduck held on at Tullibody Inch, Forth, with one still at Montrose Basin, Angus & Dundee. Three Curlew Sandpipers resided at Montrose Basin, Angus & Dundee, and a Little Stint-Wood Sandpiper combination was at Loch of Strathbeg RSPB, Aberdeenshire. In Lothian, Wood Sands were at Musselburgh Lagoons and Tyninghame Bay.

Wood Sandpiper, Musselburgh Lagoons, Lothian (Lukasz Pulawski).


Northern Isles and the Hebrides

A juvenile Black Tern was at West Sandwick, Yell, late morning on the 9th before one or the same was at Spiggie, Mainland, that afternoon. The bird remained in the Spiggie area throughout, making a trip to Boddam on 11th. Also at Boddam, the adult Long-tailed Skua lengthened its stay. A pelagic off Fethaland turned up a Wilson's Storm Petrel on 10th alongside eight Sooty Shearwaters, plus an adult Sabine's Gull at the north end of Yell Sound.

Wilson's Storm Petrel, at sea, Shetland (David Cooper).

The expected passerines continued to trickle through in small numbers. Early Greenish Warblers were on the Isle of Noss on 10th and Out Skerries on 13th, the latter with a supporting cast of two Icterine and a Barred Warbler. Another Barred Warbler was at Burrafirth, Unst, and an Icterine Warbler was at Hoswick, Mainland, while a Marsh Warbler was at Norwick, Unst, on 11th. Two Red-backed Shrikes were on Whalsay on 13th, with singles at Brough and Grunitaing. The Common Rosefinch lingered at Valyie, Unst, until 9th.

Barred Warbler, Burrafirth, Unst, Shetland (David Cooper).

Cetacean news was highlighted by a Fin Whale moving south through Bluemull Sound on 12th, while Killer Whales had a great showing around South Mainland on 15th.

Fair Isle got into second gear, with a smattering of Red-backed Shrikes and two Barred Warblers serving as a sign of things to come. A Wood Warbler, Black Redstart and some Wood Sandpipers made up some more expected species, meanwhile the Rosy Starling lingered until at least 13th.

Over on Orkney, things were a bit quieter, but birds were moving nonetheless. A fresh European Turtle Dove was at Papa Westray on 13th, where a Marsh Warbler was also present on 11th. The adult Rosy Starling remained at Warebeth, Mainland, until 9th. Wood Sandpipers were at Mill Dam RSPB, Shapinsay, and Mull Head, Mainland (two). A Leach's Storm Petrel was trapped and ringed at Marwick Head, Mainland, on 10th.

Marsh Warbler, Papa Westray, Orkney (David Roche).

North Ronaldsay had a steady week, with new arrivals of Blyth's Reed Warbler (12th) and American Golden Plover (14-15th). At least one Barred Warbler, a Wood Warbler and two Wood Sandpipers made up the best of the rest.

An adult Rosy Starling was in a private garden at Sgarasta Mhor, Harris, on 12th while a European Honey Buzzard flew north over Northbay, Barra, on 9th. Seawatching was steady from Vatersay on 15th, with an adult Long-tailed Skua and three Sooty Shearwaters winging their way past Aird a Chaolais.

Dan Owen


North-East England

There was little change in Northumberland, with Wood Sandpipers at five localities including four at East Chevington NWT on Friday. Spotted Redshanks were at Budle Bay and Cresswell Pond NWT, with the latter also scoring a Greater Scaup and Great Egret. Ruddy Shelduck lingered at three sites, while an Iceland Gull at Longhoughton Steel and a Hooded Crow at Druridge Pools.  

Ruddy Shelduck, Castle Island, Northumberland (Alan Curry).

Three sites in Durham produced Wood Sandpipers, including two at Boldon Flats NR. The Spotted Redshank remained there along with the six Ruddy Shelduck at Bishop Middleham. A Curlew Sandpiper, Velvet Scoter and several Little Gulls were the best of the week's seawatching off Whitburn Coastal Park. A Greater Scaup near Quarrington Hill and a Ruddy Turnstone at Dunston were good inland finds.

A Pectoral Sandpiper at South Gare, Cleveland, on Thursday was the only scarcity reported in the North-East during the week. Elsewhere in the county, three Great Egrets, a Spotted Redshank and several Wood Sandpipers were at the Tees Marshes.

Jonathan Farooqi


North-West England

Cumbria was largely quiet this week, although two Wood Sandpipers at Siddick Ponds NR were a nice local find. Lancashire also endured a lull in birds, although an adult Rosy Starling was visiting gardens in Newton-with-Scales on 14th. Continued efforts scanning through the loafing terns off Formby Point produced a fine adult Roseate Tern on 15th. Up to two Garganey were at Leighton Moss RSPB.

