For the third yeare running April proved a very dry month, with a persistent north-easterly airflow often taking hold. The flood of Garganey enjoyed in March reduced to a more typical flow, but were replaced by decent movements of Ring Ouzel and Little Gulls, as well as mini-influxes of Red-rumped Swallow and Black Kite. There was a feeling that western areas produced the best passage, with parts of the South-East and East Anglia enduring a particularly lean month, while the West Midlands and parts of the North-West producing much more for patchbirders.
Spring was well underway across Scotland by the close of April. A Black Kite flew over Gifford, Lothian, on 28th and two Red-rumped Swallows were at Loch of Strathbeg RSPB, Aberdeenshire, on 30th. A Firecrest at Newtonhill, Aberdeenshire, from 13-15th was also a great local bird. A Spotted Crake showed well for a period at Letham Pools, Fife, on 20th, while confirmed Hoopoes were reported from three sites (Port Logon, Dumfries & Galloway, on 9-15th; Gatehouse of Fleet, Dumfries & Galloway, on 19th; and Eigg, Highland, on 20th). Four Eurasian Dotterel were at Teviot Haughs, Borders, on 13th only. In Aberdeenshire, a Little Bunting at Craig David Croft, Inverbervie, on 21st was a great spring record.
Red-rumped Swallow, Loch of Strathbeg RSPB, Aberdeenshire (Mike Chandler).
Winter still had a grasp on the country through April. The Great Grey Shrike was last reported at Backwater Reservoir, Angus, on 18th. Iceland and Glaucous Gulls were reported from 28 sites apiece. A redhead Smew was at Loch Spynie, Moray, on 16th and a Tundra Bean Goose was at Cuthill, Highland, on 24th. A Waxwing was reported at Tullochgrue, Highland, on 22nd.
The traditional White-billed Diver staging sites in the Moray Firth were true to form, with peak counts including 17 off Portsoy, Aberdeenshire, on 2nd; seven off Whitehills, Aberdeenshire, on 2nd; and five off Cullen, Moray (3rd), Portknockie, Moray (20th) and Sandend, Aberdeenshire (20th). One off Embo, Highland, between 3-12th was an outlier.
White-billed Divers, Portsoy, Aberdeenshire (Tim Marshall).
Ring-necked Duck were split across nine localities, including counts of three at King's Myre Loch, Perth & Kinross, and Loch Bhasapol, Tiree. The drake Green-winged Teal lingered at Threipmuir Reservoir, Lothian, until 9th, and one was at Loch of Kinnordy RSPB, Angus & Dundee, between 17-29th. American Wigeon had a fair showing, with two at Loch Fleet, Highland, on 3rd; drake at Lossie Estuary, Moray & Nairn on 5-9th and later Loch Spynie on 15-20th; drake at Garlieston, Dumfries & Galloway, on 9-12th; and drake at Auchincross Loch, Ayrshire, on 15-16th. At least three Surf Scoter continued off Musselburgh, Lothian. Elsewhere, three were in Sound of Gigha, Argyll, two drakes were off Seton Sands, Lothian, and lone drakes were off Ferny Ness, Lothian, on 17th and in Burghead Bay, Moray.
An adult Lesser White-fronted Goose among Pink-footed Geese at Udale Bay, Highland, from 22nd was greeted with initial excitement, but proved (on belly pattern) to be the regular bird seen previously in Lancashire and North Yorkshire, which has been deemed worthy of Category E by the BBRC. Lingering geese included the Todd's Canada Goose at Stewarton, Argyll, on 5th and a Snow Goose at Drumlemble, Argyll, until 5th.
Lesser White-fronted Goose, Udale Bay, Highland (Peter Stronach).
A Pectoral Sandpiper spent 15th on Ythan Estuary, Aberdeenshire, and one was at Loch of Strathbeg RSPB, Aberdeenshire, on 25th, although it is thought this bird is responsible for the Temminck's Stint reported the previous day. A Great Shearwater was logged past Kingsbarns, Fife, on 22nd. Away from regular coastal spots, Red-necked Grebes were reported from Hogganfield Loch, Clyde, until 9th and Loch Ewe, Highland, on 19th. A Spotted Redshank at Laggan Bay, Mull, on 25th was the island's first record. Two Ruddy Shelduck were between Evanton and Dingwall, Highland, on 9th.
Northern Isles and the Hebrides
White-billed Divers again decorated Shetland's seas through the month. One remained off Gloup, Yell, until 1st, one off Norwick, Unst, on 2-20th and up to two at the regular haunt of South Nesting Bay, Mainland. Two Glossy Ibis toured Shetland in the latter part of the month, first at Hillswick, Mainland, on 20th, then Skaw, Whalsay, on 24th and Clivocast, Unst, on 29-30th.
The Woodlark held out at Mulla, Mainland, until 2nd. Hawfinches fared well, with no fewer than 25 reported across Shetland on 14th, which is thought to be a record spring day count. Hot on the heels of the Egyptian Goose, a pair of Mandarin Duck were on Loch of Tingwall, Mainland, on 24-25th. The drake Ring-necked Duck was still at Loch of Brow, Mainland, until 28th and a drake Green-winged Teal was on Grunna Water, Mainland, from 29th. Three white-morph adult Snow Geese were near Challister, Whalsay, between 4th and 12th and two ringed birds were on Foula on 28th – possibly last year's presumed escapes returning. White-winged gulls were waning, but Iceland Gulls were reported from 11 sites and Glaucous Gulls from three, although both likely to have some overlap with individual birds.
