For the most part this was a May that flattered to deceive for local birders. As it was in April, migration action was limited and birding thus rather one dimensional. In the early part of the month some decent inland wader and tern action did occur, chiefly involving Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit, Temminck's Stint and Little and Sandwich Terns, but it was hardly blockbuster stuff and, for the second May running, there was barely any discernible Black Tern passage.
Skua passage on the Outer Hebrides was the best it's been there for a few years, with an impressive count of 320 Long-tailed Skuas past Aird an Runair on 13th. This coincided with some fairly decent South Coast Pomarine Skua movements too, with 9th very much 'Pom day'. Another fine May for Golden Oriole also played out, with more than 100 sites hosting the species.
There was still a good showing of lingering 'Yank' ducks in Scotland. Drake American Wigeon were at Loch Connell, Dumfries & Galloway, on 5th and Loch of Wester, Caithness, on 15th. Ring-necked Duck were reported from six sites, Green-winged Teal from three and the ever-present Surf Scoter still off Musselburgh, Lothian. White-billed Divers also remained scattered, with reports from seven sites, most notably one at Loch Ryan on 29th. A Grey Phalarope was at Meikle Craigs, Ayrshire, on 19th and one at Harelaw Fishery, Clyde, on 22nd. A Lesser Yellowlegs was a decent May record at Meikle Loch, Aberdeenshire on 13-14th, but a lone Black-winged Stilt at Lochwinnoch RSPB, Clyde, on 19th was just the fourth county record. A Eurasian Stone-curlew was on Tiree on 11th, two Pectoral Sandpipers at Loch of Strathbeg RSPB, Aberdeenshire, from 13th and one at Letham Pools, Fife, on 30th. Temminck's Stints were enjoyed at four sites. A Glossy Ibis flew south at Duncansby Head, Caithness, on 21st.
A Black Kite flew over Dervaig, Mull, on 16th, the island's first record. Another was reported over Saughtree, Borders, on 11th. Mediterranean migrants included a Hoopoe at Sanna Bay, Highland, on 1-2nd, European Bee-eater at Skirza, Caithness, on 21st, and Golden Oriole at Inverbervie, Aberdeenshire, on 14th. Wrynecks were at Callander, Forth, on 27th, and Loch Kinnabus, Islay, on 31st. An Icterine Warbler was at Loch of Strathbeg RSPB, Aberdeenshire, on 17th, while two Red-breasted Flycatchers and at least five Bluethroats were up for grabs. Over on Tiree, a male Common Rosefinch was at Balephuill on 20th. A Marsh Warbler was at Thurso, Caithness, on 15th.
Northern Isles and the Hebrides
Lingering Yanks in Shetland involved the drake Ring-necked Duck at Loch of Brow, Mainland, until 1st and up to four Green-winged Teal (Grunna Water and Loch of Griesta, Mainland, Haroldswick, Unst, and Foula). White-billed Divers were off 12 sites throughout the month.
Spring was well underway, with classic drift migrants including Red-breasted Flycatcher, Red-spotted Bluethroat, Red-backed Shrike, Common Rosefinch and Icterine Warbler, with a few Grey-headed Wagtail for good measure. At least two Black Kite were touring various islands, with both seen together over Baltasound, Unst, on 19th. Golden Orioles were well-represented with 16 sites noting birds. A Woodchat Shrike was on Foula on 9th and a European Bee-eater was at Helendale, Mainland, on 28th. Eurasian Dotterel were at three sites; two at Bakkasetter, Mainland, on 10-11th; one at Out Skerries on 21st; and up to three at Hamar, Unst, on 23-24th. Two Glossy Ibises paid a brief stop at Loch of Norby, Mainland, on 7th and another was found dead on Out Skerries on 17th. Sadly, after returning for another year, the regular Loch of Clumlie Long-tailed Skua died on 23rd with suspected bird flu.
Fair Isle had a respectable run. With rarities to one side, the supporting cast included a female European Serin, multiple Red-spotted Bluethroats and Red-backed Shrikes, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Common Rosefinch and Golden Oriole, plus a Glaucous Gull.
On Orkney, a Red-rumped Swallow flew north over Rerwick Head, Mainland, on 12th, and one was at Peedie Sea, Kirkwall the same day where it lasted until 14th. A Black Kite flew north over Westray on 21st. A female-type Golden Oriole was on Sanday on 19th and a Common Rosefinch was at South Ronaldsay on 21st. A drake Green-winged Teal was at The Shunan, Mainland, on 15-17th, with Glossy Ibis making appearances at The Loons RSPB on 1st and Loch of Banks on 15th.
North Ronaldsay's month began with a Glossy Ibis past the Seawatching Hide on 1st. The month continued with a similar southern feel, with up to two Red-rumped Swallows, Greater Short-toed Lark, Bluethroat and Wryneck. An Icterine Warbler was ringed on 18th, a Black Kite flew over on 19th and a Marsh Warbler was ringed on 31st. Six Eurasian Dotterels were showing well mid-month, when a Kumlien's Gull was present alongside a Glaucous Gull.