The first-summer American Golden Plover relocated yet again this week, this time finding Frodsham Marsh to its liking. However, the bird only stayed for a few hours on 14th and there was no further sign since flying back towards the estuary. Up to three Little Stints were on the Mersey at Hale, with a single on the beach at Hoylake on 12th. Ruddy Shelduck continued their great run of records, with at least five on the Mersey between Widnes and Hale and a single again at Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB on 15th. A smart first-summer Caspian Gull was on the Mersey at Widnes on 14th.

Dan Owen


Lincolnshire and Yorkshire

Though spending most of their time just over the border in Cambridgeshire, three Ruddy Shelduck visited Deeping Lakes NR, Lincolnshire, on 11th and 15th. Two Common Cranes passed over Gibraltar Point NNR on 12th, with the first juvenile Curlew Sandpiper of the autumn there on 12th and up to 30 Eurasian Spoonbills. A Western Cattle Egret was alongside the usual spoonbills and waders at Frampton Marsh RSPB, with the Glossy Ibis lasting another week at Alkborough Flats.

A male Rosy Starling was a brief visitor to Brinsworth, South Yorkshire, on 11th. Spotted Redshank and Eurasian Spoonbill were among the Dearne Valley's highlights, with the latter species (and Garganey) at Potteric Carr. In West Yorkshire, a Spotted Redshank overflew Anglers CP on 9th and the two Ruddy Shelduck continued at St Aidan's RSPB.

European Bee-eater, Easington, East Yorkshire (Dave Tucker).

Content continues after advertisements

It was a quiet week in North Yorkshire, with Roseate Terns at a couple of coastal sites and a few Wood Sandpipers inland. Two Ruddy Shelduck passing Flamborough Head, East Yorkshire, on 14th were later seen at Hornsea Mere. The former also claimed a Balearic Shearwater on 10th, while the latter hit a peak of 2,040 Little Gulls on 14th. Seven European Bee-eaters spent time in the Easington area on 12th, with an Icterine Warbler at Kilnsea on 10th and a run of Caspian Gulls at the wetlands.

Josh Jones


West Midlands

A small passage of Arctic Terns occurred in Staffordshire this week, with one through at Doxey Marshes on 14th, four at Belvide Reservoir and three over Cuckoo Bank both on 15th. Wood Sandpipers were at Middleton Lakes RSPB (9th) and Branston GPs (8th). Over in Shropshire, an adult Caspian Gull paid a brief visit to Venus Pool NR on 15th. A Wood Sandpiper graced Kenchester Pools, Herefordshire, from 14-15th at least and a White Stork flew west over Barrow Hill, West Midlands, on 15th.

In Worcestershire, a juvenile Black Tern spent the 15th at Camp Lane Pools, Grimley and two Arctic Terns were at Westwood Pool on the afternoon of 11th. Warwickshire also managed to join in the tern action, with an Arctic Tern at Ladywalk NR on 9th. The Ruddy Shelduck lingered at Draycote Water throughout.

Dan Owen


East Midlands

Two female Ruddy Shelduck found Kedleston Park, Derbyshire, to their liking, while Ogston Reservoir was treated to two visits from juvenile Caspian Gulls (11th and 14th). In Nottinghamshire, a juvenile Temminck's Stint was at Langford Lowfields RSPB on 14th, while the juvenile Black-necked Grebe remained at Kingsmill Reservoir until 12th. The drake Ruddy Shelduck continued at Kilvington Lakes throughout, with a single at Burton Joyce on 13th. Wood Sandpipers had a decent showing with four localities reporting birds, with a peak count of 12 on a flooded field at Hodsock. 

Black Tern, Idle Valley NR, Nottinghamshire (Peter Newman).

Two adult Black Terns spent 12th at Pitsford Reservoir, Northants. The only other sightings of note for the county were of a Wood Sandpiper at the DIRFT 3 development on 10th and another at Stanwick GPs from 12th. Rutland Water continued to hold two Black Terns, while the roll-call of passage waders included Ruddy Turnstone and Spotted Redshank. An adult Wood Sandpiper was at Cossington Meadows from 9-10th and single Pied Flycatchers were at Fosse Meadows and Huncote on 11th.

Dan Owen


East of England

The White-rumped Sandpiper was still at Snettisham RSPB, Norfolk, this week, with a Red-necked Phalarope also there on 9th. The Glossy Ibis continued at Ken Hill Marshes and a further five were again at Welney WWT. A White Stork flew east at Wells-next-the-Sea on 10th and the Common Crane continued to wander the north coast. At least five Caspian Gulls were noted at Cromer seafront. A European Honey Buzzard flew over Upton Broad on 15th.