Hawfinch, Fair Isle, Shetland (Alex Penn).
Fair Isle enjoyed a showy Lesser Yellowlegs on 6th, with the bird lingering until 17th despite going AWOL for eight days. A flurry of half-expected spring vagrants included: Hoopoe from 14th and Greater Short-toed Lark from 15th. The two overflying Glossy Ibises on 19th were almost certainly responsible for the glut of records further north. In keeping with last year, a White-billed Diver was off Meoness on 28th. A Common Crane was on the island on 12-13th.
Lesser Yellowlegs, Fair Isle, Shetland (Alex Penn).
The glut of Glossy Ibis continued on Orkney. At least seven remained on Westray, one lingered at Quoyloo, Mainland, from 9-16th, two paid a brief visit to Papa Westray on 28th and one was at The Loons RSPB, Mainland, on 29th. The drake Green-winged Teal was still performing at Inganess Bay, Mainland, until 5th and a female Garganey was at North Loch, Sanday, on 22nd. A Spotted Crake spent 13-14th on North Ronaldsay, while an Avocet was at Bu Loch, Stronsay, on 25th. A Mandarin Duck was at Loch of Kirbister, Mainland, on 25th. The wintering White-billed Diver was still off Papa Westray on 24th. An adult Kumlien's Gull at St Peter's Pool, Mainland, on 5th headlined the white-winged gull reports. Elsewhere, Iceland Gulls were reported from four sites and Glaucous from five.
In the Outer Hebrides, a lone Garganey was at Coot Loch, Benbecula, on 24th while a pair was at Loch nam Fèithean, North Uist, from 26th. Five Eurasian Dotterel arrived at Baleshare, North Uist, on 23rd and were still present at the month's close. Three Ring-necked Duck were reported across the Outer Hebrides. Barra's first Corncrake arrived back on 16th, but two drake Mandarin Duck at Loch Tangasdail on 22nd stole the show. The island's juvenile Kumlien's Gull shows no sign of leaving and was still reported until the month's end. Iceland Gulls were reported from seven sites and Glaucous from 10.
There was a good selection of scarcities found in Northumberland during April. In the Druridge Bay area, a drake Green-winged Teal was at Druridge Pools from 6th, a drake American Wigeon was found on 19th, and a drake Ring-necked Duck at Widdrington Moor and Maiden's Hall Lakes on 14-15th was probably the same bird as seen at Capheaton two days previously. A Red-rumped Swallow was noted at Colt Crag Reservoir on 18th and a Black Kite moved south over Widdrington the same day.
Common Crane, Long Nanny, Northumberland (Gary Woodburn).
On 14th, a Black-crowned Night Heron was reported in Alnmouth and Great Grey Shrikes were found at Holywell Pond and Alnwick Moor. White-billed Divers were seen off Whitley Bay and St Mary's Island on 26th and 27th respectively and a Eurasian Dotterel was heard over Humshaugh on the former date. Eight localities scored Common Cranes, including a lingering bird in the Long Nanny area, and three produced White-tailed Eagles.
A notable passage of gulls at Boulmer on 24th included at least four Glaucous Gulls and two Iceland Gulls. Another 'Glauc' was noted at Warkworth on 3rd and Iceland Gulls were at seven other sites during the month. Eight localities scored Garganey and small numbers of Western Ospreys, Black Redstarts and Snow Buntings were also seen. The Smew and Red-necked Grebe continued to linger at Widdrington Moor Lake until mid-month. A Black Guillemot flew north past Tynemouth on 14th and a Blue-headed Wagtail moved south at Boulmer on 18th. The Greenland White-fronted Goose remained at Grindon Lough until at least 27th. Other highlights in the Druridge Bay area included two Eurasian Spoonbills, Black-necked Grebe, Ruddy Shelduck, Egyptian Goose, Wood Sandpiper and Channel Wagtail. A few migrant Ring Ouzels and Hooded Crows were seen during the second half of the month.
Water Pipit, Druridge Pools, Northumberland (Colin Bradshaw).
In Durham, scarcities comprised of two female Ring-necked Duck at Low Barns DWT from 5-17th, two White-billed Divers past Whitburn Coastal Park from 26-27th and a White-tailed Eagle west over Blackhall Rocks on 16th. Other highlights at Whitburn included Glaucous, Iceland and Little Gulls, Velvet Scoter, Eurasian Spoonbill and Hooded Crows. The Iceland Gull continued to put in appearances at Rainton Meadows DWT until 21st. Four localities scored Garganey and Ring Ouzels, and Western Osprey were seen at five. A released Golden Eagle was at Upper Teesdale NNR on 13th and two Hooded Crows flew over South Shields on 19th. A Eurasian Spoonbill and Wood Sandpiper arrived at Castle Lake, Bishop Middleham, late in the month.
Ring Ouzel, Warsett Hill, Cleveland (Damian Money).
Two Red-rumped Swallows were seen in Cleveland with singles briefly at Margrove Ponds on 17th and Boulby on 30th. A Hoopoe put in a few appearances around Saltburn and Skelton on 18th and 20th and a Great Grey Shrike was reported at Brotton Woods on 24th. The juvenile Iceland Gull continued to visit Middlesbrough until 6th and a juvenile Glaucous Gulls were seen off Hartlepool Headland on 9th and at Dorman's Pool on 13th. South Gare hosted at least four Ring Ouzels, small numbers of Snow Buntings, Red-necked Grebe and a Whinchat. Seven further sites scored Ring Ouzels including six at Hummersea and five at Sleddale. Highlights on the North Tees Marshes included two Wood Sandpipers, Eurasian Spoonbill, Great Egret, Egyptian Geese, Spotted Redshank, Garganey and Little Gull. Hooded Crows were seen at Marske Stray, Warsett Hill and Dorman's Pool.
