Review of the Week: 9th-15th November 2006


The week at a glance:

Long-billed Murrelet: Dawlish, Devon (photo: Graham Catley).

Long-billed Murrelet: Dawlish, Devon (photo: Graham Catley).

For the second time this year it looked as though a first for Britain had slipped through the net after being belatedly identified from photographs on the Internet. A bird initially reported as a Little Auk off Dawlish (Devon) on 7th attracted little attention, but thankfully images were posted on a local website and it was subsequently re-identified as a Long-billed Murrelet on the 10th. Desperate searches on the 10th drew a blank and there was widespread despair amongst the birding community at the apparent loss of a once-in-a-lifetime encounter in British waters. The final twist came early on Saturday 11th when the bird was relocated. The rest is history as thousands of birders headed to the southwest to marvel at a seabird that has a relatively restricted range but has now reached the Western Palearctic on two occasions. The murrelet remained until the 14th, but there have been no further reports, and it might finally be that it has gone.

Long-billed Murrelet: Dawlish, Devon (photo: Steve Blain).

Long-billed Murrelet: Dawlish, Devon (photo: Simon Stirrup).

Long-billed Murrelet: Dawlish, Devon (photo: Nic Hallam).

Long-billed Murrelet: Dawlish, Devon (photo: Paul Bowyer).

Another surprise surfaced through close scrutiny of published photographs this week - what was life like before digital cameras and the Internet? The Lincolnshire Black Kite, present since 2nd November, was re-identified as belonging to the eastern form of Black Kite, lineatus, known as Black-eared Kite. Black-eared Kite has been accorded species rank by some authors, though others suggest that it is not sufficiently distinct to justify specific status. Whatever the taxonomic status this is the first time that this form/species has been recorded in Britain! This week it has been present at Holbeach Marsh from the 11th onwards. Black-eared Kite breeds over a wide area from western Siberia to China and Japan. Birds from the western part of the population are migratory and winter in southern Asia as far west as Iran and Iraq, though the true winter range of lineatus is presently unknown.

Black-eared Kite: Butterwick Marsh, Lincolnshire (photo: Will Bowell).

Green-winged Teal: Dundalk, Co. Louth (photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly).

American Wigeon: Cresswell, Northumbs (photo: Alan Gilbertson)

Redhead: Loch of Spiggie, Shetland (photo: Roger Riddington).

On Shetland a fine drake Bufflehead was present at Loch of Snarravoe on Unst from 12th-14th and a probable female Redhead was at Loch of Spiggie, whilst in Co. Down the Barrow's Goldeneye remained at Quoile Pondage. A Whistling Swan was an all-too-brief visitor to Elmley Marshes (Kent) on 9th. A Lesser Scaup was on Tiree (Argyll) from 12th-13th. Other scarce wildfowl were in relatively short supply. The Ferruginous Duck was still at New Hythe GPs (Kent) and a female of unknown origin was with the escaped drake at Pine Lake (Lancs). Seven Ring-necked Ducks were well distributed, a drake King Eider was off Peterhead (Aberdeenshire) and half-a-dozen Surf Scoters included one still in Cornwall and another passing north off Cleveland. 'Dabblers' were represented by 5 American Wigeons and 7 Green-winged Teal, plus the Marbled Duck of unknown origin was still at Minsmere (Suffolk) to the 9th. Vagrant Canada Geese were restricted to single Richardson's Canada Geese at Mersehead (Dumfries and Galloway) and North Uist (Outer Hebrides) and there were over half-a-dozen Black Brants consorting with Brent Geese flocks between Norfolk and Dorset. White-morph Snow Geese were at Flitcham (Norfolk) and North Slob (Co. Wexford) and a blue morph was at Fortrose (Highland). The two Red-breasted Geese remained in Lincolnshire as did the bird in Dorset.

Shore Lark: Snettisham, Norfolk (photo: Garth Peacock).

Penduline Tit: Grove Ferry, Kent (photo: Wendy Kennett).

Penduline Tit: Grove Ferry, Kent (photo: Wendy Kennett).