Four Hebridean sites logged White-billed Diver in May, while a drake Ring-necked Duck was reported from three sites in Lewis. A first-summer Ring-billed Gull was a smart find at Stinky Bay, Benbecula, at the month's end, with an immature drake Surf Scoter on the sea to the south. The Aird an Runair, North Uist, skua passage peaked on 13th, when 320 Long-tailed Skuas flew past. Two White-winged Tern flew past Adabrock, Lewis, on 18th and the Kumlien's Gull continued on Barra until at least 20th. The trip of five Eurasian Dotterel lingered at Baleshare, North Uist, until 2nd and another was at Balranald RSPB, North Uist, on 29th. A Common Crane was picked up twice on Lewis between 19th and 23rd.
Perhaps the best record of the month was a showy male Ortolan Bunting in a garden at Port Nis, Lewis, on 4-5th. Two Red-rumped Swallows were at Loch nam Faoileann, South Uist, for the latter part of the month. Golden Orioles were reported from Cuithir, Barra, and South Glendale, South Uist. A Rosy Starling was in a private garden at Bruernish, Barra, on 25th and a female Bluethroat was on St Kilda on 28th.
In addition to the returning American Black Tern at the Long Nanny and Pallid Swift at Boulmer, May produced a good variety of scarcities in Northumberland. A Lesser Yellowlegs was found at Maiden's Hall Lake on 7th and a 1st-summer American Golden Plover was at Grindon Lough on 4th. Five Red-rumped Swallows were seen at four localities and three Bluethroats were noted between 15th and 17th. The American Wigeon remained at Cresswell Pond NWT until 7th and the female Red-necked Phalarope returned to Grindon Lough from 9th.
Low Newton Scrapes produced a Pectoral Sandpiper and Glossy Ibis on 12th and a Temminck's Stint on 17th. Druridge Pools and Maiden's Hall Lake also produced Temminck's Stints including four at the former on 15th. A possible White-billed Diver flew north past Boulmer on 14th. A Grey-headed Wagtail was seen on Holy Island on 15th with a Hoopoe was found in Blyth the following day. Further Hoopoes were seen at North Shields on 18th and Killingworth on 23rd. White-tailed Eagles were noted at Weetslade CP and Harthope Valley. At the end of the month, an Alpine Swift was seen briefly in Gosforth and a Long-tailed Skua flew north past both Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and Howick. A European Honey Buzzard flew over North Seaton on 24th with a probable seen over Blyth six days later.
The adult Bonaparte's Gull at Washington WWT on 10th was the standout bird in Durham. A Temminck's Stint was found at Boldon Flats NR on 17th although had disappeared by 20th. It or another was at Castle Lake, Bishop Middleham, on 22nd and 23rd. Boldon Flats also scored a brief Glossy Ibis on 19th. Two singing male Golden Orioles were notable with birds at Waldridge Fell and Lanchester on 27th. An adult Long-tailed Skua flew north past Whitburn Coastal Park on 29th and a possible White-billed Diver moved north there on 22nd. A Glaucous Gull flew north past Seaham on 15th and three Eurasian Hobbies were noted. A European Turtle Dove was seen briefly at Grangetown on 17th. A scattering of Wood Sandpipers were seen in the county as well as a few Ruddy Shelduck.
In Cleveland, the 1st-winter drake King Eider remained off Marske-by-the-Sea until 4th. A possible Kentish Plover at Seal Sands 22nd evaded confirmation. A Temminck's Stint was found at Cowpen Marsh on 10th and a Pectoral Sandpiper was there on 15th. A Glossy Ibis on the North Tees Marshes on 12th-14th may have been one of the party of three which were first noted there on 24th and stayed there until the end of the month. A Glaucous Gull was noted at Port Clarence and Hemlington on 11th-13th. Two Hen Harriers were noted mid-month and other highlights on the North Tees Marshes included Blue-headed Wagtail, Curlew Sandpiper, Greater Scaup, Spotted Redshank and Eurasian Hobby. Two Curlew Sandpipers were also seen at Seal Sands and two Hooded Crows were noted. A Black-throated Diver lingered off Marske Stray early in the month and a Red-necked Grebe was off Bran Sands on 30th.
A reliable spring Nearctic vagrant, Cumbria hosted a 'spotty' Spotted Sandpiper at Port Carlisle from 11th, with a second individual at Elton Reservoir, Greater Manchester, from 13th. Completing an impressive hat-trick for the North-West, a third was at Doddington Pool, Cheshire, on 14th.
Last month's Pectoral Sandpiper lingered at Campfield Marsh RSPB, Cumbria, until 1st. A Rosy Starling was in a private garden at Seascale on 16th, while a Black Kite flew north near Haile on 25th. A trip of six Eurasian Dotterel were noted at Cross Fell on 7th. Maritime records involved a Roseate Tern at Hodbarrow RSPB on 4th, and presumably the same bird past South Walney NR on 11th, plus a Black Tern past Bowness-on-Solway on 20th. Pomarine Skuas were logged past both sites throughout the month.