In Cumbria, one of Longtown's female Ring-necked Duck lingered until 7th, with both birds last reported together on 1st. At least one Pectoral Sandpiper was in the county, with one at Wedholme Flow from 17-19th and one at Campfield Marsh RSPB from 30th. Two Eurasian Dotterel were at the summit of Bowscale Fell on 25th. A Common Crane flew over Foulshaw Moss on 17th, when intriguingly, a flock of six corvids (a split of Hooded Crows and hybrids) flew past St Bees Head. Meanwhile, the long-staying individual lingered at South Walney NR.
Black Tern, Carr Mill Dam, Lancashire (Craig Bell).
Lancashire recorded its earliest-ever Black Tern by three days, with an adult at Carr Mill Dam on 8th (reportedly for its second day). A female Black-winged Stilt, thought to be the bird present on Anglesey on 17th, was a great local find at Marshside RSPB on 18th. This is the first county record for 10 years. The white-morph adult Snow Goose lasted on the Ribble Marshes until 20th, with the same flock of Pink-feet hosting Tundra Bean and multiple Russian White-fronted Geese. At least one Todd's Canada Goose was also in the area, although largely remaining distant on Crossens Outer Marsh. The Greenland White-fronted Goose lingered at Myerscough Quarry until 23rd. A female Ring-necked Duck was a one-day-bird at Leighton Moss RSPB on 19th. A Common Cranes were at Silverdale Moss on 15th and Lytham Moss on 25th, when one was also reported over Leighton Moss RSPB.
Black-winged Stilt, Marshside RSPB, Lancashire (Steve Young).
There was a spate of Hooded Crow records, with one north over Marton Mere on 7th, with a probable over Hesketh Out Marsh RSPB on 15th followed up by one over Alston Reservoirs the same day. A juvenile Glaucous Gull flew past Heysham on 14th and a juvenile Iceland Gull was in the Freckleton area between 18th and 23rd. The first co-ordinated Whimbrel roost count of the year was underway on 25th, with 826 across the selected sites – the lowest April total since the count began in 2014.
Cheshire had a great month. The county's fourth Black Kite overflew Burton Point on 17th, and it was presumably the same bird was over Sandbach Flashes on 21st. A Purple Heron flew north over Gowy Meadows CWT on 26th. A female Bluethroat at Leasowe on 28th rightly proved popular. The same day a Temminck's Stint dropped into Woolston Eyes NR, ending the six-year hiatus for this species in the county. A Richard's Pipit was trapped and ringed at Hilbre Island on 26th, spending the rest of the morning along the west side of the island. Not to be outdone, the female Ring-necked Duck at Acre Nook Sand Quarry was joined by a drake from 14th, and both remained until 26th. A European Turtle Dove was reported near Chelford on 3rd, while the 2nd saw Siberian Chiffchaffs at Frodsham Marsh and Woolston Eyes NR. The now regular Ruddy Shelduck were split between the Dee and Mersey.
Bluethroat, Leasowe, Cheshire (Dylan Edwards).
Sadly, Red-necked Grebe has become scarcer in Greater Manchester in recent years, so a smart summer bird at Pennington Flash CP on 4-5th was well received. One was later at Ashworth Moor Reservoir on 16th. A brief juvenile Iceland Gull was a welcome visitor to Elton Reservoir on 6th. The long-staying Red-throated Diver was last reported at Watergrove Reservoir on 10th. An overflying Northern Fulmar must have been a great sight for one lucky observer at Shaw on 23rd.
Red-necked Grebe, Ashworth Moor Reservoir, Greater Manchester (Craig Bell).
Over on the Isle of Man, a white-morph adult Snow Goose was mingling with Greylags at Point of Ayre on 18th. The second island record of Dusky Warbler concerned one trapped and ringed at Calf of Man on 26th, the last one coming from the same site on 14 May 1970.
Lincolnshire and Yorkshire
As with many other east-coast counties, Lincolnshire often struggled in a month that suffered persistent cool north-easterlies. However, the county did manage no fewer than four Wrynecks, including one at Donna Nook for a week from 24th. As well as a Wryneck, Gibraltar Point NNR produced Spotted Crake on 3rd, Richard's Pipit on 17th and Red-rumped Swallows on 21st and 27-29th. A Hoopoe was photographed in Deeping St Nicholas on 10th. Three White Storks over two sites on 13th had previously been noted in Leeds and on the North Yorkshire coast, but were unfortunately proven to be Knepp birds.
Wryneck, Donna Nook, Lincolnshire (Mark Johnson).
What was almost certainly the Lound/Alkborough American Wigeon was at Nebraska Wetlands on 1st. In the Langtoft area, two Ring-necked Duck remained until 7th, with one lasting all month. However, a relatively poor month for passage was exemplified by just two sites producing Black Tern.
A White Stork flew over Stainton on 16th, but South Yorkshire otherwise had a quiet month – just a minor influx of Wood Sandpipers (five sites) in the closing days of the month was of regional note, even if there was the usual scattering of seasonal migrants passing through various local hot-spots.
Little Gull, Orgreave Lagoons, South Yorkshire (Richard Pittam).
