After a relatively dry and settled winter for many areas, particularly in the south and east, February 2022 brought a succession of storms that saw Britain and Ireland repeatedly battered high winds and bouts of extremely heavy rain. This, coupled with mild temperatures, lent itself to what would best be described as a steady month for birding.
Three named storms in the space of a week produced a decent inland influx of Kittiwakes, peaking on 21st with at least 125 at Grafham Water, Cambridgeshire, alone; Little Gulls also appeared in smaller numbers, but white-winged gulls only showed a modest increase in what has been a poor winter for them. Ring-necked Duck numbers were again high, with a notable flock of six found in South Wales, and a hint of the forthcoming spring season came on 27th with the first Little Ringed Plovers noted in Lancashire.
Just the 17 Taiga Bean Geese made it into February at Slamannan, Forth, while four overflew Skinflats Lagoons on 25th. A Todd's Canada Goose was mingling with Barnacle Geese at Barrapol, Tiree, with another doing the same at Mersehead RSPB, Dumfries & Galloway on 13th; a possible flew north over Tarbat Ness, Highland, with Pink-feet on 20th and one was at Killimster, Caithness, on 24th. A Tundra Bean Goose was at Golspie, Highland, from 22-25th and the Snow Goose trio lasted at Loch Spynie, Moray. Ten Ring-necked Duck were spread across six sites, with Green-winged Teal at four (Tain, Highland; Loch of Strathbeg and Ythan Estuary, Aberdeenshire; The Wilderness, Fife). The drake American Wigeon at Crook of Baldoon, Dumfries & Galloway, was the country's sole bird; conversely Smew had a fair showing with eight birds split across five sites.
A White-billed Diver was logged past Sandhaven, Aberdeenshire, on 12th and another was at Kilnaughton Bay, Islay, on 25th – a great local record. A Red-necked Grebe continued off Leven, Fife, and the Black-necked Grebe continued to prove popular at Monikie CP, Angus. A Grey Phalarope was off Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, on 6th only. A showy Glossy Ibis was at Wigtown, Dumfries & Galloway, between 2-4th and the Caithness bird made a reappearance at Milton on 13th.
Lothian was again the place to see Ring-billed Gull: an adult was showing nicely at Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, with the second adult regularly sighted off Eastfield, the latter seemingly the bird noted in fields at Penicuik after 22nd. Elsewhere, the Strathclyde Loch bird was still being reported up until 3rd. Glaucous and Iceland Gulls were both thinly spread across the country this month. Two Pomarine Skuas were noted off Colonsay, Argyll, on 19th.
Ring-billed Gull, Edinburgh, Lothian (Rik Addison).
Waxwings were at eight sites this month, with the biggest flock just a mere 15 at St Mary's Kirk, Aberdeenshire, on 27th. A first-winter Rosy Starling was in a private garden at Grangemouth, Forth, between 17-18th and a Siberian Chiffchaff was at Dervaig, Mull, on 2nd, when the Great Grey Shrike was last reported from Glen Feshie, Highland.
Northern Isles and the Hebrides
As many as three White-billed Divers were in Shetland in February: the ever-present adult was in South Nesting Bay, Mainland, throughout, with singles off Unst on 11th, Yell on 18th and Colgrave Sound on 19th. Nearctic wildfowl were represented with the lingering drake Ring-necked Duck at Loch of Brow, Mainland; drake Green-winged Teal at Loch of Hillwell, Mainland, and a Todd's Canada Goose at Twatt, Mainland, on 22nd.
A Black-crowned Night Heron was reported at Sound, Mainland, on 27th although there was no further sign. A barrage of storms mid-month didn't produce the 'winger white-out' as hoped for, but did deposit an adult Kumlien's Gull at Quendale, Mainland, on 21st. Otherwise, Glaucous and Iceland Gulls were at 17 sites apiece.
Kumlien's Gull (centre) with European Herring Gulls, Westray, Orkney (Sandra Otter).
Orkney's Glossy Ibis flock stood defiant in the inclement weather, with nine still reported at Loch of Burness, Westray, at the month's close. The adult White-billed Diver was still off Papa Westray throughout. The two white-morph Snow Geese remained at Shapinsay until 5th and one was at Marwick, Mainland, on 19th. The drake Green-winged Teal continued at Inganess Bay, Mainland, until at least 19th. Westray played host to two adult Kumlien's Gulls this month, one, a fairly well-marked bird, was in Skelwick Bay on 2nd, where a more subtle individual was present on 20th. Glaucous Gulls were split across four sites in Orkney and Iceland Gulls were at six.
White-billed Diver, Papa Westray, Orkney (Jonathan Ford).