Lancashire had a distinct Mediterranean feel at times, with European Bee-eaters overflying Poulton-le-Fylde on 14th and Lunt Meadows NR on 28th, with a possible also over Marshside RSPB on 30th. A Wryneck was a great local find at Seaforth LWT on 2nd, while belated news was received of a Woodchat Shrike at Cabin Hill NNR on 19th. A single Eurasian Dotterel was at the summit of Pendle Hill on 7-8th, a sad sign of the times. Elsewhere, an American Golden Plover flew in off the sea at Rossall Point on 13th. The Common Tern colony at Seaforth LWT drew in an adult Black Tern from 23rd and was joined by a second on 31st, with a Roseate Tern also present on 29th. A juvenile Iceland Gull was a brief visitor to Starr Gate beach on 3rd and a second-winter Glaucous Gull was a one-day bird at Stocks Reservoir on 4th.
Greater Manchester scored a remarkable county first when the White-tailed Lapwing made an appearance at Bickershaw on 29-30th. A Little Tern was at Pennington Flash CP on 2nd and another flew through Audenshaw Reservoirs on 22nd. Meanwhile, two Sandwich Terns flew over Bickershaw on 1st, with 4th proving productive with birds at Hollingworth Lake CP, Elton Reservoir and Pennington Flash CP. A Black Tern was at the latter site the same day. A Hooded Crow was around Standish between 7-15th. A European Turtle Dove was visiting a private garden at Blackrod at the end of the month.
Cheshire's month started with a possible drake American Wigeon at Hale on 2nd and a probable Balearic Shearwater was noted past Hilbre Island on 13th. Something more concrete came in the form of a smart Eurasian Dotterel just outside of Congleton on 3rd and remained until 4th, another good bird for the county. More good news came from Woolston Eyes NR, where the Black-necked Grebe colony is enjoying the best breeding season for a number of years with a minimum of 16 broods counted on 28th. The best was saved till last, however, with the well-travelled White-tailed Lapwing pitching down on the new (unfinished) wetland. This serves as the first record for the county and was appreciated by a small crowd that evening.
The Isle of Man was quiet, although a Hoopoe at Maughold Head on 12th was a welcome record.
Lincolnshire and Yorkshire
In May, Gibraltar Point NNR was the standout site in not just Lincolnshire but perhaps the entirety of Britain too. As well as Broad-billed Sandpiper and Bonaparte's Gull, the illustrious list of sightings for May included Purple Heron, Red-footed Falcon, Pectoral Sandpiper, Wryneck, European Bee-eater, Alpine Swift, and several each of Golden Oriole and Red-rumped Swallow.
Pectoral Sandpiper and a few Temminck's Stints were on offer at Frampton Marsh RSPB, where there was a Golden Oriole on 30th; another of the last species was at Rimac on 24th. The male Kentish Plover at Tetney Marshes RSPB on 17th was a terrific county record, as was the Rustic Bunting at Horse Shoe Point on 15th. Alkborough Flats weighed in with Purple Heron and two Glossy Ibises.
After a nearly six-month stay, the Ring-necked Duck finally departed the Deepings area on 3rd, while a female Ruddy Duck was present at Baston & Langtoft Pits for a few days in early May. A male European Honey Buzzard was tracked over Baston and Thurlby Fens on 12th, with another over Fulbeck on 16th.
Golden Oriole at Hatfield Moors and Wryneck at Sprotborough Flash were among South Yorkshire's headline birds this month, with another highlight the Lesser Yellowlegs at Old Moor RSPB from 23-26th. Two Black-winged Stilts appeared for a period at Potteric Carr YWT mid-month.
The Spurn area was typically bustling this month, with the Masked Wagtail backed up by a host of scarcities. A Eurasian Stone-curlew on 24th was well-received, with European Serins on four dates, Red-backed Shrike on 8th, European Bee-eater, Wryneck, several Red-rumped Swallows, Temminck's Stints and the usual Black Brant. Ever trickier to pin down in spring, a Eurasian Dotterel at Sunk Island on 7th was welcome.
Flamborough Head was treated to a Woodchat Shrike from 23-26th, with Red-rumped Swallow, Golden Oriole and European Bee-eater also seen. A Grey-headed Wagtail was a temporary distraction from the Bempton Black-browed Albatross on 19th.
Flamborough and Filey shared single noc-migged Eurasian Stone-curlews, with a Black-crowned Night Heron picked up over Hunmanby in the early hours of 20th. North Yorkshire had three Hoopoes, Red-backed Shrike and at least three European Honey Buzzards back at Wykeham Forest viewpoint. An impressive inland record of Woodchat Shrike at Hovingham on 22nd sadly didn't linger.