Perhaps the same female Ring-necked Duck was again at Wintersett Reservoir/Anglers CP, West Yorkshire, from 13-16th. Also at Wintersett, a remarkable congregation of up to 10 Black-necked Grebes was enjoyed from mid-month (with nine at Pugneys on 15th). Other notable records included an immature White-tailed Eagle over Blackmoorfoot Reservoir on 29th and a brief Wryneck at Warley Moor Reservoir on 25th.
Eurasian Dotterel were on the move in North Yorkshire, with Danby Beacon claiming eight on 20th, followed by a single bird on 24th. Two more were near Grassington on 25th. A White-tailed Eagle was also reported widely in upland areas in the opening few days of the month. The Little Bunting at Farnham GPs from 23-29th was a fine spring record, with the Cropton Forest Great Grey Shrike hanging around to 10th. A Red-rumped Swallow flew south at Hunmanby Gap on 18th.
Great Grey Shrike, Cropton Forest, North Yorkshire (Ian Howard).
While the Black-browed Albatross was at Bempton Cliffs RSPB, East Yorkshire, for much of the month, the same couldn't be said for the fly-through Alpine Swift there on 18th. In fact, the coast was quiet for long periods, with Hoopoes at Grimston on 13th and in the Spurn area from 21-24th among the few scarcities recorded. Black Kites flew over Spurn on 19th and 30th, with the area also hosting Red-rumped Swallow on 19th and Wryneck from 25th.
The region's best find occurred on 18th, with hoped-for Lesser Scaup movements after a bumper winter delivering two to Tucklesholme Quarry, Staffordshire, until 21st. Best of the rest included Wrynecks at Betley on 17th and Berry Hill Fields on 18th. Elsewhere in the county, a Red-breasted Merganser and two Black-necked Grebes were at Belvide Reservoir, while a Common Crane was an early morning visitor to Middleton Lakes RSPB on 17th and two Black-necked Grebes visited Aqualate Mere. Blithfield Reservoir saw respectable counts of both Little Gulls (43 on 25th) and Arctic Terns (22 on 27th), with another 31 Little Gulls at Belvide Reservoir on 23rd.
Lesser Scaup, Tucklesholme Quarry SWT, Staffordshire (Kay Donaghy).
Waders highlighted elsewhere, particularly two Spotted Redshanks at Middleton Lakes RSPB. Red Knot, Avocets, Grey Plovers and Sanderlings were also recorded. A juvenile Iceland Gull roosted at Branston GPs on 2nd, while Sandwich Terns were at Middleton Lakes RSPB (two) and Belvide Reservoir, and Kittiwakes visited Chasewater and Branston GPs. Channel Wagtails were at Blithfield and Belvide Reservoirs, with a Ruddy Shelduck at Outwoods.
Spring waders decorated a number of reliable Worcestershire sites, including Wood Sandpipers, Bar-tailed Godwits, Whimbrels and a Ruddy Turnstone. Westwood Pool scooped up the month's best bird, however, with a brief Red-rumped Swallow on 29th. An impressive five Sandwich Terns touched down at Upton Warren on 12th, with two at Upper Bittell Reservoir on 6th. Two Black-necked Grebes were at Ripple GPs, a White Stork flew over Diglis on 20th and a brief Ruddy Shelduck was at Upton Warren. Ring Ouzels peaked with nine at Bredon Hill on 14th; Hunnington hosted a Black Redstart two days previously. Garganey were at three sites.
Garganey, Redditch, Worcestershire (Neil Duggan).
Two Glossy Ibises at Brandon Marsh before heading NNW over Fillongley on 30th proved Warwickshire's best birds of the month. Brandon Marsh also held a Wood Sandpiper, two Garganey and Water Pipit, with a further two Garganey at Alvecote Pools. A Little Tern was a mid-month treat at Shustoke Reservoir, with a Sandwich Tern and Kittiwake at Alvecote Pools. Three sites boasted Ring Ouzels and Earlswood Lakes saw a visit from a Pied Flycatcher. A brief Hen Harrier visited Salford Priors GPs, a White Stork overflew Warwick on 1st and a Western Cattle Egret was at Ladywalk NR, with the young Great Northern Diver hanging on at Draycote Water until 27th. Little Gulls graced a number of waterbodies, with birds at three sites on 23rd peaking with 10 at Shustoke Reservoir.
A Red-necked Grebe performed at Edgbaston Reservoir, West Midlands, on 3rd, while two Black-necked Grebes dropped in at Lodge Farm Reservoir on 10th. Edgbaston Reservoir also played host to a Sandwich Tern and Grey Plover, with a female Ring-necked Duck at nearby Edgbaston Pool from 1st. Three Garganey were at Sandwell Valley RSPB. Ring Ouzels were well spread, with a Channel Wagtail at Marsh Lane NR on 28th and a brief Black Redstart at Cotwall End. Lingering winter visitors included the Edgbaston Reservoir Iceland Gull (until 13th) and Frankley Reservoirs Glaucous Gull (until 5th).
Black-necked Grebe, Lodge Farm Reservoir, West Midlands (Peter Lewis).
A quiet month in Herefordshire saw a Wood Sandpiper, Little Gull and four Western Cattle Egrets at Wellington GPs, an Arctic Tern and Bar-tailed Godwit at Brockhall GPs, and two Garganey at Hereford Quarry. No fewer than 10 Hawfinches were again at Walford, with three Ring Ouzels at Red Daren.