The first-winter drake Surf Scoter was still off Allasdale, Barra, until at least 11th and up to two drake Green-winged Teal lingered at Aird Mhor, Barra, with another on North Uist. Two Ring-necked Duck remained: one at Coot Loch, Benbecula, and one at Loch an Tiumpan, Lewis. A Todd's Canada Goose was at Loch Stiapavat, Lewis, on 16-18th and the Snow Goose moved between Sollas and Malacleit, North Uist.
Barra's juvenile Kumlien's Gull moved between Allasdale and Borgh and another was at Vatersay on 1st. Two, and adult and third-winter, was a good showing at Rubh' Arnal, North Uist. Glaucous Gulls were at 11 sites and Iceland Gulls at 13. Two Siberian Chiffchaffs were at Brevig, Barra, on 21st.
In Northumberland, a juvenile White-billed Diver was noted at Stag Rocks on 11th and continued to put in sporadic appearances to the month's end. Other highlights in the north of the county included a popular Grey Phalarope at Dunstanburgh Castle from 25th and two Shore Larks still on Holy Island. Further south, the drake Green-winged Teal at Colt Crag Reservoir and American Wigeon at Big Waters NR remained.
Small numbers of Iceland and Glaucous Gulls continued to be seen and Boulmer produced a fly-by adult Caspian Gull on 13th. It was another poor month for Greater White-fronted Geese, with two Russian White-fronts at Hauxley NR and East Chevington NWT and an adult Greenland White-front still at Grindon Lough. Widdrington Moor Lake continued to host Smew, Red-necked and Slavonian Grebe; the Hooded Crow at Linton Lane and Spotted Redshank at Bothal Pond were also still in place.
Greater Scaup, Killingworth, Northumberland (Alan Jack).
A Great Egret flew south over Fenham-le-Moor on 11th and a Water Pipit was seen there on 20th. Nearby Holy Island produced a Lapland Bunting and a small group of Snow Buntings, while the Water Pipit was still along the shoreline at St Mary's Island. Two Snow Buntings showed well at Seaton Sluice on 24-25th.
The Red-flanked Bluetail continued to delight visitors to Middleton-in-Teesdale, Durham, throughout the month. Siberian Chiffchaffs were at Lamesley on 2nd and Fishburn 3rd. The Water Pipit remained at Whitburn Steel until 21st. Bishop Middleham held on to two Ruddy Shelduck and a Hawfinch, and a Caspian Gull put in an appearance there on 15th. Further Ruddy Shelduck were at Washington WWT (three), Wheatley Hill (two) and Boldon Flats NR. A second-winter Iceland Gull was at Boldon Flats NR on 2nd and the third-winter showed twice at Washington WWT. The Snow Bunting flock at South Shields peaked at 31 on 26th.
Red-flanked Bluetail, Middleton-in-Teesdale, Durham (Chris Barlow).
A group of five Shore Larks at Saltburn on 27th was the highlight of the month in Cleveland. Two also flew in off the sea at Hartlepool on 22nd, with other highlights there including Glaucous Gull, Black-throated Diver, Red-necked Grebe and a couple of Black Redstarts. Four other localities also produced Glaucous Gulls during the month. The Eurasian Spoonbill and Great Egret remained at Saltholme RSPB throughout along with the Spotted Redshank at nearby Greatham Creek. A small group of Snow Buntings, Velvet Scoter and Black-throated Diver were at South Gare and a Waxwing put in a brief appearance in Guisborough on 22nd.
In Cumbria, the two female Ring-necked Duck lingered at Longtown until 19th. The Red-necked Grebe continued at Cavendish Dock, Barrow-in-Furness, where a juvenile Iceland Gull flew past on 7th. Three Russian White-fronted Geese were with Greylags at Wintertarn on 6th and a first-winter was at Anthorn on 26th. Great Grey Shrike is a rare commodity this winter, so the lingering bird at Killington Reservoir was most welcome. The Hooded Crow was a constant fixture at South Walney NR.
The Isle of Man had a quiet month, with a Snow Bunting at Point of Ayre on 9th the only sighting of note.
Red-necked Grebe, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria (Ian Tallon).
Lancashire's month ended with a report of two Little Ringed Plovers at Martin Mere WWT on 27th, which would the earliest record for the county if confirmed. Both flavours of white-fronted goose were on offer: an adult Greenland was at Myerscough Quarry throughout, with 18 Russians from 2-5th. Another Greenland was mobile with Pink-feet between Hightown and Plex Moss. Elsewhere, Russians were well represented on the Ribble Estuary with regular counts of four adults, 16 were near Inskip on 19th. The latter site hosted three Tundra Bean Geese on 6th, with a single at Banks on 4th. The Todd's Canada Goose was still reported at Banks Marsh sporadically and the Snow Goose made its way back to Lancashire and was still at Crossens Outer Marsh at the end of the month.