A Pectoral Sandpiper was at Staveley YWT on 16-17th, five sites held Glossy Ibises, an inland Wryneck was at Leeming Bar on 2nd and Blacktoft Sands RSPB had a female Montagu's Harrier for a day on 25th. A Purple Heron was seen at Beswick on 21st. In West Yorkshire, a European Bee-eater was reported from Hebden Bridge on 10th.
A red-letter day at Belvide Reservoir, Staffordshire, on 3rd saw a Savi's Warbler discovered alongside a surprise Manx Shearwater. The elusive Savi's remained until 5th, although the 'Manxie' was unfortunately taken into care on 4th and expired shortly after. On 30th, a female Ferruginous Duck made an appearance –` and is thought to be a different individual to the one present earlier in the year.
Elsewhere in the county, Little Gulls and Arctic Terns dropped into a number of sites, while a released White-tailed Eagle performed at Middleton Lakes RSPB mid-month. Some decent passage wader action was enjoyed, comprising Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Red Knot and Grey Plover. A respectable 51 Arctic Terns flew through Belvide Reservoir on 2nd. Other highlights included a Glossy Ibis at Middleton Lakes RSPB, Slavonian Grebe at Blithfield Reservoir, Red-breasted Merganser at Stanley Pool and a Blue-headed Wagtail at Branston GPs.
In Warwickshire, a surprise European Nightjar was flushed from Badddesley Common on 8th. Otherwise, Draycote Water provided the most interest, with the lingering Great Northern Diver until mid-month and a brief Black Tern on 30th. A Black-necked Grebe graced Shustoke Reservoir from 3-5th and a Wood Sandpiper was at Bodymoor GP, with a one-day Western Cattle Egret at Bretford. Limited Arctic Tern movements early doors included 10 at Draycote Water and six at Kingsbury Water Park.
Worcestershire boasted a Ferruginous Duck of its own at Camp Lane Pools, Grimley, from 2-7th, with a Garganey there on 12th. Clifton Pits proved the epicentre of the county's action, however, with visits from a Glossy Ibis, two Sandwich Terns, Little Stint, Spotted Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Sanderling, Whooper Swan and Russian White-fronted Goose.
A brief Alpine Swift highlighted in West Midlands at Buckpool and Fens Pool NR on 13th, while a European Honey Buzzard flew west over Lower Gornal on 17th. Elsewhere, Sandwell Valley RSPB held a Ruddy Shelduck, Ring Ouzel and Wood Sandpiper. Other examples of the latter were at both Fens Pool NR (two) and Marsh Lane NR, Marsh Lane NR hosted a drake Garganey, and a couple of sites scored Common Quail. Wellington GPs, Herefordshire, was treated to a Little Stint, two Garganey, Wood Sandpiper and two Sanderling.
Eclectic tern action gave Nottinghamshire birders plenty of reason to get excited during May, with two Roseate Terns – at Idle Valley NR on 9th and Holme Pierrepont on 16th – highlighting. It was Little Tern passage that proved the most notable, however, with a county record count of a remarkable count of 12 at Idle Valley NR on 16th. Black Terns were at Hoveringham and Idle Valley NR, with two Sandwich Terns noted at Attenborough NR.
On 15th, three Black-winged Stilts flew through Langford Lowfields RSPB before lingering at Cromwell Quarry, with one at Idle Washlands on 16-17th. Collingham Pits boasted a Pectoral Sandpiper, Temminck's Stint and Little Stint, with Curlew Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstone, Grey Plover and Sanderling also recorded in the county. Another Little Stint was at Holme Pierrepont, while a male Red-necked Phalarope at Attenborough NR proved unfortunately brief.
Other rarities included a Great Reed Warbler at Idle Valley NR on 15th and a probable Pallid Harrier over Hoveringham GPs. Up to three displaying European Honey Buzzards performed well from Welbeck watchpoint, a Glossy Ibis visited Langford Lowfields RSPB and a White Stork overflew Church Warsop. Garganey were at four sites, with three Common Scoter at Attenborough NR and a brief Ring-necked Duck at Holme Pierrepont.
Black Kites starred in Derbyshire, with one tracked north-west over Beeley Moor on 9th and a probable at Clowne on 22nd. At Carsington Water, a Red-necked Grebe lingered until 3rd and the Great Northern Diver until 6th, with Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstones and Bar-tailed Godwits also logged. Two more turnstones were at Carr Vale, with a Western Cattle Egret at Trent Lock, Common Scoter at two sites and a Wood Sandpiper at Barrow upon Trent GPs. A European Nightjar in an Allestree garden was somewhat of a surprise, while a Common Quail sang from Elton Common.