Waders in their summer regalia are a typical highlight of the April Nottinghamshire calendar: highlights included a Curlew Sandpiper at Collingham Pits on 28th and two Spotted Redshanks (at Rempstone on 2nd and Idle Washlands on 26th). Two Wood Sandpipers were also logged – at Erewash Meadows NR and Netherfield Lagoons. Other passage action saw a brief Little Tern visit Langford Lowfields RSPB on 28th and Sandwich Terns at Attenborough NR, Hoveringham GPs and Langford Lowfields RSPB. Little Gull action peaked on 23rd with several double-figure counts, with Kittiwakes at Idle Washlands, Netherfield Lagoons and Hoveringham GPs.
Elsewhere, two Channel Wagtails at Stoke Bardolph were popular and a singing male Wood Warbler was at Holme Pierrepont on 24th, while a released White-tailed Eagle flew north over Barnby Moor on 8th and a White Stork circled over Attenborough NR on 20th. Three Ring-necked Duck at Cromwell Quarry were supplemented by a new drake at Attenborough NR on 19-20th. Common Cranes were reported a notable eight times, with Garganey at five sites. At Idle Valley NR, the pair of redhead Smew lasted until 4th; the singing male Siberian Chiffchaff at Attenborough NR was last reported on 3rd.
Ring-necked Duck, Attenborough NR, Nottinghamshire (Alan Shaw).
A possible Iberian Chiffchaff at Sinfin on 7-8th would have proved Derbyshire's undoubted highlight if confirmed. Meanwhile, White-tailed Eagles were reported over three sites – including a seemingly wild sub-adult over Ogston Reservoir and Beeley Moor on 29th – and two Common Cranes flew low north over Erewash Meadows on 21st. Another impressive month for Carsington Water saw visits from a ringtail harrier species, two Black Terns, two Sandwich Terns, two Kittiwakes, two Caspian Gulls, Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Scoter, Great Northern Diver and two Red-necked Grebes. 'Ogsterbo' held a Red-breasted Merganser and Kittiwake, with another Kittiwake at Wyver Lane. A Spotted Redshank was at Erewash Meadows, with Wood Sandpipers at both Barrow upon Trent GPs and Wyver Lane. The Trent Valley was treated to a number of delightful Little Gulls, including 32 at Barrow upon Trent GPs on 24th. In the north of the county, Woodhead Reservoir hosted a Scandinavian Rock Pipit on 2-3rd, while Garganey were at four locations.
Three traditional Leicestershire and Rutland sites bagged Ring Ouzels this month, with Warren Hills, Beacon Hill CP and Burrough Hill CP drawing visitors hoping for a sighting of this popular migrant Turdus. A new female Ring-necked Duck starred at Rutland Water from 5-19th alongside a Black Tern, at least two Sandwich Terns, Wood Sandpiper, redhead Smew (until 2nd), three Great Northern Divers, Red-throated Diver and two Common Cranes. Elsewhere, Ashby de la Zouch and Bosworth Water Park got in on the Black Tern action, with a Little Tern and Slavonian Grebe at Eyebrook Reservoir, and a Wood Sandpiper at Wanlip Meadows. A released White-tailed Eagle flirted with the Northamptonshire border at Stanford Reservoir on 16-17th, with a Wood Warbler at Burbage supplemented by a brief Pied Flycatcher at Aylestone on 18th. A second-winter Iceland Gull visited Shawell on 2nd. Bizarrely, several of the 15 Common Scoter that touched down at Cossington Meadows LRWT went on to linger for more than a week.
Garganey, Cossington Meadows LRWT, Leicestershire and Rutland (Diane Reynolds).
A male Eurasian Dotterel highlighted at Hemington, Northamptonshire, on 29th. Otherwise, a brief Eurasian Spoonbill dropped into Earls Barton GPs on 13th, the same day four Sandwich Terns flew west over Summer Leys. White Stork wanderings included one on the deck at Stanwick GPs on 20-21st, where the Glossy Ibis remained throughout and a female Ring-necked Duck dropped in on 10-11th. Another continued at Ringstead GPs until 20th. An early Wood Sandpiper at Upton likely wintered nearby; a more typical migrant was at Summer Leys on 28th. Garganey were well spread throughout the Nene Valley, with a high count of 32+ Little Gulls at Summer Leys on 23rd.
East of England
It was a poor April for migration across Norfolk, although a decent smattering of scarcities was nonetheless accumulated. Up to three Eurasian Dotterel were at Thornham after the first on 21st, with two at Waxham on 25-26th. A pair of Black-winged Stilts was at Denver Sluice for several days mid-month, with perhaps one of these also at Welney WWT on 28th. Hickling Broad NWT also attracted a stilt on 30th, where a Purple Heron was also seen a few times (another Purple Heron flew over Edgefield on 20th). A Black Kite flew south at Winterton Dunes on 13th.
A Hoopoe at Weeting Heath NWT was popular on 23-24th. Remarkably, the Dusky Warbler lingered at Stiffkey all month; other holders-on from the winter included the Shore Larks at Holkham Gap to 12th and Great Grey Shrike at Sparham to 13th, as well as the Red-breasted Goose at Blakeney Harbour all month.
Ring Ouzels, Salthouse, Norfolk (Patrick Safford).
Seven Shore Larks popped up at the traditional location of Kessingland on 30th. The Black Kite that overflew Minsmere RSPB on 18th transpired to be that seen along the Kent coast the previous day and presumably accounts for several other sightings in Suffolk at that time. Also at Minsmere, the Lesser Yellowlegs lingered to 24th and up to two Glossy Ibises were seen. Ibises were at three other sites, including one providing backup to the Pacific Golden Plover at Carlton Marshes SWT. A Wryneck was inland at Norton on 26th and a Hoopoe was a brief visitor to Hen Reedbed SWT on 28th. Red-rumped Swallows were at Alton Water on 20th and Ramsholt on 24-25th. Earlier in the month, a European Serin was trapped at Landguard NR on 5th.