Two Bewick's Swans were noted at Hundred End on 5th, while a family of five remained in the Glasson area until 23rd. The female Ring-necked Duck was last noted at Borwick Waters on 14th. The windy weather mid-month saw a notable rise in Little Gull reports along the coast, with no fewer than 14 sites logging them. Up to five Siberian Chiffchaffs remained at Martin Mere WWT, while Snow Buntings continued at three sites.
Little Gull, Seaforth LWT (Permit only), Lancashire (Daniel Gornall).
The Snow Goose remained at Burton Marsh, Cheshire, until 2nd and is presumably the same bird noted over Frodsham Marsh the following day. Four Ruddy Shelduck were on the Dee Estuary around Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB. Three Greater White-fronted Geese overflew Tattenhall on 10th and both Russians were in place at Acre Nook Sand Quarry. Two redhead Smew at Lapwing Hall Pool remained the only two available in the North-West this month and the Black-necked Grebe continued to move between here and Acre Nook.
Two adult Glossy Ibises dropped in at Woolston Eyes NR on 6th, where they continued to play cat and mouse with observers until 15th. A displaced Kittiwake was on a roadside flash at Disley from 23rd and an immature Iceland Gull flew west past Hale on 19th. Five Snow Buntings remained along the North Wirral coast with another over Parkgate Marsh on 2nd.
The long-staying Red-throated Diver remained at Watergrove Reservoir, Greater Manchester, until 20th and was replaced by an adult Kittiwake on 24th. Further Kittiwake reports came from Pennington Flash CP and Elton Reservoir on 26th. The latter site also had a brief adult Iceland Gull on 17th. Gorton continues to be the Caspian Gull hotspot of the North-West, with as many as three different immatures through the month; a first-winter roosted at Audenshaw Reservoirs on 23rd and a second-winter spent the night at Pennington Flash CP on 28th. The Water Pipit was still at Daisy Hill sewage works, Westhoughton, on 3rd and an elusive Siberian Chiffchaff was at Atherton from 15-27th.
Lincolnshire and Yorkshire
In Lincolnshire, the American Wigeon reappeared at Frampton Marsh RSPB on 26th for the first time since November, while other Nearctic visitors included both Ring-necked Duck still near Langtoft. Bewick's Swans were at three sites, including a peak of four at Nocton Fen. Migrating Common Cranes included 14 over Riseholme on 9th and three over Castle Bytham on 28th. On the coast, a Glossy Ibis toured the Chapel Six Marshes area for a few days to 23rd.
Rough-legged Buzzards have been virtually absent nationally this winter, so one reported near Fulletby on 28th was of note. A Black Redstart near Scopwick was a good winter record for the county. Four sites held Water Pipits, with Gibraltar Point NNR claiming up to 11.
Ring-necked Duck, Baston & Langtoft Pits, Lincolnshire (Josh Jones).
East Yorkshire sightings included a Black Brant commuting between Kilnsea and Skeffling, with up to three Siberian Chiffchaffs still nearby at Easington. As well as the Baikal Teal, the Hull Valley hosted drake Smew and Greater Scaup. Up to three Shore Larks remained at Buckton, with up to 45 Lapland Buntings also there. An adult Glaucous Gull passed Flamborough Head on 2nd.
A Rough-legged Buzzard was reported from Bransdale, North Yorkshire, on 7th, with the female Ring-necked Duck again near Catterick on a couple of dates (plus a Greater Scaup still). The Great Grey Shrike was last noted near Wistow on 2nd, while a white-morph Snow Goose attracted attention near Blubberhouses, even if its origins are almost certainly 'duff'. Up to three Smew were in the Derwent Valley, with two Bewick's Swans at North Duffield on 20th. On the coast, a juvenile Glaucous Gull flew past Long Nab on 24th and a Hooded Crow was seen at Cayton Bay on 26th, while a Siberian Chiffchaff hung on at Hunmanby.
Little Gull, Filey Dams YWT, North Yorkshire (Will Scott).
In West Yorkshire, an Iceland Gull roosted at Wintersett Reservoir on 14th with Caspian and Yellow-legged Gulls still on offer at Redcar Tarn. Part of a wider movement, four Kittiwakes roosted at Eccup Reservoir on 21st. Two Twite continued at St Aidan's RSPB and nearby Lemonroyd STW held a Water Pipit. An Iceland Gull roosted at Old Moor RSPB on 14th, with Siberian Chiffchaff and Water Pipit also noted in the Dearne Valley. Further Sibe Chiffs were at Potteric Carr YWT and Sheffield. Orgreave Lagoons had a Kittiwake on 19th, with Black-necked Grebe there on 27th. A Hawfinch was at Stainborough Castle on 22nd.