A belated report of a Common Yellowthroat found dead at Penryn (Cornwall) on 23rd October was another Nearctic addition to the 'year-list'. A Dusky Warbler at Spurn (E. Yorks) from 9th onwards conformed to typical date and location and the bird in Lowestoft (Suffolk) was last reported on the 9th. A Penduline Tit was at Grove Ferry (Kent) on 9th and the lingering Woodchat Shrike still at Soar (Devon) to at least the 15th. Just a handful of Yellow-browed Warblers remained from the autumn and Siberian Chiffchaffs were reported in Devon and Kent. A Little Bunting was at Wadebridge (Cornwall) on 9th and another at Benacre (Suffolk) on 13th and 15th, whilst a Red-breasted Flycatcher was a late find at Porthgwarra (Cornwall) on 9th. The late Bluethroat on Fair Isle (Shetland) remained to at least the 10th and Rose-coloured Starlings remained on St. Mary's (Scilly) and Kidwelly (Carmarthen), with another at Newlyn (Cornwall) on 9th. Hoopoes were at Ballyferriter (Co. Kerry) on 11th and another remained at New Deer (Aberdeenshire). The sole Richard's Pipit passed over Porthgwarra on 10th and just four Great Grey Shrikes was a poor showing. A Red-rumped Swallow was taken by a Sparrowhawk at Lunan Bay (Angus/Dundee) on 12th and another whizzed through Portland) on 13th. Nearly 30 Waxwings were largely made up of a flock of 20 in Belfast (Co. Antrim) - we've become accustomed to their familiar presence in recent years so it seems almost strange not to be inundated with them! A dozen Shore Larks comprised 8 at Snettisham (Norfolk) and three at Reculver (Kent), with one at Flamborough Head (E. Yorks), and 18 Lapland Buntings included a creditable 10 at Filey (N. Yorks).

Long-billed Dowitcher: Tamar Lakes, Devon (photo: Andy Slade).

Long-billed Dowitcher: Tamar Lakes, Devon (photo: Phil Stidwill).

Grey Phalarope: Filey, N Yorks (photo: Terry Hobson).

Waders were still in evidence, particularly White-rumped Sandpipers with 4 still at Tacumshin (Co. Wexford) and 2 at Ballycotton (Co. Cork) with a 'new' bird at Loch Paible, North Uist (Outer Hebrides) on 15th. There were American Golden Plovers still in Co. Wexford, Co. Kerry and Co. Cork, with Co. Cork still hosting the Lesser Yellowlegs at Rosscarbery. The Spotted Sandpiper remained on the Hayle Estuary (Cornwall) as did the bird at Tamar Lakes (Devon), where there was also a Long-billed Dowitcher. The Long-billed Dowitcher remained on the Oare Marshes (Kent) and two were again at Lough Beg (Londonderry). A Dotterel was at March (Cambs) from 10th-12th and five Grey Phalaropes were restricted to, or near, the east coast.

Purple Heron: Little Chalfont, Bucks (photo: Matt Slaymaker).

Purple Heron: Little Chalfont, Bucks (photo: Matt Slaymaker).

Glossy Ibis: Fluke Hall, Lancs (photo: Rob Smallwood).

Snowy Owl: Lewis, Outer Hebrides (photo: Tristan Ap Rheinallt).

The Snowy Owl remained at Bru, Lewis (Outer Hebrides) to the 9th and in Suffolk a Rough-legged Buzzard was reported in-off at Kessingland on 10th, with it, or another, at Walberswick on 11th, whilst one was at Capel Fleet (Kent). A Purple Heron at Little Chalfont (Bucks) from 13th-15th was a late find. The Glossy Ibis lingered on at Fluke Hall (Lancs) as did the Cattle Egret on the Otter Estuary (Devon) and the intermittent Great White Egret at Blashford Lakes (Hants), with another over Walthamstow Reservoirs (London) on 10th. Around 19 Spoonbills included up to 11 at Brownsea Island (Dorset) and one was in Co. Kerry.

Bonaparte's Gull: Saltburn, Cleveland (photo: Ian Boustead).

Little Auk: Huttoft, Lincs (photo: Graham Catley).

Ring-billed Gull: Whitehouse Lagoon, Co. Antrim (photo: Derek Charles).

Ring-billed Gull: Culmore Dump, L'derry (photo: Derek Charles).

A Bonaparte's Gull at Saltburn (Cleveland) from 13th-14th was presumably the Northumberland bird from earlier in the autumn and Sabine's Gulls were noted off Turnberry Point (Ayrshire) on 11th and two past Eccles on Sea (Norfolk) on 12th. An early arrival of white-winged gulls included at least 7 Glaucous Gulls and 14 Iceland Gulls with similar numbers of Caspian Gulls, but just 6 Ring-billed Gulls. In Co. Louth the Forster's Tern was still present at Cruisetown. Small numbers of Little Auks continue to be reported and a couple of Leach's Storm-petrels were off the west Scottish coast with another off Essex.