Slavonian Grebe, Alton Water, Suffolk (Chris Mayne).
The Temminck's Stint that had been in Kent in March was at East Tilbury, Essex, intermittently between 3rd and 24th. A Black Kite was reported at Stanway Green landfill on 13-14th, where the unringed White Stork remained. A Black Brant continued on the Crouch Estuary to 14th, but Abberton Reservoir's two Red-necked Grebes quickly moved on – however, a Lesser Scaup was popular there from 3-12th.
In Hertfordshire, the Green-winged Teal was still at Wilstone Reservoir to 4th, where three Common Cranes flew over on 22nd. Another crane went over Sandridge on 16th. A notable count of 11 Sandwich Terns flew through at Marsworth Reservoir on 12th, with three other sites also scoring the species. Two male Ring-necked Duck appeared at Radwell GPs, Bedfordshire, on 13th, with one there to 19th. Another quality county bird was a Richard's Pipit at Brogborough Landfill Site on 17-18th, while 'noc-migged Eurasian Stone-curlews overflew Eaton Bray on 14th and Biggleswade on 27th.
White Stork, Eldernell, Cambridgeshire (Josh Jones).
Cambridgeshire's month opened with a county-first Great Shearwater picked up exhausted in Wisbech – unfortunately it died a few days later. An unringed White Stork was seen at several sites in the Ouse Valley and also made two brief visits north to the Peterborough area. As well as the female Blue-winged Teal at Ouse Fen, which was popular all month, rare wildfowl included a Green-winged Teal at Sutton Gault to 6th and the Ring-necked Duck again on the Ouse Washes RSPB reserve on 10th and 17th. The Kumlien's Gull was last noted at Smithy Fen on 12th, with the Great Grey Shrike hanging on at Comberton to 15th. A Red-rumped Swallow was a brief visitor to Grafham Water on 22nd and two early Eurasian Dotterel were near Burwell on 13th.
April proved largely disappointing in the South-East, with uninspiring weather and a lack of migration action keeping entertainment at a premium. This was reflected in the national rarities that were on offer in the region during the month – only a Pallid Harrier at Titchfield Haven, Hampshire, on 13th and a Kentish Plover at Camber, East Sussex, on 22-23rd were new finds. Both Kent and East Sussex held onto their wintering Hume's Leaf Warblers (until 17th and 18th respectively) and the West Sussex Bonaparte's Gull was last reported at Chichester GPs on 11th …
Bonaparte's Gull, Chichester GPs, West Sussex (Andy Wilkes).
If April 2022 will be remembered for anything then perhaps it will be the impressive showing of passage Ring Ouzels, with the persistent strong north-easterlies presumably accounting for unusually high numbers. More than 50 sites in the region hosted birds – with some impressive counts, too. Twelve at Wilmington, East Sussex, and eight at Pitstone Hill, Buckinghamshire, were two examples.
Ring Ouzel, Reculver, Kent (Alex Perry).
Another species that appeared to do well was Black Kite. News came in from no fewer than 15 locations (seven of those in Kent), although with a lack of photographs for many of these reports it's hard to know if the same individuals may have accounted for different observations. Ten Hoopoes wasn't a bad haul, with Sussex enjoying four records and Kent three. Red-rumped Swallow also had an OK month, with four sites logging birds. These included impressive inland finds on 27th at Uckfield, East Sussex, and Little Marlow GPs, Buckinghamshire. Titchfield, Hampshire, and Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex, also cashed in.
Hoopoe, South Foreland, Kent (Ephraim Perfect).
By the end of the month the ID consensus for the Buckinghamshire Blue-winged Teal, found in March, had shifted to that of Cinnamon Teal. Wildfowl action was otherwise limited to Ring-necked Duck, with four birds in the region including a new individual at Bilsham, West Sussex, from 14-17th.
Cinnamon/Blue-winged Teal, Marlow, Buckinghamshire (Shaun Ferguson).
Three Common Cranes over College Lake, Buckinghamshire, would have been an impressive sight on 22nd. Stodmarsh and Minster, both in Kent, and Litlington, East Sussex, all hosted Purple Heron; eight sites scored Glossy Ibis. A Red-necked Grebe at Burghfield Common, Berkshire, was a decent record on 8th. The bird at King George V Reservoir, London, was present all month; the site's Smew was last reported on 29th. The Great Northern Diver at Farmoor Reservoir, Oxfordshire, was last reported on 28th.
Red-necked Grebe, King George V Reservoir (Permit Only), London (Steve Simnett).
The only passage Eurasian Stone-curlew of the month was at Beddington Farmlands, London, on 29th. Cliffe Pools and East Tilbury in Kent and Rainham Marshes in London presumably shared the same Temminck's Stint. Wood Sandpiper put in a fairly decent showing at the end of the month and Whimbrel had a good April, especially inland. Buckinghamshire, which had a great month, produced a shock Black-winged Stilt on a pool in a housing estate at Newton Leys for a day on 27th.
Black-winged Stilt, Newton Leys, Buckinghamshire (David James).
London Wetland Centre boasted the only Iceland Gull of the month, while King George V and Staines Reservoirs, also in London, both enjoyed some Little Tern action with up to eight at the latter site. A decent push of Little Gulls was evident on 23rd but it was far from spectacular.