The two drake Green-winged Teal in Staffordshire both lingered into February, with the Belvide bird present until 3rd and the Middleton Lakes individual until 7th. A Glossy Ibis flew over the former site on 11th. An adult Iceland Gull was in the Chasewater roost on and off from 14th, while a Greenland White-fronted Goose was at Doxey Marshes on 3rd. No fewer than five sites scored Kittiwake.
Kittiwake, Belvide Reservoir, Staffordshire (Steve Nuttall).
There were no Kittiwakes in Warwickshire, though a heard-only Dusky Warbler at Hartshill on 17th was a smart record. The 'eastern' Lesser Whitethroat was seen regularly at Hams Hall. The two Great Northern Divers lingered at Draycote Water, where the adult Glaucous Gull was noted periodically in the roost until 17th.
A European Shag was at Upper Bittell Reservoir, Worcestershire, on 12th, while a Kittiwake touched down at Westwood Pool on 4th. The Herefordshire Ring-necked Duck pair was reported at Wellington GPs until 19th, two Western Cattle Egrets visited Brampton Abbotts on 25th and seven Russian White-fronted Geese continued at Clifford until 2nd.
Lesser Whitethroat, Hams Hall, Warwickshire (Dave Hutton).
In West Midlands, a female Ring-necked Duck at Lifford Reservoir from 5-12th proved popular. The juvenile Iceland Gull spent the entire month at either Edgbaston or Bartley Reservoirs and a Kittiwake flew over Coventry on 21st.
Nottinghamshire's American Wigeon continued in the Idle Valley all month, with up to three Smew also there and up to four at Holme Pierrepont. Two or three Ring-necked Duck also continued in the north of the county, with Langford Lowfields hosting up to two (plus the lingering Great Northern Diver). Carburton was the other site favoured, where a flyover White-tailed Eagle was noted on 23rd. Russian White-fronted Geese and Siberian Chiffchaffs were at two sites, with Caspian Gulls at four.
Ring-necked Duck, Carburton, Nottinghamshire (Paul Coombes).
Two Snow Buntings were at Holme Moss, Derbyshire, on 23rd, with two Red-breasted Merganser at Bottoms Reservoir on 21st. The Great Grey Shrike reappeared on Bonsall Moor mid-month. Two Red-necked Grebes and the Great Northern Diver were at Carsington Water, with Hawfinches at Chatsworth and Cromford (four). A Glossy Ibis was briefly at Willington Wetlands on 16th.
In Leicestershire, the female Ring-necked Duck was reported regularly from Eyebrook Reservoir to 20th, with groups of Greater Scaup and Smew there – the latter also commuting to Rutland Water, where three Great Northern Divers, Slavonian Grebe and two Russian White-fronted Geese were also on offer. Elsewhere in the county, two Hawfinches were at Charnwood Lodge on 8th and a Greater Scaup visited Groby Pool on 22-23rd.
Dartford Warbler, Storton's GPs, Northamptonshire (Dylan Parry-Davies).
What is presumably the Eyebrook Ring-necked Duck has occasionally visited Northamptonshire this winter, and it made an appearance at Titchmarsh NR on 26-27th. Nearby a Glossy Ibis took up residence at Stanwick Lakes from 24th, while two Common Cranes flew over Ravensthorpe Reservoir on 26th (drake Smew also there to 16th). Pitsford Reservoir produced a single drake Smew and the lingering Great Northern Diver. Siberian Chiffchaffs were at two sites, with the Dartford Warbler still on the outskirts of Northampton to 17th.
East of England
A Eurasian Dotterel commuted between Thornham and Burnham Overy between 21st and 25th; the latter location was also visited by the Holkham Shore Larks at times. Glossy Ibises included one commuting along the Yare Valley and another seen at sites between Waxham and Cley between 12th and 24th. Early in the month, a reintroduced White-tailed Eagle was noted in the Wensum valley near Fakenham.
One or two Iceland Gulls were in the Brecks, with the Cley bird present throughout. Tundra Bean Geese were noted at six sites, including nine at Welney WWT. A rare bird in the county these days, three Smew at Rollesby Broad on 20th was notable, with a redhead at Taverham Pits. Siberian Chiffchaffs were at four localities, including Titchwell RSPB, but a reported Pallas's Warbler at Brancaster Staithe on 1st wasn't seen again.
Shore Lark, Holkham Gap, Norfolk (Nick Lawman).