As often proves the case, Rutland Water proved the epicentre of action in Leicestershire & Rutland. A White-rumped Sandpiper decorated Lagoon 4 on 22nd, with a Temminck's Stint there from 6-11th. Otherwise, a more-than-impressive role call comprised a Glossy Ibis, at least three Garganey, Black Tern, Little Tern, three Common Scoter, Great Northern Diver, Little Stint, Ruddy Turnstone, Wood Sandpiper, Grey Plover and several Sanderling, Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwits.
The presence of up to seven Common Scoter at Cossington Meadows for much of the month was rather intriguing, while as many as 12 European Bee-eaters at Stonebow Washlands on 17th would have proved popular if not reported belatedly. Interest elsewhere included a Kittiwake at Cropston Reservoir, Slavonian Grebe and Eurasian Spoonbill at Eyebrook Reservoir, and three Ring Ouzels at Warren Hills.
A Large Tortoiseshell butterfly in Bucknell Wood was arguably Northamptonshire's rarest visitor, although a possible Icterine Warbler at Sywell CP would have claimed the crown if confirmed. The lingering Glossy Ibis remained at Stanwick GPs and a Knepp White Stork spent several days at Barnwell, while European Honey Buzzards overflew Byfield and Hartwell. Black-necked Grebes were at Pitsford Reservoir and Stanwick GPs and Garganey were at five sites. Wader action included at least one Pectoral Sandpiper at Summer Leys, with Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwits, Avocets, Spotted Redshanks, Wood Sandpipers and a Curlew Sandpiper also recorded. It proved a decent month for tern passage too: Little Terns dropped into Daventry Reservoir CP and Irthlingborough Lakes, Black Terns were at Boddington Reservoir (three), Pitsford Reservoir and Stanford Reservoir, and seven Sandwich Terns visited Stanwick GPs.
East of England
It was a productive month for rarities and scarcities in Norfolk. One of the main events was a notable passage of Golden Orioles with birds seen at as many as 13 localities and a high count of five at West Runton on 20th. Temminck's Stints were seen at seven sites including three at Hickling Broad NWT. It was an excellent month for the reserve with White-tailed Lapwing and Caspian Tern highlighting, along with a Purple Heron, four Black-winged Stilts, two Glossy Ibis and a White-tailed Eagle. Nearby Potter Heigham Marshes produced a drake American Wigeon on 16th and further Black-winged Stilts were at Welney WWT, Denver Sluice and Sculthorpe Moor NR (five). A Pectoral Sandpiper was seen at Holkham on 6th, White-tailed Eagles flew over an additional eight locations and European Honey Buzzards were seen over 14.
Horsey scored a Purple Heron on 8th and there were two confirmed sightings of Montagu's Harrier. Red-rumped Swallows were noted at six localities although one at North Point Pools on 11th was the only to linger. Groups of Grey-headed Wagtails were at West Runton (at least six) and Happisburgh (two). A probable Icterine Warbler was heard singing at Thornham Point on 15th and a female Citrine Wagtail flew over there the following day. A Greater Short-toed Lark flew over Sheringham on 17th and a Common Rosefinch was seen at Waxham on 18th. Seven localities produced Glossy Ibis in addition to Hickling and a European Serin was briefly in King's Lynn on 30th. Long-stayers still present from earlier in the year included the Dusky Warbler at Stiffkey Fen, Eurasian Dotterel at Thornham and Red-breasted Goose at Blakeney. Further rarities came in the form of two Great Reed Warblers at Snettisham Coastal Park, two Tawny Pipits and a Lesser Grey Shrike on the outskirts of Norwich.
In Suffolk, a Pectoral Sandpiper was found at Hollesley Marshes RSPB on 1st and a Lesser Yellowlegs was at Southwold from 3rd. Highlights at Minsmere RSPB during the month included American Golden Plover, Ring-necked Duck, Purple Heron, five fly-over European Bee-eaters, drake American Wigeon, Temminck's Stint and six Glossy Ibises. Further Temminck's Stints were seen at Havergate Island and Trimley Marshes SWT. Three Black-winged Stilts put in a brief appearance at Orford Ness on 6th and a European Serin was at Landguard on 7th.
A Black Kite flew over both Orton and Boyton on 6th with another seen over Wrentham on 14th, while a Montagu's Harrier flew over Lakenheath Fen RSPB on 9th. Eight additional localities scored European Bee-eaters including an astonishing 17 at Fressingfield on 15th. European Honey Buzzards flew over Snape, Elmsett and Carlton Colville. Kessingland and Dunwich Heath produced Red-rumped Swallows mid-month and Golden Orioles were noted at four sites. A female Red-footed Falcon was at Boyton Marshes RSPB on 24th and three Black-winged Stilts were noted at Lackford Lakes SWT on 30th.