A Wryneck at Ivinghoe Beacon was a tidy spring Buckinghamshire record on 30th; another was at Rye Harbour on 25th.
Hill Head, Hampshire, produced the only Yellow-browed Warbler of the month. Passage Wood Warblers were logged at only three places – Wimbledon, London; Dungeness, Kent; and Powdermill Reservoir in East Sussex – which highlights both the fact this is an increasingly rare species in the region and what a poor April it was for passerine migration. On the latter note, for the first April in several years there were no reports of Iberian Chiffchaff or Savi's Warbler …
Red-breasted Flycatcher, Dungeness NNR, Kent (Jacob Spinks).
Dungeness hosted an early Red-breasted Flycatcher on 13th, European Serins were found in Sussex, Kent and the Isle of Wight and an Ortolan Bunting was at Climping, Sussex, on 18th.
There was no shortage of quality spring arrivals in the region this April, with headliners including the male Iberian Wagtail and Eurasian Crag Martin on Scilly, these spending 13-16th on St Mary's and 17-21st on Bryher, respectively. There was another shout of a potential Iberian Wagtail at Skejack, Cornwall, on 25th.
Iberian Wagtail, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly (Scott Reid).
Red-rumped Swallows featured heavily, with four on Scilly over the course of the month and a total of seven in Cornwall, including two sets of two. Others appeared over Severn Beach, Gloucestershire, on 22nd and Portland, Dorset, on 24th. A European Serin was a fleeting affair on St Aldhelm's Head, Dorset, on 15th, after which others were reported at Porthgwarra, Cornwall, on 26th and two turned up on Scilly in the last few days of April. St Aldhelm's also had a flyover Lapland Bunting on 24th.
European Serin, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly (Kris Webb).
The region's first Golden Oriole of the spring was heard at St Blazey, Cornwall, on 24th, then two were found on Scilly towards the end of the month. Scilly also bagged three Woodchat Shrikes from 14th, while two were logged in Cornwall.
A Western Subalpine Warbler at Housel Bay, Cornwall, on 14th was followed by an Eastern on Lundy on 26th and an either-or female on St Martin's, Scilly, on 28th. Lundy also boasted an unidentified Bonelli's warbler on 25th. A Greater Short-toed Lark was popular at Nanquidno, Cornwall, from 21-24th and the only European Bee-eater in the South-West was over Nanjizal Valley on 23rd.
A total of 28 Hoopoes included 14 in Cornwall, five in Dorset, four on Scilly, two in Somerset and one at Broom's Green, Gloucestershire, on 27th. Wrynecks were few and far between, with one on Tresco on 21st and another at Kenidjack, Cornwall, on 24th.
Hoopoe, Catcott Lows NR, Somerset (Jonathan Bull).
Hanging on from the winter, the Rosy Starling in Pendeen, Cornwall, was still feeding in gardens at Lower Boscaswell on 13th. In Dorset, Bridport's Yellow-browed Warbler stayed till 9th, another appearing at Shapwick Heath, Somerset, on 17th. A Little Bunting at Trevean on 3rd turned into two from 13-16th.
The region enjoyed an influx of Black Kite claims, with Cornwall, Devon and Dorset claiming three apiece. In Somerset, a male Montagu's Harrier showed distantly at Stoke Pero Common on 22nd. An early European Honey Buzzard flew over Livermead, Devon, on 29th.
Purple Heron, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly (Kris Webb).
A Purple Heron commuted between Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath, Somerset, for the second half of the month. Cornish flyovers appeared at Marazion on 20th and Kenidjack on 29th, while a first-summer toured St Mary's, Scilly, on 23-24th. Black-crowned Night Herons were discovered in Nanjizal Valley, Cornwall, on 16th and at Slapton Ley, Devon, on 30th.
Two Eurasian Dotterel were a cracking find near the masts on Cleeve Hill, Gloucestershire, on 16th, before they flew north in the evening. Singletons were at Countisbury, Devon, 21st and on Bryher from 29-30th. Slimbridge WWT, Gloucestershire, pulled in both a Eurasian Stone-curlew and a first-winter Ring-billed Gull on 13th. The county also pulled in a Pectoral Sandpiper at Pilning Wetland on 29-30th, delighting local birders. Exminster Marshes, Devon, held onto its Spotted Crake till 14th and a Grey Phalarope was off Lundy on 12th.
Eurasian Dotterel, Cleeve Hill, Gloucestershire (Andrew Jordan).
Somerset hosted two Iceland Gulls, with the juvenile appearing at Draycott on 2nd and Torr Reservoir on 10th, followed by an adult at Ham Green on 23rd. In Dorset, the second-winter continued in Weymouth on 8th, with a Glaucous Gull dropping into Lodmoor RSPB on 30th. Other Iceland Gulls flew over Tresco, Scilly, on 23rd and toured Oldbury and Framilode, Gloucestershire, on 23rd.
Long-tailed Duck, Barrow Gurney Reservoirs, Somerset & Bristol (Jonathan Bull).
The female Surf Scoter lingered in waters off Tresco, Scilly, till 27th, but the drake off Pentewan, Cornwall, was gone after 2nd. Eight Ring-necked Duck remained in the region, five in Cornwall and three in Devon. Drake Green-winged Teal were picked up at Lytchett Bay, Dorset, from 4-18th and near Seaton, Devon, from 8-25th. Perhaps the long-returning drake Lesser Scaup pitched up at Chew Valley Lake from 13-23rd. Somerset's reliable Long-tailed Duck began to show hints of summer plumage at Barrow Gurney Reservoirs mid-month.