Bird of the month for Suffolk was a drake Ring-necked Duck at Aldringham from 5th, which required climbing up a tree to get views of the private waterbody it was frequenting! Minsmere RSPB hosted a pair of Smew – the only birds in the county this month – where the Lesser Yellowlegs also stuck around. A drake Greater Scaup at Redgrave Lake from 4th was well received by local birders, as were six Russian White-fronted Geese at Great Livermere on 2nd. A Ruddy Shelduck was near Cavenham on a few dates.
A Glossy Ibis over Blythburgh on 3rd later appeared at Walberswick from 6th, with another at Carlton Marshes – where a female Garganey was seen from 13th. The wintering Glaucous Gull was reported regularly from the Blyth Estuary. Waxwings were at Bucklesham on 1-2nd and over Wangford on 22nd.
Lesser Yellowlegs, Minsmere RSPB, Suffolk (Sam O'Donnell).
In addition to the wintering Red-breasted Goose along the Crouch Estuary, Black Brant were both there and at Mersea Island. Up to two Smew remained in the Lee Valley, while Abberton Reservoir claimed up to six. Abberton also held Red-necked and Slavonian Grebes, Long-tailed Duck and posses of Russian White-fronted Goose and Greater Scaup. Hawfinches included 20 still near Danbury and up to eight at Thundersley.
Long-tailed Duck, Abberton Reservoir, Essex (Bill Plumb).
The Hertfordshire European Serin was last reported at Maple Cross on 13th, while an Isle of Wight White-tailed Eagle flew through Royston airspace on 14th. Hawfinches were at four sites, including up to 10 still at Bramfield. Bedfordshire's big find of the month was a drake Green-winged Teal at Meadow Lane GP from 7th – the first in the county for nine years – while two Greater Scaup were at Brogborough Lake and a third remained at Grovebury Sand Pit.
Yellow-browed Warbler, Milton CP, Cambridgeshire (Jon Heath).
In Cambridgeshire, Smithy Fen had a fine month with Green-winged Teal on 28th and regular visits from the wandering Kumlien's Gull, as well as good numbers of Caspian Gulls. After almost four weeks' absence, the Great Grey Shrike reappeared at Comberton on 27th – as did the Hoopoe in Duxford on the same day. Glossy Ibises were noted at several sites, including one at Nene Washes RSPB. Ouse Valley Smew maxima included six at Fen Drayton Lakes RSPB and seven at Paxton Pits NR, with singles elsewhere at Grafham Water and Bainton GPs. Five Tundra Bean Geese were in the Block Fen GPs area. As well as the long-staying Great Northern Diver and Greater Scaup flock, Grafham Water attracted a spectacular 125 Kittiwakes on 21st – the biggest group seen during a widespread inland influx caused by stormy weather. The Yellow-browed Warbler was at Milton CP to at least 17th.
The undoubted show-stopper of the month was the hugely popular American Robin at Eastbourne, East Sussex, which was found on 8th. A county first, the discovery of this North American mega meant the coastal town boasted a quality double-act of national rarities, with the continuing Hume's Leaf Warbler making a mockery of the fact these two species should be wintering some 10,000 km away from each other. In Kent, the St Margaret's at Cliffe Hume's Leaf Warbler was present all month. A drake Ferruginous Duck at Dorchester-on-Thames in Oxfordshire from 8th may well be the bird that spent the previous couple of months at Thorpe Park, Surrey …
There was a feeling of 'as you were' in Kent, with lingering scarcities including the Fordwich Dusky Warbler (until 23rd), up to seven Shore Larks on Sheppey, two Black Brant in the Reculver area and Glossy Ibises on the Hoo (one) and at Dungeness (two). A drake Ring-necked Duck was a new find at Little Murston from 19-22nd. The second-winter Iceland Gull was about on and off all month at Dungeness, where a Glaucous Gull was reported on 9th and the redhead Smew was present throughout. Bewick's Swans were at three sites and a Tundra Bean Goose was on Sheppey on 6th. Two Lapland Buntings were at North Foreland on 7th.
Shore Lark, Leysdown-on-Sea, Sheppey, Kent (Stephen Ray).
Away from the Eastbourne excitement, Sussex highlights included the reappearing wintering Little Bunting at Poundgate, a Black Brant on Thorney Island on 27th and the Shore Lark at Pett Level on 7th. Up to six Glossy Ibises were around the Pagham area, with a singleton near Arundel. The Polegate Hooded Crow was ever present, with the Tundra Bean Goose trio gettable during most of the month at Iford Brooks. Rye Harbour scored an Iceland Gull on 23-24th, the Arun Valley Bewick's Swans lingered until 13th and four sites held Russian White-fronts.
Little Bunting, Ashdown Forest, West Sussex (Malcolm Freeman).
