The weather certainly changed gear this week, such that the last few days have been warm and sunny – somewhat reminiscent of how summer should be! Not surprisingly migrants made the most of warm winds off the continent and many species began to arrive in force. Mist and low cloud and light southeasterlies on 15th produced a superb feast for inland birders, with an early arrival of Black Terns, supplemented by good numbers of Little Gulls and terns.
Despite the large numbers of migrants, rarities still remain in short supply. A Red-rumped Swallow at Sennen Cove, then Nanjizal (Cornwall), from 13th was typical in terms of date and location. A Short-toed Lark on St. Marys (Scilly) was to be expected. April is traditionally a good month for overshooting rare larks, and many will be hoping for an obliging Calandra Lark.
A supporting cast of scarcities included Kentish Plover and Temminck’s Stint in Norfolk, several Serins, with brief birds in Norfolk, East Sussex, Dorset and Cornwall, plus a handful of Hoopoes, including inland birds in Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire. Several Wrynecks were all in the southwest, except for one in Norfolk. Two (or the same) Purple Herons were seen in Kent, and there were several reports of Black Kites. Great White Egrets were in Glos, Somerset and Norfolk, and early Dotterel were noted at traditional sites in Wiltshire, North Yorkshire and Conway.
For inland birders in the Midlands and Southeast, a look at the weather maps suggested that the 15th might be productive and for those on their local pits and reservoirs from early morning it was evident that good numbers of Black Terns and Little Gulls were on the move. However, as is often the case the Black Terns had little difficulty rapidly re-orientating themselves and few were seen the following day. In the region of 60+ Black Terns were seen, 35 of these at Severn Beach (Glos), whilst at least a couple of hundred Little Gulls included 65 at Lackford lakes (Suffolk), 43 through Paxton Pits (Cambs) and 41 at Wilstone Res (Herts). A supporting cast included good numbers of Artic Terns and Common Terns, plus several inland Little Terns and Sandwich Terns.
Seawatchers also had reason to get out and about during the week and onshore winds in the Channel produced at least 25 Pomarine Skuas, including 8 past Birling Gap (East Sussex) on 14th. A number of Arctic Skuas have also been seen during the week from usual watchpoints, mostly in the Channel.