Essex produced one of the birds of the spring with a Blue Rock Thrush at The Naze on 12th. Abberton Reservoir, meanwhile, scored two Black-winged Stilts on 9th as well as an unringed Hooded Merganser three days later. Elsewhere in the county highlights included a Wryneck was at Holland Haven CP on 5th, a Richard's Pipit at Great Holland on 9th and Pectoral Sandpipers at Old Hall Marshes RSPB and East Tilbury. Two Temminck's Stints were also seen at Old Hall Marshes RSPB and further Black-winged Stilts were at Vange Marsh RSPB (three) and Wallasea Island RSPB. Golden Orioles were noted at The Naze and Friday Wood with a European Bee-eater and Common Rosefinch also seen at the former. A Red-rumped Swallow flew Frinton-on-Sea on 22nd and a Montagu's Harrier moved north over Holland Haven CP on 29th. A Hoopoe was at Wakering Stairs on 28th.
Bird of the month in Hertfordshire was a Eurasian Stone-curlew at Wallington from 21st to 22nd. A White Stork flew high over Hilfield Park Reservoir on the afternoon of 10th. In Bedfordshire, at least three Glossy Ibises were seen at Broom GPs from 3rd along with a White Stork there on 3rd. It or another was seen on a playing field on Langford the following day.
It was a decent month in Cambridgeshire. In addition to Great Reed Warbler, Bonaparte's Gull and Squacco Heron there were a few scarcities to keep birders entertained. Eight sites held Glossy Ibis including eight at Berry Fen, and four localities hosted Temminck's Stints and White Storks. A probable American Wigeon was reported from Ouse Washes RSPB on 18th and a possible Ortolan Bunting flew over Fowlmere on 22nd.
Kent stole the national rarity headlines with the popular Eleonora's Falcon and Sardinian Warbler, as well as a roving Caspian Tern and a Kentish Plover. Regent's Park, London, was the surprise setting for a lingering Iberian Chiffchaff; another was in Hampshire at Otterboune. Other confirmed national rarities in the region included a Great Reed Warbler at Hook-with-Warsash LNR, Hampshire.
Heading back to Kent, the Eleonora's was of course accompanied by the first-summer female Red-footed Falcon at Worth, which was roundly enjoyed. The national influx of Golden Oriole was evident in Kent as well, with 11 sites recorded birds. Other overshoot tallies included Red-rumped Swallow, European Bee-eater and Hoopoe at four sites apiece, Black Kite at seven locales and Purple Heron at three. Mid-month, Minnis Bay hosted a Grey-headed Wagtail and a Montagu's Harrier flew over Ash. A Ring-necked Duck pitched up at Dungeness RSPB from 9th, two sites scored Eurasian Dotterel and three hosted European Serin, with a remarkable count of five at South Foreland on 22nd standing out. Hythe and Worth Marsh were graced by Black-winged Stilts.
A White-winged Tern at Rye Harbour, Sussex, was a popular customer on 11th. Other bits in the Rye area included a Glossy Ibis on 7th and Black Kite on 15th. Beachy Head and Winchelsea scored Golden Oriole and Cuckmere Haven hosted a Purple Heron on 8th. Angerming, Beachy Head, and Pulborough Brooks all scored European Bee-eaters, with the latter site also logging a Temminck's Stint. Rustington enjoyed a European Serin on 8th and a Red-rumped Swallow visited Beachy Head on 14th.
A Common Rosefinch at Sandy Point, Hampshire, was a fine county record on 30th. Black Kites were logged at four sites, while decent inland records included Hoopoes at Braishfield and Longparish and a Golden Oriole at Old Basing on 14th. Keyhaven Marshes scored Temminck's Stint, Eurasian Stone-curlew and Red-necked Phalarope, a Red-footed Falcon roved around the New Forest late in the month and Titchfield Haven scored Glossy Ibis.
Berkshire enjoyed a lingering Red-footed Falcon at Woolhampton GPs from 11-15th, with a Red-necked Phalarope at Theale GPs on 20th rounding off a decent month for the county. Buckinghamshire went one better though, with a Common Rosefinch at Milton Keynes on 30th an impressive county first. A Hoopoe graced Hedgerley landfill site on 23rd. In Oxfordshire, the female Ring-necked Duck lingered at Sutton Courtenay/Appleford GPs until 4th.
A Black-crowned Night Heron was a fine record at Brent Reservoir, London, on 2nd, as was a male Red-backed Shrike at Chingford on 11th. Other bits in the capital included a Black-winged Stilt at Beddington Farmlands, a Hoopoe at Enfield and a Glossy Ibis that visited London Wetland Centre, Beddington and Rainham Marshes. Surrey had a very quiet month, with a twitchable Eurasian Spoonbill at Tice's Meadow on 29th highlighting.
Headliners in the region included the subadult Egyptian Vulture over Devoran, Cornwall on 22nd, tantalising British birders, and European Roller which performed nicely on the Clowance Estate, also Cornwall, from 23-30th. Scilly produced an unidentified female black-eared wheatear on St Mary's on 2nd and an unusually settled male Black-headed Bunting on Bryher from 23-29th.