Two Black Brant were at Chichester Harbour, Hampshire, at the end of the month, with one of these likely accounting for the aforementioned Sussex bird. The Ring-billed Gull was seen regularly at Blashford Lakes until 19th and was reported from Tidpit on occasion, too. Barton on Sea recorded Hampshire's biggest-ever count of Purple Sandpiper on 10th, with 33 tallied. An early White Wagtail was reported past there on 26th. An Iceland Gull flew over Corhampton on 14th, a Snow Bunting was at Hill Head on 18th and the Hook-with-Warsash Yellow-browed Warbler remained until 2nd. Presumably the same Caspian Gull visited both Fareham and Farlington at the back end of the month and a young Russian White-front was at three sites from 2nd. On the Isle of Wight, a Great Grey Shrike at Little Atherfield was significant for being the only one of its kind in the entire South-East in February. The 11 Glossy Ibises remained at Brading Marshes where the two Russian White-fronted Geese were last seen on 17th.
Geese were once again the headline makers during a quiet month for Berkshire, with the Padworth Lane Pink-footed Goose present all month and three sites scoring Russian White-fronts. There wasn't loads to shout about in Buckinghamshire, where a Bewick's Swan was reported over Monks Risborough on 17th.
Things were similarly steady in Surrey, where the Reigate Ring-necked Duck and Thorpe Park Greater Scaup were present all month. A Kittiwake visited Island Barn Reservoir on 22nd and the Dorking Russian White-fronted Goose was last reported on 15th.
Ring-necked Duck, Reigate, Surrey (Dave Harris).
In Oxfordshire, an impressive three sites – Otmoor, Radley GPs and Appleford GPs – hosted Ring-necked Duck, with Glossy Ibises also turning up at a trio of locations (Ambrosden, Otmoor and Port Meadow). A Smew was at Rushy Common on 16th, Chimney Meadows scored a Kittiwake on 25th and a White Wagtail visited Whitchurch on Thames on 26th. Lingering bits included the Farmoor Great Northern Diver and Garganey at Standlake, with Greater Scaup at three sites.
Great Northern Diver, Farmoor Reservoir, Oxfordshire (Clive Daelman).
It was a quiet month in the capital, with the Red-necked Grebe lingering at King George V Reservoir and a Great Northern Diver visiting William Girling Reservoir on 16th. A Mealy Redpoll was a surprise report at London Wetland Centre on 25th, three different locales hosted Greater Scaup and two Little Gulls visited Staines Reservoirs on 21st.
Much of the month's action in the Isles of Scilly was on and around Tresco, where the Lesser Scaup was last reported on 23rd – a day after the last sighting of the Glossy Ibis – and the first-winter female Surf Scoter lingered offshore to the end of February. Five Pink-footed Geese remained on the island to 17th. Up to four Eurasian Spoonbills loafed on Samson, with one visiting St Martin's on 25th. Offshore delights around Tresco and St Martin's included a Black-throated Diver.
Cornish highlights were a Ross's Gull off Trevone and an American Golden Plover at Porthgwarra on 9th, and a Richard's Pipit at Skewjack the next day. The Rosy Starling continued in Lower Boscaswell to 25th, while Trevose Head delivered a Lapland Bunting on 26th and the Ring Ouzel reappeared at Porthgwarra on 9th. St Austell sewage works had up to two Yellow-browed Warblers.
Gulls kept birders busy, with the Ring-billed Gull and numerous Caspian Gulls at Hayle Estuary, an adult Kumlien's Gull at Newlyn from 19th and a light scattering of Iceland and Glaucous Gulls. Seawatching off Pendeen delivered a Long-tailed Skua on 19th, followed by Sooty Shearwater and European Storm Petrel on 21st. The Surf Scoter was off Pentewan to 27th and two Black Guillemots were off Falmouth all month. Three Ring-necked Duck commuted between Siblyback Reservoir and Dozmary Pool, while the drake lingered at Walmsley Sanctuary, where nine Glossy Ibises remained on 27th and a Tundra Bean Goose appeared on 5th. Upper Tamar Lake still had its three Tundra Bean Geese.
Kumlien's Gull, Newlyn, Cornwall (Steve HOPPER).
The European Serin was last reported at Axmouth, Devon, on 2nd. The American Buff-bellied Pipit didn't stay much longer, last seen on 5th. In Plymouth, a Yellow-browed Warbler was in gardens to 16th. The Ring-necked Duck stayed at Slapton Ley and two drakes were found at Blackhill Quarry on 20th, with one to 23rd. Slapton hosted the Snow Bunting to 25th. The Whooper Swan remained at Braunton Marsh to 12th. A flock of 10 Glossy Ibises appeared at Exe Estuary from 2-5th, with five at Fremington Pill later in the month. Two Pomarine Skuas were seen occasionally in Tor Bay during the month and a juvenile Glaucous Gull visited Brixham on 23rd. A Black-necked Grebe gave great views at Fernworthy Reservoir late on.