Scrapes at Llanelli Wetland Centre WWT, Carmarthen, were brightened by the addition of a delightful male Black-winged Stilt from 11-16th, which was replaced by a different bird at Cors Ddyga RSPB, Anglesey, the following day. A female Kentish Plover at Goldcliff Pools, Gwent, on 30th was similarly notable, with supporting cast of a Pectoral Sandpiper at Llyn Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd, from 29th.
Black-winged Stilt, Llanelli Wetland Centre WWT, Carmarthen (Alannah Ruthen).
Gwent also saw a popular Eurasian Dotterel at Collister Pill on 28-29th, with others at Llanfwrog and The Range RSPB, Anglesey, and Garreg Lwyd, Carmarthen. Wood Sandpipers were in Anglesey, Carmarthen, Ceredigion and Clwyd, with Curlew Sandpipers in Anglesey and Gwent. A Little Stint was at Llanrhystud, Ceredigion.
A sole Wryneck was at St David's Airfield, Pembrokeshire, on 27th, while a European Turtle Dove overflew nearby Strumble Head on 30th. Anglesey reported a Hoopoe at Penmon Point on 17th. Alpine Swifts over Goldcliff Pools, Gwent, on 12th and Skokholm, Pembrokeshire, on 22nd would prove unfortunately brief customers.
Best on Bardsey Island, Gwynedd, was a singing male Common Nightingale on 27th, while Skokholm, Pembrokeshire, hosted a Lapland Bunting and surprise Shore Lark – the island's first in over 30 years.
Little Stint, Llanrhystud, Ceredigion (Luke Gravett).
April is always a solid month on the flava wagtail front: Blue-headed Wagtails were at Cemlyn Bay, Anglesey, and Bardsey Island, Gwynedd, with a Channel Wagtail at Cardiff Bay, Glamorgan. Hanging on were Siberian Chiffchaffs at Kenfig NNR, Glamorgan, Carmel Head, Anglesey, and Skokholm, Pembrokeshire. The 'eastern' Lesser Whitethroat remained at Chirk, Clwyd, until 10th; a mobile Hooded Crow was at Kenfig NNR on 20th.
An immature White-tailed Eagle from the Isle of Wight reintroduction scheme lingered near Llangorse Lake, Powys, mid-month, while a White Stork (likely hailing from Knepp) flew east over Goldcliff Pools, Gwent, on 3rd. Glossy Ibises included four at Llanelli Wetland Centre WWT, Carmarthen, on 18th and one at Aberdare, Glamorgan, on 26th, while Llanelli also recorded a Western Cattle Egret.
Bonaparte's Gull, Sandy Water Park, Carmarthen (Luke Gravett).
An adult Bonaparte's Gull in the Cardiff Bay, Glamorgan, roost on 23rd perhaps accounted for the popular one-day individual at Sandy Water Park, Carmarthen, on 27th. The Bay also hosted a first-winter Caspian Gull on 5th. Iceland Gulls were recorded in Conwy, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.
In Glamorgan, the six Ring-necked Duck lasted at Kenfig Hill until 16th, with two females still at Lisvane Reservoir until 19th. Garganey were at nine locations.
The Saltee Islands in Co Wexford typically feature among the headlines of Irish birding in April, with this year's highlight being Ireland's first twitchable European Serin in two decades on 30th. A subalpine warbler species and Woodchat Shrike there on 15th were relegated to also-rans.
Five Hoopoes in Co Cork included two together at Myross, with singles also in Co Wexford and Co Kerry. An Alpine Swift startled an observer by flying across the road in front of him at Waterford Airport on 11th, with another in Co Cork at Ladysbridge on 19th. The latter county also boasted both of April's Black Kites, with flyovers at Knockadoon Head on 12th and Lissagriffin on 21st, plus a Wryneck at Toe Head on 12th.
Lesser Yellowlegs (left), Rosscarbery, Cork (John Lynch).
Waders included a Lesser Yellowlegs at Rosscarbery, Co Cork, for five days from 16th (with the Tacumshin bird still around to 24th) and an early Pectoral Sandpiper at Ballycotton for three days from 3rd. Tacumshin also hosted Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, up to six Glossy Ibises, several Garganey, Water Pipit and – arguably most significant of all in an Irish context – a Eurasian Bittern on 1st.
Five Ring-necked Duck hung on at Lough Yganavan, Co Kerry, to 3rd, with two Moylan Lough, Co Monaghan, to 22nd, one at Lough Beg, Co Derry, and new males at Grange Castle, Co Dublin, from 17-23rd and Achill Island, Co Mayo, from 19-21st. Blackrock, Co Louth, had a male Surf Scoter on 17th, while a Black Scoter was reported off Rossbeigh, Co Kerry, on 1st. The Black-necked Grebe stuck around at Lough Neagh, Co Armagh, all month, but the wintering Green-winged Teal finally left coastal Co Wicklow on 14th. Garganey were at 10 sites. Four Egyptian Geese at Lower Lough Erne RSPB on 25th constituted an outrageous record for Co Fermanagh.
Ring-necked Duck, Dublin, Dublin (Grzegorz Burkowski).
As many as three Bonaparte's Gulls were in Co Wexford and the young Ross's Gull surprisingly lingered on the outskirts of Galway throughout. Up to two Kumlien's Gulls were in Kenmare, Co Kerry, with 25 sites noting Iceland Gulls. The Azores Gull was still on the Mullet, Co Mayo, mid-month.