News came out too late for anyone to see the Dark-eyed Junco in Port Isaac, Cornwall, on 25th. There were intriguing reports of a potential Long-legged Buzzard on The Lizard, Cornwall, in the last two days of the month. In Dorset, a Squacco Heron was tricky to catch up with at Lodmoor RSPB on 17th, and there was only one sighting of an Iberian Chiffchaff at Rowberrow Warren, Somerset, on 7th.
Red-rumped Swallow at Marazion Marsh, Cornwall, on 1st, followed by a Richard's Pipit on The Lizard the next day and a Woodchat Shrike at Kynance Cove on 4th. Other Woodchats appeared at Portland on 8th and Cogden Beach from 24-28th (both Dorset), as well as Porthgwarra, Cornwall, on 22nd-23rd. A bird at Steart WWT, Somerset, on 14-15th was very popular during its short stay.
Lundy, Devon, scored a Bluethroat on 13th and a Golden Oriole on 24th, the latter staying three days. Cornwall and Scilly naturally enjoyed a fair helping of Golden Orioles, European Bee-eaters and Hoopoes.
Notable for Poole Harbour, Dorset, a Golden Oriole was recorded singing on Brownsea Island early in the morning on 18th, only to be followed by another at Arne RSPB on 21st. Two orioles also appeared briefly on Portland on the evening of 20th, with another at Stanpit Marsh, also Dorset, on 27th. One in Bristol on 20th was noteworthy.
An increasingly rare commodity, a male Montagu's Harrier took up Trewey and Bosporthis Commons as a hunting ground for much of the month, with a Black Kite joining it briefly on 10th. Other Black Kites drifted over Steart, Somerset, on 18th, Langford Lakes, Wiltshire, on 24th, Wadebridge on 28th, then Skewjack and Predannack Head on 29th, when a Red-footed Falcon flew through Nanjizal (all Cornwall). Another Red-foot was seen at Greylake RSPB, Somerset, on 14th.
Accidentally flushing a Black-crowned Night Heron was a surprise encounter for an observer at Woon Gumpus Common, Cornwall, on 10th, though it was not seen to re-settle. Happily, the bird at Slapton Ley, Devon, continued to show until 6th, the Ring-necked Duck there till 4th. A Purple Heron was only seen flying off from Goonhilly Downs, Cornwall, on 19th, while the lingering bird at Ham Wall RSPB, Somerset, hung on till 8th, and one dropped in to Abbey Pool on Tresco, Scilly, on 29th.
News came out a day late on a Collared Pratincole at Predannack Airfield on 19th, a superb record for Cornwall. Another impressive Cornish record was a heard-only Eurasian Stone-curlew at Polgigga on 22nd. The female Eurasian Dotterel extended its stay on Bryher, Scilly, to 3rd.
An evening appearance by a Red-necked Phalarope at Studland Heath, Dorset, was a delight for those able to get away from the dinner table. The county also turned up a pair of Black-winged Stilts at Abbotsbury Swannery on 18th, followed by three — also for a just a day — at Chew Valley Lake, Somerset, on 29th. The Pectoral Sandpiper at Pilning Wetland, Gloucestershire, stayed put till 4th. The same county attracted a Temminck's Stint at Slimbridge WWT on 16th.
Thrilling fly-bys were offered by an Alpine Swift along the clifftop at Old Harry, Dorset, from 26-27th. A flyover European Bee-eater floated around Nanjizal Valley on 21st, and Cornwall's second Red-rumped Swallow of the month moved through Skewjack that day. A flock of four European Bee-eaters appeared over Nanquidno, Cornwall, on 30th, likely the same group that was seen over Trentishoe, Devon, on 29th. Portland also bagged three different European Bee-eaters during the month, while a single visited Portesham on 18th.
Remaining unseen and swiftly moving on, a singing male Common Rosefinch was reported at Portland Bill, Dorset, on 23rd. The airfield on St Mary's, Scilly, hosted a Greater Short-toed Lark from 24-29th, while a Red-backed Shrike was on the island on 28th and a Tawny Pipit spent 21-22nd on St Martin's, which also had a Rosy Starling (probably the bird on St Mary's on 19th). A Grey-headed Wagtail arrived on Bryher on 20th, along with a debated bird on St Mary's, which was either another thunbergi or an intergrade, and stayed another day.
A European Serin flew west at Orcombe Point, Devon, on 7th, followed by an Alpine Swift through Plymstock on 11th. Other European Serins buzzed around the bird observatory at Portland Bill on 4th and appeared at Lizard Point, Cornwall, on 19th.
In Devon, a first-summer Bonaparte's Gull appeared intermittently on the Exe Estuary off Exmouth from 17-19th. Radipole Lake RSPB, Dorset, hosted a Gull-billed Tern for a few hours on the morning of 29th. In Gloucestershire, a drake Green-winged Teal stole the show at Slimbridge WWT from 9-19th. An unseasonable Ring-necked Duck resurfaced on Drift Reservoir on 25th.