Black-necked Grebe, Fernworthy Reservoir, Devon (Martin Bennett).
Lytchett Bay had an adult Bonaparte's Gull on 9-10th. Abbotsbury Swannery continued to host its Lesser Scaup all month, alongside three Greater Scaup. At least one Black Brant was on The Fleet. Two Ring-necked Duck paid Lodmoor RSPB a short visit on 10th and a Glossy Ibis toured Christchurch Harbour. A Black Guillemot was off Hengistbury Head on 21st. Three Tundra Bean Geese reappeared at Wareham from 18th. The Iceland Gull floated around Weymouth, with the Red-necked Grebe still in the bay. Two Cirl Buntings continued at West Bexington.
There was still much to see in Somerset. A first-winter Ring-billed Gull was an enviable find at Chew Valley Lake, first reported as a probable on 14th and returning on 27th. A wind-driven Leach's Storm Petrel was taken out over Parrett Estuary by a Peregrine Falcon on 21st. A Richard's Pipit was at Steart WWT on 6th and the Yellow-browed Warbler remained in Weston-super-Mare to 20th. There was still a Hawfinch at West Monkton on 12th. The drake Ring-necked Duck was still at Ham Wall RSPB on 2nd, then at Shapwick Heath NNR till 26th. The Tundra Bean Goose was last at Tealham Moor on 8th. Barrow Gurney Reservoir's Long-tailed Duck remained on 26th but the Black-necked Grebe left Blagdon Lake after 22nd. An Iceland Gull roosted at Sutton Bingham Reservoir on 27th. The three Eurasian Penduline Tits, as well as the Baikal Teal and Kentish Plover, remained throughout.
Ring-billed Gull, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset & Bristol (Nigel Tucker).
Slimbridge WWT held plenty of interest, with Glossy Ibis, as well as three Greenland White-fronted, 202 Russian White-fronted and three Snow Geese. The Eurasian Spoonbill only stayed till 7th and two Little Stints made occasional appearances. Black Redstarts were at Gloucester Cathedral, Oldbury Power Station, Sharpness and Tewkesbury, while a Siberian Chiffchaff remained at Kempsford to 27th. At Tidenham, the Water Pipit stuck around till 6th, and a Purple Sandpiper was in the high tide roost at Severn Beach on 12th. At Cotswold Water Park, two Greater Scaup were still on Pit 65 on 14th. Parkend was the place to catch up with up to eight Hawfinches.
Hawfinch, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire (Jeff Lack).
The Snow Bunting stayed at Mere, Wiltshire, till 11th, with the Black Redstart still there the next day, and a Greater Scaup lingered on Pit 74 at Cotswold Water Park to 20th. A Kittiwake dropped in at Langford Lakes on 14th. In Swindon, a Ring Ouzel appeared in a garden on several dates. A Siberian Chiffchaff was again at Westbury STW on 26th. Sixteen Hawfinches were counted at Savernake Forest on 16th, while others were at Fonthill Lake and Chippenham (two).
Scarce wildfowl continued to dominate Welsh headlines in February, with up to two drake Surf Scoter still off the Conwy coast between Pensarn and Colwyn Bay and an impressive five off Pendine, Carmarthenshire. Ring-necked Duck included a spectacular six at Kenfig Hill, Glamorgan, from 3rd, with at least three others in Glamorgan and further lingering birds in Pembrokeshire and Gwynedd. Wales's first Snow Goose was also seen from the Welsh side of the Dee Estuary on a few dates early on.
Three Russian White-fronted Geese were at Ynys-Hir RSPB, Ceredigion, early in the month, with an adult among Pink-feet at Cors Ddyga RSPB, Anglesey, at the same time. Five were still at Rhyl on 3rd, but had seemingly moved inland to near Denbigh by mid-month.
Ring-necked Duck, Kenfig Hill, Glamorgan (Paul Roberts).
Two Glossy Ibises were responsible for sightings at several locations between Swansea and Llanelli, last being seen at the WWT reserve at the end of the month. Elsewhere, Pembrokeshire sightings were at Dale to 2nd and Haverfordwest on 14th.
Slavonian Grebe and Greater Scaup provided supporting cast for the Pacific Diver at Eglwys Nunydd Reservoir, Glamorgan, throughout. Similarly, at least one Caspian Gull provided back-up in Cardiff Bay for Bonaparte's Gull twitchers at the end of the month.