Coal Tit: Wyre Forest, Worcs (photo: John Robinson).

Purple Sandpiper: Soil Hill, W. Yorks (photo: Sean Gray).

Bewick's Swan (and Whooper Swan): Fluke Hall, Lancs (photo: Dave Mansell).

Curlew: North Wirral CP, Cheshire (photo: Steve Round).

Magpie: Summer Leys, Northants (photo: Richard Bedford).

Little Egret: Penrhos, Anglesey (photo: Mike Atkinson).

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
Mike Atkinson: http://mikeatkinson.net
Ian Barnard: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/sussex.birder
Bill Baston: http://billbaston.com
Richard Bedford: http://www.richardbedford.co.uk
Steve Blain: http://www.steveblain.co.uk
Nigel Blake: http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/birdphotos/index.htm
Paul Boulden: http://southdevonbirds.mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/
Will Bowell: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
Paul Bowerman: http://mysite.freeserve.com/severnsidebirds
Paul Bowyer: http://www.ukbirds.net
Andy Brett: http://www.freewebs.com/andybrett/
Andy Bright: http://www.Digiscoped.com
Martin Cade: http://www.portlandbirdobs.btinternet.co.uk
Graham Catley: http://pewit.blogspot.com/
Mark Caunt: http://angusbirding.homestead.com/
John Coveney: http://www.clarebirdwatching.com/index.php
Kit Day: http://www.kitday-uk.com/
Eric Dempsey: http://www.birdsireland.com/
Lee Dingain: http://www.leedingain.co.uk
Jon Dunn: http://www.surfbirds.com/blogs/Stercorarius/
Dean Eades: http://www.pbase.com/dean_eades/root
Andrew Easton: http://home.clara.net/ammodytes/
Graham Eaton: http://www.eatonphotography.co.uk
Stuart Elsom: http://www.stuartelsom.co.uk
Steve Evans: http://www.powow.com/birds2004/
Katie Fuller: http://bogbumper.blogspot.com
Sean Gray: http://www.grayimages.co.uk
Peter Hadfield: http://www.manxbirdphotography.co.uk
David Hatton: http://www.kowapower.com
Josh Jones: http://www.wanderingbirders.com
John Judge: http://www.draycotebirding.co.uk
Paul and Andrea Kelly: http://www.irishbirdimages.com/
Matt Latham: http://www.pbase.com/latho/root
Jack Levene: http://www.birdingimages.com
Micky Maher: http://www.aardfoto.co.uk/
John Malloy: http://mysite.freeserve.com/JohnMalloyBirdPhotos
Brian Mcgeough: http://www.pbase.com/bmcgeough/british_birds
Tony Mills: http://www.notjustbirds.com
Jerry O'Brien: http://www.BirdsofBerkshire.co.uk
Charlie Moores: http://www.charliesbirdblog.com
Mark Newsome: http://www.whitburnbirding.co.uk
James Packer: http://www.somersetbirder.co.uk
Mike Pennington: http://www.nature.shetland.co.uk
Ken Plows: http://www.kenswildlifepics.co.uk
Ray Purser: http://www.pbase.com/02purser/images
Marc Read: http://www.marcread-pix.com
Tristan Reid: http://www.solwaybirder.org.uk
Steve Round: http://stevenround-birdphotography.com
Gerald Segelbacher: http://www.digiscoping.uk.md
Deryk Shaw/FIBO: http://www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk
Tom Shevlin: http://wildlifesnaps.com/
Peter Simpson: http://www.blueskybirds.co.uk
Matt Slaymaker: http://www.mattslaymaker.co.uk
Oliver Smart: http://www.smartimages.co.uk
George Spraggs: http://www.bird-watching.co.uk
Simon Stirrup: http://www.simonstirrup.co.uk/
Garry Taylor: http://www.spurnbirdobservatory.co.uk/
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
Simon Wilson: http://www.bakewellbirder.co.uk/
Chris Wormwell: http://www.iombirding.co.uk
Dylan Wrathall: http://www.planetthanet.org
Written by: Russell Slack