Right then, since the vast majority of my birding was spent within the county I had better start off with a round-up of what I saw in Hampshire before moving on to anything further afield. Although migration had been in full swing for quite some time already, I only really noted a steady trickle at best, at least up until the point I went to Shetland on the 21st. Yellow Wags, Whinchats and Wheatears etc were at all the usual sites I check but not at all in the abundant numbers I have sometimes recorded in recent years. The first highlight of the month was a not-so showy Wryneck at Farlington (3rd), shortly followed by abit of a waderfest at Pennington (7th). The hot summer had clearly taken its toll on the lagoons leaving plenty of mud on the near side of the pools. Butts and Fishtail Lagoon had almost completely dried up; whereas Keyhaven Lagoon seemed to have the perfect combination of shallow water and wet mud that had the preference of most the waders. Amongst the masses of some 600 Dunlin were at least at least a dozen Curlew Sandpiper, and two Little Stints but the undoubted star of the show was a juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper.
Curlew SandpiperThe high numbers of waders remained the focus throughout the month, though sadly nothing rarer than the Semi-p could be found. Some unsettled weather may have stirred things up a little but it never materialised. Fast forwarding to the second half of the month to when Rob Marchant found what he initially thought was a Red-backed Shrike on his patch at Hook-with-Warsash. He soon after managed more prolonged views and quickly came to the conclusion it was Hampshire's first Brown Shrike. Luckily for me, I had a sales meeting at the Fareham branch and was able to sneak out down to Warsash during my lunch break. The Shrike; favouring a fenced strip near the sub-station performed well at range, and was still in the same place when I returned, again, after work. It was classic individual in every respect; with a short primary projection giving that typical long-tailed appearance. A bull-necked individual with a heavy bill and strikingly bold ear-coverts with the buffiest, and the most obviously vermiculated underparts of all the previous Brown Shrikes I've seen in Britain.
Brown Shrike © Lee FullerLeading up to Shetland I was only tempted out the county once; for a Great Snipe. Having never attempted to twitch one before I knew it was just a matter of time before I would find myself racing up to the east coast to meet an organised flush. Never did I expect to see one strutting around my feet besides a road like the one at Spurn over the weekend of the 15th. It showed no fear of people, nor any predators so it came to no surprise when it fell victim to Tiddles the cat later that week.