Snow Goose, Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB, Clwyd (Andrew Wallbank).
In addition to the dependable Little Orme bird, Iceland Gulls were at nine sites – including an adult at Porthmadog on 20-21st. The only Glaucous Gull was at Ogmore Estuary, Glamorgan, on 17th. Stormy conditions produced Little Gulls at 20 sites between Glamorgan and the Llŷn Peninsula in Gwynedd.
A male Ring Ouzel was in a garden at St Arvans, Gwent, on 16th – one of several seen nationally this winter. Eight sites produced Hawfinch records this month: in the south, a peak of 10 at Cosmeston Lakes on 5th was noted, while in the north it was the Conwy Valley that provided regular sightings.
Siberian Chiffchaffs were noted at four sites in the southern half of the country, including up to two at Kidwelly STW, Carmarthenshire – where the wintering Swallow also remained.
Towards the end of the month the Egyptian Vulture was remarkably relocated again, this time not far from where it was seen on New Year's Eve near Funshinagh Lough, Co Roscommon. The bird was heavily twitched and showed well to all. Whether this bird will stay in Ireland for good or move on in the spring is anyone's guess. Other rarity highlights included the third Irish Double-crested Cormorant at Doon Lough, Co Leitrim, from 14th, a first-winter Ross's Gull off Mutton Island, Co Galway, on 19th that initially proved elusive before eventually showing very well daily, and Ireland's first twitchable Ferruginous Duck in more than a decade was a very unexpected find at Ballysaggart Lough, Co Tyrone, on 17th. The Northern Harrier was still present throughout the month at Boora Bog, Co Offaly, and two of the winter's three American Coot were seen.
Ross's Gull, Mutton Island, Galway (Josh Jones).
Three wintering Canada Geese were seen in Cos Mayo and Clare (two). Several good candidates for Grey-bellied Brant were found in Cos Dublin, Wicklow and Louth. The Snow Goose was still present at Lissadell, Co Sligo, with no fewer than four Cackling Geese across Cos Sligo, Clare and Mayo. Three Tundra Bean Geese were seen throughout the month with the two still present at Tybroughney, Co Kilkenny, and another at Lurgangreen, Co Louth. Sadly, the national total of wintering Bewick's Swans is now down to just three individuals – a single family of two adults and a juvenile at Killag, Co Wexford. What has also now become a very rare bird in Ireland, only two Smew have been found this winter – one at Derrybrick Lough, Co Cavan, and another at Reedy Flats, Co Armagh.
Three Surf Scoter included two off Mornington, Co Meath, and a new drake found off Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, on 14th. After what was arguably the best-ever winter for Lesser Scaup, numbers seem to have dried up with only one seen during the month – a drake at Oxford Island, Co Armagh. Green-winged Teal continued in Cos Cork, Kerry, Down, Wicklow, Wexford and Mayo, but just the one American Wigeon was noted (Co Clare). Eighteen sites held Ring-necked Duck, including peak counts of five at Lough Gara, Co Sligo, and Lough Yganavan, Co Clare.
Iceland Gull, Bantry, Cork (Josh Jones).
Little Auks were seen off Cos Clare and Kerry, with four past Bridges of Ross on 4th. The only Irish Black-necked Grebe this winter was found at Reedy Flats, Co Armagh, on 27th. The long-staying Avocet was still present at Kinsale Marsh, Co Cork, throughout the month. Both wintering Lesser Yellowlegs were still present at both Tacumshin, Co Wexford, and Rahasane, Co Galway, throughout. Twenty-five Western Cattle Egrets were spread across five counties, with a peak count of 10 near Courtmacsherry, Co Cork. Great Egrets were seen at five locations, with a peak of three at the Gearagh, Co Cork, on 4th. Glossy Ibises were in six counties.
Ireland's 16th Azores Gull was still on the Mullet, Co Mayo, and afforded amazing views to some lucky observers. Regular adult Kumlien's Gulls were at sites in Cos Mayo and Galway, while a minor influx of Iceland Gulls included up to 17 at Killybegs, Co Donegal. A dozen Ring-billed Gulls included counts of four at Tralee, Co Kerry, and in Cork Harbour.
Ring-billed Gull, Tralee, Kerry (Josh Jones).
Curraghchase, Co Limerick, is the only reliable location for Hawfinch in Ireland and held at least one bird this month. The wintering Ring Ouzel continued at Ballard Road, Co Armagh, but will likely be heading off shortly. A Hoopoe was a good find at Kilcubbin, Co Down, on 16th. Water Pipits were seen at Clahane, Co Clare, and another two at Tacumshin, Co Wexford, on 27th. The Yellow-browed Warbler lingered in Dungarvan, Co Waterford.