Caspian Gull, Cromer, Norfolk (Richard Bonser).

Essex news included European Honey Buzzards over Good Easter and Boreham on 12th and 14th respectively. A juvenile Purple Heron was at Bowers Marsh RSPB from 14th, the same day a Eurasian Stone-curlew visited Wrabness and a Wood Warbler was seen at The Naze.

In Suffolk, the White-rumped Sandpiper was last seen at Minmsere RSPB on 10th, with the Pectoral Sandpiper lasting all week and a Glossy Ibis there on 14th, with presumably the same ibis having been at Dingle Marshes the day previous. Elsewhere, a Guillemot at Neptune Marina, Ipswich, on 12th was of local significance.

The only news from Hertfordshire concerned the discovery of a Death's-head Hawk-moth caterpillar(!). Things weren't much better in Bedfordshire, with a Red Knot at Grovebury Sand Pit on 12th along with Caspian Gulls at two sites. Two Cambridgeshire sites produced Glossy Ibis sightings, while two Black-necked Grebes were at Grafham Water and the Ruddy Shelduck continued at Etton Pits.

Josh Jones


South-East England

An early juvenile Barred Warbler was a smart find at Abbot's Cliff, Kent, on 10th, while Sandwich Bay enjoyed two Wood Warblers during the week. The first push of returning adult European Honey Buzzards was evident, with Dungeness, Farthingloe and Oare Marshes all scoring. Oare also hosted a Glossy Ibis from 13th (which made to Faversham Creek on 14th), as did Dungeness from 9th. Dunge enjoyed some light Balearic Shearwater movement, too, with Samphire Hoe also recording this species when three flew past on 11th.

Perhaps the best of some decent London records this week was a juvenile Montagu's Harrier over Beckton on 12th. Reports of Wood Warbler came from both Dulwich and Primrose Hill, a European Nightjar was at Hutchinson's Bank, two Sanderlings visited Staines Reservoirs and Brent Reservoir hosted a Pied Flycatcher. It was quiet in the inland counties as migration was slow to get going – European Honey Buzzard over Shalford, Surrey, on 15th and Ruddy Turnstone at Farmoor Reservoir, Oxfordshire, were of note.

Wood Sandpiper, Pennington Marshes, Hampshire (Dennis Gilman).

On the Isle of Wight, an Alpine Swift flew over Culver Down on 14th. A Pied Flycatcher was at Luccombe on 11th while, in Hampshire, a Pied Fly at Baddesley Common from 14th was one highlight of a very quiet period.

Sussex action too was rather low-key, though a Temminck's Stint was at Pulborough Brooks on 13th and a Wood Warbler at Cowdray Forest on 14th. At least one Church Norton Roseate Terns was still about, a Common Quail was at Alfriston, Wivelsfield Green hosted a Pied Flycatcher and there was a report of a Sooty Shearwater off Goring-by-Sea.

Ed Stubbs


South-West England

A Lesser Yellowlegs on Tresco for four days from 9th was the highlight of the week on Scilly. Otherwise, pelagics dominated reporting with Wilson's Storm Petrels being seen almost daily (including a joint-record count of 20 on Tuesday) alongside three Cory's Shearwaters, a couple of Sabine's Gulls, several Great Shearwaters, and single Grey Phalarope and Long-tailed Skua. A probable Marsh Warbler on St Mary's on 13th evaded confirmation.

Lesser Yellowlegs, Tresco, Isles of Scilly (Kris Webb).

Small numbers of Great and Cory's Shearwaters were seen on Cornish seawatches during the week, with a pelagic out of Falmouth also producing a couple of Greats on Saturday. A probable Wilson's Storm Petrel passed St Agnes Head and two Sabine's Gulls were off Pendeen – both on 9th – while Roseate Terns were noted off Padstow and the Scillonian crossing. Meanwhile, a Melodious Warbler was trapped and ringed in Nanjizal Valley on 21st and a Wryneck was at Porthgwarra on 22nd. Two Bearded Tits at Gwithian from 14th were a great local record; three Greater Scaup were at Stithians Reservoir.

Wilson's Storm Petrel, Scilly pelagic, Isles of Scilly (Richard Stonier).

In Dorset, Curlew Sandpipers were at Brownsea Island NT (three) and Lytchett Fields RSPB. Lodmoor RSPB hosted the county's only Wood Sandpiper and a scattering of Balearic Shearwaters were seen on seawatches. A Wood Warbler trapped and ringed on 11th was the highlight on Portland.

