Review of the Week: 13th–19th March 2003


High pressure dominated this week, providing beautiful azure blue skies and warm sunshine across much of the country. These conditions facilitated the continued arrival of summer migrants and species such as Chiffchaffs, Wheatears and Sand Martins are now quite widespread in small numbers.

In Norfolk a male Sardinian Warbler was located at Holme on 16th. This was presumably the same individual that was present at nearby Old Hunstanton last autumn, being last seen on 15th October. This represents an exciting ‘wintering’ record for this Mediterranean Sylvia and illustrates that even rarities in well watched areas can escape detection over prolonged periods.

As would be expected, most of the more unusual arrivals were in the southwest. Perhaps as many as a dozen Hoopoes were seen during the week, with a small arrival on the 17th, including half-a-dozen birds on the Isles of Scilly, with the same islands accommodating a superb count of 165 Black Redstarts, with 125 on St Mary’s alone on the 19th. Once again few 'new' rarities were detected, but a 1st-winter Bonaparte’s Gull was in Cork City briefly on 16th, perhaps the bird from earlier in the winter in Co. Cork? A Great White Egret was in Gwent with another in Norfolk.

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A number of migrants such as Garganey and Little Ringed Plovers have been widely reported. There have been smaller numbers of Ring Ouzels and early records of Willow Warblers and Tree Pipits, plus a Yellow Wagtail and good numbers of White Wagtails, though Swallows are still in short supply. The first Common Tern of the spring was seen in Jersey on the 19th and a Sandwich Tern had reached Orkney on the 16th. There are still good numbers of Waxwings scattered around the country, but many of the other wintering birds are thinning out rapidly. For more details on migrants go to the BTO Migration Watch at www.bto.org/migwatch/ or keep an eye on Bird News Extra to pick up on arrivals of migrants near to where you live.

Written by: Russell Slack