Skokholm, Pembrokeshire, hosted the first Moltoni's Warbler for Wales from 17-29th. The island's fourth European Serin was on hand on 20th and an Icterine Warbler was available on 29th, while neighbouring Skomer scored a pair of shrikes – a Woodchat and a male Red-backed. Action on Bardsey Island, Gwynedd, comprised a Golden Oriole, Blue-headed Wagtail, Siberian Chiffchaff, two Hooded Crows and a bumper count of 78 Spotted Flycatchers.
A strong Motacilla showing saw a male Iberian Wagtail at Conwy RSPB, Conwy, from 6-8th, the first example of this subspecies of Yellow Wagtail for the country. At Cemlyn, Anglesey, a female Citrine joined a male Blue-headed on 8th, while a Black-headed Wagtail was photographed at Cors Caron, Ceredigion, on 28th.
Pembrokeshire was treated to its second Dark-eyed Junco at St Ishmael's on 22nd, following one on Skomer in May 2017. A first-summer Woodchat Shrike proved popular at Castlemartin, Pembrokeshire, from 18-24th, with other sterling migrant action including a Rosy Starling at Aberaeron, Ceredigion, on 4th and a European Serin at Great Orme, Conwy, on 28th, while a European Bee-eater flew north over South Stack RSPB, Anglesey, on 21st. Two European Turtle Doves were recorded – at Llanedi, Carmarthen, and Llanon, Ceredigion.
A Black Kite was logged flying north over Deri, Glamorgan, while European Honey Buzzards overflew Llyn Llech Owain CP, Carmarthen, and Marloes, Pembrokeshire. In the south of the country, Hooded Crows were at Neath, Glamorgan, and both St Justinian and St David's Head, Pembrokeshire.
In Gwent, the Newport Levels environs enjoyed an action-packed month. A Purple Heron on the RSPB reserve proved popular from 21-23rd, while a brief Black-winged Stilt highlighted at Goldcliff Pools on 10th. Goldcliff also saw visits from a Temminck's Stint, two Curlew Sandpipers, two Common Cranes, Garganey and Eurasian Spoonbill. Black Terns at five sites nationally included an impressive tally of 40 off Goldcliff Point on 2nd.
Ynys-Hir RSPB, Ceredigion, bagged a Lesser Yellowlegs on 10th and the Pectoral Sandpiper at Llyn Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd, remained until 2nd. The only Eurasian Dotterel of the month concerned a trio high on Foel Fras, Gwynedd, on 8th. Elsewhere, five Wood Sandpipers were logged, with Little Stints at seven sites and Curlew Sandpipers at three. Garganey were at six locations.
In Anglesey, Iceland Gull reports from Llandudno and Great Orme perhaps relate to the wintering Little Orme individual. A Roseate Tern was back on The Skerries, Anglesey, and a Pomarine Skua floated northwards past Ynyslas, Ceredigion, on 13th.
The two Co Wexford European Serins lingered into early May, followed by others at Red Strand, Co Cork, on 7th and Lady's Island Lake, Co Wexford, on 16th. Golden Orioles were in Co Cork and Co Down on 16th, followed by a third singing in the former county on 28th – though none was twitchable. A Hoopoe was at Mizen Head on 1st, while Black Kites on Skellig Michael, Co Kerry, on 17th and near Sugar Loaf Mountain, Co Wicklow, the following day were further Mediterranean tasters.
Co Wexford's Saltee Islands had another great month, with a White-throated Sparrow on 20th the highlight. Wryneck on 14th and Common Rosefinch on 15th were also great spring records.
An array of scarce waders were noted, with three or four Lesser Yellowlegs (Co Cork, Co Wexford, Co Antrim), American Golden Plover at Tacumshin, Co Wexford, from 29th, Spotted Sandpiper at Sallins, Co Kildare, on 27th, Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Clogheen Marsh, Co Cork, on 28th and Pectoral Sandpiper at Portmore Lough RSPB, Co Antrim, on 30th – plus, of course, Ireland's first twitchable Greater Sand Plover in Co Waterford at Tramore Backstrand.
A Gull-billed Tern spent a few days at Harper's Island, Co Cork, mid-month, with perhaps the same bird then at Tacumshin on 30th. Up to three Bonaparte's Gulls were in the Tacumshin area, with a first-summer at Cork City Lough on 15th. Remnants from winter included the Ross's Gull still near Galway on 1st and a Ring-billed Gull at Tivoli, Co Cork, on 20th.
Despite being increasingly numerous in neighbouring Scotland, White-billed Diver remains rare in Ireland and one seen off Tory Island, Co Donegal, on 3rd was notable. In a similar vein, Squacco Heron is a truly mega Irish bird and one at White's Marsh, Co Cork, from 27th was well twitched – and often seen very close to a long-staying Purple Heron.
A male American Wigeon at Lough Beg was seemingly paired with a female Eurasian Wigeon during its stay from 15-24th at least. The only Ring-necked Duck was on Achill Island, Co Mayo, on 30th.