A possible Montagu's Harrier was at Tigley, Devon on 10-11th. Ten Wood Sandpipers were seen across four sites in the county including four at Seaton Marshes, while a single Curlew Sandpiper was at Dawlish Warren NNR. A Wood Sandpiper was at Langford Lakes, Wiltshire, for three days and a Common Quail sang near West Kennet Long Barrow.

Slimbridge WWT, Gloucestershire, held a Eurasian Spoonbill and three Garganey, with seven Roseate Terns reported flying down the estuary there. A Wood Sandpiper was at Cotswold Water Park, the Blue-headed Wagtail continued at Northwick Warth and a Eurasian Spoonbill flew over Littleton-upon-Severn.

Eurasian Spoonbill, Slimbridge WWT, Gloucestershire (Jonathan Bull).

Steart WWT, Somerset, saw a Red-necked Phalarope joining the lingering Black-winged Stilt and a Little Stint on 10th. Highlights at Chew Valley Lake included at least three Black Terns and a Garganey. Another Garganey was at Blagdon Lake. 

Jonathan Farooqi



In a busy August week by Welsh standards, a one-day Woodchat Shrike – at Dowrog Common, Pembrokeshire, on 9th – headlined, alongside a Gwynedd Melodious Warbler at Porth Meudwy on 15th. Two juvenile Ruddy Shelduck graced Conwy RSPB, Conwy, on 12th, with a Eurasian Spoonbill logged over suburban Swansea, Glamorgan, on 9th.

Goldcliff Pools NR, Gwent, hosted a Little Stint and two Garganey, while Wood Sandpipers were at Ogmore Estuary, Glamorgan, Llanelli Wetland Centre WWT, Carmarthen, and Cors Ddyga RSPB, Anglesey.

Offshore, a Humpback Whale off Ramsey Island, Pembrokeshire, on 11th was a surprise. Strumble Head, Pembrokeshire, scored a high count of 12 Balearic Shearwaters on 15th, with singletons sighted past Point Lynas, Anglesey, and Skokholm, Pembrokeshire.



Seawatching again produced most of the week's Irish highlights, with four Wilson's Storm Petrels from a pelagic south-west of the Blasket Islands, Co Kerry, on 14th following at least two off Cape Clear, Co Cork, on 10th. A smattering of large shearwaters included 10 Cory's past Cape Clear on 12th, the same day that 47 Great Shearwaters passed Mizen Head. A Great was seen as far north as Melmore Head, Co Donegal, on 14th, with a Sabine's Gull also there.

A Pectoral Sandpiper was at Blanket Nook, Co Donegal, on 14th, with a Curlew Sandpiper at Lough Neagh, Co Antrim, on 9th and Wood Sandpipers at four sites, including the lingering juvenile at Booterstown Marsh, Co Dublin, and up to two at Tacumshin, Co Wexford.

Always a decent bird across the island of Ireland, a Black Tern was at Whitehead, Co Antrim, on 15th. The adult Ring-billed Gull was back at Blackrock, Co Louth, on 15th, while a Common Crane flew over the M11 near Inch, Co Wexford, on 12th. 

Rosy Starlings continue to appear, with two adults near Céide Fields Visitor Centre, Co Mayo, and another in Dungarvan, Co Waterford, on 14th.

Josh Jones


Western Palearctic

A major influx of Pygmy Cormorants into south-east Germany in recent days has included high counts of no fewer than 14 at Pfatter Au and at least 10 at Seeanger, Ebergötzen. Meanwhile, the country's second Western Swamphen since the 1950s was at Der Spieß-An der Spießbrücke, Eich, also proved the first twitchable record and was widely admired.

Israel's Turkish-ringed Northern Bald Ibis remained at Gevulot until 13th, while a single Greater Crested Tern continued off Eilat until 10th. A Greater Hoopoe-Lark at Ceylanpınar on 15th was the fourth for Turkey, with Slovenia's Grey-headed Lapwing last noted at Škocjanski Zatok NR on 9th.

A Latvian-ringed Lesser Spotted Eagle was at Kinnarp, Sweden, from 8th, while a Cory's Shearwater was photographed heading south-west into the Öresund past Kullaberg on 15th. A Wilson's Phalarope – Norway's eighth – was at Medvollen, with the Sandhill Crane remaining around Lakselv at the start of the week.

In the Camargue, France, it was much the same: the Elegant Tern remained and the two Lesser Flamingos were at Cabane d'Azémard. Just the third Semipalmated Sandpiper for the Canaries was at La Charca, Gran Canaria, from 8th. A Greater Sand Plover visited Texel, The Netherlands, on 10th, a Griffon Vulture flew over Kapelle, the released Bearded Vulture continued near Ede, and a Pygmy Cormorant remained near Utrecht.

Written by: Sam Viles & the BirdGuides team