Review of the Week: 11th-17th March 2004

Franklin's Gull: Radipole, Dorset. (Photo: Martin Cade) Franklin's Gull: Radipole, Dorset. (Photo: Martin Cade)

Franklin's Gull: Radipole, Dorset. (Photo: Mark Pike) Franklin's Gull: Radipole, Dorset. (Photo: Mark Pike)

With several obliging and accessible birds in recent years, Franklin's Gulls are not the rarity they once were, but with just over 40 accepted records they are still a notable find. A 1st-winter on St. Mary's (Scilly) from Thursday 11th-12th was, surprisingly, the first record for these famous islands. A distinctive bird with a pinkish flush to the underparts, this individual was relocated at Radipole Lake RSPB (Dorset) from Tuesday 16th onwards.

Alpine Swift: Scarborough, N. Yorks. (Photo: Ben Lascelles)

Alpine Swift: Scarborough, N. Yorks. (Photo: Dave Bywater) Alpine Swift: Scarborough, N. Yorks. (Photo: Dave Bywater)

Wheatear: A significant arrival took place during the week. (Photo: Paul Bowerman) Chiffchaff: Often one of the first signs of spring, with birds singing on mild March days. (Photo: Sue Tranter)

With a mild southwesterly airflow during the week it was not surprising that summer migrants poured in, with widespread reports of Sand Martins, Wheatears and Chiffchaffs, plus good numbers of Little Ringed Plovers and several Garganey. There were also a scattering of House Martins and Swallows, plus Ring Ouzels. Notable reports were received of Osprey, Willow Warbler, Whinchat, Common Redstart and Cuckoo, and a Common Swift was in Nottinghamshire on Wednesday 17th. Rarities associated with such weather systems are always at a premium, but Alpine Swift is one rarity that can be virtually guaranteed at this time of year under such conditions. Birders were not to be disappointed. Pick of the bunch was an obliging bird with the picturesque backdrop of Scarborough (N. Yorks) from Sunday 14th onwards and still present at the time of writing. On the same day another was at Marazion (Cornwall), which was later relocated at Mousehole and a bird was reported from Barnsley (S. Yorks). On Monday 15th one surprised an observer in traffic at Knaresborough (N. Yorks) as it zoomed overhead for 5 minutes, with the fifth of the week over Winchaester (Hants) on Wednesday 17th and the sixth over Greystones (Co. Wicklow) also on Wednesday 17th. Surprisingly there were just two Hoopoes reported, with birds at Tresco (Scilly) on Monday 15th and Hengistbury Head (Dorset) on Tuesday 16th. Please send all reports of migrants (including departing winter species) to the BTO at www.bto.org/migwatch.

Bonaparte's Gull: Marazion, Cornwall. (Photo: Paul Bowyer) White Stork: Bolden Flats NR, Durham. (Photo: mark Newsome)

Ross's Goose: Hauxley, Northumbs. (Photo: Alan Gilbertson) Black Brant: Titchwell, Norfolk. (Photo: Gary Prescott)

Rose-coloured Starling: Penzance, Cornwall. (Photo: Phil Stidwell) Lesser Yellowlegs: Hayle Estuary, Cornwall. (Photo: Phil Stidwell)

A 1st-winter Bonaparte's Gull was at Marazion (Cornwall) from Friday 12th-14th, and was perhaps the bird seen in Cornwall intermittently since early January. A White Stork at Ladcock (Cornwall) on Friday 12th may well have been a genuine vagrant, but a bird at Bolden Flats NR (Durham) was one of the birds from Harewood House (W. Yorks) which go 'walkabout' at this time of year, providing an annual problem for county records committees! Potentially rare geese included a white morph Lesser Snow Goose at Skinburness (Cumbria) and a 1st-winter Ross's Goose at Hauxley (Northumberland), though as always the 'tickability' of such individuals is a personal choice at the end of the day. Rare ducks comprised 2 King Eider, 4 Lesser Scaup (including the first for Suffolk), 2 Ferruginous Ducks, 5 Ring-necked Ducks, 10 American Wigeons and just 4 Green-winged Teals. Several American Herring Gulls remain, as do a handful of Kumlien's Gulls and at least 25 Ring-billed Gulls were reported during the week including 8 at Sandymount (Dublin). Strong southwesterlies brought Kittiwakes inland to many locations over the weekend.

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American Herring Gull: Nimmo's Pier, Galway. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) American Herring Gull: Stornoway, Outer Hebrides. (Photo: Martin Scott)

Kumlien's Gull: Stornoway, Outer Hebrides. 1st-winter bird in the harbour. (Photo: Martin Scott) Kumlien's Gull: Stornoway, Outer Hebrides. 2nd-winter in the harbour. (Photo: Martin Scott)

Ring-billed Gull: Nimmo's Pier, Galway. At least 25 birds were noted, including 8 at Sandymount. (Photo: Paul and Andrea Kelly) Kittiwake: Severn Beach, Glos. Inland birds were noted at a number of waters. (Photo: Paul Bowerman)

The list of long-stayers shows relatively little change. The Pine Bunting was last seen in Norfolk on Thursday 11th, but the Harlequin Duck remains on Lewis as do the American Coots on South Uist and Shetland, and Redheads in Glamorgan and on Barra. The Lesser Yellowlegs continues its residency in Cornwall, the Cattle Egret lingers on Guernsey and the Forster's Tern does likewise in Co. Galway, with another seen at Strangford Lough (Co. Down) on Wednesday 17th. The Hume's Warbler remains in London, there were 2 Yellow-browed Warblers remaining and the Pallas's Warbler is still in Kent as are the Dusky Warbler in Devon, Richard's Pipit in Glamorgan and Little Bunting on Anglesey. The Serin was again reported in Clwyd, a Parrot Crossbill was reported from Margate (Kent) on Wednesday 16th and on Scilly the first Treecreeper for 16 years was still present on Tresco; there have been just 7 previous records of 'Treecreepers' on the islands.

Great Grey Shrike: Colnabaichan, Aberdeens. Small numbers of wintering birds are still present. (Photo: Chris Jones) Shore Lark: Pett Level, E. Sussex. Up to 20 are still at Holkham, but just single figures at a small number of other sites. (Photo: Andrew Lawson)

Red-necked Grebe: Wraysbury GPs, Berkshire. (Photo: Jerry O'Brien) Black-throated Diver: Ardleigh Reservoir, Essex. (Photo: Sean Nixon)

Treecreeper: Marbury CP, Cheshire. One on Tresco was the first on Scilly for 16 years. (Photo: Steve Round)
Written by: